Google Analytics data is supposed to tell a story, not command your entire strategy. So if you don’t stop to think about what the numbers are saying, your whole content marketing strategy might suffer.

A study by xAd and Nielsen looked at click-through rates and turned up something interesting. When it comes to mobile devices, high click-through rates actually correlate with low engagement and fewer conversions.

At first glance, high click-through rates might seem like a positive outcome. But mobile users are stingy with their clicks, and a strategy that just tries to grab as much traffic as possible from search and mobile can bring in visitors who aren’t likely to convert.

Digging deeper for better marketing insight

This is the kind of secondary thinking you have to do to understand how customers interact with your content. Here’s another example:

Let’s say you have a lot of visitors to your blog, and most of the traffic is new. That’s great, right? Well, if you don’t have enough returning readers, it might mean there’s a lot of turnover among your visitors. People don’t come back, and you can’t forge relationships that lead to conversions.

Here’s another misleading stat. If you have a lot of pages per visit, it could indicate that people like your content and click around to look for more. But if you also see that time on site is low, you’re looking at visitors who can’t find the content they want. Your site design and UX might need to be improved.

You need numbers to guide your strategy so you can measure if your content is moving the needle. But you also need to be smart about how you look at those numbers. Be sure you fully understand what they mean about how people are interacting with your content.  The next time you see an explosion in clicks, think carefully about what the data is telling you.

Can you come up with any misleading metrics that cover up the marketing truth? Let us know in the comments below or by Tweeting @Brafton.

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.