Subscribers, Impressions and Clicks – Oh My!

When the Tin Woodsman joined Dorothy and the Scarecrow on their journey to Oz, he warned his companions to watch out for lions and tigers and bears. That scene put the fear of Oz into my kids when they were young. Which was exactly what the filmmaker intended. Of course, Dorothy never did run into any tigers or bears, and the only lion she met turned out to be a coward. So the battle chant “Lions and Tigers and Bears,” though catchy, was little more than a distraction.

The same can be said for many of the metrics we use in web marketing.

As advertisers, we’re given a choice – would we rather pay based on impressions or on click-throughs – in an attempt to distract us from the metrics than count. Try to explain either option to an entrepreneur and you’re likely to be laughed out of the room. Business people know they don’t make money on impressions or on clicks, so why should they pay for either?

The only metric that matters is revenue. And while more impressions might lead to more click-throughs, and more click-throughs might lead to more sales, they also might not.

Social media is no different. It doesn’t really matter how many people follow you, or re-tweet you, or watch your videos, or subscribe to your blog. The only “influence” that matters is the influence that generates sales.

Of course, advertising agencies and social media consultants don’t have any interest in selling you a campaign based on real results. And why should they? They weren’t interested in selling television or radio or print campaigns or logos or brochures priced solely as a percentage of your increase in sales.

So, take a close look at your e-metrics. What are they telling you – really? If you can’t trace your effort all the way through to revenue, you might want to rethink your strategy.