Guest Post: 3 Marketing KPIs to Track Instead of ‘Vanity Metrics’

“Vanity” metrics are just that; popular bits of data played up by competitors or in the news, but at the end of the day, they don’t have a substantial impact on your bottom line.

By Alex Middel, founder and CEO, AM Digital Marketing

gEc7vyNS_400x400The growth in Facebook fans you had this year makes for a nice soundbite.

But did it move the needle? What was the impact on property leases year-over-year?

“Vanity” metrics are just that; popular bits of data played up by competitors or in the news, but at the end of the day, they don’t have a substantial impact on your bottom line.

The problem is that they can often misinform, leading you to make inaccurate decisions based on bad information.

It’s difficult enough to figure out how to track how your blog is performing, without bad information clouding judgment and pulling resources away from the primary objectives.

Instead of obsessing over “pageviews” and other leading indicators, here are three simple KPIs you should be tracking instead to gauge the effectiveness of your efforts.


How many new renters are coming from your property’s website?

You can measure this by looking at leads generated, applications filled out, or even appointments scheduled. But the bottom line is you need a concrete event that exchanges a small commitment from a website visitor in exchange for their information.

Setting up these key metrics as “Goals” in Google Analytics will help you eventually track these conversion events back to the original source, shining a guiding light on which marketing channels are performing (and which aren’t).

70 Pine in New York City goes even further, asking for contact information up front (as an optional step) before people enter the website.

70 pine

They also do a great job including two Calls-To-Action (CTAs) as a “global footer.” They have the “Apply Now” button for conversions, but then they also have a Chat button for people who might have questions while researching their rental options in the area.

It’s also a perfect “low-touch offer” or commitment to get someone to open up, start engaging to build trust, and at least get some basic information from them to follow up to ultimately schedule that appointment.

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Many marketing professionals love to talk about engagement. But when pressed, they rarely have an answer for how, specifically, it helps move business forward.

The truth, is that engagement is the “missing link” between strangers checking out your site online and active rental prospects touring your property right now.

Before people will step foot on your property, they’re going to know everything about it (and how that compares with other options in the same area, in the same pricing range).

They’re going to know how many Yelp stars you do (or don’t) have, they’re going to know that a train goes by at 2 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and they’re going to know if there’s been deferred maintenance or if management is on top of things.

That’s because they’re actively researching options online. Engagement metrics then are more concerned with site behavior while browsing, like the Pages per Session, Time on Site and Bounce Rate or Exit Rate.

These metrics can help guide you tactically, hinting at which pages need to improve (e.g. the ones with high Bounce and Exit Rates), and which are doing OK but can be improved (e.g. adding video walkthroughs to the “Amenities” page can help increase Time on Site).

Again, 70 Pine goes to great lengths to highlight building history and location (because it’s a key differentiating factor) with a series of highly-produced videos.


How many people are coming to your website (or property’s website) on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?

The aggregate number of visits (or “sessions”) is a good place to start, but ultimately where are these people coming from?

The channels, and then the tactics.

Many things in digital marketing can be tracked. But that only matters if you’re looking at the raw data in context, seeing how, where, and why people are coming to your site to look around and set-up an appointment.

And if you’re tracking the conversion rates, and behavior or engagement metrics, then you can also start to reverse engineer how and where to improve your marketing efforts to drive new revenue.

For example, if Organic Search is the highest converting channel you have (which, it probably is), how much do you invest in it accordingly?

Or if conversions from Social seem low, what are a few ways to start utilizing it better to increase the all important “engagement” phase that needs to happen before people will fill out a contact form and schedule an appointment.

Competitive benchmarks or stats give you a rough starting point.

However ultimately, the best results come from comparing your own results over time.

And the only way they become enlightening or insightful, is when you have confidence in the numbers you’re tracking to stay the course, without being lead astray by vanity metrics.

Alex Middel is the founder and CEO of AM Digital Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in multifamily lease-ups and apartment marketing for companies such as The Bozzuto Group, Greystar, Federal Realty Investment Trust and other Top-25 Real Estate companies. To read more from Middel and the team at AM Digital, visit or contact Middel at [email protected].

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