Business | Growth Hacking

Stay away from these Vanity Metrics

Think 3 Million impressions, 500k views, and 20,000 app installs = Good Growth?

The user penetration must be huge. Well, not really.

Turns out, all of us are stuck chasing vanity metrics that make us feel good but don’t really help.

If a metric does not encourage action, it’s a vanity metric. Any metric that doesn’t bring insight into the true performance in a way where it helps to make future decisions is a vanity metric.

Pick up your running shoes because we are to sprint away from vanity metrics that keep you busy but never really help.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Advertised: How much do you spend on marketing on paid ads per user signup?

What it means: Every dollar spent on a user from serving an ad to them (reach cost) + the incentive (if a discount was being shown to them) + any other costs until the user does the activation event.

App Downloads

Advertised: Number of people downloading your app

What it means: App downloads alone mean nothing if you’re not checking the % of active users, app uninstall rate or % of users who will drive revenue. App download, to a larger extent, is a top funnel metric. It does not guarantee user stickiness or revenue.

Top keywords

Advertised: The five keywords your website ranks for/ is aiming to rank

What it means: Ever had your SEO team say – your organic traffic has increased by 265%? An increase in organic traffic sure is a good thing, but what does that mean? What matters is that did it lead to any sales or any other core action item? Always check for the quality of the user.

Monthly active users (MAU)

Advertised: The number of unique users who use your app every month

What it means: MAU is the king of vanity metrics. A good analytical growth person will never study MAU in isolation. We need to see what these users are doing – are they performing any core actions, or are they showing any intent? Global apps have now analyzed weekly active (WAU) or hourly active (HAU) as per their need.

MAU vs. DAU

Advertised: Unique daily active users VS monthly active

What it means: Imagine your app is a document scanner. Would you still consider DAU/MAU to be a core metric? Would your goal not be average session per user or total sessions per user? DAU/MAU stands for user frequency, but not all apps demand frequency as the only identifier of value generation for the user or the business.

Cost per install (CPI)

Advertised: The amount of money you spent in acquiring a new user

What it means: Marketing (performance) teams can not stop talking about how they have reduced their CPI or are planning to optimize it. But who are these users? Did they perform any core action? As growth people, we must collectively ditch CPI talking & bring CPAI (active user) to the table.

Vanity metrics do more harm than good because they keep you occupied with numbers that do not take you anywhere.

Of course, don’t just throw all of these vanity metrics out at once. Before you add or erase certain data from your marketing analytics reports, make sure you and your team have defined your goals and the data points you’ll use to measure whether or not you’re achieving them.

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