Start Focusing on The Online Marketing Metric That Matters

Start Focusing on the Online Marketing Metric That Matters

By | Monday, January 4, 2016 | 3 comments

I’m going to get to the point right away. ROI is the single most important online marketing metric that you need to be focusing on. I see far too many digital marketing agencies talking about rankings, traffic, impressions, views, reach, etc. But, how much revenue and what kind of ROI did all of that produce?

Sadly, a lot of the times that answer will be, “Not much!”
Too many businesses are spending money across multiple online channels and they don’t really know what is working and what isn’t. Imagine if you clipped all of those losing campaigns and shifted that money into the winners? You end up making more money and your business experiences exponential growth.

You need to segment every single campaign and track your ROI. If your agency isn’t going that, then run. In fact, if your online marketing agency isn’t eating, sleeping and breathing ROI then there is a big problem. ROI is the single most important digital marketing metric, yet very few talk about it.


Because very few digital campaigns produce a ROI that’s worthy of talking about. It’s sad.

I want to break down four metrics that people like to talk about, and show you why they can sound much better than they actually are.

1. Keyword Rankings

Keyword rankings are great, but they can also be extremely deceiving. A lot of SEO companies will get their clients ranking #1 for a few easy terms so their reports look better. These keywords often have a very low search volume and contribute $0 when it comes to the ROI of the search marketing effort.

I recently consulted with a small business that wondered why their SEO budget wasn’t producing the return that they wanted. After all, as they stated, “Our SEO company has us ranking #1 on Google for 10 keywords.”

Well, as it turned out, all 10 of those keywords that were ranking on top were branded company terms. The problem? Nobody was searching for the company by name in Google. Their website will rank on top for those keywords without doing any SEO outside of some basic on-page optimization. They were literally pissing away their SEO budget month-after-month and seeing nothing in terms of a return.

Keyword rankings sound nice and they look good on a ranking report, but they don’t always signal a strong campaign that is making a business money.

2. Website Traffic

A lot of digital agencies will send out monthly reports that highlight website traffic improvements. While “ an 18% increase in website traffic over the previous month” sounds good, it’s completely irrelevant unless you know if any of that traffic converted.

How many of those new visitors converted into leads, or more importantly, sales? Would you rather a 22% increase in website traffic that resulted in zero revenue growth, or would you rather a 5% ROI increase over the previous month? ROI. That is the number that matters, but in this case, the 5% doesn’t sound as impressive as the 22%, but when you really dig into it, the ROI number is what’s responsible for your business growth.

You need to track your traffic from every source and determine what outlets are bringing the visitors that are converting into sales. Google Analytics provides so much valuable data, so make sure you get up to speed, and learn how to use it. Use Google’s URL builder to track your campaigns.

All the traffic in the world doesn’t matter, unless it is converting and generating revenue, as well as a positive ROI.

3. Impressions

“We placed your brand’s message in front of 50,000 highly engaged consumers.”

Sounds great, right? Impressions alone don’t translate to ROI. I’ll give you a great example, so you can see how impressions are really broken down. Here is a recent tweet of mine:

It received quite a few retweets and likes. This caused it to receive a nice number of impressions. Let’s take a look at the activity for this specific tweet:

Tweet engagement data

It received about 50,000 impressions and the engagement rate was more than 1%. This wasn’t a promoted tweet and it didn’t have a call-to-action, so the only real benefit from this were the 11 new followers I gained because of this tweet. So, while 50,000 impressions sounds excellent, the 11 new followers number really isn’t that impressive.

If this was a promoted tweet and an agency told the client that they were able to generate a huge number of impressions, you can see that there are several other metrics in the report that matter more, like engagement, clicks, etc. Impressions are easy, ROI isn’t. (PS - click here and follow me on Twitter if you aren't already)


Content marketing doesn’t work unless your target audience sees it, right? Syndication networks such as Outbrain and Taboola are great ways to get eyes on your content. But, all the views in the world are irrelevant unless that content is creating engagement that eventually generates conversions.

Since the term “content marketing” because a popular buzzword, everyone has become a content expert. There is so much more to content marketing than just writing and publishing a blog post. There needs to be a strategy and a way to track the results, in order to determine what kind of ROI was produced.

Every piece of content, regardless of the format, should have a call-to-action that sends the reader to an offer. This could be a newsletter submit form, a free eBook offer, or even direct to a purchase offer. Consumers are smart and a blatant offer in your content will turn most of them off. You need to include a subtle call-to-action in order to drive traffic.

thousands of views are useless unless you are experiencing a high conversion rate. I’ve seen pieces of content that have received thousands of social shares and views, but produced nothing in terms of ROI. Then, I’ve seen content assets that have received a fraction of that, but had very high conversion rates.


Don’t be fooled by fluff metrics. Yes, they can help you see the big picture, but when it comes down to it, only ROI matters. What do you think? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

Image credit: Negative Space

Author Bio

Jonathan Long

Jonathan Long is the founder of Uber Brands, a brand development agency located in Miami, focused on building e-commerce brands in the health, fitness, lifestyle and beauty industries.

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