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2020 Marketing Trends: Are Engagement Metrics Dead?

Many of us have experienced the following situation: you put money, time, and thought into a new social strategy or updated website. You anxiously twiddle our thumbs and get ready to watch our Google Analytics and Facebook insights to watch all the numbers and arrows light up like green Christmas lights. But instead, the unspeakable happens. You start to see engagement metrics drop. The less reach, fewer impressions, fewer likes and less time spent on page makes the whole project feel like a failure.  

But was it? In 2020, these vanity and engagement metrics may not be the 
best measurement of success or failure. 

With the changes of how your social, websites and other channels are being used, metrics like time on page or likes may become obsolete sooner than you think, which means it’s time to update our status reports, strategies, and mindset.  

Social vanity  and engagement metrics already have one foot out the door 

Companies with a strong pull in social media trends are recognizing and acting on the epidemic of an unhealthy obsession with social media validation. Many people and companies alike are speaking out against basing self-worth on social media popularity, and because this obsession shows no signs of slowing down, platforms are taking it upon themselves to act. 

In mid2019 Facebook announced its rolling out of FB and IG betas in which the number of likes or views per post is hidden. This beta is currently live in a handful of countries across the globe, and there is a chance that this will become the new normal.  

The reaction to this potential platform update is split – opponents think this could seriously damage the pull influencer marketing and lessen the incentive for anyone to engage with the platform in general. Proponents believe this will lead to increased quality of followers – people will engage with the content they relate to instead of just the content they see others relating to. It also gives smaller/new companies a leg up; there is no stress about having a very small number of engagements plastered under every post. 

All this to say, if you’ve been buying likes or catering your content specifically to get a larger number displayed under your photo, it is time to throw that tactic out the window. The ‘likes-first-quality-later’ strategy will fall extinct, and it will be imperative to adopt a clear understanding of your audience to gain a reaction. This means while likes may drop in quantity, they will rise in quality. Likes will still be a great indicator of if your content is hitting home with your audience, but it will just be internal information.  

Broad reach is out. Hyper-personalization is in. 

If you are following the current best practices in Social ad strategy, a dip in reach and engagement will probably occur. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. All the industry experts are saying the same thing: broad reach is out, and hyper-personalization is in.  

The main complaint we hear from markets across industries is that ads are abrasive, spammy, repetitive, and clueless about what the customer wants. I have heard people go so far as to say they won’t support brands that annoy them online. Hyper-personalization is the marketer’s answer to this criticism.  

This means it is imperative to understand the difference between the 2 strategies. Broad reach ads are causing the negative impression of repetitive, value-less ads in the public. Hyper-personalized ads are the ads that are gaining new audience interest, insights, and engagement.  

To create a hyper-personal ad strategy, you need to understand your audience personas. Not just demographics, but interests, values, and pain points. This gives you the direction to go with your content.  

It also means understanding that your ad strategy won’t just change with each Call to Action or per audience segment. The content strategy may be different per time of day, day of week, device, channel, among other variables. Understanding your audience is the first step in wading through all the potential personalization options and finding the right one for you. 

Once you take on a hyper-personalization strategy, it makes sense to see a drop in reach or engagement, because you are spending your time and money on a highly-targeted pool of potential customers with a hyper-personal message and strategy.  

Website Engagement Metrics aren’t safe either 

In the age of the micro-moment, do we want to see increased “time on page metrics?” 

This falls into traffic as well – if your website ranks well, is healthy, and offers the best info, Google may present your information without anyone even needing to click on your link. Can this affect your amount of website traffic? Sure. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The people that want to learn more will click into your site. The individuals that are happy with the information they received off google may not click, but your brand now holds domain expertise in that individual’s eyes – in a matter of seconds.  

Which results should we be paying attention to in 2020? 

It’s not about ignoring likes, reach or impressions, it’s about understanding that they are not the goal. With the most current thought processes and potential platform updates, there will be a drop in engagement whether you switch up your social strategy or not.  The goal is to reach as many people as possible, it’s to delight your customers. If you work to do that, the vanity metrics will follow. 

Click-Through Rate 

It’s less about how big of a pool of people you’re reaching, and more so how engaged your pool is – regardless of size. For ads, ClickThrough Rate (CTR) is a great indicator of how productive your ads are. 

Conversion Rate and Goal Conversion Rate  

For websites, conversion rates or goal conversion rates will measure the value of traffic coming to your site. Again, this metric measures quality over quantity. 

Audience reactions and communication 

This can be the sentiment behind positive reviews, product shout outs, and mentions on social media. If you take the hyper-personalization strategy seriously, it can open a new line of communication between you and your audience.  

Want to learn more about a how to measure the success of your marketing metrics? Reach out to our team!

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