What’s a “Good” Number?

Can ignorance be bliss with website analytics?

You know the bounce rate on your website. And average time on site. And on and on for many other metrics.

Are your numbers low or high? What can you compare them to? How can you know what a ‘good’ number is?

You could compare your metrics to those of your competitors to answer this question. Or to other industries that are similar to yours.

You could look at historical patterns – this time last year, last month, last week.

You could look to the future and measure against your plan, your forecast, your budget.

You could try all these. But they would be a waste of time.

This is a case where ignorance is bliss.

Why, you ask?

People use benchmarking, historical trends, and forecasting when they don’t have good, recent data for decision-making. When all they can do is approximate.

This is not you.

Your website analytics provide insight and power from recent measurements. You can make a change and see the results right away. You can arrange a split-test and measure which split delivers the best outcome.

The only comparison you need to make is to the results of your tests.

As Ian Lurie says in his (excellent) book Fat-Free Analytics:

There is no ‘good’ bounce rate, time on site, or anything else. There are no absolute values for all web sites. If you want a ‘good’ bounce rate, find a way to reduce your current bounce rate. Now it’s ‘good’, compared to the old bounce rate.

Keep the blinders on, stay focused on your metrics, and work to make them ‘good’.