TDW #036: The Business Game vs. The Vanity Game: Metrics that Matter More Than Engagement
Let's get one thing straight: engagement is a vanity metric. Sure, you might get a dopamine spike from a high number of:
...but those metrics don't necessarily translate into dollars-and-cents success.
Harsh truth: Likes and replies ≠ sales (if they did, all those accounts with crazy engagement would be the richest).
Spoiler alert: they aren't.
And not to burst your bubble, but likes, comments, shares, and even followers can all be bought. As in purchased. Engagement is commodity that can be outsourced to the lowest bidder. Thanks, but no thanks.
At some point, you need to decide if you're using social media to grow your engagement (aka "vanity metrics") or grow your business (aka "dollars-and-cents"). Neither is wrong. They’re just to completely different strategies (with totally different outcomes).
If you want engagement, I can't help you.
But if you want to grow your business, keep reading...
The Business Game vs. The Vanity Game
The Business Game has less visible metrics than the Vanity Game—and that's why fewer people play it.
One might be tempted to think, “But Justin, won’t more people see my content if more people engage with it? This is why engagement is so important! It gets more eyeballs on your offer!” This is true, but only if you haven’t paid for the engagement.
I know because I’ve done it myself. And so has nearly every big account you’ve ever heard of. We’ve all paid for engagement at one point. Sure, it feels good to have all those notifications piling up. Even tricks the ego into thinking “I’ve arrived!”.
But underneath the surface it’s a complete disaster:
- People from random countries liking 50 of your posts at a time
- The threat of a shadow ban looming just underneath the surface
- Unqualified people en masse getting into your digital ecosystem (with no real way to root them out)
- And most of all, the gnawing sense of dishonesty that followed me around
Just. Not. Worth. It.
(By the way, you’d be shocked at how many book launches by HUGE authors have a budget line-item for “engagement”. And virtually every ghostwriter I know pays to boost the engagement of their client.)
If you pay for engagement, you’re getting a mixed bag of folks who may or may not be in your target market. If you’re playing the Vanity Metrics game, that’s probably not a concern. The more the better.
But if you’re playing the Business Game, it might be time to rethink your strategy. Here’s how to win with metrics that matter more than engagement.
Scorecard #1: Eyeballs On Newsletter Lander
A social media audience is important to me for one reason: eyeballs.
The more people in my audience, the more eyeballs. The more eyeballs, the more opportunities I have to add people to my newsletter. Nearly every call-to-action I place on social is directed towards my newsletter.
Why? Simple. Social media isn’t a great conversion channel. This has always been true.
I think of creating content like making deposits into a "social capital" bank account. The more content you create, the bigger your account gets. Every ask (pitch, offer, etc.) is a withdrawal. Too many people try to withdraw from deposit-less account.
When your ask is something with a high perceived value like a free newsletter, the “withdrawal” isn’t as big and, depending on how you ask, may even been a net positive.
Current target: 3,000 impressions per month.
Scorecard #2: Emails From Social
Right now my main newsletter opt-in page is sitting around 20% conversion (give or take depending on the month). And since I’m not doing any paid ads right now, this is all organic traffic.
That means for every 100 set of eyeballs I get to the lander, 20 sets (or 40 total balls) join my newsletter. All for free. So as long as my opt-in rate is higher than my unsubscribe rate, I could literally do this forever and never have to pay for a subscriber ever again.
If you’re not converting your social media audience into email subscribers, you’re missing out on a MASSIVE amount of opportunity.
Current target: 300 new emails per month.
Scorecard #3: Booked Calls From Email
After someone joins my list I walk them through a simple nurture sequence that sets up my coaching program, Clients & Content. The main call-to-action in that series is to book a call with my team to see if the opportunity is right.
I’d say 80-90% of our booked calls come from our email list (with the rest coming through outreach in the DMs). I simply wouldn’t be able to run the business without email.
We currently have a two-step call process that results in a 50-60% close rate most months. Filters out the bad fits so folks can self-select out well before it’s time to talk investment (both time and financial). Also comes with the side benefit of not having to book tons of calls to hit my monthly goals.
Side note: my model is based off a high-ticket coaching program—but you might sell something different. Don’t let that trip you up. In “the biz” we’d call this metric a “sales-qualified lead”—a.k.a. someone who can actually buy what we have to sell. Just find your version of that and plug it in here.
Current target: 10 booked Discovery Calls per month.
Scorecard #4: Revenue Per Email
You can’t eat likes. The bank won’t deposit your follower counts. Gimme “dollars-and-cents” over “likes-and-comments” any day of the week.
This is where the rubber meets the road. You’re not really running a business unless you’re making money, right? The revenue per email metric is a simple but powerful way to measure the health of your business. All you do is divide your total revenue for the month by the number of emails you sent (not opened, sent).
Here’s an example:
- $25,000 revenue for the month
- 4 emails sent to the list in that same month
25,000 / 4 = $6,250 revenue per email
Now, let’s say you want to double your revenue. Here are your options:
- Double the number of emails you send (not sustainable or effective)
- Double the conversion rate of your emails (doable, but requires testing and optimization)
- Double the revenue per email (focuses on creating high-value products/services and building strong relationships with your list)
You’ll notice that the last option doesn’t require you to do more work or spend more money on ads. It’s all about creating value and serving your audience.
Current target: $5,000 revenue per email.
There you have it—the metrics that matter more than engagement. Are they as flashy as likes and shares? No. But they’re more effective at building a sustainable business that generates real revenue.
If you’re tired of playing the Vanity Game and want to start winning at the Business Game, focus on these four scorecards:
- Eyeballs On Newsletter Lander
- Emails From Social
- Booked Calls From Email
- Revenue Per Email
Remember: social media is a tool for building relationships and creating value, not a popularity contest. Keep that in mind and you’ll be on your way to building a successful business that lasts.
When you're ready, there are two main ways I can help you:
Spirit-Led Business Plan: Learn how to create a kick-ass faith-driven business (without sacrificing your soul or sounding like a weirdo).
Clients & Content: Discover how Charlie accomplished his 6-month goals in just 2 weeks after joining.
Join the 7000+ creators & entrepreneurs growing their brands + income.
Contrast, Don't Comply. I'll Teach You the Wisdom of Doing Different & the Folly of Following the Status Quo.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.