How much are 1 million visitors worth?  In the midst of my bake sale for science, I am verifying the 1% rule.  Greg Stolze noted, why have 94 people 'liked' my fundraiser on Facebook, but only 30 people actually contributed?  I am 3/4th through the time left on my fundraiser, with only 1/2 of my goal reached.  Let's talk about how one million can become 100 very quickly.

Second question: why the heck is an astrophysicist talking web traffic stats?  Be comforted knowing that I spoke at NASA in the early web days on such topics.  It turns out a good math and stats background can be applied to nearly any task.  Consider this a lesson for future scientists-- your training can be applied in realms not yet invented at the time of your schooling.

Back when I co-founded RPG.net, I did some experiments with redirecting traffic to gauge response.  I literally called it "The Mighty Eye of RPGnet", pointed it to off-site content that readers of the site might enjoyed, then measured redirection rates.  Empirically, I verified what most marketing people tend to agree is a typical conversion rate.  In short, you can get 1% of your traffic to do what you ask.

Before you rush out and change all your webpages to say "1% of you should give me \$1,000,000", though, you need to learn the stats.  First, this is targeted redirection-- getting those visitors to do something which is aligned with why they visited you in the first place.  You run a science site, you can get them to something scientific, or science-y.  You run a humor site?  You can get 1% of them to look at your funny cat videos.

Now here's the numbers.  Assume a creator or site manager can 'utilize' 1% of their visitors.  If you get 1 million visitors, you can point 1% of them (10,000) to any other page, site or content you wish.

If you wish to monatize your visitors-- get them to buy something-- the 1% rule also applies.  Twice.  First you have to redirect 1% of your visitors to the 'sell' offer, only then can you convince 1% of those visitors to actually commit money.  So that 1 million visitors became 10,000 visiting your shop, leading to only 100 people -- 1% of 10,000 -- buying anything.  It's amazing how quickly your audience evaporates in this fashion.

Marketing helps, primarily by increasing the raw number of people who pay attention to your offer-- boosting the attendance before that 1% kicks in.  Good marketing can also increase your percentage that follow to your goal, doubling or tripling it-- raising 1% to a 2% or even 3% conversion.

But remember, 1% is not 10%.  It's not going to get to 10%.  I was going to add caveats, "unless you have excellent marketing", or "unless it goes viral", but let's not do false encouragement.  As a great vid said once, "you can't make something go viral just by saying it'll be viral".  If you get a superstar hit, great!  But for your bread-and-butter work, assume you can utilize 1% of your web traffic, and then work your buns off for 2-3%.

For my aforementioned fundraiser, Science2.0 gets over 1,000,000 visitors.  My better columns get 10,000-20,000 of them-- 1% to 2%.  How many can my fundraiser expect?  Well, 1% of 20,000, of course!  I've had friends in multiple areas of interest tweeting and talking up my fundraiser, so my reach on that is probably at 100,000 or more.  So that gives me... perhaps 1,000 people visiting my fundraiser.  And 1% of them contributing... 10 people.

At 30 backers, perhaps I've hit 3%-- I'll never know the exact number because I don't know how far my message has been spread by helpful core supporters.  Clearly, though, by an order of magnitude, the 1% rule still stands.

If you disagree, here's a test.  Follow this fundraiser link and contribute.  I predict only 1% of this columns readers will follow that link, and only 1% of them will contribute.  In short, this column will result in 1-2 donations, tops.  You can prove me wrong-- I'll report whether more than 1% of the people that do so contribute.  Win or lose, even fundraising is a science.

Alex