Why You Should Stop Tracking Vanity Metrics

Contributed content / By Drew Page / 7 March 2019

Focus on actionable analytics instead of tracking vanity metrics. When you understand what vanity metrics are and why you should stop tracking them, you’ll be able to take the necessary steps to focus on the actionable metrics of your business. 

Vanity metrics are metrics that don't contribute to the goals of the company. Shift your mindset from tracking metrics that make you feel good toward actionable metrics that signal progress towards a sustainable business.

As an aspiring tech entrepreneur and content creator for companies like CleverTap, I have studied mobile marketing and the key performance indicators relevant to the field. In this article, we'll cover:

  • What vanity metrics are
  • Why you should stop tracking vanity metrics
  • How to pivot from vanity to actionable metrics

It might feel productive to see a large number of store visitors, site entrances, or mobile app downloads. But at the end of the day, if they didn’t move you closer toward the goal of your business, then what’s the point?

In fact, this traffic may have actually cost you money whether through acquisition costs or resources to host them. Relying solely on vanity metrics such as website traffic or cost-per-install is a bad habit. 

What Are Vanity Metrics? 

Vanity metrics are those that have no correlation to the success of the business or progress towards the business’s goals. The only thing that vanity metrics please is the ego of the person tracking and reporting these stats. 

Let’s assume the CMO of a mobile app startup has recently run a paid ad campaign to boost app installs. The campaign proves to be a huge success with triple-digit increases in app installs. 

Unfortunately, the majority of these new users churn and uninstall the app the very next day. 

New user churn

In this example, a metric shows a 100% month over month increase in app downloads. That stat alone doesn’t reveal that 73% of users churn within 48 hours of download. 

Other questionable metrics include the number of app downloads, email subscribers, and social media followers you have. 

It's tempting to get excited over them, but these metrics don't paint the whole picture of your success. Over time, the success of your app can take off. When that happens, those numbers no longer reflect the sole representation of your growth. 

Likewise, you have to pay attention to the number of email subscribers you have. This metric doesn’t mean much if your subscribers fail to open or engage with your emails. 

The same goes for the number of social media followers you have. The number of followers does not track the true number of people who interact with you on social media. 

Instead of analyzing what drives the success of your business, these numbers can be ineffective. They have no direct correlation to the success of the business or progress towards the business’s goals.

Why Stop Tracking Vanity Metrics?

A lot of people track vanity metrics, yet they don't know how misleading they are. It’s important that you not only understand vanity metrics but also take action to avoid them.

Often times, businesses use vanity metrics when results are bleak and growth has slowed or turned negative. Even though it can be nerve-racking to see your business growth stalling, it’s important to understand why. 

Tracking artificial growth leads to inaccurate business and marketing reports. The antithesis of vanity metrics are those that have actionability and add value to the business. 

When you understand this and take steps to avoid them, you will know how to track metrics that deliver a clear depiction of your success. 

Turn Vanity Metrics into Actionable Metrics

Now that we’ve demonstrated how vanity metrics can mislead your business, let’s break down how you can transform them into actionable metrics. 

Actionable metrics dive deeper into the stats you get from vanity metrics. They exemplify the repeatable tasks or actions that move you closer to your business goals. 

The top actionable metrics you should track, according to analytic companies like CleverTap, include your active app users, user retention by day, direct conversions, and push notification opt-in and open-rates. 

The active app users metric will showcase how many users engage with your app, instead of the number of people who downloaded your app. 

Retention by day will give you insight into users who continue to come back and use your app. This helps you understand your sustainable growth, as returning users drive revenue and profits. 

Direct conversion rates state the return of investment on your app. Your KPI (key performance indicator) could reflect the amount of paying users you have or how many items users shop for in your app. 

Push notification metrics help you track how you keep customers engaged and lead them to take action as well. 

It's vital to understand how these metrics point out the success of your business. When you look closely into the stats of your vanity metrics, you find out which actionable metrics you should track. 

Tips for Vanity Metrics

Sometimes there are unique ways you can use the vanity metrics you already have to your advantage. Although these numbers don't reveal the actionable information your app drives, you can introduce them as a starting point for the story of your business. 

If you're aware of how these numbers mislead you, you should question these metrics. You can then seek out the effective and actionable metrics to analyze. 

Conversion and Click-Thru Rates
If you have trouble trying to differentiate between your vanity and actionable metrics, ask yourself if these rates push you towards your business goals. 

CleverTap highlights how these key performance indicators help you define actionable analytics:

Push Opt-In Rate - helps you track which active users decided to opt-in to receive push notifications for your app. 

Direct Push Opens - represent how many times users click on push notifications to bring them to your app. 

Influenced Opens - show how many users open an app manually after receiving a push notification. 

Email Open Rate - number of people who opened an email from a campaign compared to the number of delivered emails. 

Email Click-Through Rate – the number of people who clicked on an email sent from a campaign versus the number of emails delivered. 

Email Unsubscribe Rate - the number of people who unsubscribed from an email versus how many subscribers it has. 

Remember, the number of downloads for your app only scratches the surface of your success. To uncover the power of these statistics, you will have to understand what caused that number to increase or decline. 

You can also analyze your retention rate, and the number of active minutes users spend on the app. These are the insights that help define a clear picture of how you are doing. 

When you question the metrics you track, you will start to run metric campaigns that deliver impactful results. 

Analyze Metrics That Indicate the Progress of Your Business

Vanity metrics merely highlight the surface of your business. They don't build you towards the goals you want to achieve with your company. 

The numbers that map out the progress of your business help you out more than numbers that don’t indicate real success. Discover the importance of uncovering how actionable metrics drive your business, especially if you are promoting your app with a mobile app development company
 

1
owner