As marketing becomes increasingly data-driven, we have to be careful we’re measuring the right metrics. It’s easy to cultivate a false sense of security looking at rosy marketing dashboards that don’t actually tie to business results.
I like how Lloyd Tabb, Founder and CTO of Looker, distinguishes between vanity metrics and clarity metrics.
In his words:
“Vanity metrics are surface-level metrics. They’re often large measures, like number of downloads, that impress others. Use them to initiate partnerships and gain a following.
“Clarity metrics are operational metrics, like the number of minutes a day your product actually gets used or how long it took for a user to get service. These are the hidden gears that drive growth. Use them to solidify your competitive advantage.”
Lloyd framed this distinction in the context of tech startups, but I think the lesson holds true for all aspects of marketing.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:
“Marketing Vanity Metrics” February 2016
“Marketing Seat at the Table” May 2015