increase-website-traffic-forumsThe internet will never stop presenting new challenges and new opportunities for businesses of all kinds. Measuring this new reality will always be a critical function, but one with inherent simplicity if you step back from more elaborate tracking services with extensive coding, reporting and cost. Site traffic, defined basically as homepage analysis, is independently simple and can serve essential needs like tracking ROI, audience activity and even competitive comparisons. Here's a five-piece review breaking down this low-hanging fruit:

  • Easy access, whether through in-depth Google Analytics or third-party platforms like Similarweb, you can track virtually any domain on the web. At a minimum, by researching one URL in Similarweb, you gain enough information for a basic profile of the online audience – who visits the website, where they came from, how much content they consume and what they do when they leave. By tracking this month-over-month, benchmarks for success are created to correlate with other business activities like marketing and communications.
  • Site traffic has universal recognition across any group – internal, external, in finance, retail or otherwise. Five thousands business leaders acknowledged this versatility when they ranked site traffic as the number one tracked metric for B2B success in the 2015 Content Marketing Institute report (link here, page 15).

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Verizon Buys AOLIn the wake of last week’s announcement reporting that Verizon was acquiring AOL for $4.4 billion in cash, a colleague asked me, “Is AOL still relevant?”  The answer is a resounding yes, but not for the reasons one might think.

As a child of the 80’s and a proud, card-carrying nerd, I remember the days when 2–3 times a week, without fail, I would receive a CD in the mailbox exhorting me to sign up for the community of America On-Line. And in those days, the [sweet melody of dial-up] was the soundtrack to my adolescence.  Believe it or not, AOL *still* derives revenue from dial-up subscribers, somewhere north of $150 million per quarter.

With the rise of cable internet, this part of the business has become increasingly less and less relevant. Many of you may not even know it, but you are consuming AOL properties everyday:  The Huffington Post, StyleList, mapquest, TechCrunch and engadget are all owned by AOL.  And the infrastructure they have built behind these properties is very significant.  So while you may not have heard the soothing sounds of a modem in recent years, yes, Virginia, AOL is still relevant.

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Media Navel Gaze

The Week Unpeeled

You Got Merger! Verizon agreed to buy AOL for some $4.4 billion (chump change for the phone company), vaulting the telecom company into TV and online video and clearly marrying old school/largest telephone service in the US with the older of the new online services that owns HuffPo.

Elsewhere:

  • DuPont appeared Teflon coated last week when shareholders re-elected the current slate of board members, rejecting activist Nelson Peltz’s bid to join and putting in check for now direct pressure from the investor and his firm Trian Fund;
  • Avon was not calling but did become the center of a hoax of sorts when a bogus takeover offer was reportedly filed with regulators, sending the stock soaring and eventually forcing an FBI investigation and SEC probe;
  • Carl Icahn puts $100 million behind Lyft, creating no doubt some surge interest in the ride-sharing company;
  • The Amtrak wreck continued to lead stories with latest developments focused not as much on safety but possibility of a “hit” from a projectile before the crash;
  • Google is launching “buy buttons” on mobile search results, making it more of an online marketer;
  • A parade of bold names paid homage to David Letterman in recent days ahead of his final top-10 list this week, from Oprah to Obama amid heaps of media praise on how he changed the late-night format to more variety less straight talk;
  • The Dow ended the week up 0.45 percent to close on Friday at 18,272;
  • Blues legend BB King died;
  • The art-world exploded last week, with a Picasso selling for nearly $180 million and other records set as well; and
  • Receiving big pick-up all week, meta analysis now shows virtually no negative health risks associated with coffee; big gulp away!

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ABC's "Scandal" - Season TwoIs there something better than Olivia Pope? You bet.

I had the privilege last week to attend LinkedIn’s CommsConnect in New York, where one of the guest speakers was Judy Smith, founder and president of Smith & Co., a crisis-management firm well known inside the Beltway. But, Smith is more popularly known as the inspiration for Olivia Pope of TV’s Scandal.

One half of me wanted to know whether Ms. Smith – like her counterpart Olivia on the show – also drank red wine, what kind of relationship she had with her parents or whether she was ever in love with any of her many presidential clients. (She made it clear that last one was a “no.”) Not one of the senior communication executives in the audience asked any one of those questions.

Instead, we heard several bits of wisdom that can make all PR professionals more like a gladiator – the show’s term for hard-core crisis fixers – than mere message developers.

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Media Navel Gaze

The Week Unpeeled

The US unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent in April with employers adding some 223,000 jobs, a rebound much need for the economy and markets alike, with the Dow and other gauges staging a strong rally; the blue chips closed up 1.5 percent on Friday alone and 0.9 percent for the week to end at 18,199, just shy of a record for both the average and S&P 500 index. The Fed is still expected to hold back on raising rates although tightening expected at sometime this year.

Elsewhere:

  • Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative party surprisingly and overwhelming surged to victory in the polls last week, giving the Tories big support in government;
  • From the Scottish National Party, 20-year Mhairi Black wins a Labour seat to become the youngest member of Parliament since 1667;
  • US appeals court found that the NSA program of collecting the phone records of millions of Americans is illegal;
  • Al Jazeera America remained part of the news cycle instead of contributing to it when the operations announced that it was replacing its chief executive who had served in that role since the network launched two years ago, the recent in a line of departures with one saying on the way out that a “culture of fear” existed in the newsroom -- blaming part of that feeling on the ousted CEO; more to come no doubt;
  • Third Point founder Dan Loeb found himself in the spotlight again when the hedge-fund chief took aim at Warren Buffett saying there was a “disconnect” between the investor’s words and actions in a rare “chewing out” (WSJ) at the popular SALT conference in Las Vegas;
  • ESPN decided not to renew Bill Simmons contract, but outspoken columnist and analysts kept silent; and
  • Deflategate re-inflated.

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