In the digital world of marketing, sometimes there are so many different types of “metrics” being used that understanding what has value and what does not can be very confusing.  First,  “marketing metrics” refer to performance measures and statistics of operation.  Metrics are used to determine performance and track performance overtime and relate to marketing intelligence that help us to know how we are doing and to be used in decision-making. In the landscape of digital marketing, there are all kinds of metrics being stated and if you don’t understand them, you might be “impressed” by the wrong metrics.


Beware of vanity metrics:  Engagement or actionable metrics are much different from vanity metrics. Vanity metrics can actually lead you astray. Vanity metrics can include the number of downloads, likes, tweets, raw page views, visitors, registered users, impressions, etc.  It actually does not mean much how many likes  you have or how may tweets there were. These can show traction and can be exciting to see. After all, when your article on your website was downloaded “x” times or  your Facebook page has “x” likes, you might feel a sense of “wow,” but that does not translate into real engagement metrics. Don’t be lured into tracking vanity metrics, because they are easy to track (Wojcik, 2016).


What is important is actionable metrics: What does matter is the number of active users, engagement, conversion, and ultimately revenue.  Conversion is when a consumer receives a marketing message and then performs a desired action. When you select your key performance indicators (KPIs), such as shares or mentions, website traffic coming from social media, or conversation rates, then you are selecting metrics that hold more meaningful data. These relate to actionable metrics that are statistics that relate to specific and repeatable tasks (Ries, 2010).


Just like with traditional marketing strategies relate to product life-cycle, metric following can relate to the company life-cycle. There are different important metrics to consider depending on where you are in that life-cycle and company goals.

  • Intro stage (just getting business started)-useful metrics can include traffic, followers, reviews, social media shares, and subscribers (some of those vanity metrics).
  • Growth stage-useful metrics can include conversion rate, time on site, number of sales generated, customer satisfaction, and revenue (those actionable metrics).
  • Maturity stage-useful metrics can include churn rate (the annual percentage of customers who drop association with the business), retention length, profit, impact, new members (more actionable and engagement metrics)


Remember: “Vanity metrics simply don’t affect your bottom line. When you measure things, you want to measure things you can test, improve, and simplify in order to build the company’s business. Driving more page views without noticing the high bounce rate doesn’t matter. Neither does having 10,000 followers – none of whom comment or share your content” (Pantel, 2015, para. 6). Don’t get disillusioned by how many followers or likes you may have with your digital media campaigns. Focus on metrics that have value. Focus on engagement, actionable metrics, such as a conversion to actual actions that produce sales.

Written by: Sabrina Pack, SkyWest Media Professional Marketing Consultant

Patel, S. (2015, May 13). Why You Should Ignore Vanity Metrics and Focus on Engagement. Entrepreneurs.   
Reis, R. (2013, Feb. 8). Entrepreneurs: Beware of Vanity Metrics. Harvard Review. 
Wojcik, C. (2016, May 9). Vanity Vs. Actionable Metrics: Are You Tracking the Right Stats in your Business. Fizzle.