Are Web, Content, and Social Media Vanity Metrics Steering Your Brand In The Wrong Direction?


You’re at the local wine store picking out a nice bottle for the dinner party you’re throwing tonight. As you scan the aisles for just the right beverage, there’s one brand that stands out on the shelf. 

The shiny, hand-drawn label on the very last bottle of Syrah catches your eye. You know this has to be the one. Its design is one-of-a-kind and it’s the only one remaining–it must taste great, right?

You purchase the bottle, take it home, and set it out so your dinner guests can pour themselves a tasty glass. Then there you go–you brag about how good the wine is (not having tasted it yourself yet) and rave about what a fabulous wine connoisseur you are.

You finally get the chance to pour yourself a glass and take a swig. Come to find out, it’s the worst Syrah you’ve ever tasted. The well-designed label must have been compensating for something else–it’s terrible flavor.

What can we all learn from this story? Don’t judge a book (or a bottle of wine) by its cover. And certainly don’t let the fact that it’s the last bottle on the shelf makes you believe that everyone loves it too. For all you know every other customer could have had the same idea as you, and then didn’t come back to purchase bottle number two.

Marketing works the same way. If the only things you pay attention to are the big, shiny vanity metrics of your brand, you’ll be led in the wrong direction. And then, how will you have an accurate way to determine your success? The label wasn’t an accurate representation of the wine’s taste and a stand-alone vanity metric isn’t a representation of your brand’s success either.


Understanding Vanity Metrics

Website, content marketing, and social media vanity metrics are the shiny (and much too common) statistics that might look great on paper but are actually a very inaccurate way of measuring your brand’s marketing success. 

Take your number of social media followers, for example. You’ve found that your Instagram page gained 34 new followers last month. And the month before that you acquired 29 more followers. You’re thrilled because more social media followers will mean more revenue, right? 

Wrong. Measuring followers is one of the most common social media vanity metrics, a metric that will ultimately get a small business owner excited over the wrong things. Bigger is not always better, and measuring something that will inevitably grow over time naturally (like social media followers) is a poor way of determining how effective your marketing strategy is. 

Instead, measuring the actionable components, or clarity metrics, of your brand will better outline how well your efforts are working and where strategic changes can be made.

Why Vanity Metrics Don’t Move The Needle

Far too often, businesses track their key performance indicators (KPIs) on vanity metrics. As a vanity metric might appear to be impressive, it doesn’t give any substantial insight into how well your brand is actually performing. Why? These metrics aren’t backed by any sort of meaning. 

In order for a metric to positively impact the success of a business, it must have context and be actionable. And for a metric to be actionable, it should be accompanied by value and further information. 

Take online product purchases, for example. Let’s say your only real insight into how well your business is doing is based on the number of products that you sell online. Online sales have been OK for a while now but you know they could be better. It must be the price that’s turning potential customers away–it’s time to offer discounts to drive more customers to convert.

Before you begin to jump to conclusions, have you looked into how else you could improve sales? And no, we’re not talking about knocking down your prices and devaluing your brand. Instead, look for other insights that will help you understand your consumers and their journey. 

Analyze the bounce rate from your shop pages, and find out where exactly it is that your customers are dropping off your site. If you discover that many new website visitors make it your main shop page and then exit, it could be that the page needs a refresh or it’s confusing to navigate. 

While context certainly requires more time and greater energy, it’s worth it. So ask yourself, which KPI is most likely to be a vanity metric among your brand? And do you know the difference between clarity metrics vs. vanity metrics? It’s time to add additional metrics to help back your strategies with something worthwhile–something actionable.

social media vanity metrics


How To Add Meaning To Your Metrics

Now that you know vanity metrics aren’t extremely useful without other metrics, let’s take a look at how you can add real meaning to your metrics and ensure you’re getting the most out of your findings.

To add meaning to your metrics, improve the following vanity metrics examples with something more.


Time Frame

It’s thrilling to try something new, and it’s even more exciting to look back on that something new and see how well it performed. But before you get ahead of yourself, make sure you’re giving any new strategy enough time to develop and work and avoid measuring only vanity metrics. 

For example, instead of tracking the overall number of email subscribers your brand has, pay attention to the number of new subscribers that have been added to your list. And only do so after giving any new strategies enough time to actually work. 

By doing so, you will give your efforts enough time to actually work and will be able to determine if it was your new strategy that made the impact.


Customer Leads

When looking at metrics, it’s common to look at your website visitors as a whole–a vanity metric. While knowing where it is your website visitors are coming from is important, what’s even more critical is knowing where your customers are coming from.

Because customers are the ones who did what you wanted them to do (purchased your products or services), they’re the ones to focus on when analyzing data. What platform drove them to your website? What steps did they take through the buying process? Did they visit your website multiple times before making a purchase or were they sold the moment they found your brand?

By finding and understanding these metrics, you will recognize what’s working and expand that same strategy to other areas of your brand.


Where’s Your ROI Actually Coming From?

On average, 80% of a brand’s revenue comes from its existing customer base. Crazy, right? That means that retargeting your already existing customers is going to bring in far more revenue that constantly working to attract new ones ever will.

Attracting new customers with exciting channels like social media and ads seems like a good plan for increasing your ROI. BUT knowing most of your revenue comes from the people who already love you (the people on your email list) will back your decision to focus much of your energy on email marketing rather than trying to attract someone new.


Email Open Rate

While an email’s open right can certainly help determine the effectiveness of a subject line, there’s more to consider when it comes to email marketing. Try tracking an email’s click-through rate in addition to its open rate.

A click-through rate (CTR) will let an email marketer know how effective that email’s CTA is. For example, we’ve sent out an email to our audience for a downloadable on building an e-commerce brand. By tracking the CTR of that email, we can then determine how high the lead-generating power of that email was.


Bounce Rate Over Blog Views

Don’t let the number of views on your latest blog post make you gung ho about creating a content marketing strategy around getting even more people to read your blog. Rather than only looking at page views, find out where those viewers are coming from and how long they’re staying on your page.

Accompany blog view statistics with your site’s bounce rate and social shares. If a bounce rate is high, that could mean that your blog posts don’t have an adequate CTA to get viewers to dive further into your site. Try creating a strategy that focuses on getting people interested after they read your blog post.

Then look at the number of social shares your posts are receiving from viewers. Why? Because Google loves when your content is shared by someone other than you. With an increased number of social shares, the more visible your content will be to new eyes.

social media vanity metrics


Is Your Marketing Team Giving You Meaningful Metrics?

By recognizing and paying attention to the metrics that help your brand grow, you’ll be able to do just that–grow! And whether you’re compiling metrics yourself or have a marketing team to do the work for you, know what to look for and what vanity metrics could be steering you in the wrong direction.  

So ask yourself, is your team only feeding you social media vanity metrics or actionable ones too? Do you know the ROI of your social media efforts? Are you paying attention to the metrics that will help your brand develop? 

If you need some help or aren’t getting the metrics you need from your marketing team, let Bareknuckle step in. We’ll get you what you’re looking for and will take action on what can be done for brand development. Start by buying us a beer and let’s get to talkin’.