The Teacup Analytics guide to comparing your week over week, or month over month results and why it matters
This report was crafted by Teacup’s analysts to compare your traffic performance over two time periods, like weekly or monthly. The comparative style of report is especially useful if you frequently test ideas or update your website regularly.
A quick note for your deliberation: While comparing two time periods is jolly useful, be careful about making big decisions based on two data points. That’s why we don’t include our Achievables feature in this report.
Similar to our How Is Traffic To My Site Trending [link] report, the report provides an overview of your performance. This kind of report helps you find valuable seams to mine for insights. How Does This Time Period Compare To The Last Period can help find areas in which to dig deeper.
How To Read This Report
Section 1: The Graph
Out of all the Teacup Analytics answers, this report style is unique in that it doesn’t just have one graph, but rather five graphs, all beavering away to unscramble the measurement of your traffic’s performance.
Each of the five graphs compare their respective metrics. The main one being, of course, your traffic. This first graph shows if your traffic is up, or down, from the last time period. The next four graphs are qualitative in that they compare metrics that describe the quality of your traffic. They show bounce rate, conversion rate, time on site and site depth respectively.
Note: Don’t forget that bounce rate is different to other metrics. A lower bounce rate is better. Learn more about how bounce rate [Bounce rate], how Google Analytics calculates it and why lower is nicer.
Each of the five graphs also includes a 12-week average line. At the risk of stating the blatantly obvious, this line indicates each metric’s average performance over the last twelve weeks. Keep in mind, that it’s an average and thus doesn’t show your normal performance variability. So, if you’re slightly below the line (or above), don’t read into it too much. The 12-week average line simply indicates the general area of where your norm is. Further on, we’ll chat about this more.
Section 2: Primary Metrics
This section of the report offers you, dear report reader, a rundown of each time period’s performance – both in terms of the traffic volume and quality. You can see the breakdown of each period’s grade by their components.
While the report’s graph compared the numeric values and does so visually, the Primary Metrics area is primarily qualitative. Thus here you can see the difference in quality between each time period as calculated against recent performance.
In the Primary Metrics section, each grade is calculated in the context of the last twelve weeks, not one time period versus the other. When you compare quality differences between the two time periods, you’re looking at their respective performance consistent with other reports’ grading of the same data. You can feel confident that an A+ for this week here is going to be an A+ in your other reports that deal with the same date ranges.
Section 3: The Details
The Detail Breakdown section of the How Does This Time Period Compare To The Last Period report is quite simple to grasp. Here, you can see each time period’s metrics laid out in table rows. Notably, you also see the percentage each metric changed over the previous time period.
Teacup shows the direction of the change with a colored arrow. Green and up is an improvement, pink and downward is a negative indication. Yellow indicates no change. Any changes within 1% up or down is considered to be “no change.”
Note: If your bounce rate decreases, even though that’s a downward movement numerically, we still use the green upward arrow for consistency across the site. Up and green are both universally indicative of improvement.
Insights and Inspirations You Might Find
Teacup’s analysts love this report style but they insist on reminding you of the caveat we mentioned above. Please don’t make big business decisions after comparing just two time periods. For this reason, we don’t include the Achievables feature in these reports.
This report can be frightfully interesting. Our analysts use it to find some different types of insights. The report can quickly confirm the impact of changes and, also, catch unexpected problems, technical or otherwise. It can also suggest areas of your data to investigate further. At the very least, it’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your website and traffic performance. When reading this report, think short term impact.
Immediate Impact Insight:
Comparing two time periods may not have many data points. What it does have, however, is two crystal-clear points of reference.
The two time periods propped up side by side shows changes with immediacy. Up, or down, you’re aware of sudden changes. Including the 12-week line as your second point of reference adds the longer term reference point, highlighting changes in context of the big picture.
If your latest time period is down compared to the previous period and if you’re hovering close to the 12-week average, you know that you’re not necessarily in trouble. If, however, you see a big difference between now and the last time period and you’re not close to the 12-week average, something impactful likely occurred. Hopefully, you know what caused that change.
Luckily, if you don’t know why you’re seeing a big change, then this report becomes a canary in the coal mine and that’s fantastic. You can look at other reports like Where Did My Traffic Come From Last Week to find out which traffic segment drove the big change. Then, it’s a small step to fixing any issues.
If the change was positive, then congratulations! Again, by knowing where that change came from, you can learn what had the positive impact and hopefully implement long term improvements.
Without the context of both short term comparison between two time periods, along with the 12-week average, these types of changes are harder to spot until some time has passed.
Testing Initiatives And A Quick Feedback Loop
Let’s say you decided to give email marketing a go. You can compare, side by side, your traffic performance before email marketing, and after. Look at whether it brought traffic to your site, and also note the other graphs and components too. Are there any clear changes to any of the metrics?
This report gives you immediate feedback on your initiatives both quantitatively and qualitatively.
If your latest initiative caused only a slight increase in traffic, you might think it only mildly useful, perhaps not worth your time. However, by comparing not only traffic but qualitative metrics like bounce rate and conversion rate, you can see if the impact was in other areas.
To keep with our email marketing example, perhaps you saw only a 2% increase in traffic to your site. However, because your email list is made up of customers, who already know and adore you, your traffic increase was small but high-quality. You’d note this in a significant increase in conversion rate. You’ve learned that you can drive an increase in conversions via email marketing.
Now, if you decide to send an email newsletter every week, you’d make sure you’re maintaining that positive impact in another report like How Much Quality Traffic Is Coming To My Site From Emails That I Send Out?
In a similar but reversed example, if you just started advertising in your local newspaper, by comparing your traffic volume and quality before, and after you run the ads, you can see if it’s worth your investment. You may see a spike in traffic but as is common with advertising, you might see a significant drop on conversion rates. This gives you immediate feedback on your advertisement, implying that you’re building awareness but not necessarily growing your customer base.
Like I’ve stressed elsewhere in this guidebook, this doesn’t mean that you should stop advertising. What it does indicate is that you might want to work on your advertisement to draw in likely customers better. Or, alternately, it could mean you need to work on your landing page to better convert this influx of customers. This report gives you quick feedback and points you to other areas to look at and optimize.
I’d like to give another example, just for clarity. Maybe you’re happy with your traffic but want to optimize your site to increase exploration and increase your site depth. So you change your navigation bar and include a “related posts” area to your site. This report type is perfect for such a situation. You’ll see if there’s an immediate change in that metric both over the previous time period and over the longer term average.
As some food for thought, if you see increases in one area, ideally, you want to avoid big correlated decreases elsewhere. When you’re working on optimizing one metric, then you’ll often want stability in other metrics.
Bite-Sized Food For Thought
- If you often test marketing or optimization initiatives this report gives you an early indication of success or problems.
- Keep the 12-week average line in focus so you stay grounded and avoid snap judgements without context.
- Did one metric suddenly change without obvious reason? Investigate further, in other reports if necessary.
- This report is a great way to note correlation between traffic and quality components, both positive and negative.