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Analytics Reporting: The 3 Pet-Peeves

Google AnalyticsAt the end of every month, WrightIMC goes through its own personal Groundhog Day (the Bill Murray kind), or what we call “reporting week.” Sometimes the interns and coordinators thumb wrestle for the more interesting clients while refusing to take responsibility for the tougher ones. With band-aided thumbs, we all hunker down for the better part of a week in an attempt to figure out the best way to prove progress has been made and dig for 100+ ways to increase conversions and link-building effectiveness.

Over the course of my employment here, I can’t even tell you how many reports I have submitted to a supervisor only to watch them get shot down. Too many times I have wanted to set fire to our reports and dance on their graves. That was until I discovered the three pet peeves of Analytics reporting. Though my reports aren’t perfect, I believe progress has been made – if I do say so myself.

1. Undefined KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) help to create objectives that a client or website owner should establish with their agency before diving into the nitty-gritty world of SEO and content marketing. KPIs help to create a structure for what needs to be continually pursued. On a very basic level, KPIs are outcomes that measure progress: visitor loyalty, bounce rate, keyword rankings, etc. KPIs change depending on the size of the business, and in order to measure true success, it should change as your business grows.

With predetermined KPIs, you’ll know exactly what to look at every time you go into Google Analytics, and you can cut out all the other “noise.” Plus, you’ll get the attention of your superiors (and clients) immediately.

2.  TL;DR

One of my biggest pet peeves is to see a mile-long report that should fit on a single page. This usually happens because the writer:

  • Is beating around the bush, has no idea what they are talking about and is just filling the report with fluff;
  • Doesn’t have clear objectives on which to report (See pet peeve 1);
  • Wants to show off, either with data, jargon or accomplishments;
  • Thinks reports are the only time they should contact a client.

The main problem with big reports is that people are lazy, and no one wants to plow through your epic novel – no matter how insightful it may seem to you. If you really have that much to say, then you should be contacting your client more often to discuss new problems, accomplishments, and opportunities. Don’t use reports as an excuse to dump everything into one pile and expect your superiors to dig through it. Much like writing content: edit, edit, edit. Get the attention of your supervisor and clients by getting to the point.

3. Reporting “unicorn and leprechaun” metrics

It can be tempting to stuff a report full of positive things that hold zero significance to a client’s revenue, in hopes of lessening the blow of bad news or poor performance. That never works out the way you thought it would. Plus, clients can smell fear. Unicorns and leprechauns are metrics like average visit duration, pages per visit, etc. These are bad metrics because they can cause beginner and amateur reporters to believe things are improving when these metrics could be increasing for negative reasons – like site copy that is too long or a relevant page that is hard to find.

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