4 commonly misunderstood digital marketing metrics

4 commonly misunderstood digital marketing metrics 2

When all the marketing plans have been implemented, assets created, and campaigns run the questions every top marketer likes to ask are: What was the outcome of your efforts? Did you achieve what you set out to? How successful was the campaign really?

Though industry benchmarking can give us a great sense of where things should be with our campaigns, deciphering what the metrics actually mean for the success of your digital marketing campaigns can come with a variety of myths and misconceptions.

BookMachine’s Digital Marketing team Gemma Rostill, Olivia Tanner, Louise Dickens, Emily Cameron and Niamh Wallace, have taken to the blog to break down the top misconceptions we come across when working with digital marketing metrics. 

They illuminate what you really need to know and provide some tips for moving forward and bringing greater awareness to the success of your digital marketing campaigns. This is just part one in the series, so be sure to come back for more!

Misconception 1: All clicks are measured equally in my Meta ads

Have you ever noticed discrepancies between your Meta Ads data and your Google Analytics data? That’s because not all metrics are defined, or reported, the same way. 

In fact, there are 350 different metrics and ad terms within Meta’s Ads manager. But not all of them will be metrics that matter to you and your business objectives. 

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood metrics by those new to Meta advertising is clicks. Meta will automatically include Clicks (all) by default in reports, which combines multiple types of clicks on your ad, including:

  • Link clicks
  • Clicks to the associated business page profile or profile picture
  • Post reactions 
  • Comments or shares
  • Clicks to expand media
  • Clicks to take actions identified as your campaign objective (such as liking you Page)

But there are many different metrics and definitions provided by Meta for measuring campaign clicks. You can access these by clicking ‘Customise Columns’ within your Ads Manager report:

Get direction clicksThe number of times you address or the Get Directions button was clicked on your Meta listing, attributed to your ads.
In-app ad clicksThis metric counts in-app ad click events that are attributed to your Meta ads based on information received from your Facebook SDK.
Instant Experience clicks to openThe number of clicks on your ad that open an Instant Experience.
Instant Experience clicks to startThe number of times that an interactive component in an Instant Experience starts.
Instant Experience outbound clicksThe number of clicks on links in an Instant Experience that take people off Meta technologies.
Link clicksThe number of clicks on links within the ad that led to advertiser-specific destinations, on or off Meta technologies. Destinations can include:WebsitesApp store links or app deep linksClicks to call or messageMap/direction linksShopsLead formsMarketplaceLink clicks to Instagram profiles for ads promoting Instagram profile viewsPlayable experiencesVideos that launch the “Watch and browse” experienceVideos hosted by another website 
Outbound clicksThe number of clicks on links that take people off Meta technologies. It includes links to:WebsitesYour app in an app storeApp deep links
Phone number clicksThis metric is counted each time someone taps your phone number or the call button on the details page of your Meta listing when using their mobile phone. This metric excludes clicks on the phone number shown on desktop listings because it does not lead to a direct phone call. The metric also excludes clicks on phone numbers in the listing’s description.
Unique clicks (all)The number of Accounts Centre accounts that performed a Click (all). This metric uses sampled data. 
Unique link clicksThe number of Accounts Centre accounts that performed a link click. This metric is estimated and uses sampled data. 

What are Accounts Centre accounts?

If a person manages a business Page, it is possible for them to engage with post content both as their business Page, and as their personal profile. These actions may be counted separately even though they were made by the same person. 

Unique metrics measured by Accounts Centre accounts attempt to measure the number of people who took an action, rather than the total number of actions taken. 

What is sampled data?

Rather than analysing an entire set of data, sampling looks at a portion of the data.  Here’s what Meta has to say about how they use sampled data:

Sampling may be used to calculate Accounts Centre accounts-based metrics and estimates in Ads Manager and the Ads Insights API. Using sampling on these metrics and estimates allows our system to surface them as quickly as possible. Other metrics, such as impressions or clicks, don’t use sampling and are based on all of the data available, and not just a sample.

This means that any metrics using sampled data must be taken with a pinch of salt, even though Meta claims that it uses a good representation of the data to provide similar results. 

Misconception 2: My email open rates are 100% accurate

Out of all the metrics listed in this post, email open rates might seem the easiest metric to get your head around. Out of everyone who was sent your email, what percentage of them opened it? Seems straightforward enough, right?

Let’s take a quick look at how open rates are tracked. Email opens are measured using a 1×1 pixel, a tiny image that is invisible to email recipients. When this image is downloaded, an “open” is recorded.

However, several factors can skew the accuracy of your email open rate.

If an email is opened but the pixel isn’t downloaded, an “open” won’t be recorded. They might have disabled images or their email provider could have blocked them, either way, it won’t have counted towards your open rate.

On the reverse, certain mail clients and anti-spam filters will crawl links and preview URLs which triggers the pixel, inaccurately counting an “open.”

So does this make open rates a useless metric? 

No, but it’s important to use it as a benchmark and put it into context. Rather than taking it as an absolute figure, I would recommend taking a long view, using it to spot trends in your email campaigns.

Another way to use open rates is to track open reach, the percentage of your subscribers who have opened at least one of your emails during a period of time. This is a useful way of using open rates to show how engaged your audience is in your content.

And finally, remember to use open rates in conjunction with your armoury of digital marketing stats to get the full picture. Whilst high open rates are encouraging, what we really want (most of the time) is to drive conversions.

So when you work on your next email, still consider how to increase your open rate but remember to maintain your focus on timely, personal and impactful content that your subscribers will want to engage with!

Misconception 3: Impressions and engagements are the same thing

Impressions and engagements are two of the most important metrics used in measuring organic social media performance. 

But what is the difference between them, and which should you use to measure your organic campaign success? The answer may surprise you.


The total number of times a particular piece of content is viewed on a social media platform. This can be from appearing on the feed of your followers or from appearing in organic search results of non-followers. It is different from Reach, which measures the number of accounts that have viewed a piece of content, whereas impressions more specifically measure the number of times users are exposed to the content.

Engagement Rate

The percentage of people who engage with your content in some way. This can include liking, commenting, sharing, or clicking on your content. Engagement rate is important because it provides an indication of how well your content is resonating with your audience. A high engagement rate indicates that your audience is actively engaging with your content, which can lead to increased brand awareness, loyalty, and ultimately, sales.

Engagement Rate Formula = Number of Engagements divided by Impressions

Engagement Rate Formula = Number of Engagements divided by Impressions

You might think that it’s more effective to measure the number of impressions a post receives, as has been the case traditionally, but changing social media algorithms are increasingly prioritising engagement as a vehicle for propelling successful content to a wider audience. 

Having a steady and stable engagement rate is important for maintaining a level of visibility of your content, and a more reliable indicator of future content success. For example, the LinkedIn and Twitter algorithms prioritise engagement when choosing which posts to show to more users, so having a higher engagement rate can also influence impressions. Strategic campaigns will consider how one can influence the success of the other.

Experts suggest that an engagement rate between 2% and 5% is optimal in maintaining steady visibility on organic social media campaigns, anything above this is considered very good! 

In short, you might think that creating content that is broad and universally appealing is more effective in receiving higher impressions, but it is better to create useful and relevant content with a niche focus aimed at your specific target audience as this will – perhaps ironically – reach a wider audience. 

Misconception 4: The higher the video views, the more successful my campaign

Your latest video has received a high number of views compared to your previous campaigns. Great! Right? 

Not quite. Having a large number of views simply tells you that the video was viewed many times. It doesn’t tell you how many individuals watched it – it’s unlikely, but it could’ve been a handful of people watching it multiple times – and it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the campaign has achieved its goals.

When it comes to the outcomes you are looking to achieve from a campaign, video views are just the tip of the iceberg. Engagements are often a more accurate success marker, such as likes, shares, comments and clicks, showing that the video resonated with the viewer enough to take an action in line with your call to action. 

Additionally, quantity rarely matters as much as quality. If a video receives a large number of views from people who are not part of the target audience, those views have very little consequence compared to those gained from a specific, niche audience. 

Ultimately, a campaign’s success should be measured via overall goals, tied to specific metrics that indicate success, such as engagement, conversion rates, and return on investment (ROI) from a specific audience.

With your goals established, the campaign should be regularly monitored and tracked at given intervals to ensure the video is performing as required. Not only will this help to ensure your campaign is on track to meet its goals, it will also highlight any adjustments that can be made in real-time, as the campaign is running.

Following the end of the campaign, using the data gained throughout, future campaign strategy can be refined and retested, forming an iterative process that will ultimately enable you to reach your target audience more effectively and improve ROI.

We hope you feel more equipped to dive into some of these stats and map your routes forward for future campaign success. 

What is the one metric you couldn’t live without when it comes to measuring your digital marketing campaigns? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll ask the team to write another post demystifying the metrics that matter!

Looking for more support? Contact us! We’re a team of digital marketing experts with decades of experience between us. We’d love to learn more about your campaigns and how we can help you to make successful metrics a reality.

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