Is Your Business Like Salad Dressing?

business tips from the salad dressing marketWhat can salad dressing tell you about where your business is headed?

Possibly a lot.

And the answer just might be in two directions simultaneously: up and down.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported (subscription required) about how the salad dressing market is a good indicator of how many markets in the U.S. economy are bifurcating – splitting into a discount market catering to lower income consumers and a premium market catering to the wealthy.

The middle, where you find the most popular brands, is getting squeezed as hard as an almost empty bottle of ketchup.

In the dressing world, the low end is represented by private-label/supermarket brands, while the high-end is represented by fresh and organic dressings and more upscale or exotic flavors.

Premium dressings that you find on refrigerated shelves near the produce section of the grocery store are growing two to three times faster than the regular brands.

If you’re one of our business web hosting customers trying to grow your business online, you might want to think about this up/down market bifurcation and how it may or may not be affecting your business.

Are you well positioned to appeal to the cost-conscious consumers looking to pinch pennies and cut corners? Are you positioned as a premium product or service provider able to command premium pricing? Do you offer options to appeal to both segments?

If not, you may be able to use your web site to test out some alternate products that appeal to either the high or low end of your market, or both.

For example, you might test offering product or service discounts through search engine marketing with Google Adwords (see our previous blog post about getting started with AdWords).

If you can’t (or don’t want to compete on price), you may want to see if you can put together a more premium package that you try to upsell to current customers via email marketing (our previous posts about getting started with email marketing and tracking your email marketing results can help you with that).

See how you can innovate with your product or service (or your marketing) to set it apart from the shrinking middle and help you generate increased growth and higher margins.

Good luck. And let us know how you’re doing.

Website Traffic Analytics – Using Urchin with Your Site

So, you’ve been able build your own website. Or you decided to have a professional web designer build your website.

And now you may be wondering…what next?

How about website traffic tracking and analytics?

All EarthLink web hosting & ecommerce hosting plans come with integrated Urchin web analytics.

Of course, if your site is brand new, don’t expect there to be much (or any) traffic to track, but it’s a good idea as soon as possible to take a look at your baseline numbers so you can measure your website traffic growth and monitor which marketing efforts are working and which ones aren’t.

Urchin Website Traffic Analytics - LoginTo get started, simply log into your EarthLink Control Panel at cc.earthlink.net. Once you are logged in, click on the Manage Site tab, and then click the Urchin icon (shown on the left).

This takes you to the Urchin login screen, which lists your domain names (called profile names). Click on the domain link for the website you want to work on.

Your default view will be the Advertiser dashboard. You can switch to other dashboard views with the drop-down menu.

Urchin Web Traffic Analytics - Report Navigation

  • The Advertiser dashboard view gives you a Marketing Summary snapshot of your traffic (visits) from your Top 5 Sources (e.g., direct, other websites, search engines), Top 5 Keywords, and Top 5 Campaigns (Campaigns may be the same as Sources for you until you start running campaigns). Use the calendars at the lower left to compare visits over two time periods.
  • The Executive dashboard view shows you a Content Summary of the most popular entrance and exit points on your website and which content is most popular. Click Geo Map Overlay to see where, worldwide, your traffic is coming from.
  • On the Marketer dashboard view, pay close attention to the Entrance Bounce Rates. There you’ll see the pages on your website that people entered (it won’t always be your homepage) and what the bounce rates for those pages are. Bounce rate is the % of people who landed on one of your pages and then exited the site without doing anything else. A high bounce rate is often, though not always, a sign that the page isn’t offering the content your visitors want or expect. Of course, if you have a one-page website you’ll always have a 100% bounce rate, so you would disregard that.
  • Click on the Webmaster dashboard view to get stats on the kinds of web browsers your visitors are using, what platforms they are on, and what connection speeds they are using. This information may be helpful when making some content optimization decisions.

There are dozens of available website traffic reports (too many to detail here) organized into four main categories: Advertising Optimization, Marketing Optimization, Content Optimization, and IT Reports.

I’ll give a brief overview of the types of website reports offered in each area. But I encourage you to click through all of them yourself to see what would be helpful to know about your website. Tip: on any report you don’t fully understand, scroll to the bottom of the page and look for Help Information.

  • Advertising Optimization is where you can monitor results of Google Adwords campaigns (with either a campaign view or keyword view), compare CPC vs. organic keyword conversion, and monitor the conversion rates of website traffic coming from various sources (requires setting up conversion parameters).
  • Marketing Optimization should give you some good insights on your website traffic right away. Under Unique Visitor Tracking, click the Visits & Pageview Tracking link to see charts showing Visits by day, Pageviews, and Average Pageviews per visit over the date range you specify. Under Visitor Segment Performance, click Referring Source to get more details on which website, search engines, and other sources your visitors are coming from. 
  • Content Optimization gives you a good overview of how people are using your urchin website top content chartsite. Click Top Content to see the most popular pages on your website. Depth of Visit shows you a graph with the number of people who viewed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. pages on your website. Click Engagement Metrics for graphs showing the percentages of visitors who spend various amounts of time on your site, as well as time on your site broken down by date.
  • IT Reports may be a bit too geeky for some, but you can use this section to find reports on browsers & platforms, robots (to see which search engines have crawled your site), domains, top files and downloads. One important thing to check here is the Referral Errors link. You want to make sure if there are many 404 errors, you figure out what’s broken on your site or why people are looking for content in the wrong place on your site (maybe you misprinted a URL in some marketing?).