In another time vanity metrics sounds like the name of a secret agent or spy film character. In marketing data it is without doubt the most valuable weapon at your disposal. But how do you identify Vanity Metrics?

There is no shortage of ways you can collect data on individual digital platforms or software that will do the donkey work for you. When you look at the impressive graphs and charts are you really focusing on the important parts or focusing on what the lines look like? The issue is some of the things you see aren’t as impressive as they look. 

What are Vanity Metrics? 

Vanity metrics is a term usually used to describe data from social media, website and video channels. This includes followers, users, page views and subscribers – website analytics that look great on the screen but don’t give traction towards your marketing goals. They offer positive figures but not something actionable metrics can do, which is help you make future decisions based on their results. 

The question you should always ask is “how does this number relate to sales?” There’s a saying we use at The Soapy Group – “page likes don’t pay the bills.” Page likes, for example, is a vanity metric. You may build a huge audience, but has that made any difference to your business success?  

Look past the front page to learn how to run measurable campaigns. 

Facebook has reported that there has been a 20% decline in engagement on business pages in the last 12 months. This is based on the sheer volume of pages popping up. There is a good chance that the vast majority of followers won’t return to the page itself and just rely on the content they see in their newsfeed.

Using Facebook insights to look at the type and style of posts that get the better engagement and higher performing, can indicate the types of content you should create more of. You can also follow other competitors and see a snapshot of what they are doing. If you can’t beat them, join them. 

What do Actionable Metrics look like? 

This is valuable data that will leave you stirred, not shaken. To turn vanity metrics into useful data, you have to look at the bigger picture and be able to attribute the figures to sales – You should view the data as relative to your business. There are endless actionable metrics you can use to truly measure the success of your marketing, such as return on marketing investment and customer acquisition costs. In the interest of keeping things simple, let’s look at click through rates (CTR). 

CTR is calculated by clicks ÷ impressions. This turns your vanity metrics into something much more useful and relative to your marketing efforts. The higher your CTR, the better – you will be able to measure what a good percentage is over time. It is a valuable metric that confirms your users have down something positive on your website or destination link. Your website analytics will give you active user data, these metrics monitor visitor loyalty and frequency. 

Bounce Rate is another quick and simple piece of data to help identify content success, along with CTR. If your bounce rates are high on blogs or web pages there, must be a reason why your audience is turned off – or they expected something different. This is another reason why metadata and link descriptions are so important.  

On a blog the decline in the bounce rate is a good indication that your blogs are growing in popularity and interest to your visitors. 

 “Ahh Mr Impressions, I’ve been expecting you” 

 Don’t completely discard the obvious metrics, they will give you performance insights you can compare against previous months and years. Just don’t use this information as a core comparison in relation to actual growth.