THE BUSINESS RESEARCHER
May 10, 2003 Volume 6, Number 5
* Introduction - Editor's Comments
* What's New
Statistics Canada releases
* How well is
your web site performing?
Business Stats Facts
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INTRODUCTION - EDITOR'S COMMENTS
I have has a number of queries over the last couple of weeks
related to web
site benchmarks so I have decided to address the issue in this
the BR Newsletter.
Keep in mind however that the key to achieving positive
is marketing. Next week (May 12-13-14, 2003) the 6th International
Marketing Conference takes place in Montreal. The focus is the
teaching of 'best practice' methods in Internet marketing. It is
well worth attending.
I hope you find this issue helpful.
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WHAT'S NEW AT
- SHIPS, VIRUSES & SPAM
Monthly report on virus and
spam activity. Includes country of origin (e.g.
Canada, United States, Great Britain etc.)
GREAT LAKES ST LAWRENCE SEAWAY SYSTEM
Annual tonnage information
and traffic reports.
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STATISTICS CANADA RELEASES
Statistics Canada released the following statistics over the last
weeks. We have listed those releases we feel are of the most
Very few of these statistics are available on-line. The URL listed
direct link to the press release associated with the data. It
contact and ordering information.
If you want to purchase any publication related to these releases
our web site:
We offer a 20%
discount on most Stats Can publications and a 10% discount on
electronic products. For more information you can reach us at
Put "StatsCan" in the subject line of your e-mail.
Hog statistics, 2003
Greenhouse, sod and nursery
Red meat consumption 2002
ARTS, CULTURE, RECREATION
Gambling: An update 2002
Annual Survey of Commercial and Industrial Machinery and Equipment
and Leasing 2001
Annual Survey of Consumer
Goods Rental and Leasing Services 2001
Annual Survey of Automotive
Equipment Rental and Leasing 2001
Services Price Index 2001 (preliminary)
Annual Survey of
Architectural Services Industry 2001
Annual Survey of Advertising
and Related Services 2001
Telecommunications statistics 2002 and fourth quarter 2002
Financial and taxation statistics for enterprises 2001
Input-output structure of
the Canadian economy 1997-1998
Provincial and territorial
gross domestic product 2002
The evolving workplace: Determinants of training 1999
University enrolment by age
groups 2000/01 (preliminary)
Consolidated government finance: Assets and liabilities As of
March 31, 2001
Annual Survey of Manufactures 2000 and 2001
NON-PROFIT / CHARITY
Volunteering on company time 2000
Federal government spending on science and technology 1993/94 to
Provincial distribution of
federal expenditures on science and technology
1994/95 to 2000/01
Overcoming distance, overcoming borders: Comparing North American
Aircraft movement statistics 2002
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HOW WELL IS YOUR WEB SITE PERFORMING?
How do you know if your web site is under performing? We have all
phenomenal online success stories so it is natural to be
your own results are not "newsworthy". But how do you know if your
really missing its potential.
Before you can decide how your site is performing you need to
you mean by "performance". Are you looking at traffic volumes or
conversion rates? At the off-line impact of an online campaign or
successful online support of off-line sales?
There is no right or wrong answer. It depends on the nature of
site. Is it a "pure play" web business or only a portion of your
business strategy? It may sound crazy but many business owners
web site a failure without having a clear idea of what they would
Once you have decided on your definition of performance it is time
establish current performance levels and your desired performance
Your current performance level is calculated using primary data
from your server and your customers.
Start with your server records. Your host should have a page you
providing you with basic data related to your web site. Do not be
overwhelmed by the variation of statistics available. Many servers
addition to traffic reports now provide statistics on such topics
as Top Web
Browsers, Screen Resolution and Depth (Colors), Top Operating
While these figures can be helpful especially when you are
implementing new graphics or web features, they generally have
to do with measuring web site performance.
The most important figures for the majority of web sites are the
"unique visitors" (estimated number of actual visitors to your
referring URLs (where people are coming from when they reach your
trails (how people navigate through your site), Top Search
Phrases (How people are finding your site). Depending on how you
performance there may be other figures you are interested in. On
visit to your server stats page browse around and look at the
reports available that may provide insight into performance.
Server statistics are available by year, month, week, day and
hour. Do not
base your performance measures on anything less than a month time
There are too many variables that can come into play when using
There are also separate programs you can purchase to analyze site
Before you buy any software make sure you actually need the
analysis they are offering. Stats for stats sake are meaningless.
your definition of performance and the data you need to assess it.
require more depth than your host server provides then go for it!
For more information on Web Traffic Analysis see: "It's a Hit!
Success through Traffic Analysis", By Chris Beasley
Also see the incredible book by Ken
Evoy: Make Your Site Sell (especially chapter 15)
At GDSourcing we measure our
performance by examining traffic volume and
traffic patterns (how people use our site). We then compare these
sales data so that we are able to establish sales conversion
of sales / Number of Visitors)
If your performance measures are based in part on off-line sales
action, you will need to survey your customers to augment server
Do not develop a massive questionnaire. Ask for only the
really need. (How did you find out about our sale? OR Did you find
online customer service tools helpful?) The purpose here is to
improve business performance so don't alienate your customers by
exceptional demands on their time. Respondent fatigue can lead to
responses as well customer annoyance.
Of course once you have a conversion rate or other performance
established how do you know if they are good or bad. Unfortunately
cases it is difficult to know. Very few Internet benchmarks exist.
diversity of services and products sold online, not to mention the
ways companies use their web sites makes it impossible to have
benchmarks. Reported conversion rates range from 0.1% to 5%. Much
the product being sold and the nature of the visitors.
The GDSourcing web site offers a great deal of free information so
high traffic volumes and our overall conversion rate is relatively
For our own research purposes we actually calculate a number of
rates looking at the sales to traffic ratios of specific pages as
the web site as a whole.
While it is next to impossible to find relevant benchmarks on web
performance you can source information on various components of
You can compare your traffic volume to top performers in your
sector at a
couple of web sites. Alexa (http://www.alexa.com/)
information by one-week average and three-month average. It also
data on Internet reach. Alexa expresses reach as number of users
million. You can also read reviews of your site or its competitors
have been written).
Another source of traffic ranking information is
Be aware however that both Alexa and
Trafficranking have their own means of calculating traffic
is absolute. Use these resources as comparison tools within their
Related to traffic is your apparent market potential (AMP). You
determine this by creating a detailed profile of your best
customer and then
comparing it to the demographics of the online population. For
our best clients are new entrepreneurs and small businesses but
small business has the potential of being our market.
Using a variety of sources we have estimated that only 39% of
businesses actually go online for business purposes and of that
83% conduct research and of that number only 50% actually purchase
By knowing the proportion of our market that is both online and
purchase we have an apparent market potential. We can then assess
our performance is meeting this potential or if there is need for
A few places to start looking for AMP information are our Canadian
DataPoint site (http://www.gdsourcing.ca/substance/datac.htm),
Also do not forget to look at reports and
studies available from related organizations and associations.
is often touched upon, even if the focus of a full report is much
For example if you operate a ski resort web site and are
the level of bookings coming through your site you need to first
apparent market potential for online bookings. If the potential is
there, it is possible you are expecting too much from your site.
Ideally you want to determine how many skiers actually use the
booking a holiday. We start our search by looking at tourism
the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation web site there is
extensive study of Canadian and U.S. travelers. The Travel
Motivation study covers various specific travel markets among
travelers with Interest in Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
this study we find out that 78% of U.S. and Canadians skiing and
snowboarding enthusiasts used the Internet for research and that
36% used it
to actually book their latest trip.
The results of this survey are reinforced by the demographics of
skiing/snowboarding enthusiasts. Looking at the Canadian Ski
Canadian Ski and Snowboard Industry Facts & Stats we find that
they are very
similar to heavy Internet users - average and above average
incomes, 12 to
45 years of age.
The research indicates that
searching for skiing locations online makes
sense. The market is there. It is now a matter of developing a
marketing strategy. (A topic of extensive discussion in and of
Statistics Canada is another source that can assist with both AMP
industry benchmarks. Results from their survey of Electronic
Technology can be accessed via the CANSIM database:
Copy the following number
string (including the .. and all ,) into the CANSIM table number
358-0007..358-0012, 358-0014, 358-0015 It will provide you with a
list of available tables related to business use of the Internet.
>From this database you can determine annual percentage increases
industry and by customer type (i.e. businesses, consumers or
markets). You can also examine the percentage of businesses in
that have a web site and the key features of their web sites (e.g.
payment, interactivity, digital products or services, access via
mobile device). There is a charge for this data but it is not
with all CANSIM data the price is $3 per time series. Most
get away with a $21.00 charge for a detailed profile.
Our new Canadian Industry Profiles provide benchmarks by industry.
For the most part the sales mode is
secondary to the product or service so they are not of particular
to "pure play" Internet businesses. There is however one
retail category 454110 - Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order
definition of this category is
"Establishments primarily engaged in retailing all types of
using the electronic and print media to induce direct response by
customer. These establishments employ methods, such as
infomercials, broadcasting and publishing direct-response
publishing traditional or electronic catalogues, to display their
merchandise and reach their customers. Transactions between these
and their customers typically require the use of information
(telephone or computer network) and the delivery of merchandise is
done by mail or courier. Establishments primarily engaged in
catalogue showrooms, without stock, are also included."
While these benchmarks are vital to examining "non-store"
performance, they do not provide much insight into web site
Finally there are some sector specific studies that are conducted
site performance. They tend to be conducted by research firms that
specialize in a particular area. One such study released recently
Annual Internet Survey for Associations and Non-profit
This study provides insight into web site practices of
non-profit organizations in Canada. It includes age of web site,
traffic, web site budgeting etc.
To a certain extent these types of studies are "needles in
the specific nature of their data, especially if it is related
your business, makes them worth the search. Usually companies that
such reports do not want to keep them secret. They are either
trying to sell
a more detailed version of the report or consulting services.
Announcements are usually published in trade journals or related
association newsletters. Use a periodical database to search
publications. Sometimes it is difficult to find these kinds of
by keyword alone. If possible, also browse through the hardcopies
relevant periodicals. You can access many of them in a major local
You can also try release vehicles such as Canada Newswire.
If you are unable to find sector specific reports do not despair.
you would want to compare yourself to peers but if it is not
not abandon the project. Establish you own benchmarks by
monitoring your own web site performance. Assess your apparent
analyzing your market. Do not lose site of the purpose of tracking
performance: to improve it! Acquiring benchmarks is only the
puts you a position where you can then turn to targeted web site
To learn more about the art and science of web marketing register
Internet Marketing Conference IMC 2003 at the Palais des Congres,
PQ, May 12-14, 2003.
Like a 3-day intensive
course in Internet marketing and strategy, IMC
delivers value by bringing together dozens of leading industry
experts. Through case study evaluations of successful online
businesses you will gain an understanding of the ways, tools, and
that work in today's online world.
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SMALL BUSINESS STATS FACTS
Each Business Researcher Newsletter ends with a collection of five
statistics that every entrepreneur should be aware of.
1. In the smallest workplaces (less than 20 employees) how do
support employee charitable volunteering?
About 60% of employer-supported volunteers in small workplaces
approval for time off, compared with 53% in workplaces with over
Similarly, 59% of employer-supported volunteers in small
approval to change work hours, compared with 52% in the largest.
Source: Statistics Canada (April 2003)
2. What do Canadians consider the top indicator of success in
Work-life balance (30%).
Challenge of job (14%)
Level of responsibility over your work (12%)
Source: Ipsos-Reid (May 7, 2003)
3. By how much did self-employment grow in 2002? 2001? 2000? Which
had the fastest growth?
Fastest Growth: Quebec
Source: CIBC (March 2003)
4. How many one-person operations are there in Canada?
(2/3 of entire self employed businesses)
Source: CIBC (March 2003)
5. What is the percentage of Quebec SMEs that carry out regular
planning? What are the reasons for not developing a strategic
While 73% of the companies surveyed in 1998 claimed to carry out
planning on a regular basis, this number was down to 67.7% in
20% of SMEs said that they had a lack of time to spend on
planning. Another 11.7% maintained that such planning was
unnecessary due to
the nature of their business.
Source: National Bank of Canada (January 2001)
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