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This post is a far-cry from photography, but I feel it’s interesting business information for any photographer or creative artist to consider.

I’m assuming you’re probably already aware of Google Analytics, but if not, check out more info here.  It’s a very powerful and useful (and free) tool that photographers can use to track website traffic.

I set up my analytics account about a month ago and since then haven’t touched it.  I wanted to see what type of results my current online marketing efforts were offering, so I didn’t alter any keywords or page content.  The results were compelling.  Here is a brief synopsis of what I found interesting:

– Traffic is coming equally from referral sites (Facebook, Twitter, other websites), direct traffic, and engine searches.  I find this interesting that just as many people type in radiantphotography.com, as do people clicking links to the site, and people finding the company through search.  I really thought the referral sites would take the lead, assuming most people don’t type direct URLs in much anymore.  People really feel compelled by my business card and face time to look up the site after meeting me.  That’s great, but in the future I’d really like to see more search and referral results.   I’m obviously not using the internet to my full advantage right now.  That said, I’ve never mailed out a promo piece or done an Adwords campaign, so the personal/social marketing  I am doing is working.

– Most of the site’s visitors are using Internet Explorer.  41% of the viewers are using a Windows-based Internet Explorer setup for their web viewing.  Followed by Windows/Firefox, Mac/Safari, then Mac/Firefox setups.  So when designing anything on the web page, it’s important to use CSS code that will display in IE acceptably, something IE had always had trouble doing.  While I’d love to say that art directors, art buyers, and other creatives on Macs are our primary audience right now, that’s not the case.  It may not be for naught, however, since some of the corporations we market to use system-wide Windows computers in their business.  Another factor in using this browser info for site design is the fact that most visitors are using high-res monitors (1440, 1280, 1024 pix wide).  I used to design websites at 800×600 pix to serve the lowest common resolution used in the marketplace.  That type of website would look minuscule on today’s LCDs.  Knowing I’ve chosen a better size for our current site makes me feel confident that our images adequately presented on the viewer’s screen.

– “Photography of celebrities” is our second highest keyword hit, right under “Radiant Photography”.  I Googled the term today (6/1/09) and sure enough we come up as the second Google result.  That’s a position some photographers would pay money for, so our keywording is definitely working.  However, combined with the browser results above, I feel like the wrong people are finding us.  Magazine art directors are more than likely using Safari in their Mac-driven world, probably followed by Firefox and Opera.  Combine the term “photography of celebrities” with IE browser and we’re probably getting teens or star-struck fans Googling around for pictures of their favorite celebrities…something we don’t offer.  This also explains the 36% bounce rate.  Some folks are leaving after the first page view.  They obviously know what they’re looking for and we’re not it.  I don’t know what an acceptable bounce rate percentage is, but this number needs to come down through our future marketing efforts.

While the results our mixed, I’m positive that using Google Analytics is a wise addition to our box of marketing tools.  Our social marketing efforts are paying off and people are visiting the site.  In another month or two we’ll have enough info to embark on our first Adwords campaign to directly target the art directors, buyers and editors we’re looking for.  Same applies for our other project whiteproductphotography.com.  There we will be interested in gaining marketing momentum with product manufacturers, designers, retail outlets, etc.

I’d like to see Google incorporate keyworded images into their analytics.  To be able to track your keyworded images across the web and figure out which images get people to your site, would be an amazing tool for visual artists.  I’d be more inclined to hand out sample images for people to use if I could track where they would end up and if they really paid off as online marketing pieces.

I’ll report back in the future as I learn more about Analytics and how useful it can be for photographers.

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