5 Practical Ways to Make Sense of and Use Vanity Metrics

“Should I use vanity metrics to inform my content strategy?” new content platform users often ask. It’s a question larger content teams should tackle as they work their way through their numbers.

Vanity metrics, as a Tableau post notes, are “metrics that make you look good to others but do not help you understand your own performance in a way that informs future strategies.” Although vanity metrics on their own produce little strategic value, you can refine them to generate numbers that lead to tangible results.

Vanity metrics can include:

  • Social media followers and likes
  • Pageviews
  • Total app installs
  • Email open rates
  • Trial subscriptions and sample orders

Let’s look at how your teams can turn these vanity metrics into actionable numbers.

Social Media Followers and Likes

Have you ever received a notification from a friend asking you to “like” their favorite social media page? If you’re like me, you just click on the upturned thumb, feel good that you made your friend happy, and then go on to binge-watch all the cat/dog/music videos that fill up your thread.

You might have even ticked the “like” button on a post or two. After all, your friend might look to see if you’ve interacted with the page.

You’re not a prospect for most of those businesses you “liked.” Similarly, so are many of your own company’s followers.

What is relevant are specific numbers that hide behind those upturned thumbs:

  • That percentage of your followers that are actually prospects
  • That percentage of your posts that drive those followers to engage with your content, ask intelligent questions that demonstrate interest, and research other related posts on your website

Your social media and content analytics can inform you about which followers are legitimate prospects. Look at how they engage with your content, as opposed to random followers who rarely even return to your page.

Secondly, look closely at followers who comment on your posts, ask questions that indicate interest, and read other related posts on your blog. Follow up on those leads by responding to their questions and comments. Create content that addresses their pain points.

When you dig a little deeper into your social vanity metrics, you just might find some buried treasure.


While it’s true that pageviews increase your traffic and possibly give you a little SEO boost, that’s not what your C-suite will look at when they calculate next year’s budget. They want results they can take to the bank.

So, instead of making pageviews your hill to die on, look at other related metrics, such as:

  • Bounce rate
  • Time spent on page and pages per session
  • Clickthrough rate to your call to action

Bounce rate

What’s the value in someone visiting a blog post if they don’t find the information they need and leave before reading through to the end. A high bounce rate can indicate that you might want to revamp your blog post to better meet your target customers’ needs. Or, you might want to reformat it to include more visual material to hold your audience’s attention to the end.

Time spent on your page and pages per session

The more your audience engages with your website’s content, the more likely they are to be qualified prospects. They’re looking for information on a specific topic, probably because they are looking to solve a problem. If you offer more authoritative content on that topic than your competitors, you’ll be the first company they turn to when they need to buy what you sell.

Linking to related posts on your blog pages will entice your audience to gobble up even more information about the topic they’re interested in. Not only will your prospects read to the end of the page they’re on, but they will also build more trust in your brand with every page they read.

Clickthrough rate for calls to action

While calls to action should vary by the audience’s stage in the buyer’s journey, getting them to engage further with your brand is a good sign they’re interested in your products or services. Use the rate at which they respond to your calls to action to identify and promote top-performing content.

Those responses can include:

  • Signing up for your email list at the beginning of their journey
  • Downloading a high-value content asset at the middle of their journey
  • Signing up for a free trial near decision time

Review and revise content that doesn’t drive such actions. Then, test your revisions until they become irresistible as well.

Total App Installs

If you’ve ever installed an app that promised to make your life better but turned out to be just another decorative addition to your smartphone screen, welcome to the club. I can’t count the number of times that’s happened to me.

But some companies act as if the number of app installs is their Holy Grail. Yes, people are on mobile more often than not when using the internet, but if they never use the app, it just sits there — a pop of color on your screen.

Pretty is as pretty does. However, if your content teams can serve up your prospects appealing content on that app, that app will become one of their go-to favorites.

For example, I just compared two random apps on my mobile device — one a news site I recently downloaded, the other a grocery chain app I rarely used. The moment I glanced at their content, I realized why I never used the grocery store’s app.

All the content it had on it was a store finder and a settings page. Yawn. I deleted it. Way past time.

A list of the store’s specials this week, though, and a blog packed with recipes to soothe my post-holiday sweet tooth would have made it an app I would return to again and again.

The news app, though, offered me a banquet of choices — live and recorded TV programs, commentary, and stories on a variety of topics. And its mobile-friendly design was as close to its desktop version as an app could get.

Guess which app I’ll get on when I’m done for the day?

So, instead of counting app downloads, count the number of times users engage with your app. Look at which content they engage with most — and feed them a never-ending supply of it.

Email Open Rates

As Hubspot’s Mike Volpe advises, email open rates aren’t reliable to measure the effectiveness of your content. It’s the clickthrough rate and lead generation your emails generate that are critical for email content marketing success.

Again, it’s the results that indicate your email content’s success or failure. If the tease you post in your email is irresistible, your recipients will click through to discover how the story ends — or even convert into a qualified lead.

However, using your emails’ open rate to measure your clickthrough rate and lead generation against can help you determine what kinds of email content drives conversions. And, it can help your pinpoint where your content missed the mark so that you can improve conversion rates for your next email campaign.

Free Trial Subscriptions and Samples

Yes, the number of free trials you convince people to try can indicate how your bottom-of-the-funnel content performs. But that’s not the finish line.

Free trials are a fantastic way to demonstrate the superiority of your products and services. However, to make them successful in generating paid subscriptions, you need to support these free trials with sales content that shows users how to get the most out of your products.

Tutorial videos, for instance, are exceptionally helpful to demonstrate how to use your product.

And, videos that teach prospects how to maximize your product’s effectiveness can differentiate your product from your competitors’ offerings.

Helping your free subscribers get up to speed from the beginning and troubleshoot any issues they might have can make the difference between a sale and a lot of wasted time. After all, generating sales is your company’s ultimate goal.

With a central hub where you can plan content for every step toward that goal, your job becomes so much easier. DivvyHQ’s content marketing platform does just that.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself for 14 days absolutely free, starting today!