When you are looking too close to home for your visitors

You would think that if your service were in a particular geographical area then your supporters would naturally come from this area too, especially if you have a significant off-line presence.

But will come as no surprise to those experienced in analysing web sources of traffic that the location of visitors to a site can throw up some surprises.

The fact that this is true can often lead organisations to notice unexpected things about their visitors.

Take for example the situation of a local charity in the south west of England. The charity operates only in the county of Devon and quite reasonably targets its promotional activities in the local area. This makes common sense: you are in Devon; you operate in Devon so promotion should be in Devon too, surely.


As with so many things when we go online, the reality is quite different. As you can see from the chart below (showing a year’s visitors), the region of South West England produces less than half of all visitors. In fact, in this year, Devon provides a little over a quarter of the visitors to the site.

The charity was aware that at least some of their visitors were from outside the county.


Visitors to Site pie


Anomalous data or golden nugget?

And although the charity did know that it had visitors from other locations it was not aware of how many there were and how much they were contributing to the level of onsite donations. London was contributing more in donations than people from Devon, a fact that the charity had not picked up.


And that is just the start. This site also does have not set up onsite goal tracking. This is essential for a non-line organisation where the online and offline elements which mutually support each other. And while this is a much bigger issue than just considering a visitor’s location, tracking goals is crucial to understanding the economic value of your visitors. Goals will be the subject of a future post.


For this site the next steps were:


  1. Ensure that the organisation had clear up to date business goals for the site.
  2. Set up onsite goals to track visitors’ onsite behaviour and identify which behaviours are most valuable to the site.
  3. Choose two key locations outside Devon (London and Bristol) that have clear geographical boundaries.
  4. Conduct targeting PPC advertising for selected events to these areas.
  5. Develop links with online and offline news outlets to promote good news stories about the charity these audiences.
  6. Review results.


Nic Eversett