Know The Numbers. Don’t Be a Sucker

Alert: "HITS" is no longer relevant.
“My database is quite strong and we get a million hits per month.” Week after week I hear a version of this statement during numerous calls from real estate brokers. I shouldn’t be surprised considering this was one of our major marketing weapons when I worked for a hotel real estate firm in Los Angeles. It turns out that everyone is using the same double-edged sword. What they think is their greatest marketing weapon could be be their worst enemy.

While on one of these such calls, I was given very exact numbers that took me by surprise. I’ll provide rounded, but fairly accurate, numbers for two reasons. The first reason is to make the numbers easier to work with. The second is to keep this organization anonymous since I’m certain that they flaunt these numbers to their clients.

Keep in mind that there were significantly less than 150 hotels marketed on their site the day I visited, but we’ll use 150 as a nice round number. Here are the numbers used to support their claim to fame.

- We receive 50,000 sessions per month
- The average session is 3:00 minutes long
- We received 900,000 pageviews

One could easily be impressed with these numbers until you take 2 minutes to think about it.

Let’s define session and pageviews. A session is often used by websites that require a username and password to log in. The “session” refers to the visit completion from logging in to logging out. Pageviews is the number of times pages are viewed on a website.

Using the numbers above we can conclude that the average number of pageviews per session is 18.

18 Pageviews Per Session

Let’s look at the time per session and convert it to seconds and then divide it by the number of pages viewed per session. We find that the average time spent on each page is 10 seconds.

Time spent on analyzing each page.

The only decision that can be made in 10 seconds when looking at a multi-million dollar deal is “NO”. Would you decide to spend more than $1 million in 9 seconds? I would hope not. If you said “Yes” then I’m very jealous.

Another conclusion we can reach according to these numbers is that each hotel is viewed 6,000 times per month. A staggering number. I’m willing to bet that the average facebook page isn’t viewed 6,000 times in a month.

Number of times each property is viewed in 30 days.

*I’m sure that visitors are also looking at non-hotel pages but a majority of pages visited should be to property pages.

You would think that the number of pageviews is a result of great marketing and high amounts of interest. If each hotel is receiving upwards of 6,000 views per month, then we should assume that a majority of the hotels listed are sold quickly. If not then it’s just a lot of wasted views and a lot of wasted time for investors.

The last thing that concerns me is the wording that was used: “session”. I must say that I don’t hear this term at all and I live in Silicon Valley. Here, we measure unique visitors. 50,000 sessions could mean that 1 person logs on 50,000 times. In other words the 50,000 “sessions” is meaningless.

So, what statistics should you be looking for? Here are the ones that we focus on.

- Unique visitors
- Average time per page
- Pageviews per visit

You’re probably thinking, “Those are the exact numbers provided earlier!” On the contrary.

Unique visitors refers to the number of unique people coming to the site. This gets rid of the speculation that one person can visit the website 50,000 times to drive the numbers up. Unique visitors will give you the absolute value of individuals coming to the website.

Average time per page is very important. How can you analyze data and numbers in 10 seconds? I wouldn’t be able to read all the significant data, find the contact information and submit an inquiry in that amount of time.

Combine the average time and the pageviews per visit and you get a very good indicator of what’s happening on the site. If a visitor goes through 18 pages at 10 seconds each, it’s more than likely that the user is lost or can’t find what they are looking for.

We use Google Analytics at The Hotel Inventory to measure our numbers so we know that our tools are Class A tools and that the services are backed by a $300 billion company. Google allows us to track the numbers on the micro-level. We would be able to tell each of our subscribers how long someone analyzes their page for (on average). The organization I spoke of earlier do not use the same tools.

The Hotel Inventory by The Numbers

The image above is a direct screenshot of what Google sends us. The only number that isn’t shown here is the average time per page: 45 seconds. We may not have 900,000 pageviews but our unique visitors spend more time on each page and consequently more time on our site. Also keep in mind that the company in question has been around 15 times longer than we have.

The truth is IN the numbers. You have to dig and think a little bit to know what the numbers really mean and how it would affect your marketing efforts. Be aware of the numbers that are being thrown at you. In many cases, I should also say: be aware of the numbers YOU are throwing out at other people. It’s quite possible that the people using these numbers don’t know what they actually mean. Be smarter than the numbers. Until you understand what they mean, you’re just a sucker falling for cheap marketing tricks.

Robert Prince
The Hotel Inventory

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