Metrics and KPIs are essential for steering your business. There are many to choose from, but much debate over which matters the most. Avoiding vanity metrics helps you ensure you’re monitoring meaningful signals in your business.
What are Vanity Metrics?
Metrics that make you look good to others but don’t help you understand or meaningfully improve your performance are vanity metrics. They’re based on popularity, sales numbers, or other external factors that don’t help you build future strategies and can cause you to lose sight of the big picture.
Signs of a Vanity Metric
The metric is easily manipulated or affected by external factors.
Vanity metrics, such as likes, followers, and views, are often used to measure the success of social media campaigns and online content. However, these metrics can be easily manipulated or affected by external factors that have little to do with the quality or value of the content itself.
For example, bots or fake accounts can artificially inflate follower counts and engagement rates. At the same time, changes in algorithms or trending topics can cause sudden spikes or drops in metrics that have nothing to do with the actual performance of the content. As a result, relying solely on vanity metrics can be misleading and may not accurately reflect the impact or effectiveness of a campaign or piece of content.
The metric doesn’t provide any actionable insights or data points.
These metrics do not provide an in-depth understanding of customer behavior or preferences and are often disconnected from the actual goals of a business. For instance, having many followers on social media does not necessarily translate into sales, revenue, or profit.
The metric is not correlated to any other key performance indicators.
While likes, followers, and views may seem impressive and attract attention, they do not necessarily translate into meaningful outcomes or contribute to achieving business goals.
For example, a social media campaign with many likes and shares may not necessarily increase website traffic or sales conversions.
The metric does not measure customer engagement or satisfaction.
Some metrics may indicate popularity or reach but do not reflect the quality of interactions or how customers feel about a business. For instance, a social media post that receives numerous likes and shares may fail to engage customers on a deeper level or address their needs and concerns.
The metric does not measure progress toward any specific goals.
These may look impressive but not provide meaningful insights into how a business performs or progresses. The number of website visitors alone does not necessarily indicate whether a company is achieving its revenue targets or customer satisfaction goals.
Why are Vanity Metrics Misleading?
Only focusing on vanity metrics can lead your business in the wrong direction. Many vanity goals are easy to get but hard to keep.
You can grow a website or social media channel through advertising or bots, but you will only maintain engagement if you connect with your customers.
They also don’t reflect the value of what you produce or measure the impact of your work.
When you look at vanity metrics, it’s easy to use them to inflate your value. Millions of clicks or views might seem impressive, but they need to lead to sales to indicate your effectiveness.
Examples of KPIs That Are Vanity Metrics
Website views are among the most common vanity metrics. Because this metric measures traffic, it shows which pages are most popular.
Unfortunately, it’s a straightforward metric that can be misleading as it doesn’t provide insight into how engaged or satisfied visitors are with a website’s content or offerings.
Total Service Users
The number of service users needs to indicate how well a product or service is doing or how profitable it is. Many companies use this metric as a vanity metric. For instance, a vast user base can’t compensate for an unprofitable product that isn’t generating enough money.
For assessing product profitability, it’s better to look at other metrics like gross profit per customer and churn rate instead of the number of users served.
Average Transaction Size
Although transaction size can be interesting, it doesn’t give any information about returns or customer loyalty. There are better metrics for measuring profitability and customer satisfaction.
Total Revenue is one of the most common vanity metrics to watch out for. Although monitoring it may seem attractive, revenue quality is far more critical.
High revenue is only good if you’re turning a profit. More information is needed to provide insight into the profitability of a product or service, as it does not consider transaction costs and other expenses.
Track Valuable Metrics
Performance metrics are essential for building a solid business.
Simply looking good on paper, through high views or total revenue won’t help you focus on areas that need the most attention. Avoiding vanity metrics and tracking KPIs that matter will help you identify areas for improvement and drive higher profits.
The startup experts at Founder’s CPA can help you select, tailor, and implement metrics to help you steer your business. Contact us today to start working with the right KPIs for your company.