Who says a click is a good thing?

The click.

It’s the basic building block of online marketing: clicking on ads, clicking to open an email, clicking on an article to read more, etc. Businesses that use online marketing often pour huge amounts of energy and creativity into getting people to click. But who says that getting a click is a good thing? It’s just assumed (and promoted by online marketing pitchmen) that clicks are good and getting more of them is better.

That’s an assumption that needs to be challenged.

When clicks are bad

There is a belief in the online marketing world that if you send or post something compelling enough for someone to click on it, that’s an indicator of making a connection with that person. The premise is that they would not click if they were not interested, so you have moved your relationship with them to a deeper level by getting their attention and providing them with something that they were interested in. But that’s not how things work in the real world.

I click on things every single day that do not interest me or deepen my relationship with the person who sent or created it. Instead, they make me angry. They make me hate the person who sent or posted it. There are emails that have misleading subject lines that I open and then curse when I realize the sender used some trick to get me to open it. There are ads and posts and articles that have intriguing titles that are deceptive, which also anger me when I click on them and see the real message the creator wanted to lure me into seeing. Every day, I curse someone (sometimes, out loud) after I click on something they sent out or posted.

The person who sent the email or posted the article or ad, however, blissfully thinks they are building rapport with all the people who click. Their dashboard shows the click as a win. In reality, though, it was anything but a win for them.

Why you’re told clicks are good

One of the reasons businesses that use online marketing assume clicks are always good is that they’re told that by the companies that sell them online marketing services and tools. Reports in marketing dashboards always present clicks (and other similar activities like opens, downloads, etc.) as a positive thing and marketing consultants constantly tout new tips and tricks to increase clicks.

But, online marketing pitchmen tell businesses that more clicks are good because it’s good for them as salesmen. More clicks mean that the online marketers are usually making more money. So clicks ARE good—for the person who is selling online marketing. A click on a Google or Facebook ad means revenue for those companies, so of course they promote the idea that clicks are good. But even clicks on email newsletter articles or blog posts show activity that the online marketing pitchmen can use to demonstrate the success of their program.

The bottom line, though, is that whether clicks are good for your business or not, they’re almost always good for the people who convinced you to do online marketing, so that’s why they’ll always encourage you to generate more clicks (and opens and downloads and other activity).

Why you believe clicks are good

It makes sense that the people who sell the product would tell you that it’s good for you to use more of it, but I always question business owners about why they believe the pitch. After all, we all experience negative feelings ourselves when we click on things other people have sent us, yet somehow we believe that what we send out is universally loved by the people who click on our ads and messages. Business owners who are themselves bombarded by noise and junk somehow constantly manage to operate in a state of denial that their own noise and junk is different. I believe there are two reasons this happens to otherwise rational business owners:

  1. Lack of feedback – In the real world, if you say something to someone in person, you can tell if they like it or not. But in the online marketing world, you can’t see anything except that they clicked. There is so little information about how the person on the other side reacted, you have to guess what a click means, which leads to the second issue…
  2. Confirmation bias – The lack of information described above is usually coupled with an intense desire for the program to succeed. This desire can distort a business owner’s ability to critically question what they’re hearing. Instead, they start looking for any piece of evidence that confirms what they’re hoping for. They want to believe.

When a lack of information and strong desire for the program to work is combined with “experts” (who have their own agenda in mind) telling you that clicks are a good thing, the stage is potentially set for disaster.

The good news, however, is that you can avoid the danger as long as you have your own strategy in mind and don’t let outside pitchmen send you in a direction that benefits them instead of you. If you need help with that, let me know, but whether you get outside help or not, be certain that you have your own course confidently charted so you aren’t blown off track by the bluster of the pitchmen.