ADOTAS – As a marketer, your days can sometimes revolve around numbers. How many visitors came to your site yesterday? How many made a purchase/requested more information/signed up for your newsletter? How much did each visitor cost? How much did each signup cost?
One metric you probably didn’t spend much time thinking about yesterday was the number of visitors that left your site. How did they exit? Where did they go? What did they do?
If you aren’t tracking your outclicks – the traffic leaving your site – you’re ignoring a significant revenue opportunity. When I initially began thinking about outclicks in terms of their value, I set-up a straight forward web crawl to determine whether publishers were paying attention to these links. In short: they weren’t. Fewer than 50% of eligible links were being affiliated or tracked in any way.
This is money – or potential brand exposure – being left on the table. Here, I’ll explore just what an outclick is, the reasons why you should be tracking them, and how to do so effectively.
The Metric You’ve Never Heard Of
Everyone is familiar with the inbound click (woot – traffic is coming to your site!). Fewer are familiar with the outclick. An outclick happens when a visitor is browsing your site, finds a link you’ve embedded in your content to be interesting or valuable, and they opt to leave your site via that link. Depending on the size of your site, tens, hundreds or thousands of outclicks comprise the traffic that leaves each day.
Why it Matters
The moment someone clicks a link on your site and leaves, you’re transferring a small piece of value to the respective link’s owner. And depending on what that person does next (e.g. make a purchase), you could be transferring a significant piece of value to the link’s owner (e.g. a brand new sale).
As a result, outclicks are mutually beneficial to both publishers and advertisers. outclicks offer publishers an additional monetization opportunity, centered around the content of their site rather than their “ad space.” Outclicks offer advertisers an additional stream of visitors whose intent on their site is highly focused.
Advertisers that offer an incentive for outclicks (e.g. an affiliate marketing program), more often than not, will be on the receiving end of more outclicks. The reason: publishers will optimize content to drive traffic to those advertisers that show them a “piece of the action”. If you’re a publisher reviewing the latest tech gadget, and want to reference a page for that product, would you link to the page that offers you a commission if one of your visitors makes a purchase or the site that offers you nothing?
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you wouldn’t opt for the latter. And furthermore, I can’t think of an advertiser that would want to be the latter.
What to Track
To successfully maximize the value of an outclick, these clicks need to be trackable like any other marketing metric. But, the major analytics packages most rely on can leave a site owner sorely wanting when it comes to outbound traffic stats. Google analytics offers a bounce rate figure and your site’s top exit pages, but when it comes to where people went when they left your site, there isn’t a good answer.
In a perfect world, you should be monitoring the following:
- The aggregate number of outclicks each day/week/month: How many people are you sending to other sites?
- Your top performing links in terms of volume of outclicks: Which links do people find the most interesting?
- Your top performing links in terms of revenue generated: Which links do people end up purchasing from?
You may be able to pull bits of this from your current analytics package, and if that’s the case, something is better than nothing in this scenario. Even a bit of data can be helpful in determining next steps to leveraging outclicks. Services like VigLink (disclosure: I am the CEO) and Kontera bundle analytics into their content monetization solutions, making them an additional option when your looking to suss out the value of your site’s outclicks.
The most critical to-do here is to do something. Ignorance, in this scenario, is not bliss. If you are a publisher, it’s time to start understanding and tracking the value you send to other sites. As an advertiser, it’s time to take control over the traffic hitting your site by incentivizing publishers to send you the type and volume of outclicks you want.
If leveraged correctly, the outclick could be the basis of your organization’s next great marketing program.