Quit Looking at Likes: Conversions Are the Only Metric That Matters


By Chris Wallace, president and co-founder of InnerView

In a world flush with marketing data, it can be hard for businesses to tell what information is meaningful and what’s noise. While few metrics are truly meaningless, many of the most popular KPIs do not have a strong connection with value.

Impressions, for instance, are not as useful as many consider them to be. All impressions measure is whether a given message appears on a screen. Click-through rates, though more meaningful than impressions, are also somewhat faulty — accidental clicks account for many of these measurements.

And as much as marketers love seeing a high number of likes on their posts, this type of limited engagement is far less important than it seems. It’s nice to feel appreciated, but few marketers can draw meaningful connections between likes and value.

Instead of focusing on these soft metrics, marketers should pay attention to the one KPI that matters: conversions. By prioritizing conversion rates, businesses can optimize marketing to fit their needs instead of wasting resources on metrics that don’t drive revenue.

A Jack-of-All-Trades (and Master of None)

In our business, we see a lot of companies sink money into digital marketing with hopes of generating in-store traffic. Even when their campaigns achieve high engagement rates, however, a limited number of their online prospects ever become customers.

The problem with this strategy is not that digital marketing and real-world results don’t mix — digital campaigns are an excellent tool for driving physical sales. The issue with this approach arises when in-store experiences differ from online promises. When marketers and front-line customer service agents aren’t on the same page, any money spent to produce leads is a waste.

What happens when the employees who aren’t in marketing are responsible for delivering on marketing’s promise? What can they do if they don’t know which offer led a prospect to become a customer? Marketers might boast about exceeding traffic goals, but a campaign isn’t a success if the people who receive those leads cannot convert them into sales. Thankfully, there’s a better way.

How Conversions Stand Above Other KPIs

To remedy this issue, businesses must settle on a single relevant set of metrics and hold everyone — marketers and other teams alike — accountable for the same goals.

Sales conversions are the perfect metric for this purpose. Consider these four ways that a focus on conversions is better than countless other measures:

1. It forces departments to work together.

Your marketing department and the people who deal with your customers need to be on the same page. If everyone has the same goal (acquiring new customers), then internal efforts align effortlessly.

When customer-facing teams share feedback on the customers who make purchases, for example, marketers are then able to turn around and use that information to target the next campaign. With 66 percent of organizations reporting that communication between departments remains a challenge, a common goal bridges that gap.

2. It makes marketing ROI easier to measure.

In an age of increasingly tighter budgets, marketers must justify how they spend every dollar. By basing their requests for more money on impressions and likes, marketing teams make it difficult for senior leaders to evaluate whether an investment helps the company.

Social media might feel like a good investment because of its high traffic and fancy tools, but only 48 percent of marketers achieve meaningful ROI from social media. When marketers communicate the value of their efforts using a concrete metric like conversions, they are better able to evaluate which tactics justify the investment.

3. It creates multiple opportunities to improve.

Conversions might seem like a relatively static goal, but marketers can choose any number of paths to reach that goal. Marketers can improve conversions by improving execution at any stage of the process. Recent research suggests that marketers are spending more money but also being pickier about where they spend it. Small tweaks to the message, delivery vehicle, and other factors can have a massive effect on conversions — and are often easier and more effective than redoubled efforts on old tactics.

4. It maintains a focus on the customer.

By focusing on conversions, marketers ensure they keep their primary duty in mind: helping customers see value in the product. When everyone on the marketing team aligns with that goal, the unity leads to new ideas and innovations that put the customer at the forefront. Now that 89 percent of companies compete more on the customer experience than price, marketers must keep their messages focused on people rather than vanity metrics.

Metrics like click-through rates might make you feel good, but they’re a soft metric. Accountability is king, and marketers must do whatever it takes to prove their effectiveness. Instead of just throwing more money at a problem, they must find ways to draw a direct line from their marketing efforts to increased revenue — conversions provide the vehicle for making that connection.


About the Author

Chris Wallace is the president and co-founder of InnerView, a marketing consulting firm that helps companies ensure their customer-facing employees and partners tell a consistent brand story. InnerView inspires an internal sense of belief, confidence, and pride in the promises that companies make to their customers. Chris has nearly 20 years of sales, marketing, and corporate leadership experience.


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