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The Placebo Effect of Graphs & Charts

Let me clearly state that I prefer placebo's over prescription drugs. The side effects do not last as long. Maybe it is just me, but it seems like some people prefer a colorful graph over answering a bunch of questions. Please don't misunderstand. I am not suggesting that everyone needs to look at raw data. I get it. Data visualization is an excellent method of presentation.

Here is a good example:

placebo effect of charts and graphs analytics that profit.png

You can't help but get excited over the the tremendous increase starting on the 21st. It's dramatic. You must be doing something right! This is the placebo effect of graphs & charts.

Now let's look at the same data over a longer time frame.

placeb effect of graphs and charts time comparison analytics that profit.png

Not as exciting, is it? Looking at the same data over a longer time frame shows "spikes" on a regular basis. Buzz Kill.

This is a common problem that many business owners face when presented with marketing data. It just does not have context. We did X and we got Y: Therefore our marketing worked!

There is a really useful feature in Google Analytics that is often overlooked by business owners. It is called annotation.

You really have to look for it.

annotation in google anayltics analytics that profit.pngIn Google Analytics click AUDIENCE then directly underneath it click Overview. Now look at the chart to the right in Google Analytics.

Do you see it? Look directly underneath Jul 22 ⬇️.

 When you click the arrow you can create a new annotation.

create annotation in google analytics analytics that profit.png

Annotations are a great way to record what changes you have made to your marketing to get a handle on cause and effect.

how to make a annotation in google analytics analytics that profit.png

Annotations get you past the placebo effect of graphs & charts and help you make connections to real activities/actions. You can use annotations for non web based marketing events to determine if they had an effect on driving traffic to your website.

analytics that profit placebo effect of graphs & charts.png

Once you have implemented annotations, look for patterns over time. If every time you send a particular email campaign your traffic spikes, then you may be on to something. You may want to read Does Increasing Website Traffic Increase Sales? to put this context.

Totally nerd blog I know. Don't be a hater because I got certified in Google Analytics before I became a marketer.

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