Data Collection Is Like Taking A Picture

by Garrett Jackson

Aug 28, 2019

Posted in Analytics

Data Collection Is Like Taking A Picture

A Photo A Day

It’s the first day of school and you line your kids up outside on the front porch or in front of a tree in your yard. They are all decked out in their newest clothes that you obviously bought the night before (you procrastinator, you). They do their first round of cheesy smiles, but then you get them to do one natural photo and that’s the one. The one that goes in your photo albums, mounted on a fridge, emailed to grandparents, and your marker for that moment in time.

Now just imagine that you took helicopter parenting to a new level. What if you did this every single day. Yes, the outfits would change, but what would you really see.

I’d imagine you’d see your kids slowly shoot up like bean sprouts. You’d see outfits go from crisp to faded and fitting to ill-fitting. The backpacks bright colors would fade. Their hair would get longer, get shorter, get longer.

Your Data

Every website and digital marketing campaign comes with data. Let’s just use a website as a quick example. If you are using Google Analytics, you can track things like the number of visitors to a website, how long they stayed, how many pages they visited, where they are located, what type of computer they used, what they clicked on, and thousands of other behavioral metrics.

But the beauty of this software is not in the single snapshot of one day. The power comes from snapshots being taken every single day, hour, minute. When you collect months of this data, you quickly start identifying trends which are a marketer’s best friends.

Trends, Not Snapshots

Trends help us from making bad decisions. It’s easy to see your website traffic drop one week or one month and immediately throw your hands up in a panic. You could completely change your digital marketing tactics, ads, redesign your website, and be completely reactionary. When people wait to see trends they make sure they have enough data pointing to a particular issue before they make decisions.

Too often we see people cancel a paid search (PPC) campaign because they ran it for one month and didn’t see good results. That’s why we recommend they run for at least 3 months so that we can watch trends, behaviors, and fine-tune our campaigns.

You Can’t Go Back

Another important thing to know about your data is that it captures a moment in time. Let’s say I forgot to take a picture of the kids on the first day of school. There’s no way to go back. If I take a picture the next day, that’s great, but it’s still a picture of the next day.

When you don’t set up tracking tools like Google Analytics or Google Webmaster Tools, there isn’t a way to go back and retrieve that data. If the picture wasn’t taken, it’s lost forever. This is an important detail to discuss with your agency. Make sure they have things set up properly and are regularly tracking your performance.

Study It For Details

Photos are full of information. You could do a quick glance to watch for trends, but what if you noticed that one day the kids seemed grumpier or happier than normal. You could look at the date and realize that it was the day before you went to Disneyland. Maybe it was the day that you canceled the Disneyland trip (you monster). 

If you see a strange spike or shift in your data, take the time to study that moment for more details. Maybe you ran a specific campaign, posted something to social media, or ran some offline campaign that led to the spike. Studying outliers is a great way to find out things that might tip the scale in your favor.

Tracking Is Vital

While it would be obnoxious and probably a little odd to take photos of your kids every day, it is vital to take snapshots of your digital marketing efforts. Make sure that you have the proper tracking in place. And even more than that, make sure you understand the reports and information your agency is sharing with you.

Not sure if you have it set up? Contact us and we’ll take a look for you!


Get in touch with the Formada Team