4 April 2024

Which KPI Is Most Likely to Be a Vanity Metric?

Updated April 2024: Are you patting yourself on the back because you just landed 500 new social media followers? Are you pleased about thousands of pageviews? What about 100 new subscribers in a week? 

As a B2B SaaS marketer, it’s crucial that you understand which KPI is most likely to be a vanity metric and which KPI is the real deal so you can use meaningful content marketing metrics to grow your business. 

In this video, we’ll walk through 3 examples of KPI vanity metrics to ditch, and we’ll cover which KPIs to use instead. 

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What is a KPI, anyway?

KPIs, or key performance indicators, measure successes and areas for improvement. KPIs enable companies to set their content strategy, allocate budget, analyze competition and demonstrate accountability. As a B2B SaaS marketer, it’s crucial that you understand which KPI is most likely to be a vanity metric and which KPI is the real deal so you can use helpful data to grow your business.

Find out which KPI is most likely to be a vanity metric

Vanity metrics may make your company look good, but they don’t move you closer to your goals. Relying on these stats can call your credibility into question and distract from strategic priorities that truly benefit your bottom line. Here are 3 examples that demonstrate which KPI is most likely to be a vanity metric.

Vanity Metric Example #1: Social media followers

You may have an impressive number of followers, but does it mean they’re engaging with your content? 

In addition to lack of engagement from your followers, HubSpot says there are over 95 million bots on Instagram, which account for nearly 10% of Instagram’s total user base. This means that a significant number of your followers may never convert into sales. 

So instead of using social media followers to measure success, track how many people are clicking, commenting on and sharing your content—that’s where the real value lies.

Vanity Metric Example #2: Blog post pageviews

It may make your boss happy to hear that your blog is getting tons of visitors, but measuring pageviews on its own—with no context—is a vanity metric that just makes you feel popular. 

Much more useful would be to focus on who is visiting your site and whether they’re converting into sales. You can also look at where your website visitors are coming from, what devices they’re using, how long they’re staying on the site and how many pages they’re visiting. 

These metrics will give you actionable insights and allow you to make strategic decisions. You’ll also want to up your SEO game, so check out these SaaS SEO tips.

Vanity Metric Example #3: Newsletter subscribers

A classic vanity metric is the number of total subscribers on your mailing list. The number will go up over time but it doesn’t provide any meaningful information on how engaged your subscribers are or whether they’re driving any revenue. 

Instead, think about measuring KPIs like click-through rate (percentage of people who clicked on a link in the newsletter that took them to your website) and conversion rate (percentage of people who took the action you wanted them to take).  

You can also measure monthly opt-ins (how many people sign up for the newsletter each month) and opt-in rates (percentage of people that land on your website and opt-in to your newsletter).

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So which content marketing metrics actually matter?

Now that you can spot vanity metrics as results in disguise, it’s time to focus on content marketing metrics that matter. These stats should always give you insight into costs and revenue. Here are a few examples to help you get started.

1. Customer acquisition cost and return on marketing investment

These two content marketing metrics go hand in hand. It’s important to know how much you’re paying to acquire your customers (for obvious reasons). You can measure this by tracking how much you’re spending on marketing, in addition to your conversion rates, to determine your overall marketing ROI and cost per customer.

2. Webpage conversion rates

Note the specificity here—rather than tracking your website’s overall conversion rate, drill down to the per-page conversion rates. Get even more granular by checking out how each page’s conversion rate differs by traffic source type. This level of detail will help you understand which content converts which type of user best, and will give you the information you need to A/B test for future optimization.

3. Email conversion rates

Email marketing is only meaningful if your subscribers translate into leads, or better yet, sales. Your newsletters hopefully already include solid calls to action, so track the conversion rates on those to learn whether your email campaigns drive revenue.

4. Social media engagement

There are several content marketing metrics you can track to determine the true value of your social channels. These include how many people are clicking, commenting on and sharing your content. Monitoring these metrics will also help you gain a better understanding of your customers’ likes, dislikes, and behaviours.


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Emily Amos

As the founder of Uplift Content, Emily leads her team in creating done-for-you case studies, ebooks and blog posts for high-growth SaaS companies like ClickUp, Calendly and WalkMe. Connect with Emily on Linkedin

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