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  • http://www.pr2020.com/blog Laurel Miltner

    Carrie, 

    Great article. I agree with you that using data solely for reporting isn’t nearly as powerful as what you can do with the data from a strategic analysis / strategy adjustment point of view. 

    One thing I’d caution readers about, however, is confusing correlation for causation. (Rand Fishkin offers a great comparison to illustrate this point here: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/facebook-twitters-influence-google-search-rankings)

    For example, looking at your scenario above: “From this custom report, we can see that most visitors who spent 6+ minutes on the website spent the most money. Our average time on site for the entire site is currently 5minutes and 21 seconds. Increasing time on site can lead to an increase in revenues for this client.” 

    I’d argue that there is more of a correlation between people spending 6+ minutes on the site and higher purchases, versus a causation. Does spending 6 minutes on the site really get people to buy more, or is it the most interested potential buyers / biggest brand fans that spend more time on the site, and thus purchase more?

    In a case like this, we may also want to look at things like what pages people view that lead them to purchase, what content they may have downloaded, how else they are connected with the brand, etc. to get a better idea of their purchase path. That additional intelligence can be combined with data like time on site to enable a more comprehensive look at the buyer, and thus a more strategic adjustment in future marketing activities / site updates, etc. 

    Again, thanks for bringing this important issue to light. 

    @laurelmackenzie:twitter