How an Agency used Hubspot to be Misleading

For years, I’ve been pushing lawyers to take control of their data and utilize Google Analytics as a source for accurate, meaningful, actionable website performance data.  Don’t trust your vendors to tell you how good your vendors are – because – surprise surprise, the are incented to self report bigger and better numbers – a freakshow self-interested Napeoleon complex designed to hide their own failings.

Here’s a shining example, courtesy of an agency’s configuration of Hubspot, of how vendors manipulate data to appear bigger than they actually are. The online marketing equivalent of a frightened puffer fish. In Hubspot’s “Visits” reporting, the overall trend looks very positive – slow solid stead growth.  We call this “up and to the right” and its the trend we strive for with SEO engagements – more traffic yields more calls, yields more business.  This slow and steady improvement is typical of a very well run SEO campaign.


Look a little closer – Hubspot’s up and to the right is cumulative.  Each month they are simply adding the cumulative total of all the previous months – so mathematically it can display nothing but up and to the right.  Using this same mathematical approach, I’m 1,066 years old.


The question I pose, is “why”?  Why would you depict data this way? Why would you chose to visualize last month’s data as a cumulation of all previous data?  The answer (to my admittedly cynical mind) is simple: at a casual glance (or to the uninformed or analytically challenged) – cumulative results look like growth.  Even when its not really growing.

It’s not a Hubspot issue – its an agency using a great tool to paint an inaccurate picture. Stop trusting your vendors to tell you how well they are doing.

4 Responses to “How an Agency used Hubspot to be Misleading”

  1. I don’t understand your age analogy – isn’t your age also cumulative? If you graphed your age over time, wouldn’t it always be going up and to the right?

  2. Ishita

    I only trust the data that I received in my Google analytical account. Google has made a brilliant tool for webmaster so why anyone wants to use another tool. They are making changes every month and upgrading their system as per users need. You can track all the data in the analytic and use data to analyze your performance.

    No need to use HubSpot’s or any other online tools to track analytic data.

    Thank you

  3. Conrad! Looking good for 1,066 years old! What’s the secret? 😉

    In all seriousness, this is a great example of why you need to understand your vendors reporting for yourself and don’t rely on reports from vendors as the gospel of what is going on with your marketing.

  4. You’ve missed the entire mark here. HubSpot’s reporting goes way more in-depth than this and you can create standard charts (by day, week, month), or cumulative. You’re just displaying the cumulative chart. Therefore, your argument is irrelevant. The data you want is right there.