Suppose you’ve got a site where, deep in the site, there’s a coupon for some kind of offer. Visitors are invited to print the offer or use the offer to link to a merchant website. Some clients I work with have this kind of setup, and we observed an interesting phenomenon on one of these sites.
There was a large traffic spike all of a sudden to the website one week – in the range of a 50% increase in visits. Something close to this 50% increase was also seen in single-access visits, and time on site plunged. Online campaign data showed nothing unusual, and search engine referrals showed nothing unexpected. It was only when we got to the referrer report, that we realized what was happening.
Someone on two websites – Mommy$avesBig.com and FatWallet.com – posted a blog linking directly to a coupon on the site. Visitors then saw the blog, followed it to the site, printed the coupon, and left.
A successful visit? I suppose if the goal of the website is only to drive people to coupons. But clearly the greater intent of a website like this is to drive visitors to many offers, instill brand loyalty, and get visitors to be otherwise “engaged” through browsing and interaction with the site. This kind of visit described above would be like being led, blindfolded, to one item at Walmart and then being led straight back to the checkout counter. I guess it’s better than nothing, but certainly not the desired or anticipated behavior on a site.
What can one do about it? Don’t ignore these coupon pages as the end-in-themselves. Post attractive links on these coupons to drive people elsewhere. Show them similar items or prominently display a homepage link. In other words, don’t count these pages out as an end point, and realize that they might be the first page people see.