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Analytics KPIs, Try the Median Instead of the Mean

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medianOveruse of the mean is one of the bigger mistakes in analyzing site side and marketing campaign metrics. As a metric the mean is effective at representing tightly packed data sets but has its limitations when dealing with outliers or a broad range of outcomes. Average time spent, average order size and average time between visits or purchases are a couple of examples where the mean doesn’t tell the whole story.

On the other hand the median is much more effective at representing these data sets. What we’re really trying to define with the use of our analytics is, what does a typical visitor due? In the above examples what’s the average time spent, order value and latency. The median pinpoints the user smack dab in the middle thus reducing noise created by any outliers such as a browser that is open for a half an hour, unusually larger orders and infrequent shoppers.

Take a look at your analytics setup and see if there are any dashboards or KPIs where you can replace the mean with the median.

For more ideas to improve your web analytics pick of a copy of Web Analytics: An Hour a Day

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Written by Greg M

July 21, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Posted in Tips

Tagged with , , ,