Website traffic graph from Simple Analytics dashboard

Simple Analytics: Don’t Make it Harder on Yourself

Key takeaways

When it comes to client marketing, there’s only one thing clients care about:

Growth.

As technology experts, we get to decide the metrics we share with them.

In a perfect world, we’d select hundreds of data points, all of which would reinforce our efforts.

But in reality, performance is usually mixed, and so we’re left to decide what we share.

This leads to an interesting question:

Do we share ALL of the metrics we know about?

(traffic, bounce rate, CTR, etc.)

Or just the ones we know they’d like?

(whatever looks good)

For most agencies, in the interest of honesty, transparency, and the desire to continue the campaign, we take the “Shit sandwich approach.”

The shit sandwich approach goes like this:

You open with good news: “Page views are up overall, which is GREAT.”

Followed by a bit of bad news (well framed, of course): “We did lose a little bit off our average on-site time, but that’s to be expected given the Facebook traffic spike.”

Before ending with some more positive news: “And of course, organic traffic continues to grow thanks to the content and backlink campaign.”

It works…

But what if the person receiving the bad news is not your client… it’s you?

In the niche site world, we don’t give ourselves the same level of treatment.

We don’t think about ourselves with the same care…

But we are just as susceptible to negative interpretations as anyone else.

Bad numbers can be devastating…

In my business, I used to start each morning by logging into Search Console and Google Analytics.

Every day I’d check impressions, traffic, and dozens of other metrics.

Sometimes I’d be ecstatic, and other times I’d feel completely dejected…

All because of metrics I had no direct control over.

My girlfriend asked me one day, “why don’t you check that less often?”

“I have to know what’s going on,” I said.

I was right…

As business owners… we have to know what’s working.

But it got me thinking.

I could probably not check every day, still end up at the same place, but be way less volatile in between.

Then a couple months later I was on Twitter and I saw a post from Levels IO, a legendary indie hacker.

Tweet showing Levels IO talking about analytics

Levels is renowned for not taking bullshit.

He’s built multiple 7 figure businesses on the back of PHP (a language many people criticize for being outdated)

Needless to say, Levels just doesn’t give a shit about what people say. He cares about what works.

Seeing his tweet got me thinking again about my conversation with my girlfriend and all of the time I was spending obsessing over analytics.

“99% of us just want to see how many pageviews we get” – Levels

I just wanted to see how many pageviews I was getting.

I just cared about growth, just like my clients.

So I decided to change.

I set a rule for myself:

I would only check analytics when I had accomplished something I had control over.

For me, it was when I hit a certain milestone for the number of posts I had published.

Doing this would reinforce the actions I needed to take in order to get the outcome I wanted.

Publish posts → Grow traffic

Everything else was a distraction.

I also made the switch to Simple Analytics.

This helped me focus my attention on the key metrics I cared about: Traffic and Time on Page.

Traffic let me know how many people were seeing my content.

And time on page gave me an indication of whether or not they liked it.

That’s all that mattered.

It’s been two years since then.

At this point, I can’t imagine going back.

I took the same approach with my agency…

Needless to say, there are a lot less shit sandwich conversations these days.

If you’re suffering from analysis paralysis, or you just hate Google Analytics, I’d highly recommend checking out Simple Analytics. I’d also recommend creating a rule for yourself about how often you check your numbers.

Numbers are important, but we focus primarily on what you have control over, the rest takes care of itself.

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