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April 2, 2007

Linkbait is Useless Without Analytics

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Would you kill yourself for linkbait?

As a fun April Fool’s idea (or at least I hope that was the motivation behind it, heh) Copyblogger came up with what could be The Greatest Link Attraction Strategy Ever. It basically entails faking your own death and then utilizing the kind of back-from-the-dead techniques we typically see being played out in great American dramas like Days of Our Lives, As The World Turns, and of course, Passions (Team Timmy!) to capitalize on the buzz.

Copyblogger explains further:

"The strategy centers around faking your own death. For added buzz, you should also consider spinning the story so that you died while blogging in order to gain maximum A-List penetration (reminding them of their own mortality might be the last way available to get them to link outside of their personal echo chambers)."

Okay, so Brian Clark is kidding (I think). Faking your death to create blog buzz is a bad idea, especially since it opens up the possibility that no one will care, or even worse, that they’ll be excited about it. In which case, you’ll likely become so depressed that you actually do consider taking your own life, which would be bad, unless you’re the head of Bruce Clay’s Tech Writing department. Zing! (I kid, I kid. I heart Susan deep down. Way, way deep down.) [Don’t tempt me. It’s too early in the week to fire you. –Susan]

I do think it brings up a timely topic though. With marketers so consumed about creating the next big piece of linkbait or creating content that gets people excited, but when does it stop being "funny" and become a turn off to users? And it’s not just linkbait that can turn people off. You may have a form users really hate or wording on your site that makes you sound less friendly and more pretentious.

How do you know what part of your site is leaving a bad taste in your visitor’s mouth? Or, as GrokDotCom so eloquently puts it, how do determine your customer’s "piss-off factor". Heh. (Susan is totally cringing right now.) [Watch the language, my mother reads this blog! (Hi, Mom.) –Susan] – Hi, Mrs. Esparza!

I think it’s important to know at what point you are annoying customers enough to make them leave your site. If a customer landed on your site with a mission, snooped around, and then left out of the blue, you need to know why. What did you do to make them leave, you jerk?

It could have been an awkwardly worded page or a graphic they found offensive. Maybe you created a Flash game about the latest pop starlet to enter rehab, asked for their credit card information too early, or you just didn’t have enough information about the product at hand. Something about your site made them leave and you should be able to figure out, even if you have no intention of actually fixing it.

Just because users don’t like the hideous picture on your home page that you love (who knows, maybe it was designed by your 3-year-old art "prodigy"), doesn’t mean you have to fix it. If you don’t care that you’re missing out on 2 conversions a month because that ugly picture is scaring people away, then you’re golden and you can keep your ugly picture. However, you might be more inclined to change it if you find your lost conversion rate isn’t .02, but more like 20.0. In that case, it may be wise to take the graphic off your site and put it on your fridge at home instead.

To find out where the trouble spots are, you should study your customer’s conversion path and see if there’s a common thread. Is there a specific page that users seem to opting out of the most? Have conversions leveled off since you redesigned your site in that really tasteful fuchsia color? Have you been getting a lot of hate mail since you revealed your new UGC section? Learning what you did wrong puts you in the position of being able to fix it, should you choose to.

You don’t have to fix everything customers don’t like about your site, but you should know the risk associated with each action you’re taking. Doing so makes you better able to meet your customer’s needs (and increase conversion).

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One response to “Linkbait is Useless Without Analytics”

  1. Brian Thibault writes:

    Most linkbait has poor conversion anyway. Its designed to attract links, not convert customers.



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