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For this episode "vanity metrics" have a bad wrap but we're defending when to use them, and when to leave them aside.
avoid "vanity metrics with the QIA process
Modern marketing has the opposite problem of marketing in 2010. Where numbers used to be a vital and scantily accessed feature of business, now we have a world of big data where every metric could matter and it's hard to think through what they mean in tandem.
In today's world it's actually possible to be "metrics obsessed."
"Vanity" metrics are metrics that tell you a line is going up and to the right or that you're doing well, but they don't really create any form of "action" on your end. They don't really tell you how you're doing, whether you should speed up, slow down, or pull over.
Knowing which metrics matter for your marketing story isn't necessarily about finding the right metric to aid your progress.
Instead, it's often about setting a line in the sand or throwing a dart at the board. It's about telling a story as you build your product, and figuring out the best way to represent that story in your overall plan.
I use Chris Mercer's QIA process to decide what metrics really matter.
First you will have a question. This needs to be thought of as "how will I know what action to take". Then you'll have an answer your want and several answers you don't want.
As an example let's consider SociallyConstructed.Online's Social Currency Metrics System informational page. I want to know if it's answering the question, "do people get the SCMS?"
Re-framing the question a few times provides more information as well. If people "get" it does that mean the landing page is converting or that people understand and move on? What behaviors and opinions are occurring that tell me this?
Going trough this thought experiment I know what my potential answers might be. And because I understand the answers and how I might answer the question, our middle "information" column fills itself in.
this way I know what metrics to pick, and that the "pageviews" metric for the SCMS page is probably more of a vanity metric - I don't care who hit the page, I care who read it.
Want to know more about the QIA process and Mercer's approach to analytics? Read our next blog where we interview him about the theory and future of metrics!