APVA Member Gemma Pybus shares her thoughts on why it is SO important as online businesses we understand the value of data that is right in front of us….

Data – it’s absolutely everywhere! If you have a business website, it’s likely you’ll have seen the Google Analytics statistics about website traffic and visitor behaviour. If you have a business social media page, you can easily access ‘insights’ about the reach and engagement of your posts.  You’ll also have your own in-house statistics that you’ve collected, for example, how many leads you collect a year through networking activities, how many customers you currently have, and how many people are on your business mailing list.

When you’re running a business, it’s so important to keep an eye on the data.  It can help shape decision making at work and determine whether you have reached the targets that you set for yourself.  Keeping an eye on data relating to the work that you do for customers is also important, as it helps you to ensure that you are consistently delivering a useful and positive service to clients.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees the benefit of negative statistics – a downturn in social media engagement rates, a reduction in emails being opened by a mailing list, or an increase in the ‘bounce rate’ of a web page (when a visitor visits a particular web page and then leaves the site rather than moving on to another page). 

For me, these statistics are just as valuable as positive statistics for a number of reasons outlined below:

1.)   They signal that a platform may have changed – for example, Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm may have changed, or Google may have updated the way that they rank pages in the search results.

2.)   They could suggest that your audience has changed – perhaps they are now on a different Social Media platform or are interested in a new product or service that you don’t currently offer.

3.)   They help to identify where time is potentially being wasted, particularly in terms of marketing – if you are spending hours every week on Twitter but aren’t seeing any useful engagement from potential customers, it could be time to repurpose those hours somewhere else!

4.)   They help to identify what isn’t working! Yes, it’s great to know that your work is reaping rewards left, right and centre, but it’s also handy to know if there’s a weak link in the chain somewhere that requires a rethink or investment in further training.

Both positive and negative statistics have a huge amount of value for business owners, but only when the data is reliable and valuable. 

If you are trying to prove a point via the use of statistics and find that the data you are relying on is inconclusive, it’s perfectly reasonable to say that!

Perhaps you need to collect more data or review the data collection process?

Just whatever you do, don’t manipulate the stats to support your preconceived ideas – we can only improve when we have a baseline level to measure ourselves against.

And who doesn’t want to stay competitive, relevant and useful in our ever-changing and fast-paced world?

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