November 16, 2009
Lobster.com Case Study
How LOBSTER.COM Used HITSLINK Before, During and After the Re-launch of a Trusted, Old Website
PART 1: LOBSTER.COM Prepares to Shed Its Old Shell
With a name like LOBSTER.COM, it is not too hard to guess what this company does online. That’s right: They sell lobsters. Fresh, live Maine lobsters. Since the late-nineties this simple site has become a favorite destination for people who want to send the gift of a delicious lobster dinner to friends and loved ones far and near.
Recently, the owners of LOBSTER.COM decided it was high time for this humble site take its rightful place in the e-commerce world, with a new site, new logo, and an updated image that reflected the company’s values, and expanded product offerings.
This case study in four parts will chronicle how LOBSTER.COM used HITSLINK at each step of the process of re-launching a major e-commerce site. It will start with this first part – how to use HitsLink to understand what is happening on the site now and how that information can be used to influence the new design.
The second and third parts will go into more detail on tracking early results, tracking email metrics real-time and early site testing during a busy holiday period. The fourth and final installment will include a full analysis of the first quarter of the new site after the launch, and HITSLINK data will continue to play a vital role in site enhancements, paid and organic search campaigns, and even new product development.
Part One – LOBSTER.COM Prepares to Shed its old Shell
Before launch, the folks at LOBSTER.COM wanted to know what was really happening on the website. They had used some basic tracking programs, AWSTATS and URCHIN, but those tools did not seem to give a very intimate feel for what was really happening on the current site.
Here is a snapshot of the current home page, prior to launch:
The old LOBSTER.COM website is relatively small, with fewer than 12 pages, including a very basic shopping cart . The navigation, though slightly non-standard is very utilitarian and easy to follow.
The questions we had regarding the LOBSTER.COM website were pretty much the basic ones that anyone website owner would want to know, including:
The great part about analyzing website data is that it always leads you to ask more and more questions about the data, the visitors and the site’s performance. A real strength of HITSLINK is how quickly it presents very good top-level data very quickly.
Many of the most important and frequently asked questions about website performance can be answered in minutes on HITSLINK without going through tons of menus and screen loads as is required on other analytics tools.
First Surprise - Lobster is a Worldwide Phenomenon
One of the first really big surprises we obtained from HITSLINK Visitor Analysis Map overlay was the amazing extent to which the traffic to LOBSTER.COM was coming in from international sources! A quick glance at the map shows that visitor traffic from Europe is strong, if not stronger than in the United States.
The reason this is so surprising is that LOBSTER.COM only ships live lobsters in the continental United States! In the ten year history of the company, exceedingly few orders for live lobster have ever come from outside the US. Given the strength of the international traffic, the management team at LOBSTER.COM started to consider what additional opportunities were available from European traffic.
As they dug down into the data, it became clear that the traffic from overseas did not seem all that interesting. Visitors were not staying on the site very long and bounce rates were very high. Certainly, the fact that LOBSTER.COM is an English-only site and only ships to US customers could be a primary reason why foreign visitors do not stick around. If the site was re-designed with European visitors in mind, would these visitors stick around and perhaps become customers – buying lobster for their American friends and families? More exploration in the data was required before making that kind of investment.
A second hypothesis arose – that the international traffic is mainly due to the one-word domain name. Single word domains, especially names that are as evocative as lobster, can bring naturally attract visitors who will never be interested in buying lobster.
What Keywords Are Bringing the Most Motivated Visitors
However, for the web design team, a more interesting question, the more interesting question was – what keywords are bringing in the most motivated visitors? What keywords should they focus on for search engine optimization purposes?
The HITSLINK data has been tremendously helpful in helping discover this important data. With very little effort on our part, we were able to determine exactly which words would be our most valuable.
HITSLINK Reports let us look at the data across a number of behavioral metrics:
Without having to run any special analysis, HITSLINK practically hands you a prioritized list of the most valuable keywords driving traffic to the site. This saved us hours of data manipulation. From this one data report, LOBSTER.COM was able to sort keywords by the most visitors, by the keywords that drove the longest site visits, the most pages, and the fewest bounce-outs, and which resulted in repeat visitors.
A simple export of this report into Excel, allowed us to grab the best of the best keywords across all of these categories, and make our SEO research a breeze.
How Important are IPhones, Blackberries, Androids and other Mobile Devices?
LOBSTER.COM did not know to what extent it should be designing the new website with mobile browsers in mind, and wanted an idea of what devices are being used now. The HITSLINK Report, Operating Systems Versions, shown below, reports that in Q3 2009, fewer than 2% of LOBSTER.COM visitors came in on mobile devices.
That is not enough to warrant a big push for the web design team, but that also depends on how fast mobile device use is increasing. How fast is mobile usage increasing and when will it become an issue?
HITSLINK also shows trends in operating systems, which enables you to see how devices are growing or waning in importance. In looking at Q4 2009, LOBSTER.COM has seen a 30% growth in mobile browser visits. Not a tipping point just yet, but certainly a trend to keep on top of for the next site redesign:
Part 1 Wrap up
In this part of the case history, we’ve shown some of the HITSLINK Reports that have helped shape both the business and website design decisions made during the preparation phase for the re-launch of LOBSTER.COM as it gets ready to launch the new site with expanded offerings and a new shell.
Catch it While It’s Fresh!!! LOBSTER.COM – Launches onto the Web
In the next episode, we’ll present the freshest data from the fresh new launch of LOBSTER.COM. We will focus on how HITSLINK, the only real-time analytics platform on the market today, enables you to make up-to-the minute adjustments to your marketing programs – Especially Important as you navigate the current holiday season.
About the Author:
Matt Van Wagner is a seasoned sales and marketing professional specializing in paid and local search engine marketing strategies in the United States and Canada. An award-winning speaker whose presentations are usually as entertaining as they are informative, Matt has been a popular speaker at SES, SMX and other search conferences. Matt is President and founder of Find Me Faster a search engine marketing firm based in Nashua, NH. He is a member of SEMNE (Search Engine Marketing New England), and SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization as a member and contributing courseware developer for the SEMPO Institute. Matt writes occasionally on internet, search engines and technology topics for IMedia, The NH Business Review and other publications and served as technical editor for Andrew Goodman's "Winning Results with Google AdWords" and Mona Elesseily's "Yahoo! Search Marketing Handbook." Matt is a graduate of St Lawrence University, Canton NY (BS Economics) with an M.B.A. from Rivier College, Nashua, NH.
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Firefox turns 5, and crosses 25% browser usage market share
Firefox from Mozilla turned last week, and celebrated by having achieved 25% of the global browser usage market share. NetMarketShare.com from Net Applications tracks global and local usage market share for browsers, operating systems, search engines and mobile systems.
"What an exciting milestone for Mozilla, particularly as we are celebrating five years of Firefox this week," said Mitchell Baker, Chair, Mozilla. "The momentum around Firefox adoption has been truly astounding."
When Firefox entered the browser wars, we at Net Applications always asserted it needed to achieve 10% usage market share to be considered a true competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Mozilla crossed that threshold back in March of 2006 and they have grown their usage share fairly steadily since then. Now 1 in 4 people globally are browsing the Internet with Firefox.
That’s impressive, especially when you consider the advantages the other browser providers have enjoyed over the years:
The competition has been heated, but Mozilla has focused on a formula of:
That formula has been successful so far, but the war is far from decided. Microsoft’s release of Windows 7 has seen a very impressive early adoption rate. There are 2 major decisions computer users will face with a major new operating system available. First, do they upgrade to Windows 7, or is this the time to consider an alternative such as a Mac OS or Linux based system. New Mac users will most likely lead to new Safari users. Second, with a new operating system many people will have to decide on a default browser again. This gives IE a great opportunity to win back some of its lost market share. But, it also gives Chrome, Opera and other browsers an opportunity to become the alternative browser of choice over Firefox.
Another major force in the browser wars is the move to mobile. The iPhone has proven that people will browse from their mobile device if the browser and device can provide a similar user experience to a computer. Mobile browsing is projected to grow substantially in the years to come, so this may be the next big battle ground for browser providers.
For these and other Net Market Share Statistics, go to netmarketshare.com.
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