To illustrate my point I will use stats from my own site.
Here are some amazing stats:
- Readership of my blog rose by 30% in the first month I blogged
- April saw nearly 100% more views of my blog than March
- My average daily view has increases 600% since I began
- Readership in the first 5 months of the year is 400% higher than the last 5 months of last year
What does this mean in real number:
- It went from 109 for Aug ’10 to 144 in Sept ’10
- March readership 542, April 950
- Went from 5 to 32
- Total of 555 views in 2010, so far 2148 in 2011
These don’t look so great. Not that I’m unhappy about them – the reasons I blog and my expectations are a matter for a different blog, but the uplift doesn’t seem as dynamic, energised.
And this doesn’t just apply when things are going up. When things are going down we do the same. What would you rather tell a client; that your market share had reduced by 5% or that your revenue had gone down by nearly $350,000,000?
We use percentages on their own to hide real, and sometimes, underwhelming results. It’s a natural instinct so as not to undervalue our worth and our work. I’ve done it plenty of times so I am as guilty as anyone.
My advice is never accept just percentages. The painful, but infinitely more useful truth may be hidden behind them.