How Seth Godin Broke My Analytics!

by Paul Wolfe on July 30, 2012

Here’s a slightly different post that I thought I’d share  – and a few people have emailed me about it so I thought you might be interested.  It relates to my bass guitar website – which is my main site.

Let’s start off with a screenshot from Google Analytics of traffic from Jun 12 to July 12th:

And now let’s compare it with a screenshot from June 28th to July 28th:

And now let’s compare it with a screenshot from June 28th to July 28th:

 

There’s two things I want you to notice.  One is the really massive spike that happens on July 13th.  And the second is that it makes the consistent traffic I get to that site (between 500 and 1000 uniques a day, 1200-1500 on days when I post new content) look like a tiny amount.

So What Happened?

The answer is that Seth Godin wrote about my bass guitar website and published that post on July 13th (a friday too for those of you who are superstitious!).  You can read Seth’s post here if you want to:

Monetizing Digital Attention

Now I knew that Seth had a big audience, but I didn’t realize so many people would click on the link in the post and head over and check me out.  (And also my opt-in rates were through the roof for the entire week as well!).

And was it a good thing that Seth wrote about me….sure it was.  But…

Be Careful What You Wish For…

You know the old proverb about being careful what you wish for in case it comes true?  Well though it was cool that Seth wrote about me, it’s totally screwed up all my analytics data.  I’ve been working on improving conversion rates for both opt-ins and courses….and this has thrown all my raw data out of the window!

So three months of careful tracking of data has gone straight out of the window!

How Did I Get Seth To Write About Me?

I’ve had a few people email me who’ve basically said something like this:

“Hey, it was cool that you got Seth to write about you – how did you manage that?”

The answer is that I didn’t do anything.  Seth chose to write about me – the first I knew of it was when he sent a draft of the post for me to look over a couple of days before he ran the post.  So there’s nothing in this post that I can teach you or tell you about that might lead to getting featured by a superstar in your industry.

There Is A Lesson Though

There is a lesson from the post today though.  And that’s this – for most businesses you shouldn’t be chasing short term spikes or short term boosts.  If they happen naturally, then embrace them – but don’t invest time in trying to set them.

Instead invest your time in activities that create long term benefits for your business – create new content, create a new product, record video testimonials, test and track conversion rates.  You know what activities will generate the best leverage for your business….so focus on those activities and focus on building your business step by step.

If something like this happens to you….then yep, it’s kind of cool.  But focus on the tasks that generate leverage for you.  That’s where the real magic happens over time.

{ 45 comments }

Tony July 31, 2012 at 9:22 am

Hi Paul

You know Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing don’t you? I’m pretty sure it was on a webinar with him that I was introduced to you. Anyway, Danny made use of such a blip in traffic by repeating the effect and really boosting it by blasting out a few posts on big sites virtually all at the same time. Higher levels of traffic then became the norm for Danny. It’s all documented on his website better than I can explain it.

I see from the stats in this post that traffic did not fall back to where it was for a while, same as Danny found. Do you think it might be possible for you to increase your traffic with a similar exercise, even if it is with video? Offer a video blog post to the big blogs/players perhaps?

That way, rather than the Seth Godin traffic remaining as a blip on your stats it could be the catalyst to constantly bigger stats. Or would such an increase be a bit difficult for you to handle?

Best wishes

Tony

Paul Wolfe July 31, 2012 at 11:02 am

Hi Tony

Thanks for the comment.

What’s interesting is that this year I’ve been working on and tracking conversions very closely – the mention by Seth resulted in approximately 10 to 12 times the amount of traffic over a few day period than I would normally have got. But the ‘Sales Graph’ remained at the same level as if I’d never had that traffic.

So although it was nice to get mentioned by Seth – and get a spike in traffic – that mention/spike didn’t lead to any extra sales. So efforts to get mentioned by other websites would be best confined to my market area, rather than a ‘marketing blog’ per se.

And I’d love to handle that kind of traffic increase on a permanent basis of bass guitar people rather than ‘marketing people.’ But that’s something that would have to be built up over time!

Paul

Ryan Hanley July 31, 2012 at 10:48 am

Paul,

I was very happy for you to see the mention on Seth’s blog. If for no other reason than validation of the great work you’re doing.

Did you get a lot of people opting in that probably would not have otherwise opted in or that aren’t interested in Bass Guitar but opted in to see what you were doing?

That’s the tough part with a mention like that because you get so much traffic that will probably not stick. But if for nothing else its more awareness of you business and a great backlink from powerful resource.

Keep doing you’re great work buddy its an inspiration for people like myself.

Ryan H.

Paul Wolfe July 31, 2012 at 11:07 am

Hey Ryan

You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head – I got opt ins from people who wanted to follow what I’m doing for business reasons rather than bass reasons. I managed to divert some of them here to The Spoon…and some have since unsubscribed.

It was flattering to get a mention – and I needed to write a post because I’ve had a lot of questions about what it did to traffic and how I “got” Seth to do it. (As if you could “get” Seth to do it).

Thanks for the comment – how’s things with you?

Paul

Ryan Hanley July 31, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Haha… Like somehow you made a deal with him to exchange mentions or something… haha

Things are good buddy still fighting the good fight!

And I see you’ve been doing the same… All the best!

Adan Lerma July 31, 2012 at 11:16 am

love the lesson segment! -

“If something like this happens to you….then yep, it’s kind of cool. But focus on the tasks that generate leverage for you. That’s where the real magic happens over time.”

i mistook a promo from one of the ebook freebie sites a few months back to a “new level” of permanent interest in my books, nope, though it was nice, and showed what might build over time

glad you wrote about this, thanks!

ps – did have a question, any experience or heard about writers doing video snippets of part of their novel (i have a few video-poems done already) to good effect? thanks again

Paul Wolfe July 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Adan

I haven’t heard of any fiction writers doing video….I am planning to self publish some fiction on Kindle later this year and have some ideas on how to use video as a promotional tool.

When I see results (if any) I’ll probably report back here on how they worked or didn’t!

Paul

Adan Lerma July 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm

I appreciate that Paul, thanks! Look fwd to your findings ;-)

Morris @ Fresh Roast Coffee July 31, 2012 at 11:33 am

Nice article Paul, It’s kewl Seth has singled you out as one of e good guys on the ‘net. I read his blogs often.
It’s a reminder though, that not all visitors are going to be customers. Not that different from brick and mortar. Lots of people walk in the door and even more look in the window and walk by. The carnival comes to town, business goes up and then it leaves and back to your loyal customers and fans.
Keep up the good work Paul.

Paul Wolfe July 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Hmmmm Fresh Roast Coffeee…..I need a hit. When are you going to send me some great beans?

Seriously, nice to see you around. And yep you’re absolutely right…the carnival comes to town and then leaves and your existing audience is what keeps you going.

Jens P. Berget July 31, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hi Paul,

I read the post from Seth Godin and I remember thinking about how much traffic you would get from being mention on his blog. Now I know :)

But, another thing is the long term traffic you’ll get. I bet a lot of people will see the post, just by visiting his blog and via search engines.

What you’ve showed us is that it really helps to keep working hard to create high quality content and not pushing promotions.

Awesome lesson.

Paul Wolfe July 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Hey Jens

How’s the book coming?

The link won’t hurt of course….and yes, it was nice to read something like that which was totally and completely unexpected. Creating high quality content which answers the questions that your core audience have can never be a bad use of your business time. It’s just about the highest leverage activity I can think of.

Of course when you create products you SHOULD promote them….but often high quality free content will do the bulk of the conversion process for you.

Paul

Jens P. Berget July 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I am re-writing the book right now, and hopefully I’ll publish it at the end of August.

But, I have just today published my first short story on the Kindle and it’s in English :)

It would be awesome if you’d read it and give me some feedback. It’s only 28 pages.

- Jens

Paul Wolfe July 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Jens

Why don’t you drop a link here for me (and others) and I’ll check it out.

Paul

Jens P. Berget July 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I’ll be happy to:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008QTRP7I

Thank you!

Paul Wolfe July 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Yr welcome – will be interested to see how you go with it. How did you find the ‘publishing’ process?

Jens P. Berget July 31, 2012 at 1:40 pm

It was a lot easier than I thought. But I ended up buying a short report on the warrior forum to help me with the process.

But, I just submitted the .doc file (with the right settings) and uploaded the ecover and that was it. But, the problem is the add the right tags and the right categories, and write a good description etc..

This is just a test to see how it works. And I just discovered that I can have a 5 day free promotion of my ebook (starting today), but after that it will cost $0.99 for people living in the US and $3.44 for people living in Norway (I had no idea that the prices would be different for the various countries even though the book is still on amazon.com)

Sophie Lizard July 31, 2012 at 12:07 pm

It’s a shame that “the inevitable movement of the most motivated students from free to paid” [as Seth Godin put it] is not massively affected by a mention on any site that doesn’t serve your target market, because it doesn’t bring a higher percentage of those motivated students.

Still, plenty of us business-marketing types do like to play bass. :) So it’s all good!

Paul Wolfe July 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Hey Sophie

Funnily enough there were a lot of bass players amongst Seth’s audience (which I suppose is only natural….I’m sure there are people amongst his followers who knit, who watch the stars, and follow any number of hobbies and pastimes).

I WAS surprised though (pleasantly) because the bass guitar is a pretty small market area!

Keep rocking the low end! (And any ideas why so few women play the bass?)

Paul

Sophie Lizard July 31, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Not a clue… maybe you could investigate for How to Play Bass?

Paul Wolfe August 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Ha ha – I should!

I Want Your Skull July 31, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Damn Seth, how dare you? ;)

Tarun Gehani July 31, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Hey Paul,

Yes, there’s always a lesson. It takes clarity and dedication, though, to see through the short-term blips (no matter how great of a mention they may be).

I agree with you, Jens, and some of the other commentators here that the type of traffic gained (and those leads that convert into subscribers or customers) are obviously the ones we most are seeking out for. By no means would we (at least I) turn down traffic, but business owners should realize, as you point out, that if you’re proactively pitching and marketing to other blogs, you should make sure to put your effort into those that cover similar topics as you (those will have the better opt-in rates, etc).

A mention or a link from the big guns is only going to add to your credibility, but too often that not, people seek out these mentions and traffic spikes and equate that to a certain success.

Sergio Felix July 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Hey Paul,

Congratulations on your recent achievement (being published on Seth’s blog) and if you didn’t do anything to be there, even better man!

It’ll be interesting to know how your visitor’s numbers change over the following days and I believe this is one of the good “bad things” that anyone would like to happen to them (referring to how seth broke your analytics).

Cheers man and good job! ;-)

Sergio

Paul Wolfe July 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Hey Sergio

Nope I did absolutely nothing for it. It was just a fortuitous happening. The numbers have sunk back to normal levels – which is totally and utterly cool. A month of that and I can start my tracking again without the ‘noise’ interfering with the data! (Not that I’m complaining….it’s an honour to have been mentioned/featured).

Paul

Mark July 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Congrats Paul!

You’re awesome because the web and Seth Godin say you are – LOL!

I knew you were awesome way before Seth wrote about it, so I must be better at spotting world-class talent :o

Just kidding, but how awesome. It’s somebody just like you who not only deserves the mention, but your business will sustain the new traffic (a good portion of it) because of the work you do.

Very happy for you sir – kudos!

Paul Wolfe July 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Hey mark

Weren’t you the first guy to publish a guest post of mine? (If not the first, the second!). And it’s good to see you drop by The Spoon!
Thanks for the wishes and the kudos. How’s things in Costa Rica with the family?

Paul

Mark July 31, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Hi Paul, all good here sir… And yes, I will always remember how supportive and helpful you were : )

I took a bit of a sabbatical and when I returned you were putting out some amazing content on creating videos.

I also didn’t realize who I was talking to… You’ve been doing this stuff for a while now and you’ve established quite the reputation online.

Oh, I guess that’s pretty obvious having a nice mention by Seth : )

All good here in Costa Rica and trying to get back in the blogging rhythm of things… The family is good, all healthy and growing fast!

How about you sir, how’s things on your end?

Paul Wolfe August 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Hey Mark

Things are all good here thanks – just not enough time in the day! I need some kind of time slowing down machine so I can squeeze 36 hours into every 24!

Paul

Mark August 4, 2012 at 11:48 pm

I can definitely relate sir!

Have a great weekend Paul : )

Marlon August 1, 2012 at 3:19 am

Hi Paul,

I hope that the high optins would not be followed by high number of optouts :)

Some people, once they found out that what you are doing is sheer hardwork and what you are offering is the path of taking it one spoon at a time, they become uninterested.

And they won’t admit their interest on hypes. But things like $1000 in 30 minutes without effort still appeals to them. It is sad but it’s the truth.

But hey, your success inspires me a lot. 2012 is truly a great year.

Paul Wolfe August 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Marlon

That is sooooooo true – and so sad. I can see the allure of $1000 in 30 minutes. And it actually IS doable. But you have to invest several years of hard work before you get to that position.

Keep on doing your thing – hope the programming goes to plan!

paul

Josh August 1, 2012 at 6:07 am

A mention by Seth is very cool but you hit the nail on the head when you talked about not trying to plan for that kind of spike. Business is a marathon and not a sprint. If you don’t build it with the intent and desire to sustain your effort you are planning to fail.

Paul Wolfe August 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Funnily enough – with the marathon mention – I’m just watching the Olympics – I hope it’s more like a 10,000 metre run than the marathon. (The British athlete just won the gold).

But every overnight success hides years and years of hard work (sometimes brutally hard work). If you listen to any of the Olympic interviews with the athletes and what they’ve sacrificed to get to the finals….it’s humbling and the principle holds the same whether it’s business, a passion (e.g. an instrument), or a sport.

Good comment!

Anton Koekemoer August 2, 2012 at 8:36 am

Hi Paul,

Yes – Just comes to show you. For every Ying there is a Yang, just as there are disadvantages to advantages. A lot of people tend to think that having a authoritative person with a lot of followers and social weight point a link, post and or tweet to your website and a couple of mentions etc. But I think you’ve provided quite a decent example of what negativity can come from having too much of a good thing. Wonder if Seth will comment on your post.

Paul Wolfe August 4, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Hey Anton

Well it’s not so much a ‘negative’ as such…but it has been an interesting experience. But whilst it was good it’s not something that I would try and make part of my regular strategy!

Paul

Fiona Prince August 3, 2012 at 2:53 am

Hi Paul,

Thanks for sharing your experience and your perspective. It’s easy for us to get caught up in unexpected peaks (spikes) in business and let go of our current long-range business strategy and associated activities. I’ll remember your post the next time this happens to me :-)

Paul Wolfe August 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Hey Fiona

Long term planning is absolutely crucial! Stop by and post when it happens to you!

Paul

Faissal Alhaithami August 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

This a great example actually. It’s quite easy to chase short-term benefits. But what really makes a difference is how you are going to fare in the long term. Even if you’re a little slower, moving steadily (while focusing on your goals) will lead you to success.

Paul Wolfe August 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Always be the tortoise. That dude always wins the race.

Aman August 4, 2012 at 7:39 am

Nice case study of your own website Paul. Came across your site by the link shared by Google so Seth’s blog may not be the only place you got metioned. Check out the referral traffic in Analytics, you might see another spike soon since Google mentioned your blog. :-)

Enjoy the traffic.

Paul Wolfe August 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Hey Aman

Thanks for that – I’ll have a look at the analytics and see what they say.

Paul

Brent Kelly August 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Hi Paul, I was introduced to you site through Ryan Hanley. This is an amazing lesson on the power of a “big time” referral. I wish you all the best and hope you continue this momentum. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Paul Wolfe August 4, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Hey Brent

Any friend of Ryan’s is a friend of mine – so welcome to The Spoon! I hope you carry on enjoying my posts – expect a lot of posts about video marketing though!

Paul

Elena Anne August 9, 2012 at 9:44 am

Good story. I like what you say about building your business slowly, organically. I too believe that it is better to achieve in business steadily, even to fail a few times first, before finding success. You will appreciate it more and it more likely to last too.

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