What is a Correlation?

Correlation is when there is a mutual relationship or connection between two or more things. In mathematical terms, correlation most often applies to the measurement of the relationship between two variables, X and Y.

This answer might satisfy a statistics test, but for marketers, the real issue with establishing a relationship between two things is understanding how the story your marketing data tells. Correlation studies should show marketers how to make better campaign decisions.

Unfortunately, most marketers experience the issue of showing a correlation between precise marketing efforts and campaigns with precise outcomes. You may be able to show some connections, but the relationship is tenuous and far from effective in really driving home actionable insights.

This article will shed a bit more light on the topic to help you put your insights to better use.

What type of correlations do marketers look for?

Marketers look can look for relationships between any two data points. For example, marketing analysts might wonder if more Facebook shares of a particular URL lead to a higher Google search ranking. Perhaps marketers want to know if emails with red call to action buttons get more clicks. Maybe the question is — “do posts with images get more shares across social media?”

There are thousands of questions marketers might ask, and while correlation is not always causation, discovering important relationships through correlation data is undeniably valuable

Why?

Well, for starters, you’ll wind up chasing your tail and going nowhere fast if you cant gain correlative insights.

Secondly, you’ll wind up misunderstanding your successes, which causes a potential risk for future failure when you apply your incorrect understanding of causation as it relates to marketing campaign successes.

Identifying correlations can help marketers make campaign decisions, test those campaign decisions, and then determine if those relationships are yielding profitable results.

In short, correlations give insights that help marketers make actionable decisions, fine-tune marketing strategies, and ultimately, grow businesses.

What other marketing experts have to say about it

As you may now, the folks at Moz.com are big fans of correlation analysis. In fact, Moz.com recently conducted some interesting in-depth correlation analysis of their own. While they openly acknowledge that correlation is not causation, the results yield some insightful information about keyword strategy. Some important results from this study include:

  • There were lower correlations between on-page keyword use and rankings.
  • Using HTTPS showed a very low positive correlation.
  • Data continues to show some of the highest correlations between Google rankings and the number of links to a given page.
  • There was little relationship with the type of top-level domain (.com, org, etc.) and rankings in Google.
  • Overall links to a site’s root and subdomain showed a reasonably strong correlation to rankings.
  • And more!

Again, while correlation is not causation, the relationships here are interesting and give insightful information about how marketers can improve their keyword strategy.

How to find and use correlation in marketing

This type of data analysis is not reserved to just keyword research. Marketers can use it for social media, paid search, email marketing, design, and more. You name it, you can conduct correlation analysis to see if any relationships stand out to you. The key to identifying causation via correlative study is to limit the amount of variables that go into your experiment.

Do you want to see the affect word count has on ranking?

Do you want to see if keyword stuffing affects rank?

Do you want to know if videos improve dwell time and increase conversion percentage?

If you want to get answers, you can’t run multiple experiments at the same time. You need to be able to track precise data points. Don’t change 4 or 5 seperate factors if you’re trying to make an A to B relationship.

The formula for correlation (r) is:

 

correlation formula

But, I’ll stop right there. No marketer has time to sit around and do math by hand all day. That’s where marketing data analytics software like Tapclicks comes in handy.

Instead of finding the value for x and y to find r, you simply pick your variables and let the software do the hard work for you. That way, you can spend your time using the data to make better marketing decisions.

Concluding Thoughts

Shameless plug time — TapClicks allows you to bring in hundreds of marketing connections while giving you the ability to isolate key data points that give you the ability to understand your marketing efforts. The powerful thing about omnichannel visual analytics is that you gain insights into correlation that you would not have been able to see otherwise.

Check out how we can specifically help Agencies gain insights while saving the headache that comes from endless scavenger hunts (not the fun kind).

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Heather Physioc says:

    Thank you for the shout-out Jon. I hope you had a wonderful MozCon experience, and that you were able to successfully download the decision-making and client education tools I provided. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to talk shop in the future.

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