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Is it working?

WRITTEN by: Jerrod Swanton |
categories: SEO

Jul 2017


This is one of the most common questions I’m asked when running an SEO or PPC Campaign. Before I get started, let me reassure you that this is not a post where I rant about clients. It’s actually not even about campaigns. It’s about data.

I recently attended Interact 17, a digital marketing conference where my views about data came full circle. I was listening to Andy Crestodina talk about Google Analytics when I heard him say something that I had not heard before. What he said that got my attention is that not only is the data in Google Analytics inaccurate (I knew this), but that this is okay (here is where he lost me). 

I tried to come to terms with what I had just heard. As someone with a tendency to think academically, it is hard for me to accept that inaccurate data is tolerable. After spending some time thinking about this, I had an epiphany. I have always known that this data is not perfect, but like Andy said, it is the best data that we have, and we should use it. 

This is where we get back to the client question, “Is it working?” I often base my answer this question not on the numbers that I “see” in the data, but by what results they “see” happening in their business as a result of the campaign. 

I do this because I know that things like time on site, increased visits, site, pageviews or even increased phone calls, forms, and emails may be indicators of well performing campaign, but they don’t equal success. My data alone is not enough. 

Luckily for me, I work with a lot of smart people. They taught me early on to not only use the data in GA, but also to listen to calls and read submitted forms to check on lead quality. Even with this extra data, I still need the client to keep me in the loop about how leads pan out and what sales they close to know if the campaign is truly working. 

The moral of this story is that Andy is correct. GA data is not 100% accurate. In fact, all data is probably flawed, but we move forward making the best decisions that we can with the info that we have. This means not forgetting about all the great data that lives outside of GA. Consulting the data and client insights help us truly determine if it is working.  

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