Dana VanDen Heuvel at Made for Marketing blog thinks so.
With the average visitor to a traditional website reading only one page, with less than a minute at that, and the average blog visitor seeing a scarcely more respectable 1.4 pages in about 80 seconds, “stickiness is dead” are fighting words. From my vantagepoint, I disagree — strongly.
“They’re Not Customer-centric”
This can be argued either way. Yes, time spent is customer centric, as we are measuring a customer behavior. No, time spent is not customer-centric, in that we are crassly timing a customer versus asking our customer if their experience was successful or what we could improve to provide a customer with a better experience.
“Not a measurment that you can take to the bank”
I disagree. While a site’s average time spent is probably not an accurate measure, I find the average time spent for specific pages to be highly accurate. I expect a person in my links directory to only be there a short time and take off. On the other hand, I’m not surprised when someone spends five to ten minutes using my interactive map server to gather census statistics.
To Dana’s credit, I realize that managers and their ilk have a tendency to measure and compare that which is easy to measure versus that which should be measured. The old Total Quality battle cry of “What are your metrics?” caused a lot of things to be measured that probably shouldn’t have been measured. If time spent on specific pages is not bankable, I’d sure like to know the better alternative.
“Does not illustrate the level of relationship, or lack thereof that a customer has with your site (your company…)”
This is a true statement, stricly using time spent. However, combined with cookies or IP address logs indicating repeat visits, a case can be made that time spent is a measure of relationship. Even better is tying the visitor to a survey that asks questions regarding the visitors motives and relationship to the site.
I sometimes toss my log files into an Access database and sort by IP address, date and time. By following the paths of individual visitors through a site, I get a fairly good feel for how and why they’re interacting with the site.
The Arkansas SBDC also gathers anecdotal evidence through formal customer satisfaction surveys and informal post-training surveys. We find a strong correlation between time spent and a positive relationship.
“Tends to focus our web dev energy and money on the wrong things”
I again disagree, as I use the data on the pages most accessed and the pages where most time was spent as indicators that more content in those areas is probably useful. On the Arkansas SBDC site, many of the visitors are collecting information towards starting a small business. Also, most of our visitors are not from Arkansas, so there is little point in trying to convert these visitors into consulting cases or training attendees.
Most of our recent content development has been to provide even more free research and information with the goal of helping visitors gather most of the information needed for a good business plan on our site. Other state SBDC’s have given up on site developoment and simply refer their clients to the Arkansas SBDC website when online business information is needed.
“May reward the wrong behavior (someone stays on your site too long because it sucks and they can’t figure out how to convert)”
I might have given this statement more credance in the earlier years of the web, when most folks were just learning how to browse and use online forms. In 2005, I find this a harder statement to defend since consumers have wisened up to the crafty tricks of slick Internet marketers.
The use of the word “convert” seems to imply either convert to a sales or convert to another action, such as, register an account, subscribe to a newsletter, or leave an email address. The use of convert leaves little room for the goal of providing information and research with no strings attached. Not everything needs to result in a conversion. I consider non-conversion visits successful in terms of public relations and brand development.
BOOKMARK THIS POST
Bookmark this post and come back March 3rd. I’ll add a graphic here from my analysis of the time spent on the Arkansas SBDC website. I graph each months data and compare with the past several years data.
I also look forward to Dana’s promised updates to
her his post which I will ensure are added to this post.
With February 2005 being just hours from ending, the Arkansas SBDC stats show we had 39,212 sessions with 117,912 page views. Thats an average of 3.01 page views per session. Average time spent was 107.2 seconds — about a minute and 47 seconds.
Looking a three subdiretories that I track, the Spanish version came in the lowest with 0.38 page views and 61.31 seconds for average time spent. Our Technonology section came in the highest with2.78 page views and 151.19 seconds.
As the graphs above show, average page views are running ahead of previous years for this time of year.
However, average time spent is down from 2004, but ahead of all previous years.
What results are the rest of you good folks seeing? Is stickiness dead?