What is a Vanity Metric and What Do They Mean For Your Brand?

Every company has a variety of metrics to track and optimize each day. Whether a large enterprise or a small business, successfully measuring these metrics may be difficult for your team. After all, if you concentrate on the wrong ones, they could lead your team in the wrong direction. This is why you need to know what vanity metrics are and what to focus on for your business.

What are vanity metrics?

Vanity metrics definition: Vanity metrics are those that make you look good, but don’t actually have any impact on your performance, strategy or goals. These metrics paint a successful image of your business but don’t provide you with the relevant data to make it thrive.

White Margarets

How can you identify vanity metrics?

Identifying the problem is the first step toward gaining a solution. So, what measures do you need to take to identify these problem metrics? One of the best ways to identify vanity metrics is to first consider the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter the most to your brand. To help identify these metrics, ask yourself these three questions:

1. What decision can we make with this?

Businesses either bloom or fail based on the decisions they make. This is why all of your decision-making must rely on critical information. If a metric can direct you to an action you’ve made that helped you achieve your goals or give you important data, then it isn’t a vanity metric. These metrics are called actionable metrics, which we’ll discuss in detail further in the article.

2. Can we intentionally reproduce the result?

One-off results are great, but if you can’t replicate them, you can’t identify actionable areas of your strategy that you can reuse in the future. Guessing where you got these results will not help you, leading to wasted time and money.

3. Does the data show us an accurate representation of the truth?

Thanks to the technological advancements of society, we are inundated with data. However, data can be misinterpreted or redundant, so you need to check the authenticity of your data sources.

Are your metrics coming from bots? Are they from people who have a true interest in what you offer? Did they come from a reputable source? These are just a few questions you need to ask yourself to determine if the results they’re showing you will impact your business positively.

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What’s the problem with vanity metrics?

They are essentially “feel good metrics”

Metrics such as “100 million likes”, “150 million retweets”, “one million registered users” and so on may show signs of great traction, but do not necessarily add any value to your business.

They steer you off course

Despite sounding enticing, vanity metrics are often misleading for marketers. Focusing on the wrong metrics to make a decision may have negative repercussions on your overall campaign.

They aren’t actionable metrics

Though these metrics look good on your dashboard, they don’t tell you the entire story of how and why your campaign performed as it did. You need metrics that give you areas of insight and actions to take to move towards continued success.

You’re taking resources away from what’s important

When you focus on misleading metrics, you end up concentrating on what’s not important. This means that you or your team members are wasting valuable time while the real data you need lies elsewhere.

They don’t affect your bottom line

When you measure metrics, you want to track, test, optimize, and improve them to make your business grow. Taking a look at something like the number of page views is fine, but favoring this metric over another like a high bounce rate will not help you improve your sales. Similarly, having a million followers on your social media pages does not count when your engagement rate is minimal. You need to make decisions that will boost your revenue, and vanity metrics will not help you.

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What are some common vanity metrics you may come across?

Social media likes (should be looking at engagement rates)

It’s a good sign that your audiences “like” your page or “follow” your account. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they will visit your page exclusively to check your posts. Instead of the number of likes and followers, you need to look at your engagement rate.

One of the tactics that will help you stay ahead of the game is creating engaging content that spurs engagement from your potential and current customers. Engagement rate is one of the key content marketing metrics that can help you gauge the health of your overall content. The higher the engagement rate, the greater your chances for conversion.

Here is how you calculate your engagement rate: 

Engagement rate = [{Likes+comments+shares}/Total number of followers] x 100

Subscribers (should be looking at product users)

Knowing how many subscribers you have is great, but knowing if your subscribers consume your content and use your product is more important. With everyone’s inboxes being flooded with countless emails daily, it is easy for your subscribers to miss out on yours.

That’s why you need to look at the people engaging with your brand. Tracking the people that consume your content and use your products or services will help you bump up those numbers and find areas to take action.

Email subscribers (should be email opt in rate)

Another metric to consider instead of the number of subscribers is your email opt-in rate. Your email opt-in rate is the percentage of your website visitors who subscribe to your email subscription list.  This is one of the paramount marketing metrics for running a successful email campaign.

To get a clear picture of this concept, let’s say that your website received 150 visitors in a day, and 50 of those people registered as subscribers. This would make your email opt-in rate 33 percent. Therefore, the higher your opt-in rate, the greater your number of subscribers.

Use the following formula to calculate your email opt in rate: 

Email opt in rate ={ [Total number of subscribers]/[Total number of visitors]} x 100

Page views (should be conversion rate)

Page views are the number of times a page is viewed in a given time frame. But this metric’s complexity stops here and doesn’t lead you to any actionable steps. Conversely, the conversion rate helps you quantify the number of visitors who’ve become your customers. For instance, if your online store has 500 visitors and 50 people purchase your products, your conversion rate is 10 percent.

Your conversion rate can be calculated using the following formula:

Conversion rate = Number of conversions / Total number of visitors

Marketing spend (should be ROI)

Marketing spend is the total budget allocated for marketing campaigns and activities by a business. Keeping track of this number is vital, but the return of your marketing campaigns is what will have an impact.

This is where return on investment (ROI) comes into play. ROI is a critical element of any marketing analysis that shows you what you benefited from your marketing spend.

Calculate your ROI using the following formulae:

Net return = Final value of investment – initial value of investment

ROI = (Net return / Cost of investment) x 100

Customer total (should be CAC)

Instead of concentrating on the total number of customers you have, focusing on your customer acquisition cost (CAC) helps you find new opportunities to engage your audience. CAC is the total amount required to convince and convert a lead into a customer.

Here is how you calculate CAC:

Customer acquisition cost = [Total amount spent on sales & marketing]/ Total number of acquired customers

This metric helps you calibrate your investment carefully and make the right decisions for your organization to drive it towards consistent growth.

Monthly revenue per customer (should be CLTV)

Instead of concentrating on the monthly revenue earned per customer, you should look at the customer lifetime value (CLTV). CLTV helps you understand the revenue they can expect from every customer throughout their relationship with your business. You can benefit your CLTV by improving customer retention rates and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Use the following formula to calculate your CLTV:

Customer lifetime value = Customer value x average customer lifespan

Demo or trial users (should be conversions)

Getting people to try out your product or service is great, but knowing the number of customers who’ve purchased the premium version of your product is a true growth metric that will help you assess your business’s strategies and future.

Person using calculator for calculations

Become the master of data

Data is your ticket to audience insights, interests, behaviors and more! This information can help you turn your marketing strategy into one that is able to deliver the right message in the right place at the right time quickly and efficiently — presenting you as a business that truly cares about its customers. Don’t let these opportunities escape you! Learn more in Data and Web Analytics: The Complete Marketer’s Manual.

Focusing on vanity metrics will not help your business succeed. However, identifying them can be difficult. Working with a growth marketing agency that can help you differentiate between vanity and actionable metrics can help you steer your way to exponential growth.

The team at Growth Marketing Genie will help you identify, track, analyze, and optimize the right metrics that matter to your business effortlessly and efficiently.

Want to up your marketing game? Check out our marketing strategy page here!


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