My house turns 100 years old next year. With the weather turning cold again, the annual draft hunt is back in session.

Some of the draft sources drive me absolutely crazy -- like a storm window in the basement that had probably been left open for several years. Last winter, I taped over the edges of the inside window without even noticing it. That stopped the draft, but left us with just a single pane of glass for insulation.

Then there's the cat door leading to the back porch. The old flap had warped with age and no longer sealed well. Since I'm the kind of person who likes to build things, I made a replacement myself, with an original design that uses magnets to hold the seals in place better.

What really amazed me was just how much cold air poured through that cat door. It wasn't a leak, it was a gale. Which got me thinking about weatherizing (and will eventually lead to marketing).

Consider this: if you immerse a cup, right-side up, in water, it fills with water. But if you turn it upside down, the inside stays dry. As it turns out, if you can keep the air in, you don't have to seal the water out.

Similarly, with a drafty house, the problem isn't so much about keeping the cold air out as keeping the warm air in. You could hunt and seal cold drafts all winter and completely miss half of the problem -- the warm air leaks that you can't feel. That cold wind coming through the cat door would have all but stopped if warm air weren't leaking out somewhere to make room for it.

With your online business, it's a little different -- you want traffic coming in. But if all you do is focus on driving traffic in without preventing it from leaking back out, you're giving up your warm air, and guess where that leaves you? With nothing but cold.

It's a lot easier to sell to warm traffic than cold. So you've got to find ways to keep people around. The problem is, as with warm air leaks, it's harder to find where the warm traffic is leaking than where the cold traffic is coming from.

If you're using Google analytics, it'll show you the pages people exit from. If those pages are in the middle of a conversion process, you're in luck -- you know what you need to improve.

But what if visitors are leaving at the end of your conversion process, and then never coming back? Or what if they're just bouncing off the page they arrive on? Is your bounce rate normal? Nobody expects every visitor to their site to convert to a subscriber or paying customer. But without knowing whether the bouncing visitors are in your target market or arrived at your site by mistake, it's difficult to know how much effort to put into trying to convert them.

Fortunately, there are ways to plug warm traffic leaks without locating all of them. Perhaps the best is to set up a mailing list, and work on maximizing your signup rate. Then be sure to follow up with your list regularly. The easiest way is by setting up a blog broadcast that automatically mails your list every time you post. As long as you blog regularly, you'll keep the connection with your subscribers warm.

The heat just turned on again. I wonder where it's going.

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