A data-driven marketing agency looks at a lot of data. We look at many metrics, the specifics of which depend on the business and the problems we are trying to solve. One of the things we do is train our customers to look at the data with a grain of salt. It can only tell you so much, and getting hung up on certain numbers can drive you crazy. Focusing on what’s important is critical, but that also has its own pitfalls.

Take a poll to see what number matters most to marketers, and they will likely say conversion. Your conversions do matter, but the danger lies in looking only at the short range of conversion. If you focus on conversion and ignore the funnel, you won’t really see what’s happening or how to earn more conversions.

Adding a focus to the funnel can tell you a lot more about your users. You can learn about the conversion path, the elapsed time between purchases. The frequency of visits from your frequent buyers. You can understand more about how they engage with your brand if you are also looking at those people who are engaging with your site but now buying… yet. Maybe they just bought last week. Or a month ago. Or last Summer. By exposing what the buying cycle looks like, you can provide content for where your clients are now.

The additional risk is that by focusing on getting a customer to convert today, you may end up making changes that actually reduce the value of what you offer and can drive people away, especially those in the upper funnel. Sometimes you need to ask your customers on a date before asking them to marry you, so marketers should respect that process and embrace it. The knowledge you gain will help you turn your customers into loyalists.