Traffic Analysis – Tracking Typed-in URLs

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Part 1 – Can one calculate how many people *typed in* the URL with Webalizer? With Webtrends? Does this have anything to do with the “direct request” number or the referrers that are the site URL itself?

Jim’s Answer:

Not accurately, and yes it does. “Direct Request” in Webalizer or “No Referrer” in WebTrends can come from a lot of different places in addition to typing in the URL: clicking on e-mail links or people using Favorites links, for example. Sometimes the referrer will simply be stripped off by a firewall or proxy server. So it’s not accurate. But this activity does reflect “loyalty” or awareness overall, because it comes from people who probably have more than a passing interest in the site – they have bookmarked it or remembered it, or they responded to your e-mails.

If you are interested in tracking this kind of idea, you can follow the percentage of visits with Direct Request or No Referrer. Over time, if you are building awareness and popularity, this percentage should rise as people bookmark the site or remember your name from general advertising. There also should be a “spike” in the percentage if you are doing ads where people would have to type in the URL – and the ads are working.

Part 2 – Our Visitors Assn has done extensive runs of print advertising using unique domain name (to track traffic from ads) and I’ve concluded that it is virtually impossible to get more than a handful of web visitors from a print advertisement because few people type in URLs (exception may be if site is a major brand site like Yahoo or CNN?). More specifically I’ve concluded that the ROI of print to Web would be about 1/100th what you’d get from Pay per click. Is that your observation as well?

Jim’s answer:

By print do you mean newspaper or magazine? I don’t think the issue is “people” as much as it is “audience.” Many niche businesses with ads in highly targeted magazines report strong “type-through.” As with pay-per-click, success depends on a hard match between audience interests and your product. Perhaps the audience was not specific enough, or perhaps the ad was not compelling enough to get people to respond.

That all said, cross-media promotion is always tricky and does suffer from substantial drop-off. In direct marketing, there is an old saying: “They are what they eat,” meaning people who were sold through TV respond best to TV, not catalog, direct mail, or print. And vice versa. If you are trying to get people to buy from a catalog, you rent a list of known catalog buyers. If you are trying to get people to go to a web site, the lowest cost / highest ROI place to advertise is on the web.

Jim Novo has nearly 20 years of experience using customer data to increase profits. He is co-author of The Guide to Web Analytics and author of Drilling Down:Turning Customer Data into Profits with a Spreadsheet. If you want more visitors to take action on your web site, try using the free conversion metrics calculator, downloadable here. If you need to sell more to customers while reducing marketing expenses, get the first nine chapters of the Drilling Down book free at http://www.drillingdownbook.com.

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Traffic Analysis – Tracking Typed-in URLs
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