Suhail Doshi is a no BS kind of guy. He believes it’s “BS” to report pageviews, a metric digital companies frequently use to show their site’s growth.
Instead, Doshi wants digital and mobile companies to highlight monthly user engagement numbers, a metric he believes is much more important than pageviews. His startup, Mixpanel, helps companies track one key metric, and his engagement-first mentality is starting to catch on.
Mixpanel is an analytics company that was founded in 2009. It helps 1,000 paying customers and tens of thousands of non-paying customers track “actions.” Any time a user engages in a powerful way with a brand (a user buying a rental on Airbnb, for example, posts a photo to Instagram, or “likes” content on Facebook), Mixpanel calls that an event or “action.”
Doshi says his company now tracks 12 billion actions per month for its customers. That’s up from 10 billion the month before. It took one year for Mixpanel to track its first 1 billion actions.
It isn’t one big customer that’s causing Mixpanel’s business to skyrocket either. Doshi says his company has seen tracked actions grow by the billions for multiple months.
“We could lose our biggest customer and I would still have a growth month next month,” Doshi says.
Reporting user engagement numbers instead of pageviews and uniques isn’t as easy as it sounds. Advertisers demand monthly pageviews and uniques from publishers before they’ll spend money on their sites. If online publishers shifted to Doshi’s way of thinking, they’d be out of business.
Doshi admits it’s harder for content-producers to shift to his way of thinking. But changing an industry standard like pageview reporting is a slow process, and Doshi thinks his company is making good headway.
“We’re this living, breathing case that we do see pageviews are dying,” says Doshi, who was inspired to track meaningful analytics by mentor and former colleague, Max Levchin. Pageviews are already dying on mobile devices, says Doshi, because users rarely click through to see more pages on tiny screens.
Doshi says caring about pageviews is like caring how many Twitter followers you have. People should be more focused on why people are following them on Twitter, not on the simple fact that they are following.
“Everyone can be empowered to learn from their data,” he says. “If [you] can track user data better than my competitor, surely [you] can beat them.”