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Vanity Metrics—Website Metrics That Don’t Matter

Do you remember the excitement when you first installed Google Analytics on your WordPress site? Do you remember all those long hours staring at your visitor numbers and bragging to your friends about how many people came to your home page or your epic blog post?

I do. And guess what? None of that mattered at all to the success of my business; and it still doesn’t.

What Are Metrics?

Revisiting the definition of metrics and what they truly are is something that can help us. In short, metrics are defined as “a method of measuring something, or the results obtained from this.”

website metrics you should measure

The Definition of Metrics

When discussing metrics (in relation to your website), we typically think of data metrics that include the number of visitors, page views, visitor locations, referral methods and other data points. This data can be very powerful in some ways, but it can also misrepresent your success. The truth is, it all depends on what your end goals are. Many people translate metrics into perceived success, when really, some metrics can be quite the opposite.

They may be just vanity metrics.

What Are Vanity Metrics?

Vanity metrics can be described as numbers (or data) that make you feel good, but have no direct relation to the financial success or the actual customer experience of your business website. In other words, vanity metrics are information about your site and your users that doesn’t actually help you to make decisions about your company or products.

Which Metrics REALLY Matter

Actionable metrics matter most. These are measurable results that help  you to make informed decisions and take some immediate action.

The easiest example of an actionable metric is A/B testing. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s also known as split testing and typically involves testing two (or more) versions of a web page. A/B testing helps you understand which content (headlines, images, calls-to-action) is best guiding your visitors to an end goal, like becoming a subscriber or paying customer. A/B testing connects a specific action to specific results, which means you can make intelligent decisions with your data.

There are some important—but less obvious—actionable metrics you should pay attention to as well. Ash Maurya lays them out quite nicely in the article “3 Rules to Actionable Metrics in a Lean Startup“.

He breaks metrics down into three simple metric action categories.

  1. Measuring the Right Macro
  2. Creating Simple Reports
  3. Metrics are People Too

Are You Measuring the Metrics That Matter?


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