Vanity Metrics vs Actionable Metrics: How to Spot the Difference?


Dec 19 2019 5 min read

Table of Contents

    One of the main goals of any marketing team is to generate a large customer base and overall return on investment.

    As online marketing came into view, the measure drifted from actual customer transactions to views and online interactions. Whilst a lot of people might view your page that doesn't mean they are interested in it or influenced by it. These figures might look quite intimidating and impressive, they, unfortunately, do not determine the success of your content. This is known as vanity marketing. Views, interactions, comments, and likes have become a measure of the success of an advert but are these what truly matters? Are these metrics that measure content and online marketing success? This brings us to vanity and actionable metrics.

    What is a Vanity metric

    Vanity metrics are numbers, figures, charts, and statistics that merely look good on paper but do not denote the purpose of those records in the first place. Vanity metrics show a boost, a difference but do not show what the difference is and the effect of the difference on your brand/business.

    Vanity metrics determine figures, rise, fall and probabilities which are most accurate. Vanity metrics give a detailed report on the number of interactions gotten from an online page and which type of posts got the most attention. This helps to determine the area to put the focus on but does not help you determine a strategy for it. Vanity metrics are specifically important for a certain type of simple business that does not require serious decision making or customer prediction methods.

    2. What is Actionable Metric

    Actionable metrics, however, are a statistical representation that connects improvements to goals having a notable success of your business as the end results. Why track a metric that cannot be acted upon, utilised or improved. Actionable metrics help you track faulty areas and helps make a decision on the improvements of that area. They also help to determine where attention and resources should be invested in. Actionable metrics are more behavioural and psychologically oriented as traits and possible responses of customers can be predicted.

    3. What Then Are The Examples And Use of Vanity Metrics?

    Vanity metrics helps to track the number of subsequent visitors on a particular page or website. It records how many times a product or service is viewed, and ultimately generate data in views and interactions made by a particular user on your website and the number of times the page was visited by the said user.

    ·         Interactions

    social media, shares which features retweets, repins, or any social based metric that demonstrates your audience reach.

    ·         Comments

    This is a strong sign of interest. Having a comment on your post or page means the reader went through the whole article or product details and was influenced by its content enough to drop a comment, perspective, commendation or recommendation.

    ·         Follower base

    Followers most likely view your profile and are interested in your content to follow you or were referred by an associate after spring interest in what you're offering. This shows that vanity metrics do have its use but its use is being overrated and businesses spend a lot of time and money to boost these things and they forget what really matters. Knowing how many people follow you within a given time frame helps you know the content that most attracts followers. An influencer who runs lifestyle posts for a given period of time and records the highest amount of follower base would pay more attention and invest more in lifestyle posts to maintain that traffic.

    Not having many followers and interactions like your competitor does not mean their business is any better than yours.

    ·         Revenue

    Revenue is used to keep the business going. So, keeping a track of your revenue is very important. When a payment comes in, its source and plug should be deduced and these include various metrics like the total revenue generated over a given period of time, profit, the total number of transactions, currency and others. The amount of money that comes in or goes out in any business should be recorded so as to know if a new strategy is required or the current one just requires an improvement. The wrong strategy is the reason why many business owners run on a deficit. Because no track record on how the money goes in, how the money comes out, the effect of the money and resources invested in marketing and the defects of it.

    4. What Then Are The Examples and Use of Actionable Metric

    Conversion rates are very important in determining a successful metric. Even though it is slightly in the form of a vanity metric. The conversion metric is more actionable and practical than vain. The movement from a visitor to a lead is a long journey full of step by step conversions. Tracking the conversion rates of your content, keywords, and campaigns. Go beyond your comfort zone to activate and track these conversions. Conversions from prospects to leads and leads to customers are the most successful conversions. Prospects are visitors that come to your site when they fill in personal details like an email address. They become a lead. This means they have shown probable interest in your services/product and have the tendency of becoming a customer when a credit card or payment method gets involved. They have become a customer, each of this step by step interactive process should be tracked

    ·         Split Tests

    Split tests are one of the most effective actionable metrics as it clearly proves or refutes a particular theory. Split tests help take actions and make major decisions on the stance of your product/service.

    ·         Funnels

    These are processes and protocols that visitors have to engage in before moving up the conversion ladder. These processes include signups, trials, webinars, registered emails, etc. These are major because.a.lot of information in that site are highly defined and cannot.just be open to the general public without a level of commitment. Many a time, these processes are not completed and are left halfway by visitors. Tracking each step would let you know why it was left and what you can do to engage such visitors from leaving it halfway. These half steps are known as funnel breaks and keeping a track of these will let you know exactly where your funnel breaks. Do customers abandon the process at the prospecting phase, lead phase or customer phase? This lets you know exactly what area to work on.

    ·         Cohorts

    This is the process of customer segregation and grouping to make tracking easier. Businesses have regular customers, the one time customers and the once in a blue moon type customers. All these are dependent on how well they patronise you. To fully grasp how these groups operate you need to separate them with the use of cohorts.

    ·         Marketing Campaign

    A lot of online businesses keep doing marketing campaigns, gaining a lot of interesting yet yielding little or no profit. If this is the case then a new marketing campaign strategy should be in place. When a marketing campaign yields profit, you need to know how effective the profit is in comparison to the money invested in marketing. If the money coming in is not up to the money spent on marketing then such a business is running on a deficit. Taking your total revenue spent on each campaign and subtracting it from the cost of marketing and goods sold should leave you with a positive number. If it happens to be a negative problem then action needs to be taken. This is one of the advantages of actionable metrics.

    5. What Determines Metric Preference

    Every business has what works for it, the same goes for metrics. Every blog or business has the type of metric that works for it. What your business requires will determine the type of metric that will be preferred. A census and population company would require a vanity metric as they are rooted in figures while a network marketing or blog would require an actionable metric.

    There are 3 stages to metric use

    Stage 1: also known as the infant stage, concerned majorly with followers, subscribers, reviews and other online interactions. No major decision-making tasks are needed here. So, the vanity metric is highly efficient.

    Stage 2: somewhat called the middle stage or adolescent stage. Concerned with the number of sales, customer satisfaction, reviews, and minimal decision-making instances. This stage manoeuvres between vanity and actionable matrix.

    Stage 3: This is Ultimately the last stage, concerned with more advanced and serious data analysis. Decision making is highly influenced by collated data and actions are taken based on the results. A vanity metric is of no use to these class of marketers.


    As you climb the business ladder, data and records become more complicated. While the vanity metric works well with percentages and probabilities, actionable metrics are required for more tasking duties involving decision making and behavioural tracks. Non is or will go extinct as both metrics are useful in their own areas and are subject to functionality. Your type of business will determine your metric of choice.

    Published on Dec 19 2019



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