A service I would absolutely pay for

2011 has been a very good year for us. We’ve now got a team of 13+ talented people writing for us on a regular basis and the site, despite a few hiccups, is on a trajectory we’re pretty happy with.

On the revenue side, things are growing nicely (which helps when you need to pay people!) but what I’m finding is forever eating up more of my time is throwing all these numbers together and preparing charts etc that compare year on year and month on month performance etc etc.

The problem is I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m not from a business background (it took me three attempts to pass Accounting I — I switched to a BA to avoid Accounting II) and while I love making charts, I am making it up as I go.

I find over and over again that I’ve been summarising data in the wrong way and need to go back through 3,4,5 years of data and re-tabulate it. It’s great when you’re procrastinating, not so hot at other times.

Even when you get the data right, there’s not exactly a central respository of averaged out data that gives you some guidelines to benchmark against. There’s no point getting all excited about raising a conversion rate from 5% to 8% when the industry average for your niche in 19%.

So what I’m saying is a resource backed up with data that says ok, for hotel bookings you need to track A,B,C with moving averages over X & Y days. Track cancellations as a percentage, not raw numbers, chart time between booking and stay etc etc.

For other affiliate areas, serve up industry average conversion rates for a content site. For eg X for insurance, Y for books, Z for tours etc. Attach to this some templates for spreadsheets that you can pour data into so that now not only are you saving time but you’re looking at representations of data that fit some kind of “bigger picture view”.

I realise all sites are different and, especially in travel, there’s many variations and vagueries, but if I’d been able to get something like this five years ago, it would have saved me an awful lot of time. An awful lot of time.

So if you’re an “ebooker” looking for an ebook worth writing, there’s a new pet project for you :)

What would I pay? I dunno — $500 to a grand depending on level of detail and, importantly, how much time it would save me.

One thought on “A service I would absolutely pay for

  1. Interesting problems!

    Firstly conversion statistics are a factor of the warmth of the traffic and your marketing / competitors – rather than the usability of the design. Would you rather have 5% conversion of 100 visitors or 2.5% of 1000 visitors? I know a car hire website happy to run at 10,000 fully priced up car hire quotes to one booking – because they have the system capacity to be able to do that – so they create quotes for all sorts of very very cold traffic (e.g. someone who says they want a flight and has no intention of hiring a car). Works for them.

    Hence you should be looking at intent to book / research – who subsequently succeed – rather than a pure visitor conversion number.

    Second point is generalised data is available for different sectors – for example we at TourCMS have average transaction sizes, conversion ratios, leadtime – all sorts – all calculated the same way – for many specialist tour operators. You can have that for free is you become an affiliate (and if the suppliers want to give it to you, it is their data not ours) ;)

    Last point – do you really need to go back 5 years? That was another era in terms of web traffic. Much more organic SEO was possible then and with lower competition……. so comparing your current vs your ancient probably has little value….. but yes – comparing your current vs someone else’s current – now that is useful! (as long as you understand their traffic sources / marketing too, see point 1)

    Personally, I only compare current quarter just gone with same quarter last year…. on a rolling basis – and also last 4 weeks vs current quarter (to check nothing radically off right now). Thats it…. anything else more than that and you can waste so much time looking at statistics and not enough time “doing things”

    Hope this helps! Alex

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