Know Where Your Online Marketing Spikes Are Coming From

In analyzing online marketing  results people make two broad-sweeping common mistakes

  • Blaming poor performance on outside factors
  • Take credit for positive performance without verifying the conclusion.

If only these assumptions were true in reality, we’d have nothing to worry about.  We’d cause only good and any negative outcomes couldn’t be helped.  Of course, that’s not true  and in analyzing you online marketing campaigns honesty is critical.

The more prevalent of the two mistakes is taking credit for spikes without doing any research to verify that an online marketing campaign deserves the credit.  This can be a costly error because it’s confirming false data.  If we believe something created a positive reaction but in reality it did not, we waste time recreating that situation even though it doesn’t provide proven results.

Here is an example I ran into recently.  In checking site analytics for a fairly new client of mine I discovered the site experienced a 400% increase in month-to-month traffic.  I instantly assumed that the search engines had indexed new keywords which were driving exponential growth.  I started preparing an analysis of what keywords were performing best so we could further refine the site’s SEO.

As I looked through the search keyword data the numbers weren’t adding up.  The site had much more direct traffic than in previous months.  Upon further investigation I saw that the search engines had not registered the new keywords we had worked on.

I informed the client of the spike but had no clear explanation of why the direct traffic would have shot up.  Fortunately the client did.  They do a yearly event which took place during the month in questions and the attendees for this event were the likely cause of direct traffic as they visited the site after the event.

As much as I’d have liked to take credit for the spike, it would have set our efforts back.  Analyzing the data and seeing that the spike was not a result of the SEO, means that we can’t bask in our genius.  Rather we need to monitor what actually happens when the search engines index the site and see how that effects search traffic so we can see real SEO improvement.

Always investigate any website or email metric spike.  While it’s nice to believe that our efforts were the catalyst, that always needs to be proven by the data.