We’re swimming in data, more data than we know what to do with. While we have more and better tools than ever, our tools only help us navigate. Our tools do not choose our destination, nor should they.
How do we begin to make sense of our data? How do we turn data into action? One hack I’m especially fond of is the 2×2 matrix. The matrix helps us to simplify our data and understand where we can take action to improve and show meaningful wins.
The Matrix Theory
Pick any two variables that we know are valuable and that we have control over. Plot the two variables on a simple scatterplot chart, available in any spreadsheet software.
Next, divide the plot into quadrants.
The lower left-hand quadrant will always be the poor performance quadrant.
The upper left and lower right quadrant will be acceptable performance quadrants; we are doing something right, but are missing the boat in other aspects.
The upper right quadrant will be the great performance quadrant, the region which shows that we are hitting it out of the park.
Let’s illustrate the matrix with an example.
Google Analytics Example Matrix
Using the Google Analytics Addon for Sheets which puts Google Analytics data in a spreadsheet, I’ll select a couple metrics from this blog which are meaningful:
- Organic searches, because I want to know how findable my blog posts are.
- Twitter traffic, because I want to know how effective Twitter is at driving traffic
Here’s part of what the raw data looks like:
Let’s start plotting. I know organic searches is controlled by onsite and offsite SEO efforts, so that’s a variable I have some control over. I know Twitter traffic is driven by my efforts and ads, so I have control over that variable as well.
Here’s the plot:
What conclusions can we draw from this?
Anything in the upper left quadrant has high incoming searches but not much Twitter traffic:
I should tweet and retweet that content, maybe run Twitter ads on those posts.
Anything in the lower right quadrant has high Twitter traffic but low incoming organic searches:
I should check those pages for proper SEO practices on page and then go pitch the content to other blogs for inbound links.
Finally, for the content in the lower left quadrant, I need to do something – anything – to help it improve.
Turn Analytics into Action
The value of the matrix is that it helps transform our analytics, our data, into action. The two variables I picked above are arbitrary. Pick any two variables that are meaningful to you and try this analytics hack on them. You’ll have much greater clarity into what’s working and what you need to improve immediately.
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