If your small business made the home page of TechCrunch or Digg, would it solve all of your problems? OK, probably not. But if you could choose between the home page of Digg, TechCrunch, Netscape, or Reddit, which would you prefer? To provide some insight, we have brought in guest blogger, Mark Roberge, CEO of PawSpot.com . Over the past six months, PawSpot has made an appearance on the home page of each of these entities. Here is his reflection on the experiences.
What were the actual traffic metrics?
Sure. The graph below plots total referral visits against the number of days after the home page appearance occurred for each of these sites. As you can see, the social bookmarking sites yielded much higher traffic initially, with average visitors of about 8,500 in the first day. However, the daily visitors fell off quickly after the first day. TechCrunch, on the other hand, did not quite generate the same initial spike, with a little over 1,000 visitors on the first day. But a reasonable proportion of the original traffic levels was sustained even weeks after the mention.
The table below shows the page views per visit from each site. As one might expect, social bookmarking visitors came for a single glimpse, with a metric barely above 1. TechCrunch folks dug much deeper into the site, yielding 5 page views per visit on average.
As one may expect from the above figures, registered user conversion was many multiples higher from TechCrunch than from the social bookmarking visitors. TechCrunch visitor conversion fell in the three to five percent range. Social bookmarking visitors were a fraction of that figure.
What are the qualitative observations about these visitors?
We found social bookmarking users to be passionate, active participators that thrive on controversy . For the most part, they come for the sole purpose of the article at hand. The only potential distraction of slightly more importance is the commentary, and hopefully heated debate, that follows the article. If you are lucky, the debate will spill over from their social bookmarking site onto your site. However, the visitors will probably not even realize it, remaining heads down in the verbal onslaught. The analogy here is a bar fight that suddenly spills over into the pet shop next store. There is really no controlling it. You just need to let it fizzle out on its own and hope that more good than harm is done.
We found TechCrunch visitors to be the classic early adopters . They are explorers obsessed with remaining on the frontier of innovation as they chase their personal aspirations of fame, fortune, or both. Some are entrepreneurs looking for creative inspiration from your product that they can apply to their own. Others are simply looking to get in early on the next big thing. Either way, TechCrunch visitors come to try your product and will give it a genuine shot, willing to work through bugs or user experience flaws in order to understand your reason for being.
What is the best way to capitalize on these home page appearances?
The toughest part is knowing when these events are going to happen. However, if you did know, I might prepare in different ways. Visitors from social bookmarking sites need to be roped toward your money pot slowly and strategically. If they end up on your site in a heated debate over your article, show them related discussions in your forum or on other blog entries. Recognize when they are engaged and seize that opportunity to convert them to a registered user or subscribe to your RSS feed. Now you have them in the funnel and can work them toward a close. Social bookmarking visitors will have a small close percentage but the top of the funnel is enormous.
I believe TechCrunch visitors want to get right to your value proposition. “You have ten seconds. Show me why you are cool. If I like it, I will hang out longer.” For the most part, your site is probably structured reasonably well to suit their needs. Just make sure you have a path for really smart visitors. These folks may know your competitive landscape better than you do so fast-track them to your key differentiation.
If you had to pick one, which home page would you choose to appear on?
By far TechCrunch. Personally, I do not think the direct visitors you attract from any of them will make or break your business. As successful as these sites are, the demographics of their subscribers represent a small portion of the mass consumer markets. I think the real value comes in the brand awareness you gain for making the home page . Despite being fairly new-to-the-block in the media world, TechCrunch carries amazing prestige. To be honest, when TechCrunch covered us, we were still in user experience testing and had not even officially launched the site. However, the mention alone led to coverage by at least 50 additional blogs and invitations to a number of speaking engagements within the next few weeks. Add TechCrunch to your PR firm’s target list and buy Arrington a drink when you see him out on the town.