When it comes to Data – Context is king

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Short-sightedness is the biggest shortcoming when interpreting the data from your web analytics. Too often, the numbers are looked at without any context and this can distort the resulting decisions.

Short-sightedness?

Analytics reports are filled with numbers like this Unique Visits – 317,550

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Looking just at that, you might get carried away into think that is a good flow of traffic. But compared to what? It’s hard to infer whether that is good, bad or downright terrible in terms of traffic because there is nothing to compare it with. After seeing this, you should ask – Has the traffic improved? or declined compared to a previous period, which pages are getting these visits?, what time period are we talking about? and are we on the right track? The 317,550 is just a number that doesn’t explain anything. Context gives these numbers meaning.

If your analytics reporting or your dashboard is too simplistic and you look solely at the numbers, you will not get anything of value. What you should be doing, is choosing a comparable time period and almost immediately you will see how it stands up

Extracting Meaning from your Data

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Now you can see that the 317,500 stacked against last months unique traffic isn’t looking so good after all. But, it shouldn’t end there.

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Compared to last year, however, things are looking way better. A 54.93% increase in comparison to last year. Seasonally, you have improved visits from last year but your pageviews and pages/visit are lower so the user engagement must be questioned.

So how do you make sure that your data gives you meaningful information?

You should always tie the numbers to Goals – what are your business KPI’s that determine whether that number is a success or a failure. Build a relationship with other data – what are those visitors doing on the site? did they convert? etc.

Data is just information without context but applying context to it will allow you to see the bigger picture.

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