Analytics in a Vacuum

I think when marketers look at dashboards and reports, they make a lot of assumptions. We assign either good or bad values without understanding how the data fits into the bigger picture. This causes us to get very excited or freak out about one piece of data in a complex puzzle. We see trees but no forest.

Some examples where this happens:

  • Time on site
    • We assume that more time on site is better but what if it’s because the visitor can’t find what they’re looking for? What if it’s because they started browsing but got interrupted
  • Page Views
    • Similar to time on site, what if your navigation isn’t intuitive? A visitor may be looking for content that doesn’t exist. Maybe the experience has actually made them pissed off.
  • Email Opens
    • We often think an email open means someone is interested in our content but I have often opened emails just to clear the push notification from my phone. It may be someone isn’t sure who you are or why you’re emailing them. It could be a bot.

Analytics can’t just exist in a vacuum. When we build things (website, emails) we have an idea of the ideal way they will be consumed, but does that match reality? Analytics should be a starting point of curiosity not a final conclusion.

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