It’s better deeper…

At risk of stating the obvious, deeper engagement is better!

I was recently asked a question about which data metric is best for monitoring ‘engagement’. In truth we can’t, but what we can do is measure interactivity.

The 7 best metrics (high-level) to monitor interactivity for any commercial business are;

  1. LTV – Life Time Value
  2. Other purchase behaviour (quantity, frequency etc.)
  3. Physical interactions (telephone call, meeting, etc.)
  4. Sign-up (without bribe)
  5. Sign-up (with bribe)
  6. Absorbing information (the longer in time duration the better, such as watching a long video, taking an online course etc.)
  7. Clicking an ‘action’
Which metrics to follow

In reality however I would argue that this is the order you should in almost all cases consider to be the actual truth;

  1. Purchase
  2. Purchase
  3. Purchase

For any commercial organisation, cash is king. Every other metric is trivial by comparison. I realise these seems like an obvious statement, but it’s so easy to over-look. And often is.

Unless there is a very good reason not to, such as a new business which doesn’t yet offer commercial services – never lose focus of the primary goal. For most that’s making some sales, and getting some ‘green’.

I want to shine a big bright spotlight on this point (at risk of labouring my point) because the bottom-line is that 100,000 video views, or 37% returning customers, an email open rate of 7.1%, or 27.43 webinar sign-up all adds exactly zilch to the bottom line.

“100,000 video views, or 37% returning customers, an email open rate of 7.1%, or 27.43 webinar sign-up all adds exactly zilch to the bottom line”

Simon K Williams

The hardest thing in business is getting the sale, so we should absolutely focus all our attention on that objective.

Vanity – metrics

It is VERY easy to get sucked into what we call vanity-metrics – please don’t make that mistake (but if you have you have you aren’t the first, you won’t be the last).

So, to my point…

If you have two almost identical marketing assets (such as an advert), and one is getting twice the signups, views, returners, etc. that alone is no proof (NONE) of which is the better. It only matters how much money those two ‘campaigns’ bring to the table.

So to reiterate my point with the subtlety of a baseball bat (subtlety is highly over-rated), the only really metric to focus on is CASH in the bank.


To give you a personal example in my previous business which I recently exited, for which I was the Business & Marketing guy. We had several Facebook ads running (we’d spend around a modest $1000 a month on our ads).

All with their own metrics, conversions, CPA (cost per acquisition) etc. But eventually, in time we discovered that the 2nd worst performing advert produced the most income. It was 2nd worst based on cost per signup, cost per view, etc.

But financially it massively outperformed every other digital asset / advert we had at the time (for what its worth it was an online test). So be very careful about the metrics you use.

Just because one asset gets for example lot’s of views/exposure, does NOT mean it will bring more cash to the business. The asset that may have less exciting data, may be a better product, messaging, audience fit, and thus ultimately produce the highest LTV (lifetime value).


I sell, amongst other services Business Growth retreats in Thailand, with prices around the $4k USD mark.

The audience that is right for such a service is not the cheapest to reach. This audience is more business savvy than most, they interact less with adverts online, and aren’t going to click on some blunt click-bate material.

It’s critical we are aware of that when we are assessing our performance. It takes a cool head to step back a little, and look at the big picture, remember who we are trying to attract to our services.

Inherent difficulty

The elephant in the room is, and this never gets mentioned enough, is that data isn’t as revealing as many think. Data on it’s own actually tells us nothing.

“Data on it’s own actually tells us nothing.”

Simon K Williams

It’s only our interpretation of that data that can reveal insights, but with that ‘interpretation’ also comes the risk. Sometimes with dangerous, sometimes deadly consequences.

Easy to be distracted and side-tracked by the data

Deadly data

Allow me to give you just one example…

I’m paraphrasing, but in the 2nd world war the engineers investigated the aircraft that returned from their dog fights to learn where they should add more protection (armour), and where they could reduce weight (less protection).

After reviewing hundreds of planes the data was clear, to their surprise they found that the planes were not taking as much damage to the fuel area as they expected.

They were therefore able to reduce armour in those areas, making the planes lighter, meaning they could stay in battle for longer before returning for re-fuelling which is a great advantage over their foe.

But there was a slight problem…

What their data didn’t show them was the planes that didn’t return from battle. If they had, they would have found that the planes that got hit near the fuel area never made it back!

The reality was, that the planes needed lot’s more armour in that area, not less! A grievous error, that literally cost lives.

So be very very careful of the assumptions you make based on data. This is a rather inconvenient reality, but a critical one.

Easy to make data related errors

Why do so many make this error?

Time to confess, I have also made this error. But why did I, and so many others before me make such a basic error?

Because not every service/product CTA (call to action) get’s instant results.

Many, particularly higher ticket items can have a very long buying cycle. Thus it can be hard, actually I’ll go further and say it is often impossible to track a purchase back to any one action.

Again the inconvenient reality of marketing is that purchase decisions are usually the result of multiple touch-points / interactions. Google calls this ZMOT[1] (Zero Moment of Truth).

“Half the money I spend on advertising is waste, and the problem is I do not know which half.”

Henry Ford

For higher ticket items in particular, I’m not sure we have come as far as many assume. It can still be very hard to conclude which touch-point was critical to the sale.

Many of our customers consider the retreat for many many months before making the commitment to the investment. In that time, they had often watched multiple online videos, read several emails, attended a webinar, and had an online meeting, or two.

Making it practically impossible to assess which actions were critical the the purchase. Honestly I’m not even sure the clients know. In-fact – I know that they don’t.


  • Don’t get distracted with vanity metrics.
  • Be aware of, and focus on your primary objective.
  • In most cases, the only metric that really matters is cash in the bank.

I work with experts to Amplify their message, Attract prospects, and Accelerate their growth. 

If you found this of value, you’re sure to get even more value by checking my new YouTube chanel which features lot’s more helpful advice and interviews for entrepreneurs, and Subject Matter Experts.

About the author

Simon K Williams

Entrepreneur, Author and Business-Architect. Working at the inter-section of design, technology & marketing.