The Sunday Talk – Data Visualization

The Sunday Talk – Data Visualization

Mondays, Mondays, Mondays. If you hate your Mondays you are definitely in the wrong job. And what a nice day. Don’t you think that when the weather is nice and sunny it feels like there are more colours out there in the world?
It’s exactly the same with data. When you visualise your data it feels like there is more information coming your way. So the goal this week: take data and turn it into information. Information into Insights. Insights into actions. Let the week begin.

All I am trying to say is that you can’t look at a set of numbers in isolation. Let me give you an example. Two three months ago a client of mine was absolutely convinced that the number of organic visits is a good KPI. But then the sales were going down. His content is good. Very educational so he was attracting a lot of organic visits. But then he was attracting the wrong crowd. And he didn’t have a clear call to action. So what was good for the SEO team was not good for the overall business.

Let me make this example, let me make this one a little bit more visual for you with another example.
if you look out outside and you see it’s raining all you know is that it’s raining. But if I tell you that it’s been raining for a whole month and the temperatures are close to zero you pretty much know season I am talking about.

Rob, instead of arguing about it why don’t you look at the picture I sent you on your mobile. Yes, forget about the numbers. The blue colour is the number of pages that didn’t have even one single organic visit for the last twelve months. And tell me what do you think about it. Do you really want to keep those pages?

Are you trying to tell me that I managed to convince you with the simplest form on Earth a circle? So I’m gonna come up with a quote straight away.

In SEO, presentations or speeches less is really more.

Less is more

Last night I was watching a Hangout On Air with Mr David Amerland and believe it or not this morning I woke up with a quote in my head.
Creating content for your online brand or business has nothing to do with making more time or coming up with new ideas.

You simply have to start creating content.

I know a lot of you are worried that you are probably not good because you are at the beginning of the journey. So let me be honest with you. You are probably not good. But that’s OK. The real failure is never starting in the first place.

David Amerland: Whatever reservations you may have overcome them quickly. The web is visual weather we like it or not. More than fifty percent of the content is consumed on devices. There are, usually, there are phones. They are notoriously difficult when it comes to reading a lot of text. They are very easy when it comes to actually watching video. So bare that in mind it’s a massive audience out there. It’s an easy way to connect with them.

As long as you are real. As long as you provide value they will find it appealing. And as Oleg said whatever reservations you may have well these are not the Oscars you are not going for a movie performance. You are trying to deliver value to an audience like you would to a person if you came up and met him face to face. So if you approach it that way you really can’t go wrong.

On my way a team building event so I am quite pumped about it. Or like somebody said before

“The strength of the team is each member. The strength of each member is indeed the team.”

Indeed. The problem was that your content team couldn’t understand the numbers. So yes yesterday I sent them a graph SEO visits against page depth. If you look at the graph, yeah, it’s quite obvious straight away that you shouldn’t be publishing content beyond page depth five. If I was you I would even consider merging three and four.

On the other side, why do we even send numbers to your content team? Those are visual people, right? In fact, I emailed them yesterday, yes, I emailed them yesterday and today Peter came back to me with an email with only one sentence. I get it now.

We should always try and think about the people that are looking at the data we are trying to present.

Data insights

Last night I was out till 3 o’clock but today Saturday morning I am coming to the gym. You don’t demand respect you earn it.

Guys, I don’t know about you but it feels like we all suffer from data overload. The problem: we are not all data analysts but in today’s digital world we are all required to analyse numbers, find problems and come up with solutions.
The good news is there is a solution to the problem called data visualisation or in other words using our eyes more to see patterns and connections that matter.

Guys, I know it’s Sunday but I have to go and see a client. But you do come back here next Sunday cause you’ve got the problems and I’ve got the solutions.

Data and Insights in Digital Marketing

Data and Insights in Digital Marketing

Many people confuse data with insights.

What is the difference?

What Is Data?

Data is the information you acquire from users, such as demographic info, behavior, and activity.

What is Analytics?

Analytics is the discovery of patterns and trends obtained from your data.

What are Insights?

The ability to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something through the use of analytics. In other words the deeper understanding of something or someone through analysing data.

As digital marketers, we are the bridge between the data and the people who have to make a decision based on the insights coming from this data. Our job is to take the data and transform it into a meaningful story that a business can truly understand in order to translate data into actionable insights.

The insights gained through analytics are incredibly powerful, and can be used to grow your business while identifying areas of opportunity.

Common mistakes

The noise is confusing the signals.

We are hardwired to see patterns even if they are not there. Make sure when analysing your data that you are not getting information based on ‘your needs’ so you see signals where’s there is just noise.

Don’t measure meaningless metrics.

Make sure that you only measure and draw conclusions from stuff that matters for your business.
Is ‘email open rate’ giving you useful insights? The way I see it if someone opens an email it does not mean that they read it. You don’t even know for sure that they took interest in your content.
Don’t you think that ‘Click-through rates’ actually tells you how effective your email content is and what content you should send next?

Confusing correlation with causation.

The best way to explain this one is by giving an example. People buy more clothes when the weather is cold not because they need more clothes to keep them warm but because Christmas is in December (Winter). So assuming that people buy more when the weather is cold (this may as well be the case for some particular businesses) is simply wrong. I may even argue that most people buy their ‘warm clothes’ during the summer months when they are heavily discounted.

Which leads me to the next point.

Not accounting for seasonal variations.

It is quite obvious to me now that customers behave differently according to the season and according to seasonal habits. There is always an increase of browse and spend during the Christmas period so the month over month growth figures in January are not the most accurate ones.

Ignoring Geography.

The all too often forgotten element. It doesn’t make sense to include international data in your analyses if you only sell locally. On the other side if you do sell internationally than it makes sense to separate your high priority markets from less important ones. A good example for disregarding Geography would be counting visits from Canada if you only sell in the UK.

Visits from another country in Google Analytics

Data can replace intuition (and vice versa).

Recently I was doing an SEO project for a company involved in baby products distribution. So the first thing I said to the CEO of this company was “I’d like to start with a little research so I can establish who your customers are”.
He said, “I know who my customers are. They’re moms, females between 20 and 40 years old.” I said, “Wow, how do you know?” He looked at me like I was crazy. He said, “They’re my customers. I’ve been doing this for years. Don’t tell me you still use baby oil on your body”
Now it was my time to look at him like he was crazy. “Yes, I do mate. Every time I shave my head. And I honestly don’t think I am a female and a mom.”

My intuition was telling me that I am not the only one using baby products.

In all honesty, he was not entirely wrong. A big chunk of his customer base was indeed moms in their 30s. But then he missed a big chunk of young ladies using baby oil for beauty purposes like makeup removal or conditioning and cleaning makeup brushes. And then a lot of men and women who use it like me as after-shave moisturiser.
The craziest thing that came from our research was motorcyclists using it to polish their bikes in the winter. Go figure.

Average Value.

And now something a bit more technical. Misusing average value is one of them. Averages are a great way to get a quick overview of how your business is doing. For example, if the average order value is increasing over time than your company is going in the right direction. True that! Which does not mean that all your departments are doing well.

Average order value by a department will allow you to identify ‘weak’ links in your business and also give you the opportunity to allocate your marketing efforts throughout your business more efficiently.

Tip: Don’t you ever do a Pie Chart of the average order amount by a department. Pie charts should always represent a slice of the whole. You cannot have a slice of the average!

Pie Chart

Another misuse of average would be the not so famous anymore ‘average time on page’. Apparently, Google thinks it’s so important that it even displays it as a prime metric. Clearly, it is better if a visitor spends longer on a page because it means they’re engaging with your content. Hmm, not really.

Average time on page in Google Analytics


If I go to, spent 5 seconds scrolling trough the articles, click on an article headline that I like and spend another 10 minutes reading the article and then close the tab. The average time on the blog page would be shown in my GA as 5 seconds. If I check the ‘average time on page’ shown for the article page it would be….hmm zero seconds.
Surprise, surprise. Google knows that when I was on the first page I clicked on a link so it can easily calculate the time between the entrance and the click.
Google cannot detect the tab closing so it records the ‘average time on page’ for the article as zero seconds.

Suddenly you realize that blindly applying statistics doesn’t explain what’s actually happening (and I know my example was a bit harsh but I hope you get the point).


In the vast ocean that is Digital Marketing, there is practically nothing you can’t measure. While this may seem like a big deal to you, it does have its drawbacks – the mere fact that you can measure everything doesn’t mean that you should. To really get the best of your data you should start looking past the raw numbers and begin seeing the big picture. The road to success is to have the ability to analyze on both the micro and macro scales.