I don't imagine I'm the only one who looks at their website stats now and then to see where the hits are coming from and where the visitors go when they exit. But, yeah, I do, 'cause it's a good way to see what does or doesn't do any good, promo-wise. With sales info only coming to me quarterly, and no way to tell when those sales were made with any more accuracy than 'sometime within those three months,' website stats are my only clue. I can't help but imagine there's some level of correlation between website hits and sales.
So anyway, I've made a few observations about website hits & exits outside of specific promotional efforts:
(1) Link exchanges work. I get a number of hits from the links lists on other writers' websites that proceed to browse through a number of pages and sometimes even exit to buy-links. Whether or not these result in a purchase, I don't know, but maybe sometimes?
Also, often enough, regardless of how a person got to my website, they often exit to a number of the author sites I have listed on my website's 'other links' page. Currently I put up a link (with a banner or book cover, if available) for every writer on my LJ friends list (I'm nice like that). I'm thinking of revising that rather generous practice in favor of the more standard I'll-put-up-a-link-for-you-if-you-put-up-a-link-for-me philosophy that most seem to follow, 'cause, damn, right now only a handful link back to me (although I imagine most don't even know I'm linking to them). Personally I don't care if it's only from somebody's LJ sidebar links list, if they don't have a website, but I think I'm going to clean that list up in about a month to include only those who reciprocate by linking back to my website.
Point is, if you're an author on my f-list, my website currently has a link either to your website or your LJ, but it'll be gone at the end of April unless I find a link to my website on either your website link page, if you have one, or your LJ side bar list, if you don't. Also, for the sake of streamlining, I'd prefer to keep it to banners and text links. The book cover links I use take up a lot of vertical space, so if you've got a banner available, please let me know.
I don't know. Maybe I'm just feeling bitchy today. If so, I'll get over it. :)
(2) It surprises me how often folks have bothered to google my name, then perused my site. It surprises me even more how often they've gotten there by googling a combination of my name and the name of a particular one of my stories. It took me a little bit of thinking to figure why this particular story was so often the reason someone was looking me up.
The story I'm referring to is my Sip, Born to be Wild. It was released at Torquere on 8/16/08. It's not my best seller at TQ, though. In fact it's third among the 'regular' Sips, behind Cow Pie Bingo (released 4/10/08) and Photo Shoot (released 11/29/08). If you factor in the Sips that were part of package sales then it's also behind my wedding Sip, Now and Forever (released 9/13/08, and my Halloween Sip, Moving On (released 10/31/08).
The reason it, over the stories that (if TQ sales are a reasonable barometer) would otherwise likely be more popular, is the story people are googling me for is that it (along with the two Taste Tests I'm in) are the only ones of my 10 publications that are up on Fictionwise. I don't have any actual sales figures yet. I don't remember when it went up on the distributor site, and if there's a way on their site to find out I haven't figured it out yet. I'm sure there's some kind of correlation between sales vs. those who bother to give a rating, but since I haven't seen any royalties from distributor sales yet I don't know if there's a typical percentage that could be used at a reasonable guideline or not.
At any rate, it seems to be doing well (for a short story from an otherwise unknown author), with 45 reader ratings (compared to 25 for the A Day at the Beach Taste Test, and 7 for the Shades of Autumn Taste Test). It's been out long enough that if it ever was on a 'best seller' list it's since dropped off. So I imagine this exposure to readers beyond those who stumble on the publisher's website must be the reason for the googling of this particular story in conjunction with my name that occurs 3-4 times per week.
Those three stories, along with Dropping Quarters (released 9/6/08, and incidentally my worst seller at TQ so far), are the only four of my 10 releases on All Romance EBooks. Fictionwise apparently does better overall, 'cause the numbers of ratings are overall much lower on ARe (although I'm happy to report they average out to 5 stars on each). BtbW has 5 ratings, DQ has 3, TT:ADatB has 1, and TT:SoA has 2.
I expect that the royalty check I get sometime in April for first quarter will have some distributor info on it so I'll finally get to see the correlation between number of ratings given and number of sales. At any rate, though, the sheer number of google hits I get from the one little story I have on Fictionwise tells me that I really, really wish the rest would get uploaded. Hell, Cow Pie Bingo was my best seller at TQ, the contract expires on 4/10/09, and it never saw any distributor exposure at all. That's a real shame.
End of rambling. Those are the random things I've noticed.
Promo-wise, if anyone cares, being one of a kazillion writers posting to a YaHoo board on an excerpt day or big blitz day has little to no effect on my website hits. Posting direct promo/excerpts anywhere doesn't do too much, either. But, posting free ficlets that are complete little stories unto themselves to LJ communities that run those kinds of things, produces lots and lots of hits, for a long time after the postings were made. Hits that even lead to buy-link exits.