One of the pitfalls of near-realtime marketing analytics is that we lose sight of the big picture in favor of very small snapshots of the day to day. As the year winds down, it’s time to take a step back and look at the very big picture. What really worked for you this year? What didn’t? Here’s a simple way to do it.

In Google Analytics (or the equivalent web analytics package of your choice), assuming you have data for 2012 and 2013, go to your Acquisition Report and look at All Traffic. Select 2013 year to date as your examination window, and select Compare to Previous Year in the comparison selector in the upper right, like so:


Now simply scroll down and start looking at the major traffic sources and their year over year contributions and changes. For example, here are my top 3:


Google organic search grew hugely for me this past year. 19% overall growth in visits, 21% growth in new visits. Whatever I’m doing for my content marketing and SEO is clearly working, so yay.

Direct traffic grew as well, but since direct traffic can be so muddy with all of the different unknown sources, best to leave that one alone for now.

Twitter takes third place and wow… Twitter didn’t work for me this year compared to last year. Last year was a much better year for me on Twitter. Guess it’s time to rethink my Twitter strategy!

In terms of forming strategy for 2014, keep scrolling down and look for breakout contenders, traffic drivers that could potentially continue their explosive growth:


It might be time for me to update some of my other Webmaster Tools accounts and make sure I’m compliant with what Yahoo and Bing are asking of website owners, eh? Also, a couple of earned media placements seem to have paid off, so if my blog were a business, I’d sure do some more outreach to those outlets. Likewise, look for the stinkers, the sites and tools that you put a lot of effort into, and look at reducing your resource expenditures on the things that aren’t performing.

Take the big picture going into the new year with what worked and what didn’t from this year. You may also want to break the year up in halves or quarters to see what’s trending and sinking quarter by quarter for a bit more granular a view of what’s currently working, too.

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