The only numbers you should be looking at in your online business

For many course creators, numbers are scary.

You’re simply trying to impact people’s lives by dropping into your zone of genius and creating an online course that helps your audience, right?

Though it can feel daunting to look at your numbers, it’s a necessary and empowering practice that will give you critical information and clarity in your business. It will clearly present you with which efforts are and aren’t working, and provide you with the framework for a straightforward course of action in your biz.

In fact, I’m willing to bet that once you begin to pull back the curtain on your data and see the possibilities of optimizing your online business that come with understanding these numbers … You’re going to begin to feel energized by it.

Today I’m going to help you distinguish between the numbers that are critical to understanding your biz and improving your performance, vs those that are quite simply… fluff.

2 types of numbers in your business:

  1. Vanity Metrics
  2. Key Performance Indicators

Let’s define them, shall we?

Vanity Metrics are numbers that make you appear to be doing well but do not help you in understanding your business’s performance in a manner that will effectively inform your strategy. We often confuse these numbers as important, typically because others can see these numbers (such as likes or follower count) or have told us that they’re important. However, they don’t ultimately contribute to our overarching goals or our bottom line.

On the other hand, we have Key Performance Indicators which are a unique set of data points that are specific to your business goals. These are the quantifiable measures that are critical to understanding the success of your business in meeting your objectives for performance. These KPIs provide you and your team with clear targets to aim for, and are ultimately the only numbers you should truly be focusing on.

How do I identify which numbers are Vanity Metrics, and which are KPIs?

1. Understand your business goals specific to your business model: 

If you’re an influencer who gets paid work based on how much of a following or engagement you get on your post then your likes and follower count absolutely matter. However, if you’re an online course creator, ultimately your goal should be to increase the number of students you have enrolled in your course. In this case, your KPIs could be the amount of email list opt-ins that you’ll ultimately be able to sell to and your conversion rate from email list opt-in to purchaser. Your plan of action then will not be to get more likes or followers on social media, it could be to strategically generate more leads using ads or collaborations (to increase your email list) whilst nurturing your existing email list to improve your conversion rate for the future.

2. Ask yourself, “What strategic business decision can I make with this data point?”: 

If you’re not clear on whether a metric is a KPI or vanity metric you should ask yourself “Does this data point provide me with information that can inform a strategic course of action in my biz?” If the answer to this is “no” or “I’m not sure” it may be worth shelving the metric. Everything you measure should be with a purpose and allow you to quickly understand where there’s room for improvement.

Let’s run through an example:

If you’re running an ad that points to a free download opt-in page, you’ll be able to see the following metrics:

  • Ad Views
  • Opt-in Page Views
  • Number of Downloads

These three metrics ultimately can give you the following information:

  • The percentage of people that saw the ad and then clicked into the opt-in page: This will allow you to get a feel for the strength of your ad content and audience. You can then start making small tweaks to your ads (such as changing the audience OR changing the content) to see if you can improve this percentage and get stronger ads.

  • The percentage of people that saw your opt-in page and then opted in to get the free download: This will allow you to understand the strength of your opt-in page. You can then start making small tweaks to the page (such as bigger, bolder buttons, an easier way to fill out the form, or changing your marketing language) to see if you can improve this percentage and get a stronger conversion rate.

3. Determine whether the metric is a reflection of the truth: 

It is important to discern what your data points are actually telling you. For example, you may have 20,000 email subscribers which means you have an awesome list of hot leads right? Not necessarily. If you’ve pivoted in your business, you may have 18,000 cold leads that are not your ideal client, meaning that your conversion rates will be low. Another example is that you may be looking at your competitor with 50,000 followers on social media and wondering why you’re struggling to get followers, but as we all know it’s easy and cheap to pay for followers which means they may appear to be doing well but their audience is cold. In these instances, the quantity of subscribers are vanity metrics (they look and sound good), however, the quality of the subscribers is really your KPI as it’ll directly impact your bottom dollar.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know...

  1. What does your online course teach?
  2. Are you tracking numbers in your business – or flying by the seat of your pants?

Sending you a warm hug from sweet (and rainy!) T&T ☀️🌴🇹🇹

Alex 💋
(your online biz bestie & favorite launch strategist)

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Want to learn how to create an online course?

Check out The Strategic Offer Incubator to learn how to strategically craft a successful online course or membership site – and the simple sales formula to get people in the door.

Ready to learn how to scale your online course through launching?

Check out Together We Launch to learn my six-figure Launch Strategy that allows you to play to your unique strengths and hit your launch goals, without sacrificing the lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to build.

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