What Does That Direct Navigation Statistic Mean?

Here's some food for thought.

You're reading an article, and you come across this information nugget: A really big percentage of folks (60-some-odd-percent depending on the source) get to a Web site by direct navigation. That means they typed the Web address directly into their browser or they clicked on a favorite.

If you're like most folks out there, still looking forward to your Web site's glory days, this information probably has you in a panic. "A really big percent type the address in directly?" you quaver. "But that means they have to know about me first!"

Well ... yeah. So what is that big percentage number in the article really telling you?

Actually, you've answered the question already - the number is telling you that folks know you. Not only do they know you, but they like you well enough to want to visit you again. You were so special, they bookmarked your page or wrote down the url.

Thankfully, that big percentage tells you nothing about how folks found you in the first place. The very first time might have been via a Google search, or a pay-per-click advertisement, or from a friend's recommendation, or simply from surfing the links. But that first time obviously made all the difference.

Folks choose their sites based on their experiences and how effectively those experiences leave them feeling delighted with the exchange.

They come back when they feel good about you. When they feel a sense of confidence, trust. When they feel understood. This big percentage number showcases the importance of first impressions and how critical it is that you get it right the first time. It's a number that underscores the far greater value of cultivating loyal customers.

So, I hope that's unruffled your feathers just a bit. But don't think I'm letting you off the hook! I want you working hard to create a site folks want to bookmark and return to, cause I want you to be one of those sites accessed through direct navigation.

Volume 97: 9/1/04

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