This is a quick post that's probably only likely to be of interest to those interested in helping to promote the amateur radio hobby. It follows on from some social media chatter about the online profile of amateur radio. If you're not involved with promoting the hobby - no need to read on.
Following on from some discussions about promotion of the hobby, I've just taken a look at the web traffic that this site's received this month (January 2016) - it's revealed a significant spike in visitors, compared to this time last year.
January 2016 Web Traffic
Running a side-by-side comparison of the first week of January 2016 against the previous year showed broadly similar traffic, but measuring a three week period from the 7th of January 2016 shows a massive 41% increase on the previous year. The 8th of January 2016 shows the biggest spike - which just happened to be the day of Tim Peake's first ISS schools contact.
The following graph, taken from Google Analytics, shows how the game changed on the 8th of January, the day of Tim Peake's contact with the Sandringham school. This year appears in blue, with 2015 in orange for comparison. The 6th of January for both years looks similar, but note the spike the afternoon before the contact, then on the day itself - plus peaks on the following days.
For two solid weeks, traffic has been higher, only beginning to drop to last year's levels on the 22nd of January, as shown here:
I appreciate these dry numbers may only mean anything to those involved with online marketing, but they're pretty impressive. Between the 7th and the 13th, stats from Google show:
A 64% overall increase in site sessions
A 56% increase in unique visitors
68% of traffic is from new visitors to Essex Ham
Page views up by 84%
A 15% increase in time-on-site
Traffic split was: 55% search engines, 18% social media, 15% direct and 12% links from other sites.
Never a better time to promote the hobby?
Here's just one more graph to bore you with - This shows the hits to our "What is Amateur Radio" page:
Adding this all together - At least for the Essex Ham website, the impact that Tim Peake's amateur radio contact has had on traffic and interest in the hobby has been significant. National news coverage of the event has raised the profile of the hobby. Since the contact on the 8th of January, we've had 27 people sign up to our online training course with a view to getting started in the hobby.
There are several more possible UK schools contacts planned between now and early June, when Tim is set to return - so there really is no better time to be talking about what we do as radio amateurs.
Seize the day
I appreciate that those running club websites may have limited time and resources, and this post is in no way intended to be critical. By highlighting the recent increase in awareness, I'd encourage everyone involved with promoting the hobby in general, or their group specifically, to do a double-check that your "shop front" is performing at its best. A few relativity simple tweaks in light of the current interest, could make a difference. To help with a few ideas, you may want to consider some of the following suggestions:
Check your website - Is it up-to-date? Does it give a clear explanation on your front page of what the hobby is about? Would a new potential amateur know how to get started as a result on visiting your site?
Check your web stats - Have you also seen a spike? What have people been looking for? And does your site provide it?
Use social media - Another huge opportunity to talk about the hobby and where newcomers can go to meet amateurs locally
Events - Is there an opportunity to do anything locally whilst one of the schools contacts is getting some press coverage?
Local press - Essex Ham got an article on page 3 of the local paper for a "local man hears Tim Peake" story - including a link to our website. Can your club or group make any similar mileage out of this?
If you're involved with online promotion of amateur radio, our Improving Amateur Radio Club Websites page, and one-page PDF may be of use. It's also worth studying the new RSGB Promotional Event Pack, for guidance and best practice on running a successful club event to promote the hobby.
Now is a possibly a golden opportunity to highlight what the hobby is all about, and to capitalise on the spike of interest in the hobby.
Anyone got any other suggestions? Please add them below - and let's get sharing!
Written by Pete M0PSX, in the hope of stimulating greater awareness for the hobby, between now and May.