An Analysis of Site Traffic and Sales at skateparkoftampa.com
Posted on Tuesday, August 3, 2010 by Rob
If you’re in the skateboarding business, especially retail, I’m sure you’re scratching your head while looking at numbers decline like we have been over the last few years. What do you do? Change your product line up a little? Change how you present things? Change your shop layout? Change your website? Maybe the solution isn’t to change but to keep doing what you’re good at and ride out the ups and downs. Who knows, but one thing we did change back in November 2009 was the way our website works. Our front page used to be 95% content and 5% sales pitch. After watching sales decline for a while leading up to that point, we decided to make the front page have more of a store focus. The split has been 35% content and 65% sales pitch since that change in November. I also took several steps to reduce the number of clicks and page views needed to get around the site and get things done like viewing an article, viewing a photo, or adding something to your cart and checking out for a purchase.
I’m going to give you the full details on the effect of the above changes for both our traffic and sales. Before reading on, what do you guess is the effect of our site changes on sales and traffic?
Well, first, let’s take a look at traffic stats. I’m using the period of December 1, 2009 (right after the website overhaul) through June 30, 2010 and comparing it to the same period the year before. These time periods both include our annual spikes in traffic for Tampa Am and Pro.
I use Google Analytics to measure overall traffic on the site. First of all, due to the changes in navigation, I was definitely expecting a significant decrease in the number of page views on the site. It takes less clicks to get things done. Since there are no ads for sale on the site, I don’t have this weird motivation to increase page views. My motivation is simply to make the site as easy as possible to use whether you’re shopping or just checking out a foot fetish or Frontside Grind Magazine. So, I see the decrease from 18 million page views in the prior seven month time period to 9.5 million in the current time period as a good thing. Cutting page views in half saves SPoT bandwidth costs, reduces the load on our web server, and is generally a better browsing experience for visitors.
What I wasn’t expecting was a 20% drop in visitors. From last year to the current year, the number of visitors in the seven month period dropped from 1.9 million to 1.5 million. Does a website with a stronger sales pitch tend to make your chances of returning there less? Did we scare people away with too many products in their face? Those two questions got me worried when I first looked at traffic stats. Then I realized that many people get our content through Facebook. Take a look at this chart from Skatepark of Tampa’s Facebook Page. In April 2009, there were about 1,500 fans. That’s when I started posting all content from skateparkoftampa.com on our Facebook page. A year later in April 2010, a 467% increase in Facebook fans had over 8,000 people on our page. From there, the number today is 12,000+ and still increasing at the same rate.
So, the effect of social media has taken a lot of traffic from the main site. Why go to skateparkoftampa.com when you get the content from it right in your Facebook newsfeed? One business problem with that is that fans aren’t as exposed to our store as a visitor to the site is. The store is what pays all the bills for what we do. Now let’s look at what’s happened with the store in the same time period.
Sales both online and in the shop for these two time periods have significantly declined and continue to do so. I can’t give you numbers, but I can share percentages. From the time period of December 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009 compared to the same time period one year later, sales online declined 11.5%. Is this from the decrease in traffic in the same time period? Maybe, but if you take a look at sales in our physical shop at the Skatepark, sales have decreased by a nearly identical amount, 10.9%, which puts me right back to a position of having more questions than answers.
Is this really the effect of the economy or are there less skateboarders? Are there the same number of skateboarders but are the new ones now supporting national and chain type stores? Have we contributed to this by working with those brands at our events like Damn Am and Tampa Am/Pro? I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that we will keep doing what we love and what we’re good at and ride out the ups and downs as I mentioned. Plus, maybe it’s time for an actual, legit marketing plan? It’s been almost two decades and we’ve never really had one. Not bad for where this crusty little skateboard hut has gone so far.
I don’t want to see any of my friends and fellow skaters in Innetech, our ASS, our Shop, our maintenance department, or new store having to scale back hours or even worse, lose their jobs from cutbacks. That’s why I’ll keep scratching my head and thinking of things we can do to keep doing what we’ve been doing for 18 years now. Here’s to another 18 years.
PS, did you guess correctly on the question about the effect of our site changes on sales and traffic?