Why Vanity Metrics Kill Content Marketing

The three questions to show if your content is creating meaningful experiences

Investing in content marketing – everything from content creation to social media promotion – isn’t a faucet of revenue be turned on in an instant. It’s a process where the vanity metrics we all love to hang our hat on, like followers and shares, aren’t important if they don’t create outstanding customer experiences. When you’re talking to the head-honcho at your organization, avoid the vanity metrics and be knowledgeable about these three questions:

  1. Is content marketing reducing cost of acquisition?

What would it mean to your company if you could reduce the amount of time your salespeople spend on the phone because your customer is more knowledgeable? What if you had more people contacting you because you are the thought-leader in your space? To state it plainly, you would spend significantly fewer resources trying to connect with potential customers if you had an effective content marketing platform in place.

Some organizations, like agencies or Saas providers may find this super helpful because the cost to acquire new customers is relatively high, but once they’ve tried your product or service, there is low churn rate. This is a large part of why you will find so many articles on how to choose a marketing agency written by agencies for their potential clients, like this one, at the top of my Google search. You will never know about content marketing’s effect on the cost of acquisition if you don’t know where it’s at without content marketing in the first place. Once you get that under control, come back here and measure how your content marketing is affected by it.

Metrics showing reduced cost-of-acquisition:

  • Number of new inbound leads
  • Main channels driving new visitors
  • Conversion rate of new website visitors into customers

Metrics that don’t show reduced cost-of-acquisition

  • Facebook likes
  • Website visits
  • Content reach
  1. Is content marketing helping retain customers?

Do you know your lifetime value of your customer? Is it more important for you to retain a customer or to get new ones? Do you have multiple opportunities to upsell to clients? It’s often the case that customer retention is a better way to use content marketing to increase your bottom line. Some studies show it’s 5-6 times more expensive to get more customers than it is to retain great ones. Content marketing can become your most valuable asset if you use it to keep customers coming back, time and time again.

A great example of this is in high competition businesses who use social media to create unique tribes and reduce churn by getting their audience involved. It’s clearly observable in the workout supplement world where you have a ton of suppliers and each of them is striving to cut out their own niche for their customers. As a result, you will find many supplement companies offering their own workout plans, meal plans, and technique videos – all great pieces of content marketing that helps their customers and improves loyalty to their brand.

Metrics showing better customer retention:

  • Returning visitors to the blog
  • Social media mentions by customers
  • Increased net-promoter scores

Metrics that don’t show better customer retention

  • Facebook likes
  • Website visits
  • Content reach
  1. Is our content marketing driving sales?

Does your content reach your ideal buyer persona? Do the people who join your audience stay? Does a bigger audience result in better conversion on promotions? Increasing sales is arguably one of the most important business goals for many organizations. If done right, an engaged audience is an incredible way to promote the products or services with much lower promotion cost. If you grow the wrong audience, you end up with a herd of likes or follows and nearly zero conversion when you do get to asking them to take action.

My favorite example of this done wrong is when an dark-mystery author I know decided to create memes to grow their audience. Their thought process, “People share funny memes and follow meme accounts, so why not create memes?”  Of course, they got likes and reached a ton of people, but they built an audience of folks who weren’t anywhere near their ideal buyer persona. When they finally made an ask of their audience to purchase their book on Amazon, the promotion fell on deaf ears. Needless to say, that author is back at the drawing board to figure out a more effective content strategy. Don’t be like this author – build meaningful awareness with your content marketing:

Metrics showing increased sales:

  • Number of substantial comments on blogs
  • Demographics/psychographics of your audience
  • Subscriptions to email lists

Metrics that don’t show increased sales:

  • Facebook likes
  • Website visits
  • Content reach


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