Dangerous Ground: Focusing on Actuals, Not Trends

Many small business owners who manage their own online marketing consider website analytics the end-all be-all. I agree that it’s important, but even as a certified web guy, I look for trends, not exacts.

I measure everything under the sun from overall traffic, unique visitors, organic brand and non-branded visits, average page views, conversions and rates, events, flows, etc. Even though I look at these metrics and report on percentage changes by week, month and year, I use these numbers to give me an idea of trends that may be occurring within our business.

By looking at the trends instead of focusing on the actuals, I can better assess areas for improvement.

As an example, let’s say that in the previous month, we had a decrease of organic non-branded traffic in comparison to the same month last year. However, by looking at this year as a whole, including months prior and their fluctuations, I see that it was merely a bad month and generally speaking, this year’s overall metric is actually improving.

If I were to concentrate too much on the actual result, I could waste time, or even worse, make a website change that could buck the previous trend. For any business, this could spell disaster.

Until I have more evidence of a declining trend, I will not act.

In my past experiences, small business owners have a hard time dealing with this for two main reasons. One is that their reporting is incomplete and lacks accuracy in comparing like metrics, and two, their tendency to overreact to a bad result. By looking at trends, you can learn to take action when the time is right.

The most productive solution that I recommend is to create a robust reporting solution for your business. By spending just a few moments with it each week and gathering (usually through exporting) key metrics, in time you will have the ability to make sound and accurate business decisions based on various trends, not exacts.

By Modern Postcard

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