2014 Annual Review: Another Banner Year

On the anniversary of the début of The Black Tie Guide’s first edition in March 2008 we take our annual look at who’s visiting the site and blog, and why.

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The Guide

If The Black Tie Guide’s popularity is a barometer of general interest in formal wear then the latest stats are great news: site traffic increased by an impressive 27% over the previous year, finishing just short one million unique visitors!

Where are all these people coming from?

  • 52% from the U.S., a slight increase from last year
  • approximately 17% from the UK, 5.5% from Australia and 4.5% from Canada, all unchanged from previously

What are they most interested in?

  • page views and search keywords show that etiquette and traditional style are still the most popular topics
  • ladies’ black tie also remains a very popular topic

Who are they?

  • still largely men: 55% of US visitors and 59% of UK visitors are male, virtually the same percentages as the previous year
  • still fairly young: 55% of US visitors are 34 or under while 64% of UK visitors are between 18 and 44 (oddly, Quantcast does not track statistics for 0-17 year-olds)
  • still mostly child free: 72% of US and 71% of UK visitors have no kids in the household
  • even more affluent than before: 57% of US visitors earn upwards of $50,000 while 54% of UK visitors fall into the same category (i.e. £30,000 or more)
  • still generally well educated: 68% of US visitors have a college or post-grad education compared to 56% of UK visitors who have been to university or grad school
  • still overwhelmingly Caucasian, at least in the US where 79% of visitors are white and only 8% are African American (Quantcast does not track ethnicity in the UK)

The Blog

The Black Tie Guide’s little brother is less established (it was launched 3 ½ years after the first edition of the Guide was published) and more obscure which means it has significantly less traffic than the Guide.  It appeals to the most devoted of formalwear enthusiasts on one hand, and a random assortment of Web surfers whose interests at any given moment just happen to coincide with one of the posts.  Nevertheless, the amount of page views increased by 69% over the previous year which is nice to see.

So, what are blog visitors interested in?  Mostly formalwear-related current events and pop culture topics:

  •  James Bond-related posts are still the most popular by far, although their ranking has dropped since last year as the last 007 installment fades into history and the next one is yet to begin production.
  • Red-carpet reviews are still the second most popular topic and among these the Oscars remain the biggest draw. (The blog actually had near record views on the day after the Oscars . . . even though my review didn’t appear until the following day!)
  • Reviews of The Great Gatsby film and Tailor4Less tuxedos were also among the most viewed posts. The latter post’s popularity is deliciously ironic.  The company offered me an unsolicited free tuxedo in exchange for a fair assessment then provided a horrendously tailored garment and, worse, blame me for my dissatisfaction.   Well, it turns out that my devastating review has climbed all the way to the #2 ranking in Google searches for “tailor4less”, second only to the company’s own site.  Not what their marketing department originally had in mind, I’m sure.
  • Conversely, a couple of more timeless posts on wing-collars versus turndown-collars and afternoon weddings with evening receptions rounded off the top 10.  The interest in horological etiquette is encouraging considering that most of the blog’s visitors are from the US where it’s standard for wedding parties to blithely parade about in  evening wear at mid-afternoon ceremonies.

Looking Forward

Breaking the 100,000 monthly visitors mark and coming tantalizingly close to hitting the one-million mark for annual visits has been a huge inspiration to make the Guide even better.  Consequently, the last of my original plans for the site are finally in the works.

  • Already under way is a mini-guide consisting of the site’s most essential pages.  The hope is that newcomers who might otherwise be overwhelmed by the encyclopaedic 90,000-word opus will stick around to at least get a basic education rather than head elsewhere to watch amusing cat videos instead.
  • Also in the works is a long overdue eBook version of the Guide.  While it won’t be as gorgeously laid out and as heavily illustrated as the ill-fated Black Tie Book, it will certainly be more engaging than a text-only digital publication. This undertaking is for the benefit of aficionados that desire to read the site from beginning to end without having to be chained to a large-screen monitor.  They can either peruse the site’s contents on a convenient tablet or, if they’re like me, print out the eBook and read it in the traditional fashion. (I know of at least one reader has actually printed the entire site for this purpose, using nearly two reams of paper.  Now that’s dedication.)
  • The proceeds from the eBook can then help to fund the remaining initiatives: a proper photography session to make the site look a little more professional, and a design-your-own-tuxedo app to help readers navigate the numerous options for assembling their own kit.  These features will be part and parcel of a revised and expanded Third Edition of the Guide which I will write later this year when I can arrange for an extended absence from my day job.  And of course, somewhere in between all that I will continue to seek out interesting topics for ongoing blog posts, as well as do some research at the Library of Congress this summer and attend the Tuxedo Park Autumn Ball in fall.

I suspect I may need a vacation come this time next year.

(Preferably one that provides an excuse to don a dinner jacket.)

sources: Google Analytics for Guide visitor quantities and behavior, Quantcast for Guide audience demographics and Web Press for all blog statistics

6 Comments

  1. wdwright77

    Peter, I love the planning you’re doing, but by all means find a way to take the vacation at some point. Do it in a dinner jacket as well. I have one friend who did not take his vacation when he should have and overwork caused him to do some things he later regretted. In fact, he said he should have gotten out of town the week before. Vacations can be the best thing one can do to refresh and recharge. We’ll be looking forward to seeing where the Blog goes and more important, we’ll be very interested in how the Guide progresses too. Black Tie forever!

    Reply
    1. Peter Marshall

      Don’t worry, the Guide is first and foremost a hobby so the only initiatives I take on are ones that I truly enjoy. I just suspect that once these final tasks are completed I’m going to switch to maintenance mode and use my spare time for more simple pleasures!

      Reply
    2. Peter Marshall

      William, I just realized that you’re the reader who told me he printed the entire web site. No doubt the eBook version will save you a lot of paper (and toner) the next time around!

      Reply
  2. omschiefslr

    Keep up the good work! Congratulations and Thank you!

    Reply
  3. CharlesM

    +1 for some well-deserved vacation time(s). And if they include black tie events, all the better. And if those events should result in postings of you and your partner showing us all how things should be done, better still.

    But in any event, please be sure to always take time out for yourself.

    Thank you for all you do.

    Reply
  4. wdwright77

    Yes, I am that guy and I saw where you had mentioned me in one of the posts. I think the ebook will indeed save almost a ream of paper. Funny, the printer gets you one way or another; either you print and run out of ink or paper or you hang on to material electronically and the hard drive starts filling up; I’ll look forward to seeing how the new version will stack up, but as we all say in the comments: take time for yourself. That seems to be so hard to do these days and it’s so necessary. I do like your idea; A vacation wearing a dinner jacket would be extremely ideal.

    Reply

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