Facts are Stubborn Things, but Statistics are More Pliable


I had in interesting discussion with Will at 1825 Inn today. The information we talked about is something that I think would be good to share with all our followers.

Will is one of our innkeepers who loves looking at statistics and analyzing what those numbers mean to his business. His last blog post even shares his tracking information in regards to his last newsletter he sent to his guests!

How do you measure the success of a Blog post?

As with all statistics, everyone knows they can be twisted and turned to make the numbers look any way you want them to look.

If you want an “Honest” review of any set of statistics, you have to look at ALL the data in a variety of ways.

So with Will’s permission, I’m going to show everyone what we talked about today regarding his most frequented (to date) blog post.

Remember, Will has only been blogging for about 6 weeks so far and is using Google Analytics for his blog tracking and Urchin tracking for his Web site tracking.

Most Frequented Blog Title: Hershey RV Show (Pg 1 in Google)

Blog Post Date: September 7, 2009

Duration Online: 38 days

Pageviews: 582
The total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.

Unique Pageviews: 392
The number of visits during which one or more of these pages was viewed.

Blog Visitors who clicked beyond this blog post to view pages on the Web Site: 27

Actual Bookings: TBD (We are in the process of installing Intell-a-Keeper on Wills Web site so we will have those numbers to track also)

You can see the numbers on the drill down getting smaller. This is typical when drilling down to get to the truth in your statistics. You can’t just go with the 582 in 38 days and say WOW.

Well, I guess if we wanted to twist and turn it to look really good, then I could have stopped right there and not said anything else, and let everyone say WOW, 582 visits in 38 days!

But we’re talking about “Honest” statistics here. Not just those that make you say WOW.

Without all this data, you can’t really see exactly how well any Blog post is working. If someone says they had 1,200 visits from one post and that’s all the information you have, then you really don’t know if it’s good or bad? If it’s 1,200 Pageviews over 10 months, then compared to Will’s numbers above, it’s not as good, but if it’s 1,200 Unique Pagesviews over 1 month, well then it’s better than Will’s numbers above.

So as I told Will, I’ll share with all of you. You cannot take a statistic out of context and go “WOW that’s a lot!” You have to compare it honestly and in relation to all the information that it is tied to.

  • Compare how many visitors against how long the post has been online (time online matters in determining if it’s a lot of traffic or just a little)
  • Remember that Pageviews is different than Unique Pageviews (Unique is per visitor IE: a guest who can actually book a room)
  • How many blog visitors move beyond the blog and looked around the site?
  • How many bookings did you get from that particular blog Post? You need a tracking system like Intell-a-Keeper or SuperStatz/Innstatz to track bookings and not just visitors.

Note: If you have installed Google Analytics E-Commerce Tracking, you will also be able to gather some booking data, the only thing is, you won’t get all the places a guest found you before they booked, you will only be provided the last place. So if the guest wasn’t on your blog right before they booked, you aren’t going to know about it. The other caveat on Google Analytics E-Commerce Tracking is that not all booking systems currently support it. Check with your provider for more information.

Without all the facts, don’t fall into the trap of being “WOW’ed” by a number you think is big. A smaller number over a few days might really be bigger than a big number over a long period of time.

Finally, you need to remember that when it gets right down to it, the real question is:

Did you make a booking off the Post or not?

  • Traffic DOES NOT = $$$ in your pocket.
  • Bookings = $$$ in your pocket.

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Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.
~Aaron Levenstein

98% of all statistics are made up. ~Author Unknown

Statistics can be made to prove anything – even the truth. ~Author Unknown

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable. ~Author Unknown

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts – for support rather than for illumination.
~Andrew Lang

Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say. ~William W. Watt

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Do you blog? If not come to our next Blog Class and learn what many of our customers already know – – blogging will get you visibility, and that visibility can turn into heads in beds!

Lisa Kolb
President and Co-Founder
Acorn Internet Services, Inc.

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