Why Tracking Vanity Metrics Might be Hurting Your Marketing By , September 27 2018

When it comes to marketing, creating content and playing with the latest digital toys may be more fun than analyzing your data. But without evaluating results, it’s impossible to understand the return on investment, or how to improve it.
To make matters worse, there is a right way and a wrong way to analyse your marketing data. Some data points might make you feel great, but they may add very little value.
These are known as vanity metrics. They’re flashy numbers that look great on paper but have no clear benefit, and provide little help for future marketing decisions.
Odds are you are using these metrics. So, what are they, and what should you be looking at instead?
Vanity Metric: Page Likes
The most common vanity metrics that I see in social media, and least helpful in many ways, is page likes or follows.
Let’s face it, this one feels great. It seems to reflect your rising popularity, which is what marketing is all about, right?
Not exactly.
When you begin your social media presence these likes and follows are something you should be aiming for, but they’re not the best indicator of your marketing performance.
First, likes are most valuable when they are from past, current, or potential future clients. An agent with 500 followers that live locally and are likely to enter the market is better off than an agent with 10,000 foreign followers that will probably never convert into clients. One looks better on paper, but the other is more likely to win listings and sales from their efforts.
Second, a spike in likes doesn’t give you any information about what your audience is responding to in your marketing. If you don’t know what caused the Like, you can’t replicate it consistently. Focusing on post engagements is much more effective.
Actionable Metric: Engagement
Engagement on your social media posts is an actionable metric, meaning that you can learn something from the data and take action to improve your marketing based on that data.
Post engagements are any type of response to your post on Facebook, such as likes or sentiments (the various feeling options that come up when you hover over the like button), shares, comments or clicks. You can use Facebook Insights to analyse this data for free.
If you are able to identify what types of posts are achieving better engagement, you can adjust and update your social media marketing strategy to deliver better results. Do your community focused posts seem to receive more comments? Great! Adjust your strategy to include more community focused posts. Maybe your evening posts achieve better engagement than morning ones. Then you can make sure you’re posting more often in the evening.
Below is the Facebook report that shows some of our post’s engagement metrics.

When it comes to your email marketing, most metrics are actionable in some way, though there are some that are less important when determining your return on investment.
Vanity Metric: Total Subscribers  
Like social media, email has a similar vanity metric that is often celebrated, but largely meaningless. This is total subscribers and usually relates to the size of your database.
Again, it may feel good to have a large email database of 25,000 subscribers, but it means little if your audience is not engaging with your content, or if they are unlikely to ever become clients. Instead, consider metrics that relate directly to the conversion.
Actionable Metrics: Open Rate, Click Rate, Lead Rate, or Conversion Rate
Your open rate is an actionable metric. You can use your open rate to determine the quality of your subject lines, the best day and time to send out an email, or an overall engagement level of your subscriber list. But this is by no means the only metric you should use to determine the success of your email campaign.
Using iRealty’s reporting you can also see your click rate, lead rate, and conversion rate. These metrics relate directly to your content, reveal subscriber interests, and are actionable. Your click rate allows you to track which members of your audience are engaging with your content, what their individual interests are, and what content is most popular.
Our leads take this one step further and offer by far the biggest return on investment, giving you the opportunity to track your contacts’ interest in buying or selling a property. If you take action based on these metrics and follow up with leads you’ll easily be able to track the difference that your email marketing is making on your bottom line.
Finally, your conversion rate is the key to understanding your return on investment, and overall marketing effectiveness. It tells you how many subscribers it takes to receive a lead. By increasing your open rate, click rate, or lead rate, you will improve your conversion rate. Better yet if you track your leads, and determine how many you convert into a new listing or property purchase.
Below is our iRealty report for an event invitation we sent to some of our followers.

So when you’re next analysing your digital marketing data, whether it be on social media or email, try not to be distracted by those shiny vanity metrics. You’ll feel satisfied when you first spot them but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that they’re often not very helpful. Instead, focus your attention on actionable metrics, and you’ll soon gain a deeper understanding of what is and isn’t working in your marketing.

August 18, 2023 3 ways to win your next listing without giving your marketing away for free
July 13, 2023 Real Estate Marketing Autumn Awards 2023