Like many of you, we track many KPIs (key performance indicators) to run our business. Though our readers come to check on aluminum or steel prices or read the latest tantalum market outlooks, at the end of the day, we look at digital metrics. We look at the number of unique visitors, number of unique visits, referral links, what articles and pages people visit, how people find us etc. Last week, as regular readers know, our editor had taken a rightfully deserved vacation. And lo and behold, our traffic dropped more than expected for the week.
While I’m sure our globe-trotting editor may wish to conclude it had something to do with his absence (which undoubtedly contains some truth – one must apply credit where due) I wanted to take a second look.
So here’s the thing – when our CTO and I looked back three months, we saw a regular pattern with our data – traffic trends to dip during the second week of the month. And though our CTO kindly suggested some sort of algorithmic error on the part of the myriad of web tracking services we use, I suspected something more could explain the trend.
I offer two theories (many more likely exist but I start with these). The first involves the pattern of when buying organizations make monthly spot purchases. I’d contend these may occur during the beginning of the month – hence the higher traffic for gaining market intelligence during what we’d dub “buying days.”
That theory sounds a bit crude but our consulting experience suggests the majority of US manufacturers do indeed purchase on the spot market, off contract on mostly a monthly basis (though some purchase on a quarterly basis). Regardless if they buy on or off contract, the theory suggests metal buyers seek market intelligence if nothing more than to determine whether they will hit monthly budget numbers. In other words, this theory holds that people seek market intelligence just before they make monthly purchases but after the fact, the need for gathering immediate market intelligence may wane.
The second theory holds that our wildly popular MMI series of monthly metal price trends drives traffic during the beginning days of the month culminating in the monthly metal price trend report:
FREE Download: The most recent Monthly MMI® Report – price trends for 10 metal markets!
And though that might explain the difference in traffic numbers between the first and second weeks of the month, it doesn’t account for why traffic increases again during the third and fourth weeks of the month. Therefore, we come back to theory one that traffic somehow correlates with the timing of when metal buying organizations actually purchase metal.
We have a few manufacturing appointments coming up over the next couple of weeks. We will test that theory and inform readers of the results.
Of course if any of our readers care to comment on these theories, please do so!