It’s a disease. One that proliferates the minds of even the most practiced and experienced marketers. Equivocating actions to results, even though upon reflection or examination, it is clear that the action does not match the outcome; a non-sequitor. A false correlation is the assumption that one set of actions will result in a desired change, even though it is directly related.


[kawr-uh-ley-shuhn, kor-] noun
1. mutual relation of two or more things
2. Statistics. the degree to which two or more attributes or measurements on the same group of elements show a tendency to vary together.

Or, to put it another way, even marketers tend to believe that more people (visitors, members, followers, etc) are the answer to whatever problem they are facing (revenue, engagement, success). When in fact, it is not numbers they are seeking, but the outcome. Simply adding numbers to a problem only provides a bigger dataset with which to find the fault in the reasoning.

Does increasing the volume result in more people listening?

Does increasing the volume result in more people listening?

Why do we believe that simply adding more people will produce the results we want?  More visits (visitors, followers) is a single metric. Is there data to support the conclusion that revenue will follow that single course of action?

The question is: Are there other metrics that have a more direct influence on revenue?

Here is an example of my question. This is from a group of marketers on LinkedIn; however, I have seen this message in countless emails and posts from business owners, marketing managers and concerned C-suiters.

LinkedIn Groups

Subject: Are your friends and coworkers part of ***** Marketers?
Hello, I wanted to introduce myself, my name is ******* , and I am taking over the role as the community manager for this fantastic group we have here on LinkedIn. We currently have over 1,200 members, but I would love to grow the engagement and participation within our group.

You can click “Share Group” on the very right in the navigation panel to invite people from your network and encourage them to invite their contacts as well.

Challenge for all: Can we get to 3000 members by November?

Given this statement, goals are to:

  1. Grow the engagement
  2. Grow the participation

…and primary stated action to accomplish the goals is:  increase membership by 250%

As marketers, we of all people should understand the concept that more visitors do not directly translate to more success. There are many factors that create our desired outcomes and goals, and all require careful examination of the data to uncover assumptions and realities. There are multiple segments within the numbers that have a higher influence over revenues and engagement, yet ignoring those segments and focusing on growing numbers will result in the same problems as before, only with more people.

Somehow a headcount becomes the measure of success. But this happens in so many areas of life. We estimate success by the single data point of how many people are involved, rather than the multiple data points of revenue generation, customer satisfaction, profitability, and other measures of success. Somehow, adding people creates success, and only a rare business can make that model work.
I’ve seen many campaigns fail because they were based on the assumption that more people would create more profits. I’ve also seen many campaigns perform far above expectation because they were more focused on specific data points that were provable correlations between certain customers and outcomes.
For example, targeting highly engaged customers with a beneficial action tends to create even more engagement and participation. For one of our clients, this strategy created 400% more engagement and 200% more revenue.  Success was reached because the campaign engaged the engaged – not because it set out to increase the number of customers (which was a result anyway). We discovered provable data that our engaged customers created other engaged customers.

Increasing numbers doesn’t create intended outcomes; just the same outcomes with bigger numbers.

My advice:  Site down and review your marketing goals and the action path to meet those goals. Make sure there are direct, provable correlations between your stated goals and the actions and assumptions you are making to reach that goal. Watch out for assumptions in your meetings where people make a correlation between increasing visitors and increasing revenue.