Before we dive into what vanity metrics are, let me start with a simple question: would you rather have 10 paying visitors to your site every day or one million that never pay you a dime? Obviously, you'd rather have the 10 customers who are willing to pay.

The answer to this question basically defines the difference between vanity metrics and useful metrics. It's easy to get caught up into driving traffic to your site, but the goal is to attract the ideal customer - not just raw numbers. The key is to know the metrics that matter and what you can do to improve driving your ideal customers to your site. The following are some tips to help you earn those 10 paying visitors and ignore the one million that won't bring you the conversions you need to keep the lights on.

Focusing On the Right Information

Of course, driving a high volume of traffic to your site is desirable, but this isn't the ultimate measure of success. For each site and business model, the right metrics are going to be a bit different. Here are a few to consider:

Time on Page

How long on site are visitors on each page? Now compare the time on page to those who made a purchase. See any difference? It's likely that those who purchased spent a great deal more time reading up on your products and services. For some businesses, such as retail sites, this metric may not be as helpful as readers may know what they want, get on your site, purchase, and move on.

Leverage time on page to see what demographic information may be relevant to improving your website. You may find that a particular age group connects with your brand, and this can lead you to improving your site to engage with this segment.

Number of Pages Visited

Look for a correlation between the number of pages visited to those who have made purchases. This is likely a strong connection between purchasers and pages visited.

The key to leveraging this information is looking for places where the shopping/learning experience is abandonded. Where are visitors getting stuck? Are they loading up their shopping carts, starting the purchase, and stopping? This may indicate there's something wrong with your cart process, as an example.

Improving Sales

Vanity metrics essentially tell you nothing about how to improve your customers' experience. Helpful metrics will lead you to improving how your customers interact with the site. When you make a fundamental change to your marketing process and see a drop in visitors, look for improvements in the relevant areas: time on page, number of pages visited, and actual sales.

At the end of the day, it's about attracting the right customers and providing them with an easy shopping experience. They should have the information they need to make an informed decision and complete the sale. Your metrics should focus on improving this overall process, thereby improving sales.

So get away from the metrics that pump up your ego but do nothing for your bottom line. Instead of spending valuable dollars driving non-paying traffic, consider focusing on your ideal customer and monitoring through metrics how they engage with your site.