The vanity metrics your college doesn’t need to track

The more data you track the more insights you acquire right? Surely you can never have too much data to sift through? Wrong! The real truth is there are certain metrics which while pretty to look at really don’t have a whole pile going on beneath their glittering surfaces. These are what are commonly referred to as vanity metrics.

Vanity metrics are things like page views, number of followers or downloads of a free report. They are statistics that look great on paper but don’t really reveal anything important. Say for instance that you launch a big recruitment campaign and you notice a huge spike in traffic; how does measuring this leap in site visitor’s help you gain insights into your web traffic. Does it tell you how much of this traffic is going to sign up to a course or request a campus visit? It only reveals that this campaign has driven more traffic to your site, it doesn't reveal anything about conversion rate. 

The number of visitors, subscribers and followers you have is relatively meaningless in the grand scheme of things.  Are you worried that you don’t have the same numbers of Facebook or Twitter followers as a competing college? Well don’t be! Sure it’s nice to have legions of followers but without taking into consideration engagement levels these metrics mean very little.

Instead you should focus on metrics that are actionable, i.e. specific and relatable tasks that you can improve on. A metric that isn’t actionable is a metric that you can’t improve upon.  

Before deciding what metrics you need to track you need to decide what goals are the most valuable to your institution. For instance, say one of your main goals is to increase the number of requests for campus visits or the applications to a particular short course. These forms can be set as a trackable goal in Google Analytics and linked to any related social media accounts or AdWords campaigns which are far more revealing than merely seeing a spike in followers or site visits.

It’s so easy to get side tracked by vanity metrics instead of focusing on the metrics that can make a real difference to your performance online.

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to setting measurable metrics but a good rule of thumb is to focus on conversion. You can spend an endless amount of money and effort on Google AdWords and social media sponsored posts but if they're not increasing conversion and traffic simultaneously then you’re just welcoming more junk traffic to your site.

Your ultimate goal should be to track the kinds of activities that lead to recruitment and revenue. 

What metrics does your university or college track? Let us know in the comments below.