Abandon Vanity Metrics to Grow Your Practice

Abandon Vanity Metrics to Grow Your Practice

You’ve revamped your medical practice website, launched pay-per-click campaigns and turned your stagnant social media into a functional channel. A lot of work has been put into creating and executing a winning digital marketing strategy to help you grow your medical practice fast. 

How do you know it was actually worth it? Are the metrics you are using to determine the efficacy of your digital marketing strategy vanity metrics?

What Are Vanity Metrics?

In the world of digital marketing, the term “vanity” implies something that looks good but doesn’t actually provide much insight or context; something that doesn’t actually relate to any true KPIs. A vanity metric appears impressive but at its core, actually means little in relation to the strategic goals.

Google analytics chart of site-wide page views in the last month for one of our marketing clients


A telltale sign of a vanity metric is that it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. For example, let’s take the metric: new patient leads. Sure, it’s great if your website generated 600 new patient leads year-to-date. And sure, this number will increase each month as more people visit your site and fill out a form. It’s an impressive number, right? But new patient leads in this context is a vanity metric.

This metric doesn’t give any context; it doesn’t relate to any strategic marketing initiative. How do we know how many new patients leads were generated by which marketing tactic? If 87% of the 600 new patient leads were generated from paid social media efforts and only 2% were generated from pay per click, it would make sense to adjust the marketing strategy *and budget) to more heavily focus on paid social media.

What To Do About Vanity Tactics and Metrics

To combat vanity metrics, you need to focus on actionable, meaningful metrics. Take our total website visitors vanity metric. To turn this into an actionable metric, consider measuring the rate of website visitor increase month over month. It’s much more actionable to say there was an 8.6% increase in website visitors this month over last month.

Actionable metrics are what you should focus on when acting on a marketing strategy, not vanity tactics. Instead of just measuring the total number of people who have downloaded your healthcare guide, look at the ratio between the number of downloads and the amount of traffic to the healthcare guide landing page to better understand how your landing page content performs. Using actionable metrics to guide digital strategy helped us increase patient volume by 125% for a spine surgery practice in just 8 weeks.

Vanity metrics are dangerous because they pull focus away from the metrics and tactics that will actually impact your bottom line. Making decisions or building strategies based on vanity metrics will hurt your medical practice.

So What Metrics Matter?

As a medical marketing agency, we often see medical practice basing the value of their marketing on vanity metrics that don’t correlate to true results; on numbers that look good but don’t actually measure what matters most. 

While actionable metrics can vary for each medical practice depending on your goals and area of practice, the six essential marketing KPIs for medical practice growth include:

  • Leads By Type
  • Cost Per Lead
  • Website Visitor to Lead Conversion Rate
  • Lead Conversion Rate By Source
  • New Patient Conversion Rate
  • Cost Per New Patient

Where Medical Practices Should Put Their Money First

Where should small and medium-sized medical practices put their money to get off the ground quickly?

Here’s how to capitalize on low-hanging fruit for quick tactical wins:

  1. Set up (or update) your listings! Google your competitors and see where they have listings, then get those listings too. Start with Google My Business, then move onto other major healthcare industry-specific or local directories like HealthGrades or WebMD Care. Pro tip: Never list your business on spammy sites or link farms.
  2. Lean paid search (PPC) advertising with great landing pages that convert. This is especially useful if you have little or no existing website traffic. Focus on long-tail keywords to get the most relevant traffic at the lowest cost per click (just make sure there’s search volume there so ads will be shown). Pro tip: Don’t forget to buy your own brand terms.
  3. Retargeting through social media. It’s practically free, and you’ve already paid for the traffic once – don’t throw it away just because they weren’t ready to become a patient the first time.
  4. Use video in your social media ads. Video grabs attention, increases brand exposure, and drives conversions. Plus, it appeals to mobile social media users, which is the more popular method of consuming social media when compared to desktop or tablet. 
  5. Smart social targeting with great landing pages that convert. To make this cost-effective, you must market-relevant content to your most valuable patient personas.
  6. Email marketing to people who have signed up for it. These people are usually your most qualified prospects for becoming a patient. Pro tip: Present contextually relevant offers custom-built for your patient personas to build your email list faster.


This strategy is not right for everyone, and it’s really just scraping the surface of what’s possible, but for the vast majority of medical practices who come to us looking for help, this is a lean strategy that when executed skillfully will produce action (leads/patients/etc) quickly. The truth of the matter is, if you want to acquire more patients for your medical practice, you must look beyond vanity metrics AND physician referrals.

Here are 35 ways to attract new patients to your practice


This is just the kickoff, though. The next step is to connect with more qualified patients and nurture them with inbound marketing. RUNNER’s inbound marketing strategies make the most of your money today but also build organic reach throughout the web for years to come through smart targeted content and conversion tactics personalized for your specific practice.

Don’t wait to get started. RUNNER agency can help you stop using vanity metrics and start using actionable metrics to create a winning digital marketing strategy that skips past the learning curves and straight into attaining your goals. Request a free consultation to speak with an expert.

Picture of Lacy Judd

Lacy Judd

Co-founder & Creative Director

Ready to Grow Your Practice?

If you’re ready to explore the kind of growth strategic Search Engine Optimization can bring, get in touch with us. We’d love to help.
Speak with one of our experienced medical marketers to see how we can help you meet (and even exceed) your growth goals.

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