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How to Understand and Use Your Year-End Reporting to Set Goals for Next Year

by Janna Ramer

If you plan to make significant, measurable progress in your business, don’t ignore your year-end reports. But we get it – it can be overwhelming to make sense of all the different reporting metrics and data. So here’s your guide to understanding your year-end reporting and setting goals for next year.

1. Look at overall traffic first.

Traffic is one of the most fundamental gauges of how effective your marketing efforts are, and it can give you important clues as to how well your site is performing. While your raw traffic data provides you with the total number of visits (i.e., sessions) to your site, it’s far more important to focus on what type of traffic you’re receiving.

Does the majority of your traffic come from search engine queries, social media referral links, paid outreach advertising, or something else? Is it targeted and relevant to your niche? When it comes to analyzing your traffic data, quality is far more important than quantity.

As you dig a little further into your primary traffic sources, you’ll see plenty of clues as to which traffic channels are the most successful at attracting visitors and conversions. Once you discover what these traffic channels are (e.g., pay-per-click advertising, organic search engine optimization, social media advertising, etc.), you can create a more precise plan of attack by investing more resources into your best-performing traffic channels for the coming year.

2. Recognize seasonal patterns.

Maybe your site tends to receive the most traffic and sales during the summer months, or maybe the holiday season is when things really come alive. Try to compare the current year with at least the two previous to see if you can spot any recurring seasonality patterns. This simple yet powerful step can help you better plan your marketing budget for the following year, so you can channel the most resources into site promotion during times of peak interest in your products or services.

3. Analyze user flow.

Google Analytics offers a “User Flow” report that gives you a snapshot of which pages on your website tend to get the most attention from visitors. Your bounce and exit rates are key to understanding which pages on your site experience the highest abandonment. You can then tweak and split test these pages to offer a better user experience, which will boost visitor retention going forward.

4. Analyze conversion rates.

Let’s say your site had X number of visitors last year, and your total number of conversions (e.g., sales, leads, opt-ins, or other desired actions completed) was roughly two percent of that total. That means that for every 100 visitors your site receives, you can expect to yield two conversions on average.

With this conversion ratio in mind, ask yourself how many total conversions you’d like to achieve next year, and then divide that by 0.02 (two percent) to get the total amount of visitors your site will need to receive in order to hit that target. Once you have this traffic goal established, you can then direct your resources toward the marketing channels that have proven to yield the best results in terms of traffic generation.

The best thing about analyzing your year-end data is that it can provide you with a very objective “report card” as to how your marketing efforts are faring. While it can be tempting to simply skim over these reports and file them away, you’d be making a serious tactical error if you choose to go that route. Use the tips outlined above along with the skills and expertise of digital professionals like the team at 2060 Digital, and you’ll have a good road map to guide your business into a profitable new year.

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