SearchRankings.Net has been spending a lot of time these days reviewing the data that our clients have been using to make decisions about business. We use data every day, data is everywhere, but what happens when the data you are looking at is wrong? Worse yet, the data you are looking at is wrong but you don’t know it.

Case in point, we were working with a client who was using a large Advertising Agency to run a SEM Campaign (SEM = Search Engine Marketing). One of the most important pieces of data this agency reported back to our client was the conversion rate, or rate at which traffic to the website converted into an actual sale. This campaign and the data that they were providing went on for months, and based on the reports, the data did not look too bad. After we had gone in and started to work on the Analytics Review and Audit we found that the Advertising Agency was reporting an “Add to Cart” as a converted sale. The problem with reporting the “Add to Cart” number was that in this case, 4 out 5 ‘Add to Carts” did NOT convert into an actual sale. So this Agency is reporting conversions 80% higher than they actually are. This is just one example of how bad data can affect decision making.

The only thing worse than bad data is no data, and in 99% of the clients we work with we can find examples of both within weeks. Data Driven Decisions are a lot like a really good testing plan for your site, software, product or service. It takes discipline to create, test, track and change direction based on what the data is telling you. If you can’t do this, or you don’t have the resources to do this, hire it out, it’s too important not to be part of your “Cost of doing business”. Often times in the course of working with our clients, we find that because we have site usability issues or conversion related obstacles, the qualified traffic we can send to the website is diminished by a poor conversion rate. How do we know this? The DATA tells us. What do we do when we find this out? Often times we pull back on some of our marketing efforts and focus on conversion issues. It’s just not cost effective to get a large number of people coming into your digital stores if we are not ready to turn them into buying customers, pull back your marketing spend and put it toward upgrading your site.

Don’t let your marketing company live in the “quality traffic” funnel only, yes it’s their job to send high quality targeted traffic to your site, but if they aren’t tracking what happens after the traffic lands, they are only doing part of what needs to be done. Let the data tell you what to work on and ultimately it will “show you the money!”