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Idea: Metrics should measure what customers are doing, not merely viewing

Here is a story about the history of Web metrics.

In the early days of the Web browser, publishers and marketers had to agree on how to determine the value of website advertising. Those ad buyers and sellers understood traditional print and broadcast media metrics: eyeballs and demographics. They applied a similar passive metric—pageviews—to the new medium.

What they didn’t consider is that, unlike traditional media, the Internet isn’t just a passive medium where one views or reads content. It’s a medium that allows one to act and to interact—to purchase or join or convert or support or endorse instantaneously.

What happened next could have been predicted: the rise of a “pageview industrial complex” that manufactured pageview “inventory.” Pageview churning practices were born, such as the “Web slideshow”—a user-unfriendly format that makes users reload a page over and over to find out the top 50 cities for left-handed redheads.

But the tide is turning: Fast-growing sites like Buzzfeed.com feature “no-click” slide shows. The news site Quartz (QZ.com) has even done away with clicks between stories, using what is called “infinite scrolling.”

Here is a story about the future of Web metrics.

We’re about to enter an era where the only metrics that really matter are directly related to (1) generating revenue and (2) lowering overhead. “Jerry Maguire metrics” that, in the words of Cuba Gooding Jr. in the film, “show you the money.”

These metrics will help guide you in making decisions regarding the types of content and tools customers need to successfully use your product or service. These metrics will enable you to grow closer to customers, improving your service and their loyalty, while lowering the costs of customer “retention.”

While pageviews aren’t yet dead, it’s time to focus on metrics that matter—those with a direct line to your bottom line.

In the Next Idea Email: Content That Increases Revenue

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