Each day I see on my Personalised Google Home Page a set of quotes. I noticed today that one is from Albert Einstein:

“Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Now, each day I also get a ton of stuff from “gurus” of Internet marketing and frequently I’m told I should count all sorts of things. SEO “specialists” have told me to count hits, countries of origin of web site visitors, even the different screen sizes that people use to access my sites. All of that information is interesting and it can be counted; but it doesn’t count. Much of the data you can collect about visitors to your web site is worthless. Knowing that 23.7% of people come from outside your own country doesn’t help you very much. Equally, knowing that 5% of them use an Apple Mac, is hardly likely to dramatically improve your income. Businesses around the world are paying for web statistics that are worthless. To use Einstein’s words they are counting something that doesn’t count.

What you need to know is who your prospects and customers are – not just where they come from, but actual names and contact details. My local corner store knows my name, address, age, what I buy and when I buy it. The result is they can send me targeted promotions, causing me to buy even more in their store. If all they knew was that 25% of their shoppers were over 45 years old, it wouldn’t help them sell more to me. What counts in Internet marketing is knowing your prospects and customers in detail. Also, what counts is conversion rate. The top 100 Internet retailers get conversion rates of around 5% – in other words one in 20 people who visit their sites buys something. If you’re getting less than 5% you need to up your game. So what counts is split testing your headlines, your copy, your prices with actual prospects and customers who you know well. That way you will collect something that counts – data to help you improve your sales.

So take a tip from Einstein – stop wasting your time on web stats which only help massage your ego as to how many people from all over the world take a look at your work. That doesn’t count. What counts is knowing your customers and what they want.

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