Maintaining Perspective During Data Analysis

There’s a lot of data flying around our Nina Hale office-in-the-sky. SERP reports, impression data, organic traffic estimates: you name it, we have it. The majority of our decisions are made based on data. That is one of the beauties of search, that it is so rich in information that we can make informed decisions on just about anything. However, there can be a dark side…

  A great risk of living in the depths of data is that it’s easy to lose perspective. Without keeping a constant eye on the forest through the trees, little PPC’ers can get lost quite easily. From optimizing to analyzing reports, maintaining perspective is key, regardless of your position as a search specialist or the head of marketing. We all know that paid search is very fluid – but sometimes we forget to account for this fluidity when we’re in the trenches. Let’s say that today I’m going to sit down and do some deep-dive optimizations for my account. I pull data for the last two weeks and get started. I begin optimizing – pausing keywords, changing bids, pausing ads, activating ads, you name it. The next day…my account performance plummets. What went wrong? I did everything I was supposed to! I made data-driven decisions! Recall that in my little story I used the last two weeks of data. And that’s where I made my mistake. With some large accounts, this may be more than enough to make a solid decision, but with smaller accounts, as in my example, two weeks of data is just a little sapling in the forest. If I had pulled data from the last 30 or even 60 days, I would have seen different patterns which would have led me to make completely different optimizations – I may not have increased the bid on that keyword, or I may not have paused that other keyword. I could have made optimizations based on the long-term performance of a theme of keywords rather than getting a little trigger-happy based on yesterday’s performance. In fact, if I had looked back at the last 6 months and segmented my data by month, I might have actually seen that the account has incrementally increased in conversion rate and decreased cost-per-lead as my long-term optimizations take greater effect. Now instead of cursing my account for crashing, I could actually be celebrating our long-term wins! The moral of the story is clear, but here it is in print: maintain perspective. It’s important to dig into data, but it’s also important to keep your eye on the horizon while you’re doing so. Before taking any actions within an account, look at both the long-term and short-term performance to make informed decisions.

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