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My heart sank when client asked for pageviews

Mungo Park is in the business of helping clients use content effectively, but was recently dismayed at pageviews being favoured over actual engagement.
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If you play golf badly but want to get better, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the scorecard. In business, it’s much the same.

Management guru Peter Drucker elegantly summed it up when he said: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” But it’s also what you measure that really counts in helping you manage and grow your business.

In digital marketing, all activity is measurable. A common mistake though is to focus on so-called vanity metrics such as pageviews, the number of followers or downloads of a free report.

Just before Christmas we had a meeting where a client asked us to secure 10,000 views. That was the only target they were focused on. My heart sank a little – views can be bought but provide precious little real return or value. My response was tongue-in-cheek: would you rather have 10,000 views, ten new prospects or one customer?

Views, or impressions, are simply someone who sees your banner, video or text ad. If the same person sees your ad multiple times, they’ll count as multiple views or impressions. Similarly, a view of some video content is classed on many platforms as the video playing for two seconds with the sound off.

Meanwhile, unique impressions are the number of unique people who saw your ad, regardless of how many times they viewed it. However, if the same person sees your ad on a desktop, phone or tablet, they’ll count as a unique impression for each device.

So views or impressions may make you feel good but ultimately they can be misleading and don’t actually help improve the bottom line.


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Engagement, not pageviews

By contrast, engagement metrics are far better – enabling you to measure and understand how much impact your website and social media efforts are having on attracting, retaining and indeed converting prospective customers. In short, with any campaign you should focus on outcomes – what do you want to achieve.

Every company website is different and therefore the potential customer journey is different. But even so, there are commonly used data points that can track engagement such as repeat pageviews, the number of comments for blog posts or articles, the number of content shares and conversion rates. The main goal is to find metrics which you can use to change, if necessary, your marketing tactics based on relevant data, and therefore improve results, and ultimately drive sales.

Likewise, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the number of social media followers equals engagement with your brand. That’s essentially a beauty parade and doesn’t mean people are engaging with your brand. What matters is to measure, for instance, comments, shares and likes per post.

For example, do videos do well for your particular audience on twitter or does an infographic resonate with your business community on LinkedIn? Testing and retesting will help you discover what works and then you’ll be able to refine your content marketing to drive more engagement with the same or fewer posts. That equals better conversion rates, less cost, and more revenue.

On the other hand, counting pageviews, the number of posts, or follow/followed ratios misguidedly concentrates on outputs rather than outcomes. They may puff up the ego but don’t move the needle. Vanity metrics such as views fail to tell you how you’re performing.  The sane, sensible, and smart thing to do is to focus on low volume, low cost, high quality traffic and measure your top level conversions for real success. So please don’t ask me to buy you pageviews.

This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.

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About Author

Mungo Park

Mungo Park is a co-founder of blueprint.tv – a content marketing agency, specialising in digital strategy and video production, graphics and animation. He established the company with his brother Adam in 2006 and now has offices in London, Toronto, Houston and Cape Town, working with some of the world’s biggest brands in finance, tech and third sector.

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