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Bite-Sized Marketing: Vanity Metrics

November 01, 2019

We’ve all been there—we want to feel good about something, so we look for some easy signs that say we are on the right track. We want to exercise more, so we go out and buy new workout sneakers. We want to eat out less, so we buy three new cookbooks. It’s just the nature of consumer culture. What we forget is that we actually have to follow through.

This is similar to when we are talking about vanity metrics. A common definition of a vanity metric is a metric designed to be impressive as opposed to actionable. Hubspot lists the following as popular examples of vanity metrics: 

  • Social media followers
  • Pageviews 
  • Subscribers

And any other attractive analytics that are satisfying on paper but don’t necessarily move you towards your business goals. This could also include website traffic and organic keyword rankings.

Yes, it sounds great to tell people that you bought new running sneakers and are going to get fit, but you have to actually put on the sneakers and go for a run. It’s the same with these vanity metrics. It looks good to have 10k followers on Instagram, but now you have to get those followers engaging with you, your content, and your website. 

 

How do you move away from vanity metrics?

Understanding that you need to look at your metrics to determine and track your business goals is the first step towards creating an effective marketing campaign.

You and your team must figure out what your main goal is for each campaign. If you want more people going to your website from social, then you can look at your click-through rate (CTR) on each post. If you want more repeat buyers, then you can look at increasing your open rate and click rate in your email newsletters. These are just a few examples of how to attach metrics to your business goals. 

Another place to begin is by looking at the average metrics for the market you are in. You can look at your top competitors, your neighboring businesses, and/or the company you aspire to be to set realistic, actionable goals when looking at your metrics. 

Lastly, you need to figure out how to sort through all of the data that social media, websites, and ad platforms give you. This could be the responsibility of a dedicated analytics team member, or you can work with a company that specializes in this area

 

Look for quality over quantity

Businesses are not the only ones swapping their vanity metrics for quality, actionable metrics...Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are all moving away from showing vanity metrics on their platform. Each of them has been running their own tests in different areas by removing subscriber counts, likes, and more. They are now focusing more on user experience and happiness. 

Now, I want to clarify something: vanity metrics aren't necessarily a bad thing. Just like buying new workout sneakers isn’t a bad thing. You just need to make sure that you pair actionable items with these vanity metrics to understand their true value. When you begin running in your new sneakers, you are testing to see if they are good quality or not. When you begin looking at CTR, open rate, etc., you will be able to see just how valuable your current followers, page views, and subscribers actually are to you and your goals.

Now, I want to clarify something: vanity metrics aren't necessarily a bad thing.

Hope Perri

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