Tracking the performance of your digital marketing strategies is critical for the success of your business. Thanks to the wealth of information gathered by any online marketing activity, you'll be able to garner invaluable insights into the activities and habits of your target audience. However, many businesses make the mistake of focusing too much on vanity metrics instead of the key performance indicators that point to far more important factors such as your return on investment and cost per lead.
This came to light when we were asked to review a client’s online activities. They had a tremendous number of visitors to the site but they simply weren’t converting. What we have discovered is that is typically happens when you aren’t attracting the RIGHT people to the site and/or you are focusing on the WRONG keywords.
Here are four common vanity metrics that you should be wary of as they could mislead you on your REAL online success:
1 - Likes, Follows and Connections
Facebook likes, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections and Google +1s are the kind of metrics that many businesses pay far too much attention to. After all, many people assume that the brand with the most followers wins but, in reality, these metrics bear little relevance to actual results. Liking a brand or a post on Facebook, for example, requires nothing more than a single click, and people often do it without giving it a second thought. In other words, just because someone likes your brand page, it doesn't mean that you're actively engaging them.
2 - Ad Impressions
The number of impressions is typically a metric used in paid online advertising that refers to the number of people who have seen your ads. In spite of being another metric that many businesses pay attention to, it is largely useless. When compared with the number of clicks your ads get, it can serve as a rough guideline to the reach of your ads, but impressions themselves say nothing about the actual performance of your campaign. For instance you could be getting a lot of impressions for a keyword you have put in that too generic for your product. This leads to lots of impressions but may have very little impact on conversion.
Far more important than impressions are click-through rates and consequent conversions, since these are the only results that you should be paying for.
3 - Email Open Rates
One of the most lauded metrics for tracking the performance of your email marketing strategy, email open rates refer to the number of times people view your emails. Again, this metric provides very little insight into the actual performance of your email newsletters. People often open emails without actually reading them, and preview panes in popular email clients such as Outlook count as opens as well. In other words, open rate is a very inaccurate metric and, instead, you should focus on key performance indicators such as click-through rates, deliverability and forwards.
4 - Page Views
As is the case with email newsletters, a page view means almost nothing in terms of results. You can have thousands of page views per day, but the figure is completely meaningless if you're getting a poor conversion rate. A successful business website is one that targets a specific audience by prioritizing relevancy over the number of visitors alone. What is important is how people are engaging with your content and going on to become leads or conversions. Instead of focusing on page views, pay attention to time spent on page, social shares, signups and conversions.
It's easy to focus too much on vanity metrics at the expense of the real key performance indicators. While the above metrics can provide a general overview of the reach of your digital marketing efforts, they bare little relevance to conversions and return on investment. Instead of putting too much weight in these vanity metrics, focus only on those that actually bring you a return on investment. Ultimately, you're going to want to pay for conversions and not to have bragging rights of having more Facebook followers or page views than your competitors.
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