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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Tracking Your Marketing: Websites

One of the most important facets of managing your acting business is tracking your goals. Tracking allows us to research the results of our marketing tactics to see how they measure up to our goals and expectations. For this article, I want to focus on websites. If you have a website, one inexpensive and valuable tracking tool you can employ is a web statistics (stat) counter. A stat counter is designed to track the habits of your website visitors so that you can have an up-to-the-minute look at what is popular and what isn’t.

Let's say you are doing online or email submissions to casting directors, and you are including links to your website. How do you know if these links are being used? A good stat counter not only can tell you if your website is being visited and by how many visitors, but also how many pages they looked at while on your website, how long they were at each page, and what links they clicked on while on your website. This information is incredibly valuable in tracking how your website is working for you. Do people log in and view your materials, then go to your “Contact Me” page? Great news- you should expect a phone call soon! Do people click to view your reel but leave the page after only 1 minute? Bad news- something in your reel turned them off and you might want to consider reworking the reel.

But let’s say you have the counter and you are looking at the stats- how do you know if the person looking at your website is actually a casting director and no, say, Great Aunt Helen? To maximize your marketing efforts, you could consider creating a web page that you ONLY give out to casting directors. For example, on my acting website, there are pages for Demos, Bio/Resume, Reviews and Headshot Gallery. These pages can be accessed by anyone who visited the website, because there are links on every page. But I could also have a page called, say, “Submissions,” which is not listed on my website and is only given to casting directors (this page includes all of my public links (bio, demos, etc) but the page itself has a name that is not public.) When I check my stat counter and see that this “Submission” page has been accessed, I can be nearly certain that the person listed is a casting director or producer. This is a smart tracking technique, and once you compare your results to your marketing goals you will be able to see very clearly IF and HOW your website is working for you.

The service I currently use for web stats, which is free, is www.StatCounter.com. This free service tracks the last 500 visitors to your website. To have a log size larger than 500 or to have them store the information indefinitely (rather than only keeping the last 500), you can pay a small service charge. One of the best services that StatCounter.com offers is the ability to see HOW someone finds your website- Statcounter.com will list the website they came from, along with the date and time. For example, let’s say a theater website has your bio listed for a recent show, and in your bio you included a link to your website. If someone is on the theater website, sees your bio and clicks your link, StatCounter.com will let you know that this person reached your website because they clicked on it from the theater’s website. Even cooler, this service also includes Web Searches- if someone looks you up on Google and finds your website, StatCounter will tell you exactly what search the person used to find your website. Very cool!

You can also check with your web host to see if they provide web statistics (most do for no extra charge). Some have the same functionality, others can provide even more detailed information. Contact your host for more information.

Remember that TAE does web design for actors, singer, musicians, directors and other solo artists. We can also do design for theater and film companies. Visit TAE's Design Page for more information.

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