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You know all of those metrics you track?
They’re probably worthless.
I’m not saying they have absolutely no value, of course. I’m just saying they’re doing nothing for your bottom line most of the time.
These are the things that you think matter, but don’t.
In other words, you can track them, but don’t rely on them for real dollar value.
The trick is knowing which ones are valuable and which aren’t.
Here’s why some of those “important” metrics don’t really matter. Along with a few actionable ones you should worry about instead.
1. Clicks + Pageviews
We’ve heard it all before. The questions, the egos, the bragging.
How do I drive 100,000 visitors in a month? I need traffic fast!
Here’s how I drove 4,000 visitors a day, you can too with these simple tricks!
It sounds too good to be true, because it is.
Unless you’re getting paid for the pageview, and you want people to bounce instantly and never return, then go for it. Spam your link on Pinterest, forums and Reddit.
But, if you want to be realistic with yourself, clicks on your ads and page views on your content mean nothing if people aren’t either:
So, if your clicks went through the roof yesterday like this:
But, your conversions were like this:
And your pageviews were like this:
But your goal completions were like this:
Clicks and pageviews are worthless if they don’t lead to conversions.
CTR. The glorified metric that drives everyone from PPC to SERP “growth hackers” crazy.
Look at me, I’ve got a 66% CTR!
Oh cool, how many conversions did that get you? Two out of 4,000 clicks? Make it rain baby!
Ok, on a more serious note, here’s why CTR don’t mean $#!* in the real world:
Take a look at that AdWords table.
The highest converting, highest traffic keyword/ad group has the lowest CTR (by far).
YET… also the highest conversions (by far).
Paying a low bid on the keyword and spending less money = lower positions = more competition = lower CTR.
But, conversions are still sky-high.
The whole account has an average total CTR of 3.49%. That’s “not good.”
Except, the average Cost per Conversion is 5x lower than the average sale revenue.
I’ll take that deal any day of the week.
CTR ain’t the gold standard. I don’t care what your CTR is if it doesn’t bring in conversions.
Let’s say you own a brick and mortar store. You sell shoes.
It’s launch day and you get 40,000 people to walk in and out of your store that day.
Those ads must be working!
You’re checking ‘the books’ and you see the following sales numbers: $500. Total.
Now do you get it?
Impressions are cool and all.
“Hey, (insertbossesname), our product was seen by 100,000 people today!”
But at the end of the day, they don’t matter if (can you guess what’s next?) they don’t lead to sales, conversions, or goal completions.
4. Total Backlinks
Backlinks are good. They help with ranking metrics and credibility.
But total backlink quantity is over-emphasized.
Constantly we see people worrying about how many links they can get, however they can.
*Queue Oprah Gif: You get a link! You get a link! And you get a link!
If your backlink profile is spammy:
… then those links don’t mean anything.
URL’s with low DA’s that are known for spamming or giving links like it’s candy on Halloween aren’t going to get you to the top of Google (anymore).
Ideally, you want a nice backlink profile from relevant, editorially-based sources that don’t just hand over easy links willy nilly.
Rankings can be awesome. Who doesn’t love being #1 on Google?
We’ve all seen this graph before:
Sounds peachy, doesn’t it?
We simply grind our content to the top ten positions and get the lion’s share of clicks.
Google is constantly changing. Personalizing their methods, learning about real people, and real human interaction with their service.
SEO rankings are more related to user search history now.
There’s more importance being placed on things like first impressions and brand loyalty in today’s world than there is on keywords and content.
So doing all those little SEO tricks to get you to the #1 spot isn’t going to be as helpful as you think.
AND, #1 on the SERPs doesn’t translate into conversions.
You need a funnel. Not a ranking.
6. A/B Test Results
Because you’re testing your own opinions and assumptions, allowing that pesky biases to ravage your results.
That’s not the only problem, though.
Welp, that’s disheartening. Unless you’re getting over 1k (minimum) conversions per month, forget A/B testing and the results you got.
They don’t mean anything.
They might look nice at first. But most likely, they’ll regress back to the mean eventually.
Here’s what you should be tracking, instead
Don’t drown in all this negativity just yet. There’s good news, too.
Here are a few metrics to focus on to help make the cash register ring.
1. Funnel Report Data
We just talked about how A/B testing was a waste of time unless you have 1,000 minimum conversions per month.
BUT, you can figure out your conversion trouble spots much faster using funnel report data (courtesy of Kissmetrics).
Funnel reports show you how users actually move through your website.
You can see who performed certain actions, who didn’t perform a desired action, and who skipped certain steps in your funnel (for good or for ill).
You can also track certain steps in your funnel:
So if someone visited, then signed up for a newsletter, then viewed a video, you’d know.
You can then use this data to do things like:
Basically, you can determine how to increase conversions. Reliably. Consistently. Without running a single A/B test.
2. Backlink Quality
High quality backlinks can be hard to get.
You can’t fake ‘em.
They’re a leading indicator, sure. But the best kind.
It’s a measure of performance, telling you (1) how efficient those promotional activities are and (2) if you can expect to see increased traffic in the near future as a result.
For example, here’s what a good backlink profile should look like:
We aren’t getting hundreds of links from the same site over and over, as the link quality wouldn’t be as strong or meaningful.
And there are links from other high-quality sites in our industry. Relevance for the win!
But building high-quality backlinks takes an investment.
One survey by Moz found that roughly 37% of business owners spend between $10,000 and $50,000 per month on external link building.
That’s a lot.
We’re not saying you have to invest that much. There is a lot you can do to get better backlinks without dropping that kind of dough.
The point isn’t to just build links. That poor-house mindset is how you end up with the junk.
The point is to look at how you’re getting those links. The campaigns and activities and efforts bringing them in.
Change the strategy, change the end result.
Good old ROI. The gold standard metric.
That no one ever talks about online.
You see all the other stuff here. You might see revenue numbers and customer counts.
However, rarely do you see blog posts diving into the bottom-line numbers that actually count.
Let’s say you get four impressions and one click (and one pageview), with a 0.25%CTR and 0.25% conversion rate.
BUT, you only spend $5 and the buyer converts for 10x your cost per acquisition.
See what I mean? Who gives a crap about any other metric in the end besides ROI.
Now, I’m not saying you should completely ignore optimizing for conversions. Definitely not. Those are extremely important.
Look at historical data, pinpoint trends, figure out what ROI means for you.
Ask: How does this specific measurement help our company’s growth?
And by growth, we don’t mean impressions, rankings, etc.
Knowing the number of leads each ad campaign is driving is fine. But it’s not good. You can’t stop until you see how much revenue each attributes.
Some metrics matter more than others.
Traffic, clicks, page views, CTR, and… don’t matter as much in the long run. Vanity metrics like these sound amazing on press releases and blog posts and webinars and Growth Hackers and weekly stand-up meetings.
But they don’t help so much when it comes time to run the annual numbers.
You want to think big picture.
Look at your overall funnel. Where are people coming in? What are they doing? Where are they going?
Look at your backlinks to see which drive signups. Links, by themselves, are fine. But the important part is to first identify the ones driving real business actions. And then reverse-engineer which activities are driving the ‘winners’ vs. the ‘losers.’
And focus on the one metric that matters: Money. Moolah. The Big Bucks.
Track fewer, better metrics. The ones that count.
So you can learn faster, iterate faster, and eventually, profit faster.
About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.
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When it comes to reaching engaged, relevant audiences, which marketing channels truly shine? Social media? Email? Webinars?
How about podcasts?
“Podcasts?” I can hear you thinking, “you mean those radio shows that were popular in the early 2000s?” Sure, podcasts may have hit critical mass thanks to Apple iTunes and the iPod back in 2004, but new research is showing that small businesses and brands alike are taking another look at the podcast as a formidable marketing tool.
Of course the question is — why podcasts? And why has this technology suddenly re-ignited? Let’s take a closer look:
Podcasts’ Surge in Popularity
According to a recent report from Infinite Dial, 40% of respondents reported listening to a podcast at least once, with 24% doing so monthly, and 15% doing so weekly. Year over year, online radio and podcasts in particular, have shown a growth that simply can’t be ignored. What’s more, according to a separate study from Triton Digital and Edison Research, Americans tuning in to podcasts on a weekly basis has almost doubled since 2013:
Listeners Are More Receptive to Products and Services
People are tuning in — and so are advertisers. There’s a lot for advertisers to like about podcasts, since almost two-thirds of listeners are more willing to consider products and services they learned about on a podcast. Over half of them believed that the hosts of the podcasts they listen to regularly are users of the products and services they mention on their respective shows. And those respondents reacted much more positively to products and services mentioned on the shows from the host themselves rather than a pre-recorded ad from a company or sponsor.
Just look at what actions listeners took after hearing about a product or service in a podcast:
In addition to high levels of receptiveness, relevancy and engagement, the kinds of people listening to podcasts are the very users many advertisers want to reach: relatively young, high income and high education levels, according to a survey from Nielsen:
Now the question becomes — how can brands and companies leverage this audience attraction?
Which Brands are Seeing Success with Podcasts?
One of the biggest points to keep in mind is that no one is going to tune in to a 20 minute commercial about your business. Take eBay, for example. Earlier this summer, Brooklyn-based audio company Gimlet Creative completed a branded podcast series for the auction company called Open for Business. It became the number one business podcast in iTunes when it released in June and talks to create a second season are already underway.
On the surface, it looks like Open for Business has very little in common with eBay itself. Topics include details on how to build a business from the ground up, including: how to hire, how an immigrant can start a business in the U.S., and so on.
Mentions of eBay itself are handled in a very light-touch manner. The podcast does, however, circle back by sharing the true story of a small business owner that found success on eBay. The last episode of the first series focused on the gig economy, which includes getting short term jobs and getting paid from gig-style platforms like Uber, Taskrabbit, Airbnb…and eBay.
The series was a hit — generating an average rating of 4.5 on iTunes and hitting 200% of its download goal.
And it’s not just how-to or curriculum-style podcasts that are getting noticed. GE leverages branded content by using its own sound technology in part of a sci-fi series known as The Message, where cryptographers attempt to decipher an alien message. GE itself isn’t mentioned anywhere in the podcast, but its technology is an integrated part of the storyline.
The Message currently has 5 million subscribers.
You can read more about General Electric’s foray into the digital marketing sphere in our post.
But before you get too excited about the potential of podcasts, it’s worth noting a few downsides.
Measuring Reach: Still In Its Infancy
Currently, the best way to measure how much reach a podcast has is the number of downloads and the number of subscribers to a given channel. Podcasts do not yet have the ability to tell you things like how long people listened or, for example, if someone played a podcast in their car with a group of friends.
What’s more, podcasts don’t correlate the number of downloads to the number of subscribers, so hosts don’t know what percentage of their listeners tune in on a weekly basis, or download an episode. How many people listen one time and then never listen again? No one knows.
Even Apple’s podcast app doesn’t provide statistics or analytics that show what kind of reach the podcast has. So, keep this in mind if you’re looking for measurable marketing gains with podcasts — the information you get is fairly shallow compared to the deep, insightful analytics you get with other marketing channels.
Podcasts Set a Higher Bar for Quality
If you’re looking at starting your own podcast, you can see from the examples above, as well as the top podcasts for your particular industry, that there’s a much higher bar set in terms of quality and consistency than with creating other types of content. Articles like this one may take just a few minutes to read, but with a podcast, you’re asking people to tune in for roughly 20 minutes or so per week – the approximate length and schedule for podcasts in general.
That means you have to commit to a standard of quality and a publishing schedule that’s both dedicated and deeply involved. It’s quite the challenge, to be sure, and many companies — even large ones — simply cannot afford that kind of time investment with so many other digital irons in the fire.
Small and medium-sized businesses, however, can look at podcasts as an opportunity to map out a higher grade of content that not only enthralls and engages listeners, but leaves them wanting more. And although the bar for quality is higher, the receptiveness of the audience and their eagerness to take the actions you want them to take after learning about your product or service is definitely worth it.
And although podcasts have risen and waned in popularity throughout the years, the proliferation of online radio, smartphones and home devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa have made tuning into podcasts even more accessible than in a the past. If all indications are showing increasing growth and user adoption, it’s safe to say that podcasting isn’t just a fad — but like all marketing initiatives, the sooner you start, the sooner you can reap the benefits rather than falling behind and being looked at as an “also-ran” by your potential customers.
Do you use podcasts in your own marketing campaigns? What have your results been so far? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and let us know what tips you have for fellow podcasters who are looking to get started! We can’t wait to hear from you!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!
Loyalty rewards programs can give you a great ROI, but first you have to know what your goals are and how to measure them. Check out this infographic for tips on how to make sure your loyalty program succeeds. Read the full article at MarketingProfs