Imagine you’re starting up a business: you set up a website and/or a fanpage on Facebook and you struggle to create content that would engage people and promote your ideas. You come across the “Statistics” section and suddenly you’re overwhelmed with the numbers in front of your eyes. The number of Likes, Shares, and Hits on your website are a fascinating piece of information; but which figures are the most reliable and which should be taken into consideration when you want to make the next important steps? In order to avoid confusion you have to be cautious of the difference between the vanity and actionable metrics. Here’s are the definitions that will help you to understand how it’s best to interpret the statistics behind your business and how to avoid wasting your time, money, and engagement.
Vanity metrics are general metrics, e.g. the monthly traffic on your website. It is numerical data that doesn’t tell you anything about people’s behaviour. Let’s face the truth – you have a website not only to promote your ideas, products, or services and spread the word, but you want people to realize the goal of your website; therefore, people who take desired actions should be your main subject of scrutiny. Looking at some of these numbers may appeal to your vanity (hence the name, “vanity metrics”), but the general rule is that only a few of them are truly important to you in terms of your actual success.
The number of those who are truly engaged is called actionable metrics. Maybe you have a blog and you send a regular newsletter to 500 subscribers. This number will not tell you anything about your audience; as a matter of fact, only the number of people who clicked on a link to your shop and purchased goods is definitely a number, which affects your business directly. Therefore, it is important to set your goals before you create a content. Be sure you know what is the purpose of your action, so that you can get a desired re-action.
The terms “vanity metrics” and “actionable metrics” have first entered the use in 2008, when Eric Ries published his bestselling book The Lean Startup. Thus, their origins have a lot to do with the Lean Startup method; that being said, as of now, said terms are no longer so strictly associated with it, as the terms are becoming more and more widespread and popular.