The Balkanization of The Parking Deck

by · June 14, 20120 comments

I work in a building with a rather large parking deck. Seven floors, if you include the roof, yet all is not as it seems. Unlike many such structures, getting to the top doesn’t require seven rounded upward turns — ours could best be described as a double-helix. (Efficiency in our DNA.) What this means is that your trip up (or down) doesn’t go past every single vehicle: you only see half. The twin spirals do connect at top and bottom where one can cross over to the other side, but few do.

The spaces are not assigned, so the early birds get the better spots in the middle floors where you’ll find the covered walkway into the building. You would think that the people who park near you are just like you, and you’d probably be right. There’s just one little detail: the people who come through the odd floors are entering from one street, and the even people come from another. So how would you ever know?

Arrival and Path

English: Static thumb frame of Animation of th...

Static thumb frame of Animation of the structure of a section of DNA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have a blog, or even website for your company, and at first it seemed like a lot of fun keeping a tally of the number of visitors. After a while, you may have seen spikes in traffic or behavior — or maybe even that rare event where traffic didn’t necessarily spike but engagement (comments) did. If all you’re concerned about is the number of cars in the deck, you’re not going to get an accurate picture. So let’s try to characterize the people who park in the deck, and how that relates.

  • Those who come in through Avenue A
  • Those who come in through Avenue B
  • Those who come in at 6
  • Those who come in at 6:30
  • Those who come in at 7
  • Those who come in at 7:30
  • Those who come in at 8
  • Those who drive cars
  • Those who drive trucks
  • Those three guys who ride motorcycles

Not to mention those who carpool, or those who park elsewhere and walk into the building, or those who park in the executive deck …

Sorting and Learning

You could make some big mistakes in assuming things about your coworkers based on the small sample you see parking around you every day. Many small businesses make assumption errors, often because they don’t know how to start sorting their visitors. Here are some important metrics to look at:

  • Traffic source
    • Search engine? (if so, which terms?)
    • Social network? (if so, which one?)
  • Organic find, or part of your promotion?
  • Time on site?
  • Bounce? (Did they hit one page and fly away?)
  • Return visitors?
  • Home page or deep link?

Often, an exercise like this one can be made easier by examining something analogous

So I throw this challenge to you:

1) What other community areas get naturally “Balkanized” unintentionally?

2) What other “slices” of your customer base do you find useful, and how did you learn about that?

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About Ike Pigott

Ike Pigott

In his previous life, Ike Pigott was an Emmy-winning TV reporter, who turned his insider's knowledge of the news cycle into a crisis communications consultancy. At the American Red Cross, serving as Communication and Government Relations Director for five southeastern states, Ike pioneered the use of social media in disaster. Now -- by day -- he is a communications strategist for Alabama Power and a Social Media Apologist; by night, he lurks at Occam's RazR, where he writes about the overlaps and absurdities in communications, technology, journalism and society. Find out how you can connect with Ike or follow him on Twitter at @ikepigott. He also recently won the coveted "Social Media Explorer contributing writer with the longest Bio" award.

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