A great question was emailed to me the other day from a reader who is a social media marketer who uses Google Analytics to measure aggregate traffic patterns, but also does useful A/B testing.  

He wanted to know what actions I would take if I saw a significant dip in my traffic.

This is a great question, because it points to the fact that most aggregate traffic data is NOT actionable.  If traffic goes up, is it due to the actions I am taking, or the actions YOU are taking, or is external events that are driving the dip?  

But it IS useful to have a yearly calendar of expectations and predictions regarding your traffic, and it’s useful to know what feeds your traffic, and what patterns your visitors follow when they’re on your site.  But in general, all of this aggregate info is a base from which you expand on.  

The most immediately actionable piece of information from aggregate data is this: when there is a general dip, it’s a good time to do a risky promotion, because the consequences of failure are lower.  (It’s also good timing to do site maintenance, or other unpopular activities.)

But if you are going to do a risky promotion because traffic is dipping, you’ll need to combine the promotion with an A/B test to make it truly useful.

What do you do when your traffic dips?

Will Marlow is the co-creator of AlumniFidelity, which helps schools and nonprofits improve their online fundraising results.  Email him at will@alumnifidelity.com.