The only metric that matters is revenue.
February 26, 2018
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Engagement is the worst way to judge the success of your content.
This may surprise you to hear, because most people base success on the amount of traffic you get, how many “likes” a Facebook posts has and how many shares an article creates.
Look, these metrics matter to an extent. They help you judge the success of your content marketing strategy, but if this is the only way you judge it, you’re playing the game wrong.
I say this from experience because I played the game wrong for a long time. I put a lot of effort into content and advertising, and I based the success of it on likes, shares and love-hearts. For a long time, this worked (really, really well). A thousand shares did bring leads and customers and money. But, over the last two years I’ve noticed a new trend, and it surprised me a great deal.
You cannot take Facebook likes to the bank.
I’ve built more than eight businesses over the last fifteen years. Some have succeeded whereas others did not, but they all involved building an online platform in some form. As such, content marketing and online advertising have played a large role throughout my entrepreneurial career.
Over the years, I’ve spent hundreds and thousands of dollars on this, and since 2015 I’ve helped other entrepreneurs do the same through effective marketing funnels.
A few years ago, you could take likes to the bank. But, those days are over, and they are never coming back. In fact, when I looked into who bought my programs and became one-on-one clients in 2017, I realized most of them didn’t engage with my content. They didn’t “like” my posts. I didn’t notice them inside my Facebook Groups. They didn’t reply to my emails or other social media messages.
They lurked. They clearly saw what I was putting out, but they hardly ever engaged.
This stopped me in my tracks, because I realized the way I judged my content was all wrong. To this point, I made decisions based on how many likes a post would get, but I now realized likes didn’t mean money.
I didn’t feel bad though, as I noticed most of my entrepreneurial friends did the same. It comes down to simple chemistry, in fact, because likes, shares and love-hearts create a dopamine spike. You feel happy and confident, and you want more of the same. Whereas no likes or shares leaves you feeling empty and insecure.
- Highly engaged content = good content marketing
- Poorly engaged content = bad content marketing
This is how judged success, but here I was with the revelation that engagement didn’t lead to success, and that those who did buy from me hardly engaged at all.
I learned something important during this period:
The more sophisticated your audience, the less engagement you will get from your content marketing.
If you’re targeting insecure, vulnerable and naive people, this may not apply. Because insecure, vulnerable and naive people tend to not know what they want. These people engage with content because it creates a dopamine spike of its own. They feel productive because they have done something, even though that “something” may or may not help them.
So, if this is your audience, likes, shares and love-hearts may lead to profit.
Whereas if you target educated, secure and sophisticated people, it won’t. These people are too busy to spend their time commenting on every tweet and post. In fact, the more sophisticated your audience is, the less engagement you will see — be it email, social media or online advertising.
Again, this realization blew me away.
I created content, products and services for a sophisticated market who already had a successful business. My audience didn’t have time to always engage with what I put out, but that isn’t to say they didn’t see it or experience it.
This forced me to step back and reevaluate how I judged my content, and I realized looking at how many likes a post gets wouldn’t do the trick.
Focus on revenue, not likes, shares or love-hearts.
The only true way to judge the success of your content marketing is to measure the amount of revenue it makes.
The next time you push out content — be it email, social media, PR or video — consider how it actually makes you revenue. Forget about the likes, shares and love-hearts. Forget about the dopamine spikes and how happy a popular post makes you feel. Let go of the emotional attachment toward your content, and instead hone in on what it does to your bottom line.
How you do this depends on what you produce and sell, but the simple answer is to turn attention away from vanity metrics (likes, shares, love-hearts, hits, views, etc.), and toward more intimate measurables like messages, replies and people who contact you directly after you share a piece of content. It’s not as easy to measure, but the insight this offers you is far more profound.
Of course, even measuring this isn’t enough if it doesn’t drive people to actually take action, such as purchasing your product, arranging the sales call or filling in your application. This is the bottom line and all that matters: literally, how your content affects your bottom line.
It’s the only way to judge your content’s success in 2018. It isn’t to say likes, shares and love-hearts don’t matter. They do to an extent, and they can help you gauge success. But, they do not define your success.
Once you get on board with this, it empowers you to go out and create your best content yet, unaffected by how many dopamine spikes it does or does not give you. Instead, you create relevant content for the right people at the right time, and measure the effect it has on your bottom line, so you can scale-up and take your business to seven figures and beyond.