Why I Stopped Caring About Page Views

When we started as Cave Magazine, I thought page views were everything.

I would fixate on the number every month, set goals around this metric, and ultimately put page views on a pedestal.

Naive me thought that was all that mattered. We would create content with multiple pages to create more page views, not realizing we were just pissing off the reader by forcing so many clicks.

I thought page views = dollars.

In reality, creating fans (aka brand ambassadors), is what creates dollars. People who feel a genuine connection with a brand are the ones who buy stuff from them. It’s the sole reason you see people wearing shirts from The Chive.

This obsession came from a few things, (i) inexperience with internet marketing, and (ii) it’s easy to look at the biggest number.

There are roughly 172k blogs added to the internet daily, so attracting people to view your content is hard. Getting them to come back is damn near impossible.

What I didn’t realize, is that of the 794k people who had visited the site producing the 1.2 million page views, 91.5% of them never came back. That’s roughly 727k people who came, most likely read one post and then carried on with their lives.

Plain and simple, page views are a vanity metric.

They may make us feel all warm and fuzzy, but they rarely guide any business decisions.

What Numbers Are Important to Us?

  1. Return Visitors
  2. Time on Page
  3. Social Shares
  4. Citations (backlinks created)

73k return visitors to Cave Magazine, spending an average of 2:17 per-visit — that’s our real audience.

Those 73k are the people we should be making content for, marketing towards, and trying to sell stuff to.

Kevin Kelly wrote a widely popular blog post titled, 1000 True Fans. In this post he argues that a creative professional needs 1000 true fans who are willing to pay you to make a living — If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do so now.

1000 people, presumably paying you $10 per year, that’s a $120,000 yearly income.

Not too shabby.

Despite the traffic, we didn’t know how to monetize Cave Magazine fast enough, so we pivoted.

Now we’re putting 100% of our effort into growing Cave Social, our digital/social agency which helps businesses create content to connect with their target customers.

We also knew that the best way to get exposure on our new business was to do what we did best, and that’s market content. So we took the same approach.

These numbers were pulled from the last six months.

As you can see, the same thing rings true. One out of ten people who come to our site come back. And we know, based on our subject matter, the people who come back are most likely business owners, marketing directors or aspiring entrepreneurs.

This is our market. This is who we’re trying to build a connection with.

Crafting Content for Engagement / Dollars

The above photo shows a search result for, “best places to live in Alberta.” This is a search term we believe someone who’s thinking about moving would type into a search engine. Great Canadian Van Lines put together this blog post to provide value to prospective customers long before they’ve decided on an Alberta neighborhood to move to.

The emphasis was on creating the type of content which endears people to Great Canadian, then when it comes time to move, they’ll consider them as a business to work with.

Full disclosure: Great Canadian Van Lines is a client of Cave Social

The Most Important Metric of All

Sales.

It’s no secret every business will live and die by their cash flow. So having a ton of page views, or return visitors doesn’t add up to anything if people aren’t buying your product.

If you do have a ton of return visitors, either your product is crap or you’re not selling well enough.

I’m a big believer in giving a ton of value upfront and then going for the sale afterward.

It’s the natural progression.

First time visitor → Return visitor → Lead → Sale.

Well, more in depth it looks like:

Engagement is what will lead to sales.

This is easier said than done, but it can be done.

Why We Wrote This

This was written to help business owners, CMOs, marketing directors and aspiring entrepreneurs understand which metrics they should be focused on. It’s very easy to get caught up in vanity metrics, especially when first starting any digital marketing. Focus on building content for your target customer, making it valuable to them and creating a connection with them.

We missed this in our early days running Cave Magazine and we want to give insight into the content marketing process for anyone looking to start their own plan.

As always, I appreciate the comments and any feedback.

-Jordan