We all do it. We use computers or handheld devices to do a search and we click away. So, what is the value to a company of the enormous amount of clicking, information gathering, and product familiarization that is happening every second of every day?
The truth of the matter is that the value of all of this activity is largely unknown. Estimates rely on ancillary and reference numbers such as advertising revenue from the search engine companies like Google and Yahoo, the number of unique visitors, or the number of searches performed.
In the past, the measurements revolved around circulation of a print magazine or newspaper. To say that you had your product referenced either through an advertisement or within an article in a medium with an eight million circulation was impressive. You could track any uptick in sales as a direct outcome of being seen by so many people, but there was no tangible way to measure the results. If you changed mediums and did not see any movement in sales, then you could ascertain that "your" customer was not using that medium and you may want to change.
With the emergence of the Internet and the explosion of choices on cable TV, the mediums to choose from have grown exponentially. Unlike the past with circulation numbers, the Internet is a more touchy-feely type medium, and there is a belief that you can systematically track anything and everything, as well as people feel more familiar with the medium.
Thus, there was a need for Internet mediums to define their value with respect to their Internet presence and position. Therefore, in an attempt to create value, companies have gone through a series of ways to estimate value by first using terms like "click-throughs and hits," both of which have become passé and luckily have seen their day as valid measurement. Then, we moved to some still current concepts such as "advertising dollar," which refers to the cost per thousand views (CPM), and counting the number of visitors and unique visitors, which vary in definition depending if you are talking about visitors per day, per week, or per designated timeframe.
With all of the terms and concepts, there are still no direct measurements of value regarding Internet positioning and search. In addition, the only true measure of visitors and unique visitors for a website are the statistics derived directly from the website itself.
To fill the void of unavailable data, many ancillary websites have popped-up stating they could measure everything from the dollar value of a website to the number of visitors while not having any direct links to the actual traffic or the online sales of any of the websites they report on.
I have found that too many people and companies reference these ancillary websites to estimate value and make a business decision, but the information that is reported is only an estimate, and in many cases, it is an extremely misleading estimate. Each of these sites uses their own interpretation to determine the outcome they want to project, there are no set rules governing the information they report regarding a website's value proposition.
An example of interpreting data can be seen when addressing the question, "What is a unique visitor?" Is a unique visitor measured per month, per day, or per week? Thus, if a visitor visits a website twice a week they would be counted as 1 unique visitor on a per month (4 week) calculation, they would be counted as 1 unique visitor on a per week calculation or 4 unique visitors if aggregating 4 weeks of data, and the count would be 2 unique visitors for the per day calculation or 8 unique visitors if aggregating 4 weeks of data. Therefore, depending on how an ancillary website wants to report the data, they would select "their" unique visitor calculation.
With the Internet being a dynamic medium used to create as much buzz, excitement, and relevance through changing information, as well as retain existing customers while drawing in new ones, I would venture to say that the per day calculation is the most relevant for today's marketing calculations.
Thus, referring to websites that boast that they can actually project a website's numbers is like projecting how many people actually opened up a newspaper and read an advertisement in last Sunday's The New York Times.
So, how do we know the value of product positioning on the Internet, example, first page positioning across the major search engines?
As I have noted, there are no distinct numbers that can be used to define the value of having a progressive Internet position and presence. Just like in the past with the print mediums, they relied on tracking if a product's sales were increasing and/or if there are more inquiries regarding a product or services.
What has changed within the current marketing environment is that there is an expansion of channels across the Internet, print, and cable TV, which has created more opportunities to connect with your customer. Therefore, from a marketing perspective, there is a need for a tight and well thought-out marketing plan. Relying on ancillary numbers from external sources is not the answer.
The age-old adage in real estate is location, location, location. When I refer to location on the Internet, I am not referring to search engine optimizing, I am referring to using progressive Internet Marketing techniques to achieve prominent positioning. Therefore, if a company has the opportunity to work with a vendor that has a proven track record of creating visibility and establishing a progressive Internet presence and position via marketing solutions that results in, for example, first page organic search engine visibility for a brand, product, or service, they should listen to the solution. Selecting a vendor is not about how many unique visitors to a website, which as I noted previously can be a very misleading measurement, but it is about the time a vendor spends to understand a product and to develop experiential materials that build a connection between the product and the prospective customer, as well as create materials that are picked up by other websites and search engines to maximize the information's Internet positioning and search results.
The more progressive the positioning across the Internet, as well as the more points of contact that are established (i.e. organic positioning, social media, video, etc.), the more chance to connect with a customer and increase sales and product awareness. In the end, there may not be a direct value to place on Internet positioning and search, but if your product is well represented, if it has a positive positioning across the major search engines, and you are using a balanced marketing plan equally focused on video, social media, organic positioning, paid search, etc, then you have established value, and the Company's bottom-line will be the best and final measurement.
I thank you for your continued support of Luxury Experience, and as always, your comments are welcome, so please send comments to
© December 2011. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com. All rights reserved.