What are Vanity Metrics?

Vanity metrics are data points that may look impressive on the surface but do not necessarily correlate with the success or health of a business.

To illustrate, imagine you released an app that was getting a steady amount of downloads but no one who downloaded the app came back to use it a second time.

If you only looked at downloads, it would appear that things are going well and business is booming. However, if you look one level deeper and focus on engagement metrics, you would notice immediately that users aren't coming back, signifying that your app isn't providing any value.

Examples of vanity metrics

Any metrics that don't correlate with real business objectives are things to look out for. Here's a list of common vanity metrics:

  • Page views
  • Total signups
  • App downloads
  • Email subscribers
  • Social media followers

Vanity metrics vs. actionable metrics

While vanity metrics can provide a feel-good factor, they often offer little actionable insight or direct indication of performance.

As a result, website owners and marketers should focus more on KPIs that align with business success.

In almost all cases, this means focusing on what leads to conversions. And for content driven sites, this might also mean focusing on user engagement metrics like session duration and bounce rate.