5 Reasons Time Spent is a Terrible Omni-channel Marketing Metric
When I was learning Photoshop in the early 90’s, my instructor told the class about her process for reviewing homework assignments. It involved clicking to open our files and then walking away from her Macintosh computer to alternately brew/enjoy a cup of coffee while it took 10’s of minutes, sometimes longer, to open our giant files.
Now, whenever I see the “time spent” metric in a web analytics report, I conjure an image of this teacher, whose attention was divided even in those simpler times, and wonder why marketers (and web analytics tool vendors) think that time-based metrics have any bearing on the reach or impact of their marketing messaging online.
Because of the distractions that abound at home, at work and on the go, measures of “time spent” cannot be used as an engagement indicator for omni-channel retailers.
Omni-channel retailers look to create seamless shopping experiences across not just web sites and brick and mortar stores, but also across mobile, television, catalog and an increasing number of channels.
Conveniently, many metrics used to measure foot traffic in retail have similar names to ones used in web analytics, but take caution as the way they are measured is very different.
When a retail report comes out stating “Consumers spent an average of slightly more than 22 minutes in the store” they are measuring time people spent physically in the store completely surrounded by the products you are selling, the services you are providing and the messaging you are conveying.
When a web analytics report states the same thing, but with regards to a website i.e. “Site visits are 22 minutes long, on average” you may as well ignore it. Here are five reasons why:
1. Coffee breaks
2. Accidental browsing
3. Tabbed browsing
4. Dog walking
5. Instant messaging / chat
To really understand how seamless an omni-channel shopping experience is – look to what audiences are doing within it, their actions, not how much time they are spending.
From shoulder tapping to the advent of the second screen experience, what other distractions or malfunctions can you think of that would make the “time spent” metric misleading?