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How to Measure Vanity Metrics vs. Value Metrics in Video



As video for business has evolved from a novelty to a necessity, the importance of measuring a return on your investment has multiplied. Likewise, as video has evolved from a digital deliverable to a practice – a process of planning, implementing, analyzing, and iterating to perfection – being able to define and identify what success really looks like has increased in importance.

To practice effective video for business, we must stop thinking about video success in video terms; we need to think about success in business terms. So, instead of defining success by view count, play rates, or engagement, we should be defining success by things like leads generated, deals closed, and customer churn rate. So, how do we begin to measure video using value metrics?

Move Beyond Vanity Metrics

Because they’re the metrics that so many platforms readily provide for us, we’ve mistakenly grown to think that engagement and viewing metrics are valid markers of success for our videos. While it is important to understand engagement and viewing metrics, vanity metrics only tell you so much. They’re pretty much just distribution and promotion metrics; and that’s not necessarily success.

Let’s dig into a couple of the more common vanity metrics and see why that is…

View Count – the number of plays – can be almost solely influenced by any promotional campaigns you’re running for your video. A high view count doesn’t necessarily mean any of those people who’ve watched your video are who you wanted watching your video. 10,000 or 10,000,000 views doesn’t give you a sense of true success if you can’t tell who they are.

Play Rate – the percentage of page visitors who clicked play – is really more about page placement of your video (above the fold, how big the thumbnail is relative to the page, or even as simple as if there’s a play button). Or maybe how well optimized your titles, descriptions, or tags are. We can certainly learn how to better optimize our content from play rate, but success? No way to tell.

Engagement – what percentage of your video people watch (or potentially which parts people re-watch) – can be purely a function of how long your video is. In some cases, regardless of the actual content.

One of my favorite examples of engagement comes from Wistia. A client of theirs was A/B testing two videos: a 30-second video and a 90-second video. The first 30 seconds of the longer video was exactly the same content as the entire 30-second video. Since the first 30 seconds are identical you would expect engagement with that part of the video would be about the same, right?

Wrong. By the end of the 30-second video, there were about double the number of viewers than at the same point in the 90-second video. Same content, just a shorter commitment. It’s kind of like reading in bed at night. If you’re getting sleepy, you check to see how many pages until the end of the chapter. Two or three pages to go, finish the chapter. 10 or 12 pages left, time to slide that bookmark in and nod off to sleep.

Long story short, vanity metrics can tell you a lot about your content itself, but it doesn’t tell you much about how effective it is.

Start to Redefine Success

As I stated above, to practice effective video for business, you must think about success in business terms. Allow me to walk you through a little exercise to start thinking about your video’s success in business terms – what we like to call Value Metrics.

Let’s put a little twist on the Dan Sullivan question:

“If we’re having a conversation six months after you’ve launched this video (campaign, YouTube channel, whatever) and you’re really happy with how things have gone, what did it take to get to that level of happy?”

If you’re already a believer in the Dan Sullivan question, you might be thinking that I’m violating some of its key tenets when I modify it this way. But I would say that this isn’t a sales conversation, so we’ve got a little more flexibility. So shut up.

Getting back to the exercise, what can you point to to say, “Yes, this was a huge success!” or, “Yes, this did exactly what we needed it to?”

Your answers will range from we generated X new leads to we generated $Y in new revenue. Not just we got x number of views or people watched Y% of our video. Right?

Things that have a tangible impact on your business, not metrics that leave you asking, “So…what does that mean?” That’s exactly why we’re trying to get away from view counts and play rates, so that we have less to interpret, and more to simply assess. Did we hit this? Did we hit that?

So your answer to yourself may be, “We generated 128 leads, which converted to 36 opportunities, of which we closed 8 deals, resulting in $160,000 in revenue.”

Congratulations! You just started seeing video success in business terms. You’re welcome.

Get Specific with Your Goals

In posing that question to yourself, you’re doing a few things to help measure your success. First, you’re putting time bounds on your goals: “6 months.” So six months after the launch of your video, you’ll start to look at where you stand. This also gives you the opportunity to ask yourself the question a few times. What’s making you really happy at three months, six months, and 12 months after launch?

Additionally, you’re getting specific and measurable with your goals: “128 leads” or “8 deals” or “$160k in new revenue.” If you’ve read The Video Reformation: A Manifesto you know that two of the seven tenets of practicing effective video for business are being specific and measurable.

So now we know that we want this video (campaign, whatever) to achieve X, Y, and Z in 3, 6, 12 months. That allows us to check in 3,6, or 12 months and clearly understand whether your video did, in fact, achieve X, Y, or Z.

The good news is there are video hosting platforms that can help you measure those numbers by seamlessly integrating with your MAP or CRM (we really like Vidyard). So with the right tools, “128 leads” “8 deals” or “$160k in new revenue” are definitely measurable metrics.

It’s that simple.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

But here’s the beauty about the way things work when you’re truly practicing video: even if you didn’t reach your goals, it doesn’t mean your video was a failure and that you should give up on it. Now you have a better understanding of what’s attainable. Or what you need to tweak. And you get to try, try again until you’re successful.

As a bonus, you’ve started to define and measure those kinds of metrics that give a true sense of the return you’re getting on our content. And that’s when your video can be seen as an investment and not just an expense.