Good Traffic vs Bad Traffic

If I had twenty dollars for every time I heard, “My site isn’t getting enough traffic,” I wouldn’t  have to be here writing to you now. Of course, I’m joking. Mostly.

None the less, use your imagination a bit and let’s play through…

Sometimes it goes a step further and we move on to the topic of A/B testing. What a great technique / tool, right? Yes, but how often is the tool used correctly, in the complete and holistic context of the brand?

If you’ve limiting your view to traffic; if you’re limiting your view to the effectiveness of a given A/B test; well then there’s a good chance you’re well, um, limiting your view. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, as long as you’re aware you’re wearing blinders.

Good Traffic vs Bad Traffic

Solving for today does not necessarily mean your individual solutions, lined up end to end, will over the long term translate into a sum of their individual successes. For a 21st century minded brand, 1 + 1 + 1 could equal 3. It’s possible it could equal 2. It’s also possible it could equal 4, or more. The point being, instead of solving for one (and only one) repeatedly (as easy as it might be), doesn’t it make more sense to ask, “What does it take to get to 4 or more?” That’s where the magic happens.

More specifically, you might find that after an A/B test, call to action A is less effective than call to action B. For example, B gets more email list sign-ups than A. Going with B makes sense if your view is limited to building the size of your list this week. However, it’s certainly possible that after six months or twelve months, the net number of subscribers is better with A than B. In other words, B triggers more sign-ups, but it also has a higher percentage of people eventually going for unsubscribed. Is B still superior to A?

Another possibility is A, over time, might have more opens; more clicks from those opens; and/or actually results in more sales. Again, B tested great for sign-ups—and that’s what was tested for—but then B comes up short for other more important metrics. The same can be said for the pursuit of traffic. That is, some traffic is better than other traffic. Growing traffic, even for sites based on a traffic model (i.e., they sell ads), should be done with care and consideration. Are you blowing up or on the cusp of blowing out?

The bottom line…Over-focusing on the wrong things can get you to where you want to go today. However, it might not get you to where you need to go next week, next month; or next year. Once you decide what you want to measure, always be sure to pause and ask why, and if it’s a long term plan builder or a short-sighted feels-good fix.

The Pause is a Milestone

Time and time again the battle call is: Be more productive. Stop doing X, Y and/or Z so you can get more work done. (By the way, please let’s not be foolish enough to still believe multi-tasking is an answer. It’s not. It’s a fool’s game.)

News flash! The brain doesn’t work that way.

That is, the brain, like any muscle, has limits. There are real (i.e., scientific) reasons why there are times you feel like you just can’t think anymore. It’s because you actually can’t think any more.

The Pause is a Milestone

The reality is, to be more productive, less can, and very often is, more. Push harder against the rock your brain has become doesn’t make the rock movable. In fact, you’re probably only making matters worse. Or put another way, there are reasons why you have breakthrough ideas at what seem to be weird moments (e.g., in the shower). Sometimes the brain needs to catch its breath. Sometimes the brain needs silence.

Two related books I’ve read and recommend:

David Rock – “Your Brain at Work”

Daniel Goleman – “Focus”

Yes, Goleman is the “Emotional Intelligence” guy.

You may have also noticed that often breakthroughs come once you start to discuss a problem out loud (usually with a colleague). Verbalization changes how your brain processes the ideas, and sometimes that shift is enough to help see something that previous wasn’t as visible. Verbalizing helps you see the bottleneck differently.

The bottom line…Make time for the pause. Plan for the pause. Because the pause is a milestone.

Brevity, Clarity and Context

I’ll be brief, naturally.

A couple days ago I received a phone call from a colleague. Specifically, it manifested itself as a voice mail. The message was long. It was filled with details; plenty of which were unnecessary and distracting from the core ideas being communicated.

I’m not the voice / phone person I used to be. I believe this is true of more and more people, and probably most people at this point. To be clear, I just don’t expect War & Peace via a voice mail. Does anyone?

Brevity, Clarity and Context

In any case, I confess, I didn’t listen as closely as I should have and botched a minor detail or two. Yes, I was upset with me. I should have known better. It’s not the first time the sender has TMI’ed someone.

That said, my colleague could have done better as well. We all could do better when it comes to be brevity, clarity and context.

The message could have made better use of  brevity. It could have focused on clarity—the necessary highlights for the medium (i.e., voice mail). Finally, it could have probably had some consideration for the context of the receiver (i.e., me). Even a short follow up text message (e.g., “i left a long voice msg, u might want to have pen and paper ready. call me later pls” ) would have been a big help.

Communication isn’t just words or ideas. It requires a mindful sender, as well as a ready, willing and able receiver.

The bottom line…In the words of Frank Luntz (from his book “Words That Work”): “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.”