Episode 128: Determining True Marketing Success: Ditch The Vanity Metrics

Have you ever seen someone on YouTube or Facebook or Instagram and thought…DANG they MUST be important. Look how many subscribers, comments and shares they’ve got?!?

I know my kids have their favorite YouTubers they follow — in fact, the other day my eight-year-old was having an argument with his buddy about which YouTubers were the best. These two boys started throwing around their favorite YouTubers’ subscriber counts as proof that their person was the best!

So yeah, people pay attention to things like subscriber count, engagement and other things that I call “vanity metrics”. 

Now you may be asking how I can call them vanity metrics if people pay attention to them. 

It’s because (and this is important) you can spend all your time building up vanity metrics AT THE EXPENSE of creating a real business. 

Yep, I said it. 

Subscribers. Comments. Likes/Loves. NONE of that makes you money, my friend. Those are feel-good proof points that other people at one time or another decided to take a teensy, tiny action — like subscribing to your YouTube channel — but it’s NOT proof of anything else. 

In fact, I hate to burst your bubble if you don’t already know this, but many people BUY THEIR WAY TO FAME in shady deals to get fake bot subscribers or by swapping like for like. 

That’s like spray-painting over a fender bender and trying to say the car is just like new. It may fool people who see the car from a distance, but once you get up close you’ll quickly discover it’s a scam and a sham. 

So, what types of things would I put into the vanity metrics category? 

Let’s break this down.

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Biggest Show Takeaways:

  • Vanity metrics are anything that feel good/look good but do NOTHING to bring profit into your business. For example, subscribers, social media followers, website traffic or rankings, shares, retweets, etc.
  • These types of metrics look good, feel good and sound good but again, they don’t DO anything for your business. They don’t help you make better decisions about where to invest. They don’t help you learn about your true audience — the buyers. They just sound really fun and positive.
    • That’s why you MUST go deeper than the surface-level vanity ESPECIALLY NOW when what we do and how we run our businesses needs to work better than ever. 
  • If you’ve been tracking and talking about vanity metrics, I don’t want you to feel bad. First of all, everyone does it. Second, now is the time to expand your focus and track better metrics. Let’s take a look at a few vanity metrics and how you can pivot to dive into more relevant and actionable content. 


Example: Website Traffic Vanity Metric

  • One of the biggest vanity metrics I hear thrown around all the time is people touting their website traffic. They’ll say something like “WOW we had 10,000 visitors to our website last month with over 26,000 page views!”. 
  • Sounds impressive, right? So, why would I label it vanity metrics? 
    • Traffic alone doesn’t tell your whole story. It’s time to dive further in and get curious. 
    • For example, is your bounce rate high — meaning do people hit your website and almost immediately jump away? Or do they stick around and navigate through your site?  
  • To truly understand your traffic beyond the vanity metric of numbers of people and pages viewed, you’ll want to dive into what’s working and what’s not working. Most of all you want to understand WHAT IS DRIVING THESE NUMBERS because then you’ll be able to make better decisions. 
  • When you take the time to dive further into the data behind the numbers, there’s  a WEALTH of information that helps you learn more and make better decisions about your business. 
  • Let’s take a look at a couple questions you could ask: 
    • Where’s your traffic coming from? 
      • Yes, we all want our website traffic to grow month over month. That means more people are finding us, right? 
      • We also want to know what is DRIVING YOUR TRAFFIC TO YOUR SITE! For example, did you have a social media post go viral? Did you have an ad that worked really well? Did a big name in your industry give you a shoutout? Did someone else link to content on your site? 
      • These are all really important questions to ask because if it’s working, you want to do more of that. 
  • Another metric you could look at are conversions. I’ve heard people say that traffic is traffic and it doesn’t matter if they’re the right people or not as long as people are finding you. 
    • WRONG. Bad traffic is a waste of your time. If you’re attracting the wrong people to your site, something is off in your marketing. If you’re running ads that get people to click but not do anything else, that’s the wrong type of traffic. You see why the traffic number alone isn’t enough? 
    • Let’s say people get to your site and they sign up for your freebie, meaning they give you their name and email. That’s great, right? I’ve heard people bragging that they get 10%, 20%, or even 50% or more opt-ins on their websites. And they want to know is that good? 
    • My answer is that I don’t know and here’s why: CONVERSION
      • An opt-in is an indicator, but an opt-in by itself does not drive profitability. You need that person to convert into a buyer. 
      • What happens AFTER they sign up? Do they open your emails? Are they engaging with your marketing funnel? Are they buying? THOSE are the metrics that really matter and the only way you can grow a Profit Without Worry business. 

Here’s what I invite you to do: Take a look at everything you track in your business. Is it an indicator of success? Or is it tracking your profitability? If you can’t directly tie the metric to growing your business, you probably need to ask further questions to dive in and understand what this metric truly means to your bottom line.  

Create Profit Without Worry – one system at a time. I’ll show you how to attract a steady flow of buyers without all the hustle with this free download →  5 Steps To Profit Without Worry.


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2 comments
Roxanne says May 3, 2020

I know what you mean about the kids comparing their fav YouTubers’ subs! Loved this episode. Really hit home. Thanks always, Michelle.

    Michelle L. Evans says May 24, 2020

    Thanks Roxanne! Glad you liked it 🙂

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