Stop Measuring These Vanity Metrics In Your Digital Marketing Review!

17 June 2022
Business people planning a marketing strategy 2021 09 02 06 03 08 utc

When it comes down to digital marketing we tend to spend a lot of our time looking at numbers and graphs. There is no shortage of metrics for each event across marketing platforms and tools to help you pull them together for review.

Even though page follows, post likes and comments are the publicly visible currency of social media, they don't always tell you the whole story of our marketing efforts.

We've put together this article to share with you the vanity metrics that you should stop worrying about and which actionable metrics you should focus on to help inform your marketing strategy.

What is a Vanity Metric?

In simple terms, vanity metrics are metrics that make your profile appear better/bigger - for example, followers or likes on a page. Although these metrics look good and are great to show a social following, they don't really show your return of interest data.

These metrics will look good in reviews and may feel satisfying, but they won't share much feedback on how to better your strategy going forward. When looking at a digital marketing review you want constructive feedback and the best metrics for this are actionable metrics. Think of it like this: would you rather have 100k followers, but not a single piece of engagement every month, or 1000 followers who engage and take action on every one of your posts? Which scenario is most likely to drive repeat custom for your business?

Here are some of the most common examples of vanity metrics and what actionable metrics you should look at instead:

Website Traffic

Of course, everyone would love to have lots of traffic to their website, but raw volume isn't always best. In this instance, qualified traffic is absolutely something to strive for. Imagine receiving high traffic but no useful leads vs. low traffic and entirely relevant leads? Naturally, you’d want to generate more relevant leads to generate more business, right?

Instead of focusing on traffic, start paying attention to bounce rate, session lengths, and traffic source on your website.

  • Bounce rate is the number of people who visited your website and left straight away without clicking through to other pages. The lower the bounce rate, the higher quality traffic you are generating. Getting started with improving bounce rate is relatively simple; the majority of the time it's just about editing your website layout to be more user-friendly and making sure you’ve optimised page load speeds.

  • Session lengths are how long a user spends on your website. This follows quite nicely from your bounce rates as you want your audience to engage with your website and spend time learning about your business’ offering. If the session is short, they probably haven't looked much into your company or products/services. A short session length implies either your site isn’t engaging enough, or your visitors aren’t really that interested in your offering

  • Traffic source is a great metric to find out where people are coming from. For most businesses, it’ll be whether your social media profiles or search engines are directing traffic to your page. This is vital information to use to influence your future digital marketing strategies and where to best spend your time, money, and marketing resource.

Social Media

There is no doubt that social media marketing will be a massive chunk of your digital marketing efforts. Although it does in part revolve around vanity as a lot of objectives on social media focus on raising brand awareness; the number of views, likes, comments, and followers you have do count! Nevertheless, there are a couple of other metrics within this to not forget about.

Engagement rate & click-through rate (CTR) are key metrics to track. Typically your engagement rate is calculated by comparing how many likes, comments, and shares you get on a post vs. the reach it generated. Following your engagement rate, tracking the level people are clicking on your call to action, will give you one of the ultimate figures you need to be tracking - your CTR. If you have a good engagement rate, but a poor CTR, this might point toward your offering not being compelling enough. If it’s the other way around, with a low engagement rate but a high CTR - you probably need to invest in some more appealing content.

Ultimately, it is hard to forget about vanity metrics when it comes to social as we understand individuals want to look their best on social media, and that's not any different for the businesses they run. Pages with more likes and comments on social media are perceived to be more trustworthy because of the larger following - so it’s not always complete vanity.

Instead of focusing solely on the vanity metrics, looking more closely at all of your social metrics will give you a clear indication of what works well for your business. Social media can be a minefield to navigate through and plan the right content for your business. Take a look at one of our previous blogs on top tips for developing a social media strategy:


Email campaigns are not all about how big your mailing list is; you should be more interested in the open rate, CTR, and ultimately ROI... The quality of your list is much better than the quantity, especially as having fewer recipients/email addresses will be cheaper to get and send out to. It's a no-brainer to save money and hit the right people. It’s always better to have a mailing list with a few hundred recipients, but a high engagement rate, than having thousands of old & unvetted addresses that just don’t register your email.

Click-through rate (CTR) is calculated by: total clicks OR unique clicks ÷ number of delivered emails x 100. CTR is really useful to show how well your emails performed and how engaged your audience was. In A/B testing it is a good metric to compare to decide which email CTA works best for your business and audience.


In conclusion, it’s important to recognise which metrics are most important to your marketing goals. Likes, comments & followers do hold some significance, but they can pose a distraction to creating truly effective campaigns.

When planning your upcoming campaigns, consider which of your previous content has generated the most clicks, impressions and driven your following forward. You want to create a strategy that will engage your audience properly, which in turn will give you plenty of metrics to consider across the board. If you’re unsure how to get started, check out our previous blog on creative ways to engage your audience:

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