Beyond the Flat World of Clicks – The First Measure is Referrals and Rewards

I’m afraid to share this article, because in marketing, all we do is talk about clicks, and honestly, it’s all we many marketers really believe in. I saw it at a recent AdTech, where speakers talk about the shifts of social media and mobile, then say they are not proven, with the measuring stick being the click and immediate conversion.

Those days aren’t dead, there are just new layers coming into play, driven by social and mobile forces that are changing the way we interact with devices connecting us to the Internet – click , after all, is based on having a mouse, so when someone is on an iPad, will the new words be “Slide here”?

The new world of media is in your hands, if you look closely.Before you dismiss me as some insane ranter howling for a world of social engagements, let me introduce you to what I see as the first step of lead generation that is developing, outside of clicks and focused more on referrals and rewards, with some specific advice on how to manage this new world. (Step 2, Rewards, is coming in the next post)…

Step 1. Brevenue – Branding Metrics Leading to Conversion

After reading a great article called The Future of Advertising will be Integrated, it got me thinking about this from the perspective of integrating the first step in social and mobile lead generation, based on what brands consider important:


  • Generating Awareness

  • Creating Familiarity

  • Promoting Consideration

Notice how none of these are measured by the click, because a click is an action that leads to conversion.  Anyone who has tried to integrate this direct marketing approach into social media has found it doesn’t work – just look at the sad clickthroughs at Facebook – and determined that social media is not a great advertising platform.

The key here is to be remembered, and in a social context, if the promotion – usually a discussion of a relevant topic to the brand/product, a survey, and/or a viral promotion that does not sell, but instead invites exploration of key topics and emotional meanings to the product through personal interaction – works, people invite friends.

They connect the promotion to others they know, to show them something fact, the first wave of visitors from social media are often the curators, the editors, the people with too much time, and not the buyers.

The invite brings the buyers, who are much more likely to react to a subtle call to action, more than the first ones. So if you crowd the promotion with calls to action from direct marketing, it reads like marketing speak and turns people off…because they are there to connect, to recommend, and to find value. Just reading the statistics of how few people actually do this – some will rate/review, some will write, but like most people, most will just lurk and watch – you get the sense that the referral is what the first step of lead generation is about.

Is this a click?  Not really, because it doesn’t convert, it spreads the word, the heart of viral marketing. Look back at those brand phrases as you design your social promotions – maybe even your Facebook ads – because advertising in the traditional sense does not work.  Here’s a few ideas of what might work.

Action Step: Get them to React and Act,

Measuring the Referral and Not the Click

  1. Start with your headline, creating an initial statement and a short, focused question that evokes emotion. Just like direct marketing, it’s all about the headline, but this headline doesn’t have a call to action, it has a call to feel and to react, giving feedeback. Engage the person reading (and hopefully viewing this by using video and visuals wherever possible, since visuals count more than text in social media) to feel, and to share that feeling with others.
  2. Instead of “What do you think?”, try “What do you feel”, and make it clear where you stand, and be sure you can handle being wrong, because that first wave of people are determining whether you have the right to be exposed to their followers, to their friends, and to their audience. They don’t have to agree with you, in fact if you do this right, many will not and will state their opinions. These opinions create social proof, ie branding metrics (see above), and if/when people who are invited come, they will look to see if there is any activity, if anyone cares…
  3. Define the intent you want to create, not in terms of a purchase (that comes with rewards), in terms of getting a reaction, being remembered, and as brands say, promoting consideration. Consider this the referral intent, because in a connected world, referral is one of the likely intentions.  What makes your headline worth their while, to turn off their ADD I’ve seen this all is soooo boring mentality and move into action, the action of inviting?
  4. Measure how many people refer others, including Tweets, Facebook posts, and if possible, a short link that is used for invitations, and change that link daily since most social media conversastions have a life span of 2-3 days tops.
  5. Involve people in a timely discussion that is related to your product or service, and take a stand – right and wrong, left and right, challenge people to say something and invite others who share their opinion.
  6. Include a gentle link (with a reward, trackable to drive to either some form of registration at your site or sale, though sale should be worded in language that makes them want to explore.  For example, “Here’s one of our solutions to this discussion to compare to yours,” and link that to your conversion page – though make it a landing page for social media, repeating the question/discussion at the top (just like you do keywords at the top for Google pages), and if possible integrate the discussion into the page, so the product sale is related to the discussion.

Hmm,…maybe not for direct marketers looking for immediate conversion, because what the Internet has done so well so far is identifying purchase intent, mainly through Google search. So our marketing business grows slowly, but people aren’t going to search that much more, and of course the Google paradigm – the altar of text ads and clicks – isn’t going away.

Yet there’s something new developing and even smart marketers I know, who say they test, aren’t giving it focus until someone else proves it.  Smart marketers always test 10% of their ads, so why not test your social media and make this an experimental 10% driven by branding metrics, not immediate conversion metrics?  The next step is the reward, the subject of my next post.

Is there a world beyond clicks for your business?  Does branding lead generation, before revenue, make any sense to you (lead generation in the context of generating traffic here, not a specific filling in of a form)?


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