Hi. My name is Antone, and I have a problem. I am an idiot. (But please, no comments saying "I agree with everything in this post!" :-)

This morning, I took a look at the opt-in stats for my mailing lists, and discovered something disturbing. Two of my most important opt-in forms weren't getting any new subscribers. And they hadn't been for months.

For months!

People had been signing up for free versions of some of my products without getting added to my mailing lists. Their accounts on the download site were getting created fine, but they weren't getting any follow-up emails.

For months!

I'd sort of noticed that my sales were down, and I wasn't seeing the activity level I expected on one of the free resources I offer. But I've been so busy with other things that I hadn't bothered to figure out why.

For months! Augh! (Are you picking up on my level of frustration yet?)

I missed what was happening because nobody had complained. They'd gotten their free downloads. They didn't know that they were also supposed to be getting emails too.

I was an idiot. Don't be like me. What can you do to catch errors like this?

Watch Your Metrics

I noticed the problem this morning because I finally glanced at my new subscriber numbers. That's all it took. I immediately saw the problem, and with a little work, figured out what was wrong and fixed it.

What metrics do you need to watch? It'll vary, of course. But basically, you need to watch how people are moving through your conversion funnels.

  • How many opt-ins are you getting each day?
  • How many clicks from your follow-up emails?
  • How many of the people who click end up signing up for or buying the thing they click through to?
  • How many buyers are coming back to buy something else?
  • etc.

What you want is a place you can go to see, at a glance, how your numbers are looking. Once you've got an idea of what "normal" looks like, you'll be able to spot abnormal in a second.

Reader Comment:
Kent Allen said:
I always find it a fine line between getting absorbed in my stats and not keeping a good enough eye on my stats. I too have gone for weeks without getting results on forms, only to finally check them out and find that there was an issue (often bad H...
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If you track at various points along the progression from prospect to repeat customer, you'll also be able to figure out where your best opportunities for improvement are.

Before I wrap up, one more piece of advice:

Don't Be a Stats Junkie

Don't check your metrics 50 times a day. Unless your business is so volatile that you need to take action on changing conditions 50 times a day, checking more than once a day is probably a waste of time that could be better spent elsewhere.

And if your business is that volatile, maybe what you need to do is figure out how to reduce volatility so that you're not a slave to change.

What I recommend is:

  • Figure out a quick, easy way to monitor your metrics
  • Set up an automatic reminder so that you don't forget. For example, you might make it a weekly recurring item on Google Calendar, and have it email you a reminder each time it comes up.