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These Six Stupid Marketing Metrics Need to Die

by Larry Kim  |  
March 30, 2015

Way too often—several times a week—I'm amazed by what some marketers are still measuring.

Maybe they don't know any better.

Maybe some are just married to legacy metrics that were once logical but now just need to die.

Inspired by Rachel Sprung's recent post on pointless marketing metrics, I've come up with my own list of pet-peeve marketing metrics and reasons they're probably doing your campaigns more harm than good.

1. Facebook Likes

There once was a time when even rational marketers considered buying Facebook fans. The opportunity to get in front of such an audience—they would see your organic content over and over and over again—was just so attractive.

Those days are long over.

Last spring, the alarm was sounded for brands: Organic Facebook reach for Pages was rapidly trending toward zero. And that's exactly what happened: Many brands are now reporting less than 1% engagement with their fan base via organic content.

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Larry Kim is the founder/CTO of WordStream Inc., provider of the AdWords Grader and 20 Minute PPC Work Week.

Google+: Larry Kim

Twitter: @larrykim

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  • by Rebecca Griebe Mon Mar 30, 2015 via web

    I love the topic, Larry. Your article is really clever and has finally put the nail in the coffin on page rank for me. (I didn't want to let that one go!) I'd love to hear what marketing metrics you think matters most.

  • by HC Mon Mar 30, 2015 via web

    Hi Larry! Agree with Rebecca - what should we be looking at instead?

  • by Dave C Mon Mar 30, 2015 via web

    Interesting article. I'd like to hear what marketing metrics you think are most important and what tools you use to measure them.

  • by TK Mon Mar 30, 2015 via web

    Totally agree.

    So, the obvious question then: what metrics should we be using?


  • by Bridget Mason Mon Mar 30, 2015 via web

    This was really interesting and has put to bed some metrics we're still following! Like the others I would be really interested to know which ones you feel are most important - hopefully they're still on my list!

  • by Christina S Mon Mar 30, 2015 via web

    Agree with Bridget, TK and Dave C - Seems you had a lot on your mind about what not to do - the way money gets exchanged (consulting fees, marketing budgets, ad spend, web development, etc) is through demonstration of return on investment ($$$) - What's the right way to measure Larry?

  • by Vahe, MarketingProfs Mon Mar 30, 2015 via web

    Hi, everyone. I emailed Larry to get his take on what metrics marketers should be using. Turns out he's on vacation this week (that's what his autoresponder says). I'm sure we'll hear from him once he's back.

  • by Caroline Mon Mar 30, 2015 via web

    Interested to hear what metrics would should be using as well. Thanks

  • by Lyn Aspey Mon Mar 30, 2015 via web

    Hi Larry, Thanks for this post. Your Zombie analogy gave the laugh I needed. Spot on observations.

  • by Joanne Han Mon Mar 30, 2015 via web

    Interesting topic. Same questions as others, what matrix do you suggest to use then? Looking forward to a next article.

  • by Taadler Publisher Tue Mar 31, 2015 via web

    Larry, thank you for interisting post and expecially for FB fans metrics.

  • by Mike G Tue Mar 31, 2015 via web

    "So stop using impressions as a yardstick for campaign reach. Instead, measure lower-funnel metrics, such as actual clicks and conversions."

    clicks and conversions from banner ads

  • by Courtney Wed Apr 8, 2015 via web

    Love it. Great article.

  • by ViralInNature Thu Apr 9, 2015 via web

    Facebook likes aren't completely dead, they still serve a purpose just not nearly what they once used to. It's more likely someone will want to follow your page if you have 20,000 followers as opposed to 20 followers. Most people are more interested in what the popular kids in school are doing. At our agency we'll purchase likes to get our clients up to around 400 followers then put it on a slow drip after that opting for other Facebook ads based on our clients goals. But boost posts and video views are two favourites we use often.

  • by Sevell Fri Apr 10, 2015 via web

    Can you share what metrics you do recommend we look at in 2015?

  • by Fiona Wed Apr 15, 2015 via web

    Can anyone shed any light on the question of - If keywords are dead, why do Google still provide a keyword planner? Surely they are still a component, but things such as optimisation and relevant content need to be prioritised?

  • by Sevell Wed Apr 15, 2015 via web

    Good question, Fiona!

  • by Dave C Wed Apr 15, 2015 via web

    Any update yet? You posed some interesting questions and insights that everyone in the comments over the past 2 weeks is interested in what you do recommend. Please respond.
    Does anyone else agree with the article and have recommendations based on results you've seen.

  • by Dan Thu Apr 16, 2015 via web

    This is an awesome post, couldn't agree more! Keyyyyyworrrddssss!!!

  • by Felicia Wed Apr 22, 2015 via web

    Thanks for the information. The article helps to assess the individual value of each ROI metric as a component of an overall campaign. I'm also interested in what metrics we should be using in place of the stupid six.

  • by ViralInNature Wed Apr 22, 2015 via web

    @Sevell I see you asked me a question earlier "Can you share what metrics you do recommend we look at in 2015?"
    Great question. That can best be answered by who is asking the question. If it's analytical geeks like us then there are lots of metrics we love to dive into but if it's the business owner then they only need to know a few key stats and not get information overload.
    The main ones to watch for in 2015 is reach, unique reach and engagement + organic vs paid. But it's the engagement metric across all platforms that's gonna take some ninja skills to figure out. Our social media agency, #ViralInNature, is creating a dashboard that will do just that We hope to launch it by November 2015. Send me an email to and I'll add you to our early access group.

  • by Melanie Thu Apr 23, 2015 via web

    A lot of these are useless vanity metrics that don't mean anything to the bottom line.
    Thanks for calling these out, Larry.

  • by ashim Mon May 4, 2015 via web

    How do you propose one measures changes in organic traffic?

  • by @dgoodwn Mon May 4, 2015 via web

    Am I the lone dissenter on keyword ranking?

    Without this information I simply would not know why the number one page on my niche website is #1.

    I wrote a blog post about the cost of aircraft ownership that featured several subsections all approximately equal in length including insurance, maintenance, and various other things pertaining to that subject. Google seems to love that post because it rewarded me with top search rankings for anything to do with small plane insurance, even outranking insurance companies and much larger aviation brands. Mind you, insurance is just one of the sections on that post; it is not an "insurance" post per se.

    How would I ascertain why--specifically--people come to that page without understanding that certain keywords are driving traffic there?

    Note: I'm not an SEO or digital marketer by professions so no skin in that game.

  • by Steve Mon Jun 1, 2015 via web

    Larry's last statement in his article said "And if you're wondering which metrics still do matter, check out "Four Online Marketing Metrics That Actually Matter."

    Read more:

  • by Manish Wed Aug 5, 2015 via web

    @dgoodwn I am with you. Keyword rankings will never go. Well, its important to have them. They are one of the highly scalable metrics.

  • by Ruth Bradshw Tue Sep 8, 2015 via web

    This is a great post and really highlights just how complex SEO is and how little 'Jo Public" really understand about it - many businesses I speak to get really het up about positions and page rank and we have to educate them about creating great content, consistently.

    What would be really helpful is sharing what metrics you recommend, this would be really useful for our clients and we would certainly share your good and authoritative word on this.

  • by Dave C Tue Sep 8, 2015 via web

    you had a great article here, on a topic a lot of people interested in but it's been over 5 months without a response from you regarding the metrics you do recommend. You are using social media to get people engaged with the topic, well people are engaged and responding to your article. If you are not going engage and respond back to the questions posted, why bother writing the article in the first place.

  • by Vahe, MarketingProfs Tue Sep 8, 2015 via web

    Hi, Dave C. Here is Larry's follow-up article:

  • by Dave C Tue Sep 8, 2015 via web

    Thank you!!

  • by Ruth Bradshaw Tue Sep 8, 2015 via web

    4 online metrics that are worth their salt is a great post, thank-you for sharing!

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