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Why you shouldn't make a dog CEO or care about vanity metrics

It’s been years since Eric Ries coined the term “vanity metrics,” and marketers have been trying to figure out how to better measure their content ever since. We obviously want to see the results of our efforts (and so do the higher-ups). 

The problem is that these analytics were never really accurate, and with today’s technology, it’s just getting worse. Bots and click farms have made previous measurables, such as followers or likes, much less meaningful. But that isn’t the only way that technology and social media have messed things up.

The Puppy-Gate effect

Think of the old analogy that “any publicity is good publicity,” and let’s tweak it to say, “Any web traffic is good web traffic.” Is it, though? Let’s say your company is all over the news because they decided to appoint a dog as CEO. Uh, yes—you’d absolutely be getting more traffic. But is it good traffic? Hard no. 

That traffic is only coming to your site because they want to see where this highly-paid puppy works. You’ll have a significant increase in overall page views, and your social media engagement will skyrocket since everyone from your aunt to your local politician is going to want to let you know exactly what they think about Puppy-Gate. 

The point is that these vanity metrics absolutely don’t matter and don’t deserve your time.

Reviewing fluffy metrics

This brings us to the fundamental problem with vanity metrics: if the people viewing your content aren’t potential prospects, their metrics don’t matter. By now, you’re probably wondering, “Well… what are meaningful metrics then?”

At the content level, some metrics can still provide insight into whether people are engaging in key ways. For example, Average Time on Page and Scroll Depth can tell you if people are actually reading your blog post. Bounce Rate and CTA Clicks are also pretty common ways to see if your content is converting. The problem is that these metrics still might include the wrong audience. 

In fact, Puppy-Gate probably killed those averages. 

You need to filter out those “Gaters” and focus on your target audience for more relevant analytics. To do this, you should look at how your content performs at the campaign level or, if you are an Uberflip user, at the stream level. These avenues are much more targeted—which adds context to these metrics.

Screenshot of Uberflip Analytics showing item perfomance

The Single Item Performance dashboard within Uberflip allows you to see how your content is performing overall and at the individual stream level. 

Fetching better metrics

Imagine you’re a dog food wholesaler and have released a new data-driven report on which flavor of kibble sold best over the last year. It’s being shared across multiple channels, as well as by your Customer Success and Sales teams. How do you know if it is performing well or not? 

If you look at overall page views, you may see some big numbers. But what is the context behind those numbers? How many of these views are grad students working on their next paper, or are pet owners that you don’t sell directly to? 

Instead, look at analytics from your campaigns that are targeted at pet stores and veterinarians. Or better yet, see how the report is being consumed by the specific chain of pet stores that are a part of your ABM efforts.  

Suddenly, all those previously mentioned metrics mean so much more. These page views are from your prospects. Return Visitors represent prospects who are coming back and are interested in what you have to say. 

These numbers will be smaller, but 50 page views from a targeted ABM prospect are more valuable than 50,000 from animal lovers.

No more dog analogies—just move past vanity metrics

Simply reporting on things website page views will get you nowhere. In fact, pursuing vanity metrics can actually knock you severely off course. It can cause you to spend your time and money seeking upticks in metrics that are not going to yield you any more customers or revenue. 

So start reporting on things that actually matter.