Effective Vs. Efficient Do You Know The Difference?

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4 responsesGeneral2 min read

How many times has someone told you you need to learn to make “efficient” use of your time? And then, on the other side of the room someone else says, “This is the most effective marketing technique.” Sometimes those words – effective and efficient – get switched in conversation. The speaker says one and means the other, or you hear one and think he meant the other. But there’s a difference and they’re not interchangeable.

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What Does “Effective” Mean?

When someone says something was effective, that means it worked, it achieved its goal. For example, maybe one of your blogging friends tried out a new marketing technique using a social network, like Pinterest, to generate more traffic. If he followed the plan, joined Pinterest, and got more traffic then he would say this new marketing technique was “effective.” It worked.

If, on the other hand, he followed that plan to the letter and didn’t see any increase in traffic, then he would say this was an “ineffective” marketing technique because it didn’t produce any results.

What Does “Efficient” Mean?

When something is “efficient” it’s delivers the desired results with the least waste of time. For example, a software program that automatically generates your affiliate links on your blog would be an efficient solution to help you save time hand-coding all the links on your blog.

Since time is always limited, bloggers are always looking for more efficient solutions. So an even more efficient solution would be one plug in that automatically converts all your links on all your blogs from one single dashboard.

So, while something may be efficient, there’s always room for improvement.

How Do Effective and Efficient Relate To Your Business?

If something is considered “effective” that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s also “efficient” for your business. That Pinterest traffic generation technique might have been effective, meaning it really did generate more traffic, but your time is valuable. If it took more time to generate that traffic then the traffic is worth in conversions, then it’s not an “efficient” method of traffic generation, it’s merely “effective.

In the beginning it might take you a while to master a new technique or learn a new piece of software, making it seem like it’s an inefficient waste of time. It may be now, but if mastering that technique will make some part of your business more effective then it may benefit you to spend the time.

The reverse is also true. Something may be considered efficient – a real time-saver – but it may not be effective for your business. That Pinterest traffic generation may very well be quick and easy to use, but if your audience doesn’t hang out on Pinterest then it’s not going to be effective at generating more traffic for your blog.

Obviously, it benefits you to find solutions for your own blog that are both effective and efficient. Don’t overlook something that you’re almost certain will work just because you think it’s going to take too much time. For example, I always thought Twitter was a big waste of time until I got in there and really learned how to use it effectively. Now it’s one of my most effective business tools and it’s more than worth the time I invest.


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  1. Francisco Laborde

    I usually extend the use of “efficient” to all resources. Not only time.
    Of course you can always find a formula to convert any resource to the time needed to get it.

    In my experience, you cannot be efficient if you are not effective.
    So, you don’t just aim at solutions that are both efficient and effective. You start with an effective solution and then work on efficiency.

    1. Steven

      Thanks a lot for sharing your point of view Francisco. Looking forward for your next comment :)

  2. Benjamin

    If we consider learning in general, we can extend the notions of effectiveness and efficiency to a third “e”…engagement. That is, learning best occurs when it is effective, efficient, and engaging.

    We might get the job done in the least amount of time, but we fail to see the entire picture until we address levels of engagement. Similarly, a job well done takes on a new perspective when we consider with whom we interact.

    Achieving a solution in the least amount of time depends greatly on the type of interaction and the number of individuals involved. Unlike effectiveness and efficiency, engagement requires more of a balance. Usually we speak in terms of being the most effective and most efficient as being good things, but levels of engagement will depend on the situation.

    A successful business enterprise (i.e., a productive learning ecosystem) requires a collective effort that stems from effectiveness, efficiency, and engagement.

    1. Steven

      Hey Benjamin, I didn’t think of it that way! Thanks a lot for sharing your insight. I’ve been putting a lot of effort on engagement on Dukeo lately, and it sure is a lot of work, but highly rewarding!

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