Forget Big Data. The Number One Metric you NEED to Make More Sales

Which analytics will give me the best tools to grow my business?



In the age of big data, this question comes up often. The number of trackable metrics grows increasingly complicated each day.

With so many options available (and so many hours in the day), what should a business focus on to get the most insight into their progress without spending hours looking at spreadsheets and charts?

Have you taken my Ideas Quiz? If not, I encourage you to do so. For those who have, you’ll recall a question I ask, “Would you rather have 100,000 social media followers, 10,000 website hits/month, or 500 diehard fans on your email list?” 

Lots of social media followers might seem great, but the most important thing you MUST  focus on with any marketing campaign is email opt-ins. Here’s why:


Ownership is King

With social media, you don’t own your followers – Mark Zuckerberg does. And if Mark decides to suspend your Facebook account tomorrow you’re screwed; all that hard work building followers and likes down the drain.

With emails, however, you own that list and no one can take it away from you. As the old saying goes, possession is nine-tenths of the law


Email vs. Social – let’s do the math


Having 100,000 social media followers might seem great, but believe it or not, having only 10,000 email subscribers is far more valuable and will result in more sales.

Let’s do the math...

Using Facebook as an example, only approximately 6% of your followers will see your published posts. Recent changes in Facebook's algorithm significantly limit the reach of organic posts.

Notice how Facebook is always prompting you to “boost your post" for only a few dollars? Facebook is a public company and must to grow ad revenue to appease shareholders; organic reach simply doesn't cut it. With Twitter, viewership is even less, around 2%!

Open rates for email, however, are closer to 20%. And if you’ve picked up your free copy of Anatomy of a Great Sales Email you’ve learned how I generate open rates in excess of 60%. 

Assuming we have 5,000 Twitter followers, 2,000 Facebook fans, and only 1,000 email subscribers, what’s more valuable? 

  • 100 people will see your Tweet
  • 120 people will see your Facebook post
  • 200 people will see your email (based on a 20% open rate)

Clearly, email is the way to go. Even with a mere 20% open rate, email outperforms social. 


Show me the money

If we compare social followers and email subscribers, who are most likely to convert into paying customers? 


Studies have shown that email marketing produces 40x more paying customers than Facebook and Twitter COMBINED.

Remember, these people are explicitly interested in your brand and want you to email them directly with updates. This is absolutely huge because they are the ones most likely to make a purchase. 


Make your marketing efforts count: a recent example


Recently, while traveling, I picked up a map highlighting the city's various museums.

The paper was great quality, the graphics were flashy, and it folded nicely into my pocket. The only issue was they forgot the most important element to any marketing campaign, which essentially rendered the map worthless...

They did a great job showing me where each museum was, but there was no call to action or attempt to capture my data in order to gauge ROI (return on investment).

This is especially important when it comes to any print, TV or radio advertising.

You have to be incredibly tactical in the way you create your ad. Unlike digital, traditional forms of advertising are much more difficult to track, not to mention way more expensive! 

Having previously worked in the publishing industry I know this firsthand.


For example, I saw so many magazine advertisers submit ads without any attempt to track their effectiveness.

My personal recommendation: don't buy anything you can't track; the "spray and pray" approach is never an effective strategy.

If you still decide to go with a more traditional advertising medium, how can you make sure you get the best bang for your buck?

Back to our museum map example, I later learned that each museum paid $500 towards the creation of the map, as well as the local tourism commission who helped subsidize production and distribution costs.

With a dozen museums listed, it's safe to estimate the total cost to produce and distribute the map was around $10,000. 

What should they have included on the map to successfully track ROI?

As we learned above, you need to capture (at a minimum) user email addresses. This can be as simple as including a call to action on the map directing people to a website where they can sign up for a coupon or discount at each of the featured locations.


As a result, this would create a database for the local tourism commission, recording how many people picked up the map as well as giving them the opportunity to cross-promote additional products and services.

For the museums, by having users scan their coupon code upon arrival allows the ability to track exactly how many paying customers converted as a direct result of the map, thus determining ROI from their $500 investment.

Now, not everyone who picks up the map is going to sign-up with their email, however, by subtracting the number of copies left over at the end of the campaign with the total number of copies originally printed, we can determine how many total copies were picked up (i.e. pickup rate).

Compare the pickup rate with the total number of email sign-ups and we can establish a conversion rate.

By knowing the pickup and conversion rates, both the museums and tourism commission can determine their overall ROI and gauge whether or not it was an effective promotion.


Key Takeaway: forget big data, the most important aspect of any marketing campaign is to create a funnel in which you can drive email sign-ups and build a database of prospective customers. To do this you must include some type of call to action.

People who sign up for your email list are the ones most likely to convert into paying customers down the road. They have shown a clear and direct interest in your brand and want to learn more – you can't ask for a better database than that!

Social media folders are cool, but ownership is king, and they can disappear with the click of Mark Zuckerberg's finger.

The best way to maximize social media is to use it as a tool to drive email opt-ins. Direct people to your website and ask them to enter their email to receive the latest news and updates. This will prove especially valuable in the event your social accounts are ever shut down, giving you a backup email list of your most valuable followers.