What is a vanity metric?
We define vanity metrics as any metric that is either fun or easy to track and on the surface appears an appropriate one for the business, but upon inspection does not directly relate to company performance.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
I was working with a clothing brand who had recently launched a new ecommerce storefront. They were rightfully obsessed with tracking activity on the website. On a marketing report that was widely circulated, one of their top level metrics was a user’s time on site.
Time on site is an incredibly easy metric to track, which is why people like it. And at first blush, those in charge of marketing thought that the more time someone spent on the site, the more likely they would be to purchase.
We might all make that assumption, right? So they worked hard to make the site work better for this metric, eventually increasing the avg. time on site by 40% in just 90 days.
The problem? This did not move the needle in terms of the number of checkouts or the dollars earned from website visitors. People were spending more time on the site, but leaving empty-handed just as often.
Time on site was a vanity metric – easy to track and improve, but with little to no impact on results.
Marketers, the message is clear:
Stop tracking vanity metrics. Find the metrics that matter and track those obsessively.