Moving Beyond Vanity Metrics: The Next Level of Numbers That Matter

If you’re marketing your business on the web or via email, you’re likely paying attention to vanity metrics. These numbers let you know how many viewers opened your email, how many people clicked a link, the amount of traffic to the various pages of your website, and so on. Vanity metrics have been praised by some as a valuable way to know the impact you’re having via your web presence and marketing. They have also been scoffed at by others as superficial numbers released to the public to make a company look more successful than it truly is.

While vanity metrics do have value (and we’ll discuss why later in the article), it’s also important to remember that they’re not the end of the story. Your company must use them as a precursor to additional activity. The end purpose of marketing your business via email and social media, of course, isn’t to generate likes, opens, visits, and page views. It’s to generate valid inquiries, genuine leads, opportunities to speak with potential clients, and hopefully orders. The end result of all of that marketing is the opportunity to grow your profits.

This is why in addition to vanity metrics, your company should also be tracking more actionable metrics. What are some of the other metrics you should be watching? Your revenue is an obvious one. Others that may not seem as obvious are:

Number of Active Users

Sure, your dazzling new app received thousands of downloads upon its release. But how many people are actually using it? While the download numbers may look impressive, if the app is sitting ignored on someone’s phone, it’s not generating revenue for you.


Companies often want to talk about the reach of a particular social media or email advertising campaign. That’s a start, but the next question should be: of the 1,000 people that saw your ad or email, how many people engaged with it? Taking it one step further, how many conversions did it create? While you want prospects to see your ad and even click on it, the end result is hopefully for some of them to become a paying customer. One solution for ads that generate lots of looks but not a lot of action is to utilize calls to action that spur the viewer to download, subscribe, purchase, or do something now.

Scroll Depth

It’s tempting to look at healthy “time on page” numbers, give a thumbs up, and call it a day. There may be more to those numbers than meets the eye, so it pays to look deeper. Specifically, you should be tracking scroll depth. This measures how far down a particular page a visitor to your website scrolls before losing interest and moving on.

Why is “time on page” so misleading? People multitask, open several different tabs at once, walk away from the computer to get a cup of coffee, or interact with their phones. This can generate lengthy “time on page” numbers, making it seem as though potential customers are perusing your page when in fact, their attention is on other things.


While getting lots of shares on social media is important, truly engaged readers will do more than just share – they’ll interact. Specifically, they’ll engage with it by commenting. This gives you the opportunity to learn more about them and interact one-on-one. For this reason, look beyond the number of shares to see if potential customers are interested enough to have a real conversation about what you’re posting.

Making the Most of Vanity Metrics

Because the end goal is to generate business, it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security by vanity metrics. While they’re important numbers to track, the numbers that tell the real story can silently creep up on you.

This doesn’t mean that you should ignore vanity metrics. Rather, think of them as “optimization metrics” and use that data to tweak your email marketing or online content to best suit your target customer demographics. Then move on to the actionable metrics to see if you’re creating an impact.

By having a healthy awareness of both sets of data, you’ll be able to create a strategy that will pay off in more than strictly clicks and views; it will boost your bottom line.

If your email program isn't helping generate opportunities for new business, please contact us!