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 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.
Get on WordPress
Get on Google Analytics
Stop trusting your vendors to tell you how well they are doing.