Vanity Metrics: The Feel-good, Yet Questionable-value

A quick introduction to vanity metrics, why these values provide a pseudo-good-feel, and how they make sense

A quick introduction to vanity metrics, why these values provide a pseudo-good-feel, and how they make sense

Vanity metrics are supposedly misleading measures that your analytics tool throws at you.  When reviewed in isolation they make you feel on top of the world and give you a mirage effect that your strategy is bang on. There’s quite a bit of disagreement about the term vanity metrics and whether these values do mean nothing for your organization’s growth chart. One group says,

“not without additional supportive data!”

The other group says,

“but these numbers do indicate popularity."

But data never lies, does it? Then what’s this contradictory term all about? Let’s take a look.

What are vanity metrics?

These are values that look interestingly positive – number of social media post likes, number of people visiting your websites, and total page views and post reach. But these numbers will not necessarily indicate business success until you support them with additional actionable data. A few examples of actionable data include the number of people who like your posts who give you positive reviews and turn customers and the percentage of trial users who converted into paid, long-term users.

So, while the vanity metrics highlight the potential of your product or service, the actual, actionable values point to the exact business gain you have derived from an exercise. This helps you determine whether the like you’ve received for your post is just a fleeting positive emotion or whether the audience is genuinely interested in your solution.

Are vanity metrics of no use then?

I don’t agree! Social media metrics, for example, are a clear measure of popularity and the reach of your brand. Consistent engagement with the audience is the lifeline of any organization’s marketing strategy. Without social media, you lose a significant percentage of this audience. Without the engagement, you won’t even know whether your audience cares about your brand. These metrics help you understand whether your audience is interested in you. But yes, you will have to convert these potential customers into actual users who increase your business revenue. Only then will these numbers make any sense. For this you will need a smart hybrid of vanity metrics and actionable and operational measures. Else, in isolation, vanity metrics just give you a false sense of inflated ego.

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