It can be exciting when your business is suddenly trending on social media or you get a bunch of visitors to your site. You have thousands of new followers and readers, and think that this will translate into increased sales. But, weeks later,  it hasn’t – and you can’t determine why. This all boils down to an old saying – quality over quantity. “Vanity metrics” tend to focus on quantity, and unfortunately they are the ones that most business owners will consider to be important. 

Vanity metrics are those analytics and statistics that look positive on paper but don’t really indicate anything of value. Often referred to as “engagement metrics”, vanity metrics are the most-used metrics by social media managers and content marketers to measure the performance and success of marketing campaigns.

Data points like social media followers, likes and shares, time on site and bounce rate all seem good on paper but don’t really provide concrete, actionable information. They offer positive reporting, but may not translate into actual sales and provide no context for making future marketing decisions.

Vanity Metrics vs Actionable Metrics

Take for example a Google Analytics metric like “Users” which provides the total number of unique visitors to a particular page on your website. You may have one blog or page that is doing particularly well, but you have no way of knowing if customers are converting based on viewing that page. 

In other words, when vanity metrics look good, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your entire site is performing well. The results aren’t actionable because they don’t provide enough context.

However, these metrics are not totally useless. The value of vanity metrics is in measuring marketing goals such as brand awareness and in troubleshooting marketing problems. If they are indicating a problem (e.g. 93% bounce rate, low time on content, low session duration) then there is definitely an issue that needs to be explored further. On the other hand, vanity metrics that look good may be glossing over problems with your site and marketing – if you have a decent amount of visitors and a low bounce rate, that may be the result of one exceedingly well-performing blog and the rest of your site may need attention. 

Actionable metrics provide a direct link to business success and describe your customer and audience behavior. They provide direction on areas for improvement and measurable goals for your business, helping you determine the ROI of your marketing spend.

Metrics like revenue from specific actions, custom goals, and conversion rates provide a much better overview of the success of your marketing campaigns.

Take a deep dive into your performance metrics

Sectioning off well-performing content and analyzing your site without it will provide you with a more complete picture of where you need to improve. By taking a deeper dive into your website traffic, conversion rates and the revenue earned as a whole you’ll often see that counting traffic is meaningless unless it’s paired against measurable business objectives. 

Setting up conversion and other performance goals tell a much more complete story than vanity metrics alone.  

Pay close attention to your “referrals” and “traffic sources” sections. If traffic from LinkedIn seems engaged, this may mean your digital advertising campaigns are working well from there (and if you don’t have any, you should). The same thing applies to traffic from organic searches. If these users are quickly abandoning your site, that means they aren’t finding what they are looking for and you need to tighten up your content, brand and offerings. 

The right SEO tools can even show you the keywords customers are using when searching, giving you the ability to optimize your content, while Google Analytics will usually just return “keywords not provided”.

By combining performance measurement tools like Google Analytics with an SEO tool like the apps offered through  Zoho One, you’ll have the ability to track your metrics from that first click all the way through to conversion. Zoho provides detailed information by measuring complete content performance, letting you know your exact marketing spend and actual ROI. 

Trying to interpret analytics on your own is often challenging for most business owners. It’s time-consuming and often it isn’t your area of expertise. Let us do it for you. Our agency knows what to look for and how to set up analytics, integrate them with your business systems and report back with actionable results. 

ion8 is an all-in-one business consultancy with an experienced team of digital marketing experts ready to analyze your business’s content to improve conversion rates and maximize your marketing ROI. To find out more about everything that ion8 can do to transform your business, contact us today.