What are Vanity Stats?

Posted on Oct 15, 2021 |

What are vanity stats and why it’s best you know? Vanity stats or vanity metrics, whichever way you want are a false dawn. I remember being informed by sales people wanting me to buy banner advertising as they would get millions of impressions*.




*Impressions, just means an image loaded once in one browser, doesn’t mean anyone has done anything.


Going Back to Source

Here’s a lesson we sometimes forget in our noisy digital world. If you see a stat online go back to source or compare multiple sources. Its’ the same thing as studying history teaches us, go back to source and work your way forward then YOU can work out the truth, half-truth of action you can take.

3 Top Vanity Stats:

  • Pageviews
  • Downloads (running total)
  • Social Followers


People get hung up on this because Google Analytics produces the stat. It will only have a use, if you can take an action. The number will make you feel good, o’ yes your ego will be tickled. If anyone tells you they have “2,500’ page views this week!” Answer them with “And?”

It may lead to something. You can use this stat as a benchmark. But it’s not the same for say a content information site promoting awareness compared with an ecommerce product page. The usefulness will depend on your business metrics, the Key Performance Indicators. Do page views add anything to the bottom line.

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Download, the Running Total

What will happen with this number, optimistically it is ALWAYS going up. The same goes for the number of subscribers to your email. So, again vanity. Can you do anything with that number. Yes. Again, it’s a benchmark. You know where you are now. It’s also a target. What if you doubled that because with X amount of subscribers we get Y amount of income.

Social Followers

I had someone say to me “and we have 13,879 fans on our Facebook page.” I did bite my tongue. If I hadn’t I would have said “What are they doing?” I wasn’t that blunt I, instead, asked “What is the engagement of the page followers?” They didn’t know.

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Does a Vanity Stat Have any Value?

It can do, as explained above. But there is another use and that is for collaboration. I have 10,000 followers on Facebook, you have an email list of 2,000 subscribers (do always ask the open rate and clickthrough). You can post on our Facebook for a slot on your newsletter.

Which Stats are Useful?

Engagement is a good one to measure, searches for brand terms, average order value, email open rates and more. Think backwards about your stats.

If you need X amount of revenue per week / month or Y amount of margin what do your online marketing stats have to be to achieve the business target. It’s a bit of a guess but it will give you an idea of how your online marketing should contribute.

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Can all Stats Tell a Story?

You have to remember that some stats might not have an action but they will tell a story and contribute. For example how can you tell about brand awareness online?

The simplest and very broad way is to measure the searches for your brand. How? Google Search Console will trap the brand terms. How successful are the brand terms in producing sales? Well, Google Ads will answer that one. Have a look and keep an eye on the conversions to sales via Google Ads.

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Ask Yourself This?

If I don’t advertise on my brand terms will I get the same amount of sales?

Think long and hard about this one. You will read that if you don’t advertise on your brand terms then a competitor will. Well, will they convert those clicks? Impossible to say. But I will tell you something, if someone is searching for your brand term, they are interested and likely to buy / subscribe etc. When they go through to a competitor they a) won’t be getting what they were asking for (a bad experience on a competitor site) and b) for that competitor to convert they will have to make an offer, usually affecting their own margins.

Ask Yourself This?

What if I stop advertising on my brand terms? If you know the value of those brand term conversions (and this will be very accurate) you’ll be able to tell

Interesting Stat that Validate

Do you know how many Google searchers know that the entries at the top of the page are adverts? Look it up, that stat may inform you of what is written above.

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Happy Stat Collection

Keep a dashboard, a spreadsheet, of all the stats you think will be valuable, some won’t lead to action, but they could be of interest when combined with some other information. Now you are benchmarking and therefore can measure and make progress.

You will come across some interesting patterns, patterns that will contribute to your business profit.

Jim Signature



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