Stop Chasing Vanity Metrics: Focus on Real Results That Drive Business Growth

How to Focus on Digital Advertising KPIs That Drive Growth


Do you ever feel like you’re just spinning your wheels when it comes to digital advertising? You’re putting in the work, but not seeing the results you expect. The problem may be that you’re focused on vanity metrics instead of the metrics that really matter.

As a digital advertising and social media consultant, I’ve seen this happen time and time again. Brands get distracted by flashy vanity metrics like impressions, reach, and followers. Don’t get me wrong, these metrics have their place. But if you want real business results from your ad campaigns, you need to prioritise action-oriented metrics.

In this article, we’ll look at the differences between vanity and valuable metrics. You’ll learn which metrics truly drive growth for your business. Let’s get started!

Impressions vs. Clicks

One of the most common vanity metrics is impressions. This refers to the number of times your ads are displayed. Seems reasonable to track, right?

The problem with impressions is that they don’t actually tell you much about the performance of your ads. Just because someone saw your ad doesn’t mean they engaged with it in any meaningful way.

A much better metric is clicks. This tells you how many people saw your ad and were interested enough to click through to your site or landing page. Now that’s a strong signal of engagement!

Focus on increasing your click-through rate (CTR), not just overall impressions. If your CTR is low, it means your messaging isn’t resonating or your targeting is off. Optimizing to get more clicks will drive better results.

Reach vs. Engagement

Another seductive but potentially misleading vanity metric is reach. This refers to the total number of unique people who saw your content across social media.

Of course, you want to extend your reach and get your content in front of more eyeballs. But a big reach number alone doesn’t help you achieve your business goals.

Instead, start tracking engagement metrics like shares, comments, and link clicks. These show when your content connects with people enough that they actively engage further.

If you have a small, highly-engaged audience, that’s much more valuable than a broad but passive reach. Lean into creating content that gets people excited and drives organic engagement.

Followers vs. Sales

As a business, your ultimate goal is to drive sales and grow revenue. But it’s easy to get sidetracked chasing follower counts on social media.

Gaining new followers is great, but it doesn’t help if they never convert into paying customers. This metric can even be misleading – you may have a huge follower count, but terrible engagement levels.

To keep focused on business results, track how many followers convert into sales. You can also look at sales directly attributed to social campaigns. These metrics help you optimize social strategies to drive real revenue.

Quality over quantity applies here. A smaller group of engaged, high-converting followers will drive more sales than a giant disengaged audience. Focus less on vanity follower numbers and more on cultivating customer relationships.

Lower Cost Per Click vs. Higher Conversion Rates

In pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, marketers often obsess over driving down cost per click (CPC). Of course, you want to maximize your ad budget. But focusing solely on CPC can lead you astray.

If you drive down CPC too aggressively, you may get clicks from low-quality traffic that won’t convert. Those cheap clicks don’t help your bottom line.

A better approach is to maximize conversion rates from your traffic. Set up landing pages and campaigns optimised for conversions. Then look at metrics like click-through rate, cost per conversion, and return on ad spend.

With the right targeting and messaging, you can achieve a higher conversion rate even with a higher CPC. Those conversions are what will ultimately impact sales and revenue.

Prioritising Action Over Awareness

Many brands focus their digital strategies on raising awareness. They assume that getting in front of more people will automatically lead to more sales.

But the path from awareness to action is long and complex. Just because someone has heard of your brand doesn’t mean they’ll buy from you.

To drive real business growth, you need to prioritise action-oriented objectives and metrics:

  • Site traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Customer acquisition
  • Account based growth
  • Retention
  • Referrals

These reflect tangible actions tied to revenue. Track them relentlessly and align your strategies to move these metrics.

Awareness has its place, but should be just one part of a broader strategy focused on driving business results. Don’t put all your eggs in the vanity metrics basket.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to obsess over vanity metrics that seem impressive but don’t actually impact your business. Resist the temptation to chase metrics like impressions, reach, and followers.

Instead, ruthlessly focus on metrics tied to business results. Track clicks over impressions, engagement over reach, conversions over followers. Optimize campaigns around actions over awareness.

Adopting this mindset takes discipline, especially with so much pressure to show big vanity numbers. But staying focused on real business metrics will serve you well in the long run.

Need help prioritising the digital advertising metrics that really matter? As an experienced consultant, I can assess your current metrics and KPIs. Then develop an optimised framework to drive sustainable growth for your business. Reach out today to get started!