You probably know all about them, but if you don’t, they’re simply very lengthy treasure hunts, made a whole lot easier by extensive use of teleportation and landmarks. You start at the first landmark, and by finding the potentially impossible-to-find hidden item, you get the clue (and a free gift) to proceed to the next hunt location. It continues through a long string of locations, sometimes numbering hundreds of stops.
Those stops are, of course, SL stores. Participating in a hunt as a vendor takes some effort; it’s more than just dropping a goofy-looking sombrero in an obscure corner of your carefully designed shop.
There are usually a lot of things for shop owners to do during the hunt. Typically torrents of group notices flow by, usually to rearrange the order of the hunt due to dropouts or ejections. Policy matters evolve or dramatic incidents occur. Hunters themselves sometimes require assistance when they get lost or give up. And you have to create a truly unique and interesting gift to attract people back to your store.
So why would a shop owner would bother to take on this extra work?
The theory is that the flow of hunters will result in increased sales: while they’re frantically searching through your shop looking for that pink-ribboned halibut, they’re certain to be amazed by the top quality of your for-sale items and snap up a blingy purseful.
But is this true?
I had to know. I entered a series of hunts over the past several months. Today I examined the stats from such three hunts, including one of the biggest: the May-June SL Discovery hunt, which involved over 500 SL stores across the grid. I also examined statistics for the OMG and FITS hunts.
Aside: 500+ stores is a tremendous number, and traversing the entire chain would be an unbelievably momentous feat. Even more astounding would be the effort required to sort through 500+ gift items, which I suspect almost no one actually does.
The analysis is straightforward: using the SL transaction log, capture the names of all unique avatars who purchased the SL Discovery hunt item. These individuals were clearly in my store, at least briefly. Then compare these names to the names of those who purchased any other items during the same period.
This should catch any hunters who happened to purchase something while hunting, or even those who returned afterward to shop. There is a possibility that someone may have purchased something before they were hunting, but as you’ll see, that’s highly unlikely.
And here’s the results for the May-June 2009 SL Discovery hunt:
- 2854 unique hunters visited
- 38 hunters purchased at least one item
In other words, only 1.3% of the hunters actually purchased something. I must say the traffic was fairly large, but even so the amount of sales was tiny compared to the traffic.
How did the two other smaller hunts fare? Even worse. The conversion rate for the FITS hunt was only 0.9% and the OMG hunt was an even lower 0.7%. Total sales were reasonable from the high-volume SL Discovery hunters, but dismal for the other two hunts due to far less volume (346 and 536 hunters, respectively).
What does this mean? Several possibilities:
- Hunters just want to hunt, and have little interest in shopping
- Hunters are freebie-types who typically don’t buy anything anyway
- Hunters are overwhelmed by the size of the hunt and don’t have time to shop
- Hunters are overwhelmed by the size of the hunt and can’t remember to come back
- Hunters are not interested in the type of products being sold
- Hunters have too many free gifts to bother buying anything more
- Hunts are a fair amount of work
- Hunts tend to provide minimal value to the vendor, at least in my case
- Hunts are popular; many people enjoy doing them
- The only hunts really worth participating in are ones with very high volume
Will I be doing further hunts in the future? Possibly, if the hunt’s theme is more directly related to my product line and it’s high-volume. But how to find them? That’s a whole other story.
Oh, you’re wondering what the chart is at the top? It’s the frequency of visitors for the SL Discovery hunt over two months by day. More than half of the traffic comes through the first week and then it drops off quite drastically, but that’s likely because I was #23 on the hunt.