Which Metrics Matter?

A Guide to Marketing Analytics

Should you go for reach or impressions? How many followers should you be aiming for? Do any of these marketing analytics numbers even really mean anything?

The answer to that last question is yes. Most of the numbers do mean something, but some are more important than others, and, if used correctly, they can help you gauge the effectiveness of your marketing campaign.

Before we dive too far in, let us give you a quick overview of the technical definitions of the phrases we’ll be discussing today.

Marketing Analytics Glossary

  • Bounce Rate – Percentage of website visitors who leave without interacting (clicks, form, videos, etc)
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) – Percentage of email readers who click a link or button in the email
  • Engagement – Number of interactions on posts, including clicks, comments, and shares
  • Followers/Subscribers – Number of people following an account or subscribed to receive emails/read a blog
  • Impressions – Numbers of times a post is seen in someone’s feed, including repeats
  • Open Rate – Percentage of email recipients who open the email
  • Reach – Number of people who had a social post display in their feed
  • Traffic – Number of people who visited a website
  • User Journey – The path users take through a website
  • User Journey Drop Off – The page(s) at which users leave a website

Don’t Get Suckered in by Vanity Metrics!

Let’s talk about vanity metrics, or, in other words, numbers that look impressive but don’t mean much. Our biggest pet peeve? Impressions. If you read that glossary you know that means the number of times a post has appeared in someone’s feed. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a new person each time, nor does it indicate that they’ve EVEN READ THE POST!

In other words: vanity metric. Twitter in particular loves to showcase impressions because their network does a great job spreading your post around and it looks a lot better than their abysmally low engagement rates.

Metrics That Actually Matter

Let’s talk about engagement rates a little bit more. Overall engagements are important. This means people aren’t just seeing your post (or having it appear in their feed), but are responding or interacting with that post in some way. Engagement rate divides that number of interactions by the total number of followers you have, to indicate how engaged your followers actually are.

When people ask us how many followers they need, or if they should focus on follows for ad campaigns, we always hesitate. Because there’s no right answer, and on their own followers don’t mean much. It’s only when you have followers who care about your content that you start to get some return on investment for your time and energy.

So yes, followers are good. Engaged followers are better.

Neither metric means much by itself, but when you put them together you can see the bigger picture. How many people follow you, and how many care what you have to say.

Email Metrics That Matter

While the terminology may change, the concept is the same! Email subscribers (people who sign up for your emails) are good. Subscribers who open emails and click links and/or buttons are better. Email is a little simpler because email platforms really only provide you with the metrics that matter. So you don’t have to sift through a lot of superfluous information to get the good stuff.

One additional thing to note — check for bounced emails. If you’re getting a high number of bounces, either your list includes a lot of bad emails OR you’re getting flagged as spam. If it’s the latter, you’ll want to troubleshoot that as soon as possible to make sure your emails actually make it to people’s inboxes!

Website Metrics That Matter

Google Analytics is a deep dark hole that you could disappear into for days on end. To make our lives easier, we chose a few simple, easy-to-understand metrics to track and we mostly ignore the rest unless we need to do a deep dive for some reason. BUT, we’re am not saying they’re not important – only that for most of us humans, time is limited, and sometimes you need to make a quick assessment without digging through pages of data.

Let’s talk traffic. Traffic is to websites what followers are to social media. Mostly. (Close enough.)

Traffic is useful because it indicates which pages people are viewing, and how many people are visiting your site. However, like followers and subscribers, traffic needs more context to make it truly valuable information.

You want to know where the traffic is coming from. Google Analytics provides an overview of traffic sources, so you can compare links from social media to search and so on. Google Analytics also provides an overview of keywords that people used to get to your site. So you can see what you’re ranking well for and if those terms are truly relevant to your site.

After figuring out how people get to your website, you want to know what they’re doing on the site itself. Time on page tells you how much time they’re spending reading/viewing content before they click away. If your bounce rate is high and time on page is low, that probably indicates that your website content needs to be reworked OR the interface has such severe problems that people can’t find the information they’re looking for.

Similarly, the user journey dropoff chart shows you where people are exiting your website. This tells you which pages lost the users’ interest, or don’t provide a clear call to action.


No matter what platform you’re using, focus on engaging your audience and whether they’re taking the action you want them to take. And, most of the time, you should be asking them to do something even if it’s just responding with a comment. Ask questions, share valuable resources from your website, and occasionally make the big ask.

Want help brainstorming your content strategy or understanding your marketing metrics? Schedule time with us!

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