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Don’t Sweat the Small Data

Adster has this wonderful proprietary dashboard that pulls in data from Google Analytics and Google Adwords and lays it out in a quick and easy to read format. It compares leads month over month (30 days over 30 days), 90 days over 90 days, and year over year (if available). If stats are up, the boxes are green. If stats are down, the boxes are red. It’s great for quickly assessing the health of an account.

 

Sometimes I open an account and gasp so loudly my coworkers ask me what’s wrong. That darn month over month data is down! But why?! Time to chill. I can’t hang my hat on 30 over 30 data for a number of reasons:

Small Data Anomalies

Some of my Adwords accounts don’t necessarily get a lot of leads monthly. One month, an account may get 11 contact form submits and the next month only eight. That is a decrease of 27%! But really, it is just a difference of three form submits which is not actually a significant change because we’re looking at so little data.

Date Ranges

If you have an account that doesn’t run ads on weekends, checking into your account on a Monday gives 30 over 30 data that includes ten weekend days compared to eight weekend days in the previous 30 days. That means you are comparing 20 days vs 22 days your ad was running. A lot can happen in those two extra days to affect month to month leads!

Budget

Accounts can vary in spend from month to month depending on a number of factors. I have automated rules that allow for budget to change as needed. Perhaps one of my accounts underspent last month and then my budget rules bumped up budget this month to account for that underspending. If your account is spending more money (and nothing else has changed), then it would probably be pulling in more leads as well.

Seasonal Trends

One of my clients is a retail shop and they get significantly more calls around Christmas. The 30 days following the Christmas rush is definitely be a slower time for them and I can expect to see fewer leads and action on the account in general.

 

What should you pay attention to?

90 over 90

Rather than obsess over 30 over 30 data, take a look at 90 days over 90. It compares a longer period of time and will help average out small data anomaly. It’ll be much more telling about the direction your account is headed and whether those are short or long term gains/loses.

Year over Year

If year over year data is available to you, it’s a great way of comparing whether your account has improved as it takes into consideration those seasonal trends. I like to compare a 30 day period to the same 30 period last year to know if account’s current performance is simply seasonal.

For example, take the organic traffic of this client. Their new user traffic is down month over month 16.04%.

Google Analytics graph of month over month data

But looking at the traffic year over year, new users is still up 72.53%.

Google Analytics year over year data 30 days

And taking a look at the past 90 days, compared with the 90 days of the year previous, we see that there is a downward trend anyway as summer wraps up.

Google Analytics year over year graph 90 days

Lead Acquisition Cost and Conversion Rates

Regardless of whether my organic traffic or leads are up or down, changes in my lead acquisition cost and conversion rate tell another part of the story. With Adwords, if I have less leads, but my lead acquisition cost (LAC) and conversion rate remained relatively the same, my account just underspent this month. But if my LAC went up and my conversion rate went way down, then I may have a real problem. Also, I tend to take the 30 over 30 data with a grain of salt and compare 90 over 90 LACs and conversion rates!

Lessons Learned

Don’t let the 30 over 30 drama get to you! If you’re like me, taking a look at my accounts can sometimes be an emotional roller coaster. Take a chill pill and look at longer periods of time, seasonal trends, lead acquisition cost and your conversion rates. You’ll be much happier for it and you can then make tweaks and changes with a cooler head!