Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, May 30, 2008

Where Are Y'All From?

Where Are You People?

Courtesy of Google Analytics, here’s where 14,257 people came from so far this year.

  • Search engines: 71.5%
    • Google pay-per-click: 30%
    • Yahoo (both PPC and organic): 18.5%
    • Google organic: 14.5%
    • MSN organic 4.5%
  • Referring sites (links): 21%
    • search.ebay.com
    • rs6.net (say what?)
    • turnkeywebtools.com (Sunshop’s tech board)
    • clothing.listings.ebay.com (say what?)
    • radgames.com (the Monopoly Super Add-On)
    • dogpile.com (say what?)
    • octopus overlords.com (now defunct, once my favorite haunt)
    • airandaqua.com (a reciprocal link)
    • amazon.com (say what?)
    • zombiegames.com (obviously for Zombie Fluxx)
  • Direct traffic: 7%

I need to take yet another hard look at the PPC campaigns that drive between a third and a half of my business. Sales are up nicely this year, but so are advertising costs. (See the end of this post).

My blog doesn’t show up until #15. My “new” message boards, Gaming Trend and Popehat, are #27 and #44. But I’ve only been posting there since OO died, so they will probably rise.

Purely for trivia’s sake…my best day so far this year was May 6, with 153 visitors. The low point was March 29, with only 60.

Once a month, I upload a file to Google Base (formerly Froogle). Their online report shows a lot of clicks on various items, but I don’t know where one finds Google Base listings or how those visits are aggregated into the numbers I gave above. Google Base doesn’t cost anything, so I take it on faith that it’s making some mysterious contribution.

This post was inspired by the question of where, geographically, my customers are located. How this question arose shall remain secret for now. I had a hunch that certain cities in New Mexico, Colorado, and California were delivering a disproportionate amount of business. So I went at my database from several different directions.

First I looked at all of my 1,525 customer accounts. No single zip code is home to more than three account holders. The most popular zip codes are:

  • 95648 Lincoln CA (3 users)
  • 95401 Santa Rosa CA (3 users)
  • 90266 Manhattan CA (3)
  • 78664 Round Rock TX (3)
  • 62249 Highland IL (3)
  • 60187 Wheaton IL (3)
  • 60068 Park Ridge IL (3)
  • 49503 Grand Rapids MI (3, including family and friends)
  • 48439 Grand Blanc MI (3)
  • 33496 Boca Raton FL (3)
  • 22124 Oakton VA (3)
  • 22003 Annandale VA (3)

Then I looked at shipments. In terms of the number of boxes sent, the most popular zip codes were:

  • Grand Rapids, MI (8, includes family and friends)
  • Boca Raton, FL (6)
  • Grand Blanc, MI (5)
  • Lincoln, CA (5)
  • Abingdon, MD (5)
  • Burlington, VT (5)

It would’ve been interesting to run a comparison based on dollars, rather than account holders and shipments. But even my patience for number-crunching is finite. Combining those two zip code lists yields these top five:

  1. 49503 Grand Rapids, MI
  2. 33496 Boca Raton, FL
  3. 95648 Lincoln, CA
  4. 48439 Grand Blanc, MI
  5. 22003 Annandale, VA

Because most cities have many zip codes, I also looked at city names. Here are the top 10 cities for Curio City accounts:

  • Chicago, IL (15)
  • New York, NY (12)
  • Brooklyn, NY (10)
  • Dallas, TX (9)
  • Silver Spring, MD (8)
  • Grand Rapids, MI (8)
  • Los Angeles, CA (8)
  • Wash DC (8)
  • Portland, OR (8)
  • Houston, TX (8)

If I had the knowledge and patience to combine suburbs and exurbs with their parent cities, the list would change. But no matter how you slice it, my hunch about New Mexico, Colorado, and California did not pan out. Are you disappointed that your community didn't make this list? Don't despair! Just place a few orders, and get your neighbors to do the same. ;)


More reason to hate Yahoo: After receiving another email about keywords going inactive, I deleted 10 of the 12 affected phrases...all of them from campaigns that I deleted ages ago anyway. WTF? Thanks, Yahoo! A few days later I got a report of 30 more words whose minimum bids now exceed my offer. I deleted half of them, raised the ones that only rose by a few cents, and let a couple go idle (in case the minimum drifts back down someday). From May 1-22 I paid $87.74 for 718 clicks that yielded a whopping four conversions. Yes, four. My Yahoo results went downhill dramatically after their last upgrade/stealth price hike. I really ought to shut it down completely, at least until Microsoft buys them. Nobody in their right mind would pay 40-50 cents per click for these keywords. They must be deliberately trying to make small advertisers drop out.

More reason to hate Google: Google Checkout is still undercharging for UPS shipping two full weeks after they acknowledged the bug that I reported. I have now lost at least $25 to shipping undercharges, versus the $9 that they have saved me in payment processing fees. Every single GC customer is choosing UPS. That makes me suspect that the old parcel post bug returned to GC after the USPS rate hike (just as it did in Sunshop). I can’t generate GC test transactions without setting up a complicated way around their prohibition on selling things to myself. And why am I the only merchant in America doing QA for Google, anyway? GC is supposed to be saving me money. Instead it’s costing me money, time, and aggravation. Get it together, Google.

Finally, the monthly sales wrapup: May was phenomenal. I credit the economic stimulus checks that everybody’s receiving. Sales more than doubled LY, and I blew my plan out of the water. YTD total income is up 97.8% over LY. Gross profit is up 105.7%. Payroll (that’s me!) is up 93%. The bottom line profit is up 388.4%! As always, I must remind you that the actual dollars involved remain small. But I could not ask for a better trend. My chronic open-to-buy hole is down to three figures again; I can reorder some lighted caps before they run out. My buying strategy for the rest of this year is to replenish stock when absolutely necessary, and bring in new merchandise only when I can do it without deepening the OTB hole. I hope to claw my way back up to zero in time for the Christmas season.

June will be a lot more challenging.

Coming Attractions:

  • Running with the Big Dogs
  • The Zombie Store
  • Legal Extortion

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