WhatsApp Facebook? Buy the Competition or Diversify

So this week saw the quite surprising news that Facebook is set to acquire messaging service WhatsApp for a reported $19 billion, not much then! But for me it does pose the question in the social media and mobile landscape of whether Facebook’s major acquisitions are simply a ploy to buy the competition, or diversify into other areas and markets.

Taking that first theory, Facebook has a reputation of trying to buy out mobile platforms, most notably their successful acquisition of Instagram and again a few months ago with their failed bid for Snapchat. So you could argue that Facebook sees WhatsApp as a threat to their Facebook chat service, or any potential mobile platform that they might be developing in the future. Therefore, instead of sitting idle and watching WhatsApp rake in the money and become a competitor, they simply buy them! I mean it’s clever of Facebook to do this, as they clearly know what the market is doing and what’s (App) popular with consumers, and growing. But is this strategy a good one? I do feel Facebook is trying to become too embellished and wanting to become too much, and have their finger in all these pies. This could come to their detriment if they take their eye off their main channel, and basically the one thing they’re known for. So I suppose the saying would be. ‘If you can’t beat them, buy them’!

However, another school of thought is that it’s quite ingenuous of Facebook to buy out these companies, as they don’t have the skill, nor the user base to compete or create something such as a messaging app, or a photo sharing app in the case of Instagram. Facebook has tried and failed to diversify its platform into photo sharing and messaging, so the next best thing is to buy an established player. Acquiring WhatsApp is a smart move as here you have a very popular service that’s used by millions and growing everyday. Facebook doesn’t have to invest in R&D, product development or marketing, as the value of the WhatsApp branding  will do that automatically for them. Thus, these diversification strategies increase Facebooks market presence and tap into knowledge and well-established brands to take them to the next level.

But what of the future of WhatsApp. Facebook say that nothing will change, and it will remain as it is. Well, it’s maybe only a matter of time before advertising comes into the picture! I do actually believe Facebook a bit when they say they’ll keep everything the same, as they’ve not radically changed Instagram, as so many thought they would.

To finish, here’s one final thought. Apparently looking back on the founder of WhatsApp’s tweets, Brain Acton was turned down by Twitter and Facebook for a job in 2009. Oh the irony.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. In the meantime please follow this blog and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart 

Top Ten Website Metrics You Need to Know

Websites are incredible. They provide us with loads of useful and great information with hours of entertainment. However, nowadays there’s added pressure to keep them updated and performing effectively. A way to improve a website and monitor how it’s doing is through website analytics or metrics, and this blog is going to provide the top ten that are most valuable to know.

(1)    Visits

The first metric is visits which is how many times a user has visited your site. So when you visit a website such as this page,  this is registered as one visit. The greater number of visits you get to your website, the more you can determine that it’s designed effectively and has efficient usability.

(2)    Unique Visits

This metric measures how many ‘unique’ users have visited your site. These users have visited the site more than once and have retuned, rather than just visiting it once, and never coming back. So we’re not talking about ‘hits’, as hits aren’t a reliable metric. The main reason for this is that a ‘hit’ indicates how many times a page was downloaded. So if you have ten images on your website, each would be downloaded, thus ten hits. However, you only visited the site once, so it’s not credible. Thus, you want to measure unique visitors instead.

(3)    Page Impressions

Page impressions is a fancy word for page views! So whenever a page is viewed by a user, this will register as an impression. Sounds ‘Impressive’ doesn’t  it?! However, just because you have a high number of page views doesn’t mean that your website is designed well or has good usability. For instance, if a thousand people visit your site but no one purchases or they leave straight away, this means your site might not be that effective.

(4)    Duration (Stickness)

It’s quite revealing to find out how long someone has been on your site for. I mean you could be on a site for an hour, and might not actually have purchased anything. Or you could be there for five seconds and left. So knowing how long the average user spends on your site provides a great indication as to how well again your site is designed and its usability. If users aren’t spending that long on your site it could mean they don’t like it! Or it could mean they actually found what they were looking for quickly.

Alternatively if they are spending a long time on it, this could indicate they can’t find what they’re looking for. Or that they’re really engaged with the site and love it! So it’s quite a misleading figure this one. It’s only when combined with other analytics that you get an idea of your sites effectiveness.

(5)    Churn Rate

This metric is usually used for email marketing and provides the marketer with the number of people subscribing or unsubscribing from their emails. If the churn rate is high then it’s probably best to rethink your email strategy, whether that’s the copy, design, subject title or when and how you send it. As a high churn rate illustrates that people aren’t engaging with your messages. Conversely, a low churn rate means you’ve got an effective email marketing strategy in place. But as ever it’s not always that easy! Just because people don’t unsubscribe doesn’t mean they engaged with the message, as they might still have just deleted it!

(6)    Attrition Rate

The attrition rate is more applied to e-commerce websites rather than your standard information only sites. This figure provides the number of visitors lost at each stage of the purchasing process. If the figure is 100% then this could  mean someone visited your site by accident, and left straight away. However, the further you go down the attrition rate, the more problems the website might have in the purchase process. For instance, someone might not purchase a product because the page loads slowly or the site has poor navigation or there are high shipping costs. Whatever the reason, the purchasing process is affected by so many variables, and this figure can indicate at which stage the buyer leaves.

(7)    Bounce Rate

This is the percentage of users that visit a site, then leave it. Therefore, they go to the website page, then exit it straight away. This means that something initially attracted them to the site, but they left as soon as they got there, possibly because they clicked on the wrong link or the design or usability were poor. If the bounce rate is high then this could mean the landing page needs to be redone in terms of its design, usability and copy.

(8)    Exit Rate

The exit rate is when a user visits your site, has a look around, then leaves. Therefore, you can see which page users are leaving from. This could be the ‘landing’ page or a ‘purchasing’ page or maybe the ‘help’ page.

So there’s a difference between the bounce and exit rates. If a user visits the site then leaves straight away this is measured as a bounce. Whereas if they look around the site and click on a few pages, then leave, this is an exit.

(9)    Referrals

This is where the user has come from when they visit your site. So a user might have visited the site from a search engine, an email or possibly a social media channel. But knowing where they come from indicates where best to invest future time and funds into. If social media is playing a big part in generating traffic then more focus could be placed on this.

(10) Conversion Rate

I’ve saved the best till last! As I feel the conversion rate is probably one of, if not the most important metric. This is the percentage of users who take a desired action on your website whether that’s purchasing a product, signing up to or registering for something. The call to action that you want them to perform can be measured from this figure. The higher the conversion rate, the more successful your website strategy is. For instance, if you run an e-commerce site with a high conversion rate, this indicates that you generate a lot of purchases and have a well-designed website with good usability.

So there we have it. There’s ten essential website metrics that every marketer should look at in order to implement and run a successful website.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. For more digital marketing news please sign up to my blog or follow me on Twitter @DigitalStuart