Data – the obvious conclusion is not always the right one!

I love data – I love the unfolding stories they contain, but a warning for the untrained, caution is needed when drawing conclusions from data.


I have a background in Econometrics and Data Analysis having completed an MSc a few years back. Now, that really opened my eyes to everyday assumptions that people make when dealing with data. Data is biased – pretty much always, & our assumptions are not much better. We don’t have the required understanding to deal with data correctly.

One of the most common misunderstandings is around endogeneity, essentially, biased data.

Here’s a great example of biased data leading to dubious conclusions – inspired by “How Not To Be Wrong” by Jordan Ellenberg – a great read if you’re into a bit of maths!


Bullet Holes

During the Second World War US Bomber Command were looking at ways to protect their aeroplanes. You don’t want your planes to get shot down, so you put armour on them. But you don’t want so much armour that they become unwieldy and sitting ducks to marauding German Messerschmitts.

So you optimise the placement of the armour.


Bomber Command enlisted some mathematicians to help solve the optimisation problem, presenting them with the data below.


Section of Plan

Bullet holes per square foot
Engine 1.11
Fuselage 1.73
Fuel System 1.55
Rest of plane 1.80

Where would you place the armour?


Take a minute to look at the data and decide where you should place the armour.


Bomber Command saw the solution was to create efficiency by only placing armour where it was needed most – i.e. the parts being hit the most.

This is a fatal assumption – literally!

The actual solution is to put the armour where the bullet holes aren’t.


Missing holes

Why put the armour there?

The distribution of bullet holes should be a fairly random distribution and spread evenly over the plane. But this is not borne out by the data. We see far fewer holes in the Engine section.


So where are the missing holes?

The missing holes are on the planes that are not being included in our sample. Those planes never made it back to base because they were too badly damaged. And that is why you put the armour on the engine section.



You need to be careful when working with data that you understand its limitations. If you have biased data because of a biased sample, if you misinterpret causality or if you fail to include factors that influence outcomes; then you can make poor decisions which you believe are based on fact.

Here’s a quick one for you to think about:

Does having a video on your website help improve your Google ranking? A lot of people claim it does.

Indeed, when looked at in aggregate, pages with videos do rank higher. But those videos are being shared and by such actions, creating links back to the website – a known major influence on Google rankings

I’ll leave you with that one!


Finally, if you want to improve your statistical knowledge, “How Not To Be Wrong” is an eye-opening and entertaining read. And it also details how a bunch of MIT students cracked the lottery!

Google Analytics Reporting

Super Power Your Google Analytics Reporting For More Conversions

google analytics reporting   Everyone’s got one, some are bigger and more impressive than others. But who looks theirs daily? A good hard stare. Yes, I’m talking about the overlooked & unloved Google Analytics Account. Let’s see if we can improve your website & Google Analytics Reporting. By God, analytics is boring & I should know having an MSc in Data Analysis, yawn. And it’s also complicated. So, for these reasons people pay no attention to their Google Analytics reporting, even though the answers to Website Conversions great mysteries lie within. So here’s five simple tips you can implement today to get more out of your analytics, understand your website & customers better and hopefully improve your online sales performance.  

Create A Dashboard

google analytics dashboardsThe first tip is straight forward. Make a dashboard. Nobody knows how to navigate the Google Analytics Reoporting Interface. You can never find what you need – if that is you know what you need! So create a dashboard that shows you the key information you need on one page. Use the built in charts to present the data visually, the human brain is great at recognising patterns, so you’ll pick up much more that way. Making dashboards can be complicated – more so if you don’t know what information you should be looking at. But let me introduce you to the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery. Here you can just download pre-built dashboard straight to your account, no messing. Awesome!  

Enable Auto-Emails

google analytics auto email reportsSo once you’ve got the reports you need, it’s still a pain logging in to the account and viewing them – and there’s always something better to be doing. So wouldn’t it be great if you could just have them delivered to your inbox every week, day or month? Well, surprise, surprise, you can. Just select your report & click email at the top of the screen.  

enabling auto emails in google analytics

Filter the Traffic

You will probably see you are getting lots of traffic, but take a closer look & you will see it’s coming from exotic place… and Russia. Guess what, it’s spam, not real. You’re going to want to filter that out so that your account is a true reflection of your website performance. Read more about this Google Analytics spam traffic & how to eliminate it here.  

Set Up Goals

If you haven’t got goals set up on Google Analytics, you are not alone, but you really need to action this one. After all, if you are not tracking what’s important on your website, why bother? Example of goals could be:
  • Making a purchase (ecommerce)
  • Clicking on a phone-number or email address
  • Downloading a brochure
  • Completing a contact form
  • Visiting a certain key page
  Once you have goal tracking in place you will start to understand what channels are effective at converting visitors to customers – then you can stop doing all that Social Media! It will help you measure the impact of any changes you make to your website or online marketing. Really, this is the single most important change you can make to improving your online performance and Google Analytics Reporting.   Here’s a quick visual guide to creating goals. Don’t forget, the Solution Gallery can help here also!   setting up goals on google analytics step 1 setting up goals on google analytics step 2 setting up goals on google analytics step 3 setting up goals on google analytics step 4      

Create A Segment

The final tip helps you to understand subsets of visitors who visit your website. This knowledge allows you to make data driven decisions about changes to your website and marketing strategy. Segment examples could be
  • Converters vs Non-Converters
  • Visitors who saw you testimonial page vs those that didn’t
  • Paid Traffic vs Organic Traffic
  Once you have your segments you will begin to mine the rich seam of data for insight that will actually improve your business. Many segments are auto created in the interface, but again, the Solutions Gallery has the answer to more complex reporting. Applying a segment is really easy, as shown in the images below. adding a google analytics segment

I hope you find these tips useful. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.

Block Google Analytics Spam

Most people don’t realise that half their Google Analytics traffic is in fact spam! This phenomenon has increased over the past 12 months – spammers create false views of your website by utilising your unique UA code to send data to the Google Analytics data collectors. Good news! We’ll show you how to quickly and easily block this referral spam and remove it from your analytics data.

Types Of Referral Spam In Google Analytics

Check your analytics data for the following referrers – they’re all spam!
Expand to view list… непеѣеводимая.ѣф crm.vcw.local vatlas:8080


Create A Google Analytics Filtered View

The first thing you need to do in order to delete and block this spam from your Google analytics is to create a filtered view. Head to the Admin section of analytics and click on Views, then Create New View. Give the View a name e.g. “Filtered View”. We create this new view so we can add traffic filters to prevent the spam effecting our data whilst leaving at least one view “All Website Data” with all data. If we make a mistake, then that’s fine, we still have all our data preserved in that View.  

Filter Out Spam From Google Analytics

Next we want to actually filter out the spam. The first step is to add a filter that blocks any of the listed know spammers entering our Google Analytics data. referral spam filter Create a new filter, set the filter to EXCLUDE the CAMPAIGN SOURCE. Then add in the referrers you want to block. Tip, use the pipe symbol | to seperate the referrers or
click here for a ready made list that you can copy & paste|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||непеѣеводимая.ѣф|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||crm.vcw.local|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||vatlas:8080

Check this list carefull to make sure that none of these are genuine referrers to your website. But beware! Some look legit but as misleadingly spelled!


Blocking Spamming Website (Hosts) From Google Analytics

Blocking the referrers is the first step, but you will also see spoof page views in your web analytics and you’ll want to get rid of that too. To check if you are being affected, view the Hostnames that are sending data to your account. The quickest way to do this is download my custom report from the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery – which you can find here Run the report and see the websites that are sending data to your analytics. I found the following hostnames that I didn’t recognise & want to exclude.

(not set)

  To exlcude these spammer hostnames from your analytics, again head over to the admin section and create a new filter. Now you have two choices, you can either enter the list of spammers and EXCLUDE them. Or, you can add an INCLUDE filter that only includes data from your website. My preference is to use the include filter as this will require less maintenance over time as new spammers appear – they’ll be automatically blocked. Anyway, here’s how to do it.   hostname filter Create a filter and set to Include Only, then type in your website (leaving out any www. portion). And that’s it. Your analytics data in this new view will be spam free!   If you need any help with setting and configuring you account, we’re happy to provide advice, drop us a line with your question.

Measuring Your Online Business Goals

The first step in making your online marketing a success is defining and measuring your business objectives. Ecommerce websites have a very clear and measurable goal. Revenue. With other websites it’s not so clear cut. For instance, how do you measure the value of your website if you use it to generate leads, or footfall within a store? If you want to measure leads generated by your website you should be tracking the following in Google Analytics: Phonecalls – most leads will come via a telephone call, so how do you track this? You can easily track clicks on the your phone number. This will only tell you have the story though as you are not recording phonecalls that are made separate to your website e.g somebody looks at your website then manually dials your number. This can be tracked via a call-tracking provider, though prices for this start at £150 per month + calls. Google AdWords has a free solution, so you can at least see how many manually dialed calls you recieved from your ads. Contact Form Submissions – you can track the number of contact form submissions you receive. Emails – track clicks on your onsite email address. This will give you an indication of the number of people who send you an email from the website Brochure Downloads – if you have a brochure or other relevant document, you can track downloads from your website.