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Apr 19, 2001
Case Study

Fair Measures Invents Profitable New Products by Analyzing Its Site Traffic Logs

SUMMARY: Yes, Web metrics can help you grow your business. In this Case Study one smart company uses their Web site reports to invent new products ... which they then sell to eager visitors. Worth reading.

About a year ago, MarketingSherpa ran a Case Study on the tactics Fair Measures boosted content and training sales by redesigning their Web site's home page to appeal to the visitor's perspective. (See link below for this story.) At the time, Fair Measures' Internet consultant, Philippa Gamse of mentioned to us that she was planning to analyze the site's traffic logs next in order to find ways to grow the site's sales higher.

So, we checked back in with her last week to learn how it worked.


Gamse's first move was to replace the WebTrends reports, had been using to monitor site traffic, with HitBox from WebSideStory. She says, "I really like it a lot."

HitBox reports on the same key data that similar systems provide such as search terms visitors use to find the site from search engines, their paths through the site, and what pages they tend to leave the site from. However, HitBox had two key advantages: it reports in real-time, so you can study results (and make changes based on them) more quickly. Also, it uses cookies to track visitors, so as Gamse explains, "You can more clearly distinguish between unique and returning visitors."

By more closely tracking search terms and visitor path logs, the team at Fair Measures realized their visitors had a tremendous amount of interest in a few key topics, including legal issues around sexual harassment and overtime exemptions. So, they decided to invent a new series of products: checklists for both employees and employers on these popular topics, which users could download to find out if they had legal grounds for complaint (or to be complained against.) A typical title is "The Accused Harasser's Checklist".

Although many of Fair Measures special reports and consulting services cost a great deal more, the team chose $10 as their price point for the checklists. Gamse says, "It's an impulse buy price." They encouraged these impulse buys by promoting a 100% money-back guarantee and by placing offers for the checklists on the home page and at the ends of pages featuring articles on similar topics. Gamse says, "Every page of your site should have a strategy and an outcome to it, unless your outcome is, 'It's ok people can leave now.' So at the bottom of related information we might add, 'Perhaps you've just been fired and you think it's unfair' with a link to a checklist for unfair termination."

Initially the checklists were available as downloadable files in Word and PDF. However, after talking to the customer service team, Gamse decided to remove the PDF option and add an HTML version in its stead. She says, "We all read the PDF download instructions 15 times and couldn't imagine how to make them any clearer, but we still got so many PDF calls."

Next, Gamse began testing paid search engine listings at GoTo to drive more targeted traffic to the checklist offers. She learned three valuable lessons:

1. You don't need to have the number one listing. It's ok to be number two or three because most searchers will look at least that far. Plus, GoTo provides all three of the top three to its partners including AOL. Since the top listing is usually most heavily contested in GoTo's auction system, you can save a lot of money by going for a lower ranking.

2. Good copy matters. Think of your search engine description as direct response copy and include a strong benefit in the headline. Gamse uses terms such as "Know your rights" and "Stop employee lawsuits" to encourage click throughs.

3. Buy common typos. Gamse says, "It's amazing how many people can't spell 'harassment.'" She was able to buy some typos more cheaply than correctly spelled words because other marketers just didn't think to enter the auction for them.


The checklists have definitely been a profitable ancillary product line. Gamse says, "It certainly supports the site. It's a nice small income stream that doesn't cost much to keep going."

Once Fair Measures decided to settle for the second or third slots under search words in GoTo they saved a considerable amount of money with "no impact on traffic or sales." now converts about 2% of all traffic to an intellectual product sale. Gamse says, "I'm happy with that. The industry standard is about 1%, so that's not bad." The 100% money-back guarantee may have increased buyer confidence, while not affecting return rates in the least. Less than 1% of total sales result in cancellations.

Gamse is also very happy with the results of removing the PDF download option. Gamse says, "Now we get almost no phone calls, so selling online is pretty much making money while we sleep. We really don't have to do much."

Link to HitBox software
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