When I first got started blogging, I would get really hyped up when people shared my posts on social media. "Look! People are tweeting out my blog post!" I'd tell my roommates giddily, holding up an open palm for what I thought was a well-deserved high-five.
And then, something happened. One of my blog posts totally blew up on social compared to my average post. I'm talking over 20X the number of social shares I normally got on a post. I was crazy excited ... that is, until I took a look at the views on that same blog post: Far fewer post views than social shares.
In other words, people weren't reading my post, or even clicking into it ... they were just blindly sharing it on social. Ugh.
After a few hours of doubting my faith in humanity (and in Twitter), I realized that although a lot of social shares felt good and was worth measuring, it wasn't a metric someone like my boss particularly cared about. She cared more about the impact my blog posts were having -- on traffic, on leads, and eventually on customers.
Depending on your marketing role, certain metrics are going to matter to you more than others. As a blogger, I want to track my blog posts' social share numbers to get an idea of the kind of content is more "shareable" than others -- but my boss is much more interested in metrics like visits and leads. So while I'll still measure social shares, they probably don't have a place in the more analytical reports I deliver to my boss.
Like social shares on blog posts, there are other marketing metrics that your boss doesn't necessarily need to hear about. They're still important for you to measure as a way to gauge what's working and which strategies to pursue, but you don't necessarily need to talk to your boss about unless there's some anomaly.
(HubSpot customers: You can set up customizable dashboards for yourself so you can still keep track of them yourself. You can also set up separate dashboards for the metrics your boss does want to hear about.)
So, which marketing metrics does your boss care less about? Let's take a look.
12 Metrics Your Boss Probably Doesn't Want to Hear About
1) Page Views
If one of your pages is getting significantly more views than others, your boss will want to know about it. But in general, you can leave page views for each of your pages out of your more analytical reports.
Why? Because the number can actually be a bit misleading. While you might think that more page views is a good thing, consider this scenario: What if someone were to visit your website ten times because they were clicking all over the place trying to find what they were looking for, couldn't, and left in frustration? That's bad engagement -- but you wouldn't be able to tell based on page views alone.
What does your boss want to hear more about? How page views translate into calls-to-action clickthroughs and form completions, which shows the conversion of those all-important website visitors into contacts.
2) Time Spent on Page
Likewise, time spent on a given web page isn't necessarily a true determination of engagement. What exactly is a "good" or "bad" amount of time to spend on a site? Someone could spend a lot of time on a web page because they're really interested in the content, or they could spend a lot of time on a web page because it was really hard to navigate the page or the information was really confusing. What makes that time spent a "good" amount of time is really difficult to measure. So delivering this "murky" metric in your reports to your boss may not have the result you were hoping for.
3) Impressions and Clicks for Display Ads
A study from ANA, in which online ad purchases by 36 major U.S. brands were tracked between August and September 2014, found that 11% of online display ads and 23% of video ads aren't actually displayed to real people. In other words, thanks to the ever-increasing number of hackers engaging in impression and click fraud, a significant number of impressions and clicks on your display ads could actually be robots.
The more important metric to your boss isn't the impressions and clicks on the display ads -- it's the actions taken after that impression or that click. For example, did that impression or click turn into purchase, or at least a step toward a purchase? Focusing on those numbers can ultimately help you optimize your ad spend -- a number your boss definitely wants to hear about.
4) Total Form Completions
Unfortunately, a percentage of the people filling out the forms on your landing pages are inevitably spam. Anyone who claims their name is "Lala Appleberry" or who have the email address "firstname.lastname@example.org" probably isn't going to be a high quality lead for your sales team. Also, a number of those form completions are probably coming from employees at your own company.
For these reasons, raw form completions aren't going to be a great indication of how "good" your landing pages or forms are. While you'll want to keep track of total form completions (and give the spammy ones a negative lead score), your boss probably cares more about the number of marketing qualified leads (and, ultimately, customers) who come out of each landing page. These numbers are a better indication of which landing pages are "successful."
5) Social Media Shares
You might look at a high number of social shares and think, "Wow, that piece of content must've been really interesting!" But remember, people can easily share your blog post without even opening it in the first place, let alone reading through the whole thing.
Turns out, that happens far more often than bloggers like us would like. Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat (which measures real-time traffic for sites like Upworthy), tweeted that they've found "effectively no correlation between social shares and people actually reading." He was talking about tweets here, but I'd muster a guess that other social network shares would see the same pattern.
If your boss' vision for the blog involves community engagement and thought leadership, then you'll want to report on the number of comments -- and what people are saying -- to your boss. But if your blogging goals revolve around the company's bottom line, then you can leave comments out of your analytical reports. Think about it: One of your blog posts could have zero comments and be generating a ton of traffic and leads to your business -- and that would make that blog post a success.
7) Number of Inbound Links
Don't get me wrong: Inbound links -- the links coming to your website from another website -- are critical for helping your website rank higher in search engine results. Off-page SEO is one of the best ways for a web page to rank for a particular keyword, so building links into your website from outside sources is certainly a key part of your SEO strategy.
But your boss cares less about the number of inbound links to your site, and more about the results that number of inbound links has on search ranking. How are the number of inbound links helping your website increase its ranking for certain keywords? Is the percentage of website visits from organic traffic increasing over time? Those are the metrics your boss cares about.
8) Open Rate
As an email marketer, you should be measuring open rate. After all, if nobody opens your emails, how are they going to engage with them? But open rate itself can be a bit misleading: An email is only counted as "opened" if the recipient also receives the images embedded in the email, but a lot of email users have image-blocking enabled on their email client. So even if they open the email, they wouldn't be included in your open rate. That means your reported open rate is usually lower than the real number.
Your boss is likely more interested in the actions your email recipients are taking once they've opened the email -- like clickthrough rate. That metric shows more effectively how many people are actually interacting with your email content.
9) Unsubscribe Rate
Any savvy email marketer will tell you that minimizing unsubscribe rate is a good thing. But when it comes to the reports you're sending your boss, it's not something you should focus on reporting unless it's much higher than normal.
Why? Because unsubscribe rate can be a bit misleading -- especially since so many recipients now disengage by choosing to simply ignore emails they don't want to read, rather than taking the action of actually unsubscribing. (This was made even easier with better spam filtering and Gmail's Promotions tab.)
Subscribe rate and number of contacts are more relevant metrics for your boss, who wants to hear about the audience you're building of fresh, engaged people who will help you grow blog and web traffic over time.
10) Facebook Page Likes
Having a lot of Likes on your Facebook Page certainly looks good (that number is displayed prominently on your Page for all to see, after all). But according to Kissmetrics, Facebook Likes are actually not correlated with more engagement and more business. In fact, only 1% of users who Like a business' Facebook Page will actually go visit that Page after Liking it. In other words, there are a lot of people who Like your Page but won't engage with your content.
It's how many people are actually engaging with your Facebook content that's more relevant for the analytical reports you give you boss. Higher engagement rates will also help increase organic reach through friend activity.
11) Twitter Impressions
Twitter impressions are another metric that doesn't indicate any meaningful action from your followers. On the contrary, they actually show inactivity. How? They measure how many times your tweet was displayed, regardless of whether someone clicks into it. Think about the number of times you've scrolled mindlessly (or, in some cases, super fast) through your Twitter feed without even paying attention to most of the tweets? You're still being counted as impressions on those tweets.
What would your boss rather hear about? Link clicks on your tweets, which have a much bigger impact on website visitors and overall interest in the content of your tweets.
12) Total Registered Users
Have you ever signed up for a service or downloaded an app, only to log in maybe once or twice? Every time you've done that, those businesses still count you among their total registered users -- even though you aren't an engaged user who's adding any value to the app. Total users measures everyone who's ever registered, including people who tried it and didn't like it. It tells you nothing about how many people are in the dark pool of non-users.
While total registered users is an important, big-picture metric for you to keep track of, the number of active users -- whether that's monthly, weekly, or daily active users -- is a more meaningful measurement or how big or popular your service is. And in the day-to-day growth of your business, the latter is metric your boss definitely wants to hear about.
Which metrics do you or your boss not want to hear about? Share them with us in the comments.
Originally published Sep 21, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017