Spring seasonality

Seasonal Effects on AdWords Performance – Curbing Confirmation Bias

We love working with digital marketing campaigns because there’s just so much data you can use to draw consumer insights and make informed decisions with.

Which geographic location are our ads gaining the most conversions? Which demographic audience(s) do our ads resonate with the most? What time of day are ads most effective? The list goes on.

As marketers, we’re keenly aware of confirmation bias, the psychological tendency to see information the way you *want* to see it. If you recently launched a new set of premium content on your website, you expect to see traffic to increase. If you just launched a digital marketing ad, you’d expect to see sales increase. Right?

Unfortunately, confirmation bias is a negative factor that tends to skew results if you’re not being critical with yourself. Just because you’re experiencing a 50% increase in website traffic, is that really a good thing? What if I told you that in the same time period, last year, you experienced a 250% increase in traffic due to seasonality?

In order to curb the effects of confirmation bias, we abide by predetermined marketing reports that compare the same data over time, using the same marketing metrics that we agree upon with the client upon the creation of our campaign(s).

One of our favorite digital marketing reports to draw insights from include seasonality comparisons. This is a very straightforward report you can pull on your own, right now, via Google Analytics:

  • Using Google Analytics, view your website’s Source/Medium dashboard
  • Take your most important marketing metric (usually website sales, followed by leads, phone calls and/or form submissions)
  • Review your metric over the course of the last two weeks, compared to two weeks prior, to see if there are any major effects of a recent marketing campaign
  • Take your data metrics for the entire month, and compare them with performance in the month immediately prior (using the same number of days)
  • Take your metrics for this month, and compare them with performance in the exact same time period one year ago
  • Did you notice any differences? Where did the biggest increase(s) come from? Are you surprised by the results? Why?
  • After asking yourself these questions, view your website’s All Pages dashboard and sort by top traffic to your pages. Find your top landing pages this month, compared to the previous month’s, compared to the previous year’s.

What does this exercise help you do?

This helps you view your metrics in context. See, a 50% increase or 10% decrease doesn’t mean anything without context – you need to see the same data in different scenarios, with or without paid campaigns, during different time periods.

By comparing data to recent (two week) time periods, you’re tracking the immediate effects of any marketing campaign you’ve recently launched.

By comparing data to recent (monthly) time periods, you’re tracking the effects of seasonality. Believe it or not, many of our clients (especially service-based clients) are greatly affected by seasonality, to the point that we actually adjust their marketing campaigns based on the weather and other seasonal factors.

By comparing data to long-term (yearly) time periods, you’re able to see your data in the context of a bigger picture. Has your traffic been increasing over time? Decreasing over time? If you’re consistently finding trends in annual data month over month, these are signs that something is working really well…or something is going wrong, and needs to be fixed.

If you’re having trouble navigating Google Analytics or are concerned about other potential biases of managing your own marketing, give our marketing agency in Vancouver a call! We always have chocolate 🙂