Gamification Expert &

Behavioral Designer

A New Metrics Era: Social Media and Qualitative Traffic

The 3 Qualitative Metrics of Traffic

A lot of websites out there just measure traffic. Traffic is a quantitative number that is easy to measure and helps you see important trends and how successful campaigns are. However, especially for sites that need some kind of conversion like signing up or buying a product, undifferentiated traffic can be misleading.

A visitor is a real person

Traffic is the amount of visitors on your site. When you say “visitors”, these are actually real people, and everyone has their own personalities, their motives, and their own wants. Yes, sometimes it’s just a numbers game where a small % of your traffic will convert. However, wouldn’t you actually want 100 people on your site that are looking to really buy things than have 1000 people who are just surfing?

Stumbleupon gives high quantitative but low qualitative traffic

This misconception in traffic-success is most obviously seen with StumbleUpon. When you get “Stumbled”, your traffic that day will increase gigantically. However, chances are your average time on site will decrease dramatically. That is because Stumble can get you a lot of traffic, but not a lot of quality traffic. Even if people did read your post or article, they’re in a pure surfing mode and will likely not signup or buy your services.

In that sense, I came up with three qualitative metrics that is important to consider when driving visitors to your site. These metrics are: Relevancy, Timing, and Trust.

1. Relevancy

Relevancy is whether this person is actually part of your target market. If you own a sports site that is looking to get subscription and merchandise purchases, but the visitor on your site is not really that interested in sports and never buys anything online, this person is not relevant. It doesn’t matter if you have 10,000 people like that on your site. You won’t convert anything.

Obviously when people are on your site, they are hopefully already somewhat relevant based on how they got there. However, some people are more relevant than others, such as a hardcore sports fan compared to a guy who is curious about his girlfriend’s favorite sports team.

2. Timing

You might have very relevant people on your site, but the timing is not correct. What that means is that this might be a hardcore sports fan, but he is not looking to buy any merchandise. He might not even be looking to subscribe to a new service. All he is doing is looking for quick stats about the last game.

When that’s the case, this is not the right timing for you to convert this visitor. In the long run, he might be more aware of your website and may come back again, but you won’t have any conversions up front.

Sometimes you have potential customers going onto your site just to do research and compare prices. These people are highly relevant but it is not the right timing. Maybe they will come back two weeks later to make a purchase.

3. Trust

Sometimes you will get visitors on your site that is highly relevant, and they are looking to buy or sign up to something, but they don’t really know much about your site and they don’t really trust you. When that happens, people will be highly interested, look around a lot, but end up not converting.

Trust comes from branding, mindshare, and most importantly, recommendations. If a customer walks into your store because her friend recommended it to her, you are likely to have a sale. Similarly, if people refer their friends to your site, then you will get traffic that trusts you.

Search Engine Marketing is great with Relevancy and Timing but not with Trust

So given this model, Search Engine Marketing, whether it be through Adwords or SEO, does a GREAT job in finding people with high relevancy and good timing. It’s given them what people are looking for, WHEN they are looking for it. If someone is searching for plumbing services, chances are this person is interesting in converting into a plumber customer.

However, what SEM forgoes is the trust factor. When you find a website through a search engine, you do not trust the website other than what you see from the website itself (that’s why sites need to put up all these testimonials from their siblings).

Since search engines take an automated process, it is very difficult for traffic from that source to develop really strong trust.

Social Media Marketing fulfills that Trust gap

This is where Social Media Marketing comes in place. If I followed Guy Kawasaki’s blog for 6 months, and he suddenly says, “This is a great product. All Social Media Entrepreneurs should use this,” that’s trust established. Now I trust the brand and when I go onto the site, I have a much higher chance of converting.

If I was looking for an executive search service and I have been tweeting with someone that does a service for months, I will think of him and approach him before searching it on Google. And if my friends need the same service, I will refer them to this Twitter friend that I have. Trust again is established through social.

From a company standpoint, if your firm has a blog that constantly updates the latest news and insights on your industry, you can become the go-to place for people who care about your industry to check out and learn. If a person has been reading from your company blog for years, when he suddenly needs a service like yours, he is not going to find a random company on Google. He is coming to you.

Study shows Social Media Marketing has a strong ROI for companies

Previously I created a video about the ROI of Social Media, saying that Social Media is like branding build and networking: no immediate ROI but indispensable for business (actually you can generate immediate ROI if you do the right techniques).

A report by Wetpaint, a social media platform, and Altimeter Group, a digital strategies consulting group, shows that companies who are highly engaged in social media on average increased their revenue by 18% last year, while companies who do not engage in has a drop of 6% on average.

The study actually takes the world’s 100 most valuable brands as measured by BusinessWeek/Interbrand “Best Global Brands 2008” rankings and breaks them into four categories based on how engaged they are in social media. The chart in their report shows that there is a pretty strong correlation (note: not neceesarily causation) between the engagement on a platform and revenue growth.

Blog banner ads have a stronger ROI than measured

Another interesting thing I noticed is that the 125×125 banner ad on a blog actually has a lot higher ROI than the click-through data suggests. The reason for that is readers care about how bloggers they follow are monetizing their blogs. If you have been following a blogger for 6 months and you suddenly see a 125×125 ad on their site, you begin to wonder, “Wow, this person has ads on his blog now. I wonder how much are they paying him. Is it something super spammy or something that the blogger actually supports.”

I can tell you that right now I don’t need to get any type of credit, but when I do, the first name I would think about is credit-land. The reason? They were the first to put a banner on my Co-founder Jun Loayza’s Young Entrepreneur Blog. They didn’t get any click-through from me, hence from a data standpoint, their banner was a failed campaign towards me. However, they were actually very effective and I might just one day find them through Google or type in their direct traffic. That’s the value of brand, not a click-through.

Similarly, when Viralogy grew to the point where we didn’t think Bluehost was the right solution anymore, it was an automatic response, “Alright. Time to move on to Media Temple.” How do I know about Media Temple? I consistently see their 125×125 banner on Tech Crunch. Not once have I ever clicked on the banner, but they’re now making hundreds of dollars from my company and will continue to do so for years until they piss me off.

I actually remember reading from Neil Patel’s Blog that there was a study showing that companies who put on banner ads on blogs generate more revenue, even without a lot of click-thrus. That’s all consistent with what I observed in the social media plane.

The best internet marketing strategy

So with all the tools, methods, and different types of marketing techniques out there, what is the most ideal? How do I get tons and tons of people onto my site who are relevant with right timing and who also happens to trust me? Well, this takes an entire blogpost that is longer than this to answer, but here are some of my suggestions for anyone who has a company:

  1. Always be aware of SEO and make sure your site is friendly to search engines in a white hat way.
  2. Build a blog and focus on creating value to your readers. Give news and insights about your industry and update once a week without talking about yourself
  3. If you have a budget, utilize Adwords to drive traffic. Since this cost money, make sure you are driving high quality traffic to your site that has a high chance of converting.
  4. Build relationships with bloggers. Use tools like to locate the top influencers in your niche. Comment on their blogs, link to them, and learn from them. If they like you, then you got part of the trust factor
  5. Engage in Twitter. Just like blogging, create value for your followers. Tweet about insights and news in your industry mixed with personal notes and feelings. Don’t just promote your product.
  6. Create a Twitter Search Stream that constantly updates you when people talk about your industry, your product, your company, your competitors, and the pains you solve. Whenever someone says, “ is so frustrating!” or “I am in such painyousolve!” then you should tweet back immediately, saying, “Hey! We solve your problems and it’s free to try out. Let me know if you need help with anything!’
  7. Create email marketing lists. As unsexy as it sounds, email marketing still works, especially when it’s Permission Based. Some marketers call their email list their ATM machines. They send out something, and ka-ching comes out.

There are obviously a lot more ways to do internet marketing, but if you do the tips above and do them REALLY REALLY well, you’ll be attracting the right traffic for both shortterm AND longterm gains. You generate sales and build a brand. With social media, you are in a new era of internet marketing. Take advantage of it and do it right.

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17 responses to “A New Metrics Era: Social Media and Qualitative Traffic”

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  2. Awesome Post! Thanks! Jun Loayza referred me to this post since I had questions regarding information about social media traffic. Like the quick and simplified pointers, and really like the video – I’m a visual learner so less reading and more videos and graphics attract me.

    I’m one of those helping the company in setting up social media, a blog and just channelizing, however also part of those frustrated between the fact management doesn’t believe social media creates enough traffic to the site and the fact I have no report/or way to prove it does per campaign.

    Thanks again.


    • Thanks for the encouragement Diana! I’m glad my post helped out some. It would be great if you update on if there are progresses on this issue and if you have less frustrations 🙂

  3. Nice meeting you Yu-kai !! Your talk was amazing.. I learned a lot about social media.. I cant wait to now try everything out Thank you !!

    • Haha, I definitely agree Joy. It’s great meeting you too and thanks so much for the laptop borrow. Feel free to contact my for anything, anytime!

    • So many assumptions my friend! How do you know it’s my apartment? How do you know it’s luxurious? How to do you know I rent? 😛

      • Ummm, I assume it’s your apartment because most webcam videos are recorded from one’s residence; it would be unusual to do that at work, in public or in someone else’s residence. I assume it’s luxurious because of the high-end TV, large painting, recessed hardwood walls and high ceilings (which would have to be at least 10 feet high to hold that painting). I assume you rent because most college grads can’t afford to purchase permanent housing, especially in the Bay Area. Unless you live with your parents…

      • hahaha, I like how you answered my questions seriously with your logic. And they are great observations.

        Your else-statement triumphed though. I’m actually at my folks place in Vancouver right now 😀

  4. Great post, Yukai. I like the perspective that you took here to show how non-click factors can result in actual product purchases. Your banner ad example hits the nail on the head.

    • Haha, it’s an honor to have the HP Cloud CTO here on my blog! 😀

      Yea, even without clicking, banner ads are like billboards. You can’t measure the ROI, but the effects are there!

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