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More data is always a good thing right? More data means more information and more accurate decisions. More data means we’ll be able to build our businesses faster. But while all business owners now know that they must measure their results in order to know how effective their marketing efforts are, too many measure the wrong things.


When it comes to metrics and campaign tracking, one of the easiest mistakes business leaders make is to focus on “vanity metrics,” instead of the metrics that really matter.

Vanity & Actionable metrics

Vanity metrics are data points that make us feel good if they go up but don’t help us make decisions. Such as page views, number of followers, or the number of downloads of your free report. Actionable metrics, on the other hand, help you understand how much of an impact your website and social media presence are having on your ability to attract, retain and convert potential customers. By measuring how potential customers engage with your website and your social media presence, you’ll be able to develop a far better understanding of whether your marketing efforts are working. At their core, actionable metrics are geared to answer these questions:
  • How do you gain or lose revenue?
  • How do you gain or lose customers?
  • What are the key functions and benefits people are coming to you for?
All of this gives you a deep understanding of customer behavior, which is what it’s all about. When we truly understand our customers, we can delight them at every step and build our businesses faster than we could have imagined. What actionable metrics are essential to your business?

How You NEED to Pick Your Metrics

Start from the opposite direction. Don’t even look at Google Analytics or any other tool. Start with your business. Pick 1-5 metrics that tell you how healthy your business is. This will include things like
  • Revenue
  • Number of leads
  • Account signups
  • Lifetime value
Figure out how to force your analytics tools to get you as close as possible to these metrics. If you have to import and merge data into Excel, do it. Once you’ve built a process for tracking the health of your business (not the health of your website), then you can focus on other metrics like:
  • A/B test results
  • Newsletter subscribers
  • Conversion rates
  • Cohort reports
  • Funnels

Bottom Line

Every minute counts so don’t waste any looking at metrics that don’t help you. Focus on metrics that matter and ditch the vanity metrics. Don’t track these metrics (these are the vainest of all metrics):
  • Page views
  • Visitors
  • Time on site
  • Pages/visit
Instead, track these metrics:
  • Revenue
  • Customers
  • Conversion Rates
  • A/B Tests
  • Funnels
  • Cohorts
  • Marketing Campaigns

Your Customer

And if you really want to get good data, go talk to a customer. Find out why they bought from you and how they found out about you. Ask them to show you how they use your product or service. WARNING! This entails actually talking to a human being. I know, it’s scary. But business is fundamentally about building relationships, so reach out to your customers. You’ll get better data in 5 minutes than you will from 5 months of solely looking at reports. With actionable metrics, you’ll know exactly what questions you should be asking. Why were they hesitant to buy after adding the product to their shopping cart? Why did they close their account after only a week? All of this gives you a deeper understanding of customer behavior, which is what it’s all about. When we truly understand our customer, we can delight them at every step and build our business faster than we could have imagined.

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This article was first published on 26th March 2018


Ebuka Ezeji is an analytical digital strategist who has implemented end-to-end digital strategy solutions for several international and Nigerian brands. Ebuka was recognized by the CEO of Google Sundar Pichai at the just concluded Google For Nigeria event for his contribution to the Google Digital Skills for Africa project.

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