Busting the Myth of Vanity Metrics

by Kayla Anderson, Marketing Manager - 08/09/17


If you Google “How to create a marketing measurement plan”, you get nearly 75 million results. Needless to say, figuring out the best measurement plan for your hospital can be overwhelming.

In the short term, it may feel gratifying to concentrate on “vanity metrics” like post engagement and estimated reach. But the highest numbers aren’t always the best indicator of your best performing content. How can you discern which metrics are most appropriate?

Goals: The Alpha and Omega of Marketing Measurement

Your measurement plan begins and ends with your goals, and goals change depending on the type of campaign you are running. Each stage of the buyer’s journey should have a corresponding marketing campaign in order to engage the maximum number of prospects and—until they’re ready to make a decision—nurture them to conversion.

Rather than focusing exclusively on engagement metrics like the number of social media interactions or email subscribers—or hard conversion metrics like ROI—choose metrics that are most aligned with your campaign's goal.

For example:

Your hospital recently partnered with a cardiology practice, and you want to increase patient encounters.

In order to identify patients that are unaware they should see a cardiologist, you run a service line campaign with a health risk assessment (HRA). This allows visitors to your website to segment themselves by risk, receive more information that is customized for them, and easily make an appointment if their results suggest they do so.

What’s the most relevant metric for this campaign?

You could build the case for conversions of people with moderate-high risk HRA results to scheduled appointments, but let’s take a step back.

The goal of this campaign is to acquire information for more prospective patients via the HRA. Therefore, your key performance indicator should be the ratio of those who hit the landing page to completing the assessment.


If the cardiology health risk assessment is intended to generate more contacts and segment them for further communication, you want to make sure the landing page is seen by the right people (page views) and that those page views find the health risk assessment relevant.

Just because you built it doesn't necessarily mean users will come. You have to make sure your landing page is being promoted and seen by the right people. Once you have them, you can nurture them and get more information down the road. If you approach your campaigns this way, you will have a database full of information that will allow you to deeply understand your personas and create targeted and efficient marketing campaigns.

Traffic Isn't Everything

Page views is a relevant metric for our cardiology example, but more traffic does not always equate to more success.

Say you're hosting a series of prenatal classes for parents-to-be. You send a direct mail piece to expecting mothers that includes a link to a landing page where they can learn more and reserve their spot. The traffic on this landing page is important. However, your goal is to get expecting parents to register for your birthing class. In this case, conversions on your landing page would be your key performance indicator.

In our cardiology example, you are asking prospects to segment themselves so you can learn more about them. In this birthing class example, you already know that you are targeting expecting families. It is not a question of targeting, but how enticing your offer (in this case, your prenatal class) is.

Segment Results by Behavior Rather than Demographics

Once your key performance indicators tie directly to the goals and are within scope of your campaign and the campaign runs its course, it is time to report on those metrics. This gives you a baseline to refine and expand upon for next time. "Set it and forget it" marketing is no longer an option. Marketers need to think more like a tech startup by taking an iterative approach and adopting an "always be learning" mentality.

Demographics are helpful for targeting prospects on the front end, but may not be the most helpful in the reporting phase. Evolve your reporting from demographics to how people behave when presented with your marketing campaign.

“Is behavior changing? If it’s getting better, then so is your business.”, said Lloyd Tabb, CTO of Looker. Lloyd recently interviewed with First Round Review and has a lot to say about which types of metrics are important at which times. Nothing is black and white. Conversions matter, but not all of your campaigns are about conversions. Marketers are also charged with building brand awareness, growing opt-in lists, promoting events, etc.

All of these interactions will end in an encounter, but we have to measure the full journey—not just the end of the road.

Want more insights delivered to your inbox?


Subscribe Now

Topics: Measurement & Analytics

Get Blog Updates by Email

Insight Magazine

The latest issue of Insight magazine offers fresh ideas to inform your marketing strategies. 
Start Reading Now!

Insight Magazine


Popular Articles

Follow us on Twitter