Internet marketers can be a compulsive bunch. When profits are down and they're feeling anxious, they're particularly susceptible to an unhealthy addiction. It's called "stat-oholism".

They know they should be working or spending time with their families. But they just can't resist the urge to check their stats. Over and over again.

"How much have I earned on AdSense since lunch? 23¢. Meh. At least it's up a little from yesterday. How about ClickBank? Grr. Nothing. Amazon? Nobody bought the book I recommended? What's up with that?..."

It is, of course, good to keep track of what you're earning, what's working, what's not, etc. Otherwise, how would you know where you need to improve or what you need to do more of?

But a lot of the time, we're just checking out stats to satisfy our curiosity -- not because we're going to do anything about it.

As Ryan Healy pointed out today, social media is making it even harder for stat-oholics to stay on the wagon:

Social media has the unfortunate side effect of making us focus on metrics that don't matter.

Metrics like:

  • Follower count
  • Number of "Likes"
  • Number of retweets
  • ...

...Here's the problem...

All the metrics listed above are only loosely correlated with the metrics that really matter to a successful business.

...[click through to Ryan's blog to see some of the stats that do matter]...

Unfortunately, this second set of metrics gets far less attention because it requires that four-letter word called work.

So, not only are we wasting time checking stats and not doing anything about them, but now we're obsessed with "vanity stats".

What's really insidious about vanity stats is that it's often possible to pump them up without making a penny. Sure, you can game the system or pay to get 10,000 Twitter followers, but if they're all fauxlowers, they aren't even listening to you, much less buying anything.

Reader Comment:
Ryan Healy said:
Love that phrase: "vanity stats." Because that's what they are! Thanks for the blog riff and link. I appreciate it, Antone. :-) Ryan
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A 12 5-Step Program for Stat-oholics

If you're an addict, here's what I recommend:

  1. Consider whether there's a direct connection between each stat you check regularly and your profitability. If you can't find a direct connection, limit yourself to checking it once a week.
  2. If you can find a direct connection, consider whether there's anything you can do to improve the stat. If you can't think of anything (a way that's worth the time, money and effort it will cost!), limit yourself to checking it once a week.
  3. If you can think of a way to improve it, limit yourself to checking it once a day (unless there's a significant, practical, actionable benefit to checking more often).
  4. Consider what other stats you might start monitoring that are directly connected to profitability, and that you have ways to improve.
  5. Spend the rest of your time improving the stats that increase your profits.