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Metrics are incredibly important tools to measure the success or failure of business releases. Everything from products and services, campaigns, app releases, to internal projects should be measured to properly understand their outcome.


When a company launches a new campaign or release an app, metrics are used to measure their success or failure. This will enable the different departments in the company to make improvements based on the findings. But many businesses unknowingly measure success using Vanity Metrics instead of the more accurate Actionable Metrics. 


What Are Vanity Metrics?

You would be surprised to learn that most of the metrics being used by almost all businesses are Vanity Metrics. This method, as the name suggests, gives us a feel-good factor by looking at the growing numbers.


When a social media post is measured by the hits, likes and engagement numbers, they are Vanity Metrics. When an advertisement campaign is put out and the website visits are measured, they are Vanity Metrics.


Why Are Vanity Metrics Inaccurate?

According to Eric Ries, famous author of the book ‘Lean Startup’, many businesses see success in their actions but do not really know where they come from. If a new campaign receives incredible response, every department would want to take credit for the success. ‘Strong marketing campaigns would mean nothing if the product was not sound’, the development team would say.


There is success, but nobody really knows what actually caused the success and nobody actually knows how to recreate it. Conversely if the campaign received bad response, every department will blame the others instead of themselves.


What are Actionable Metrics?

Like its name suggests, Actionable Metrics seeks to find metrics that are actionable. It’s purpose is to properly identify what is causing the growth or decline of a product, service or campaign. Not only do they provide measurements, but they also identify what cause them to behave this way. The result is a more accurate measurement method that tells us why customers behave the way they did.


Split and Test

Split Testing, or A/B Testing, is an incredible way of obtaining actionable data from a campaign. Assume that you are about to launch a marketing campaign for a new product line. By merely running one set of campaign towards one set of target audience, you will not know what is the root cause of your target audience’s response to this campaign. If it works, you don’t know exactly why. And if it doesn’t work, you won’t be any smarter either.


Instead, run a series of tests using different variables. Start by forming a list of hypotheses, like who your target markets are, what functions of the product they like more than others, and so on. Then, create multiple sets of the same campaign targeted at proving your hypotheses right or wrong.


For example, let’s say you would like to release a new update to your current service. Two of your hypotheses could be:


H1: This new design feature will cause usage increase with Target Audience x

H2: This new design will increase sign ups among Target Audience y


Launch two sets of the same campaign, aimed at proving the hypotheses right. At the end of your campaign cycle, you will be able to find out if the new design feature caused an increase in usage with Target Audience x or if more sign ups occur fro Target Audience y.. If they are, then your design team did a great job and it’s now worth your time to invest a little more on it. If not, you can start formulating new hypotheses to test.


Beyond Numbers

When compiling and reading metrics from our marketing campaigns, we sometimes forget that those numbers are made up of people. It is important that instead of taking the numbers as a whole, their reaction to your campaigns should be analysed based on other factors as well.


If your campaign is aiming at website visits, you can start by asking yourself a series of questions whenever studying the numbers: What is their growth compared to previous months? What caused this growth? Are the numbers from first-time or returning visitors? Was your campaign targeted at the correct audience you initially wanted to reach? Could the growth be attributed to seasonal factors?


Always remember that your target audience are people who react differently at different times. On top of that, your product or service may also be in a certain stage of the lifecycle which leads to differing reactions. By understanding the underlying reasons for growths that happened in your metrics, you are better able to target your audiences in the future.


Sales Funnel and Cohort Analysis

A Sales Funnel is basically the different filtration stages of a sales cycle. At the very top is typically the exposure of your product/service, then moving towards towards registration, trial or demo sign ups, actually using the products, and eventually purchases.


Because your campaign will usually run for a prolonged period, there will definitely be groups of people in different stages of the Sales Funnel at the same time. Cohort Analysis is the process of identifying and grouping these people, then measuring their response to the different stages of the Funnel.  


The key purpose of this metrics is to identify where most of your potential customers fall out of the Sales Funnel, then study the causes. High drop outs in one stage require investigation – perhaps your sign up system is too complicated, or perhaps you need to make it more attractive for them to move on.


It’s in the Keywords

Keywords matter. A lot. It proves whether or not the public is looking for something you have to offer. Before launching a product/service or feature, it is high recommended that you study the most highly searched keywords using Google Keyword Planner (Google it to get a tutorial on how to use it).


Time and time again, many aspiring entrepreneurs and business people perceive the existence of a market only to build something nobody wants. Granted, users do not always know what they want. But you will be surprised how much information on their pains you can uncover just by going through keywords.



In essence, Vanity Metrics only tell you if you’ve done something right or wrong. But Actionable Metrics actually pinpoint what were they so you can act on improving or eliminating them. At first glance, the latter measurement method seems a little too tedious. But do try it out, and you will be pleasantly surprised with the level of clarity it provides. Ultimately you will know exactly what went right and what went wrong, making further time and monetary investments on that feature more worthwhile.

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