Why Measuring Click-Throughs is Next to Meaningless

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on November 22, 2009

Whenever we do something long enough, we start to assume it actually is meaningful. Of course, this is often where we get into trouble.

A great example is our fascination with click-through rates. If we run an ad and people click through to a site, we are endlessly fascinated by whether our click-through rate was higher than last time or higher than average.

The real conclusion? It’s not relevant. It’s at best a basic diagnostic measure.

Here’s why.

People often take action over a period of a month or so after they learn about something via display advertising. We are not as pavlovian as once thought. And when we do get around to visiting, we tend to spend 55% more time than average visitors to the site. So ask yourself if you are measuring what is convenient (a click through) or what is real (activity over a period of one month).

Now, think of social media sites. One study showed that 48% of Twitter users who were introduced to a brand on Twitter were compelled to search for additional information. 44% of people said they recommend products in social media and 39% said they have discussed a product specifically on Twitter. Facebook users edged out Twitter with 46% talking about or recommending products.

This is interesting. What it tells us is that if advertising is truly compelling, customers will take their own action to recommend and discuss your brand. The flip side is that if there is silence, it is more clear than ever that you did not make a real impact. Are you measuring the conversations you generate or not? Good question to ask yourself.

Now, how about a nod towards integration. Research by GroupM basically says that if you do a campaign in isolation, it doesn’t achieve nearly as much as if you combine social media and paid search. In fact, you are 2.8x more likely to have someone search for that brand’s products compared to users who only saw paid search. So, when you measure one variable such as paid search, is this actually correct or should you be looking at the total impact you make over a period of time based on what you do via natural and paid search?

I believe I know the answer. Evolve how you measure. In today’s world, we can see quite transparently if customers care or not by what they say. Don’t guess, make sure your measurement tells you definitively what reality is for you.

All the best, Bob

By: Bob Pearson

Bob is the President of W2O Group, an independent network of digital communications and marketing companies. He is an author, frequent speaker and instructor for Rutgers center for management development. After the success of his book Pre-Commerce, Bob is currently working on a new book on the future of media titled Storytizing that will be available in 2014. Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function -- an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in the best seller, GroundSwell. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. He also serves on a variety of Boards in health and technology. Highlights include serving as an original member of the P&G digital advisory board and being appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as chair and vice chair of the emerging technology fund for the State of Texas.

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Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

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