Approaches to monitoring seasonal trends that affect business.
When we all look at trends of traffic and different behaviors (conversion, etc.) on our sites, there are obviously some key performance indicators we want to increase such as conversion rate. And there are some we want to decrease such as bounce rate on search or media.
One factor often overlooked: the power of seasonality. To be fair, every large retailer understands this intimately. We've all heard of Black Friday, which is make or break time for many retailers to move out of the red into the black for the year. But seasonality often has a significant impact on businesses outside of online retail commerce.
Look at your Web analytics tracking tool. You can compare this year versus last year or a specific week or month to the previous one. You must be careful in doing so. For instance, if you make changes to improve tracking throughout the year, it could become difficult to perform a year-to-year or apples-to-apples comparison.
You may want to see trends for an entire industry or category. You can of course subscribe to competitive data services such as Compete, HitWise, comScore, and others.
Another great (and free) tool to get the highest level view is Google Trends . This tool will allow you to see relative search volume over time for nearly any term, assuming it has decent search traffic.
Let's look at a few examples:
Now we should be careful of treating search traffic as the same as site traffic. It is obviously different but still a solid indication of interest.
So why does this matter?
Does seasonality have a significant impact on your business? Are you comparing this year to last year within your Web analytics tool or using competitive data providers? If not, spend some time digging in and identifying opportunities.
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