Major League Baseball returned for an abbreviated season this past July, which means players and coaches can once again track their stats (think hits, strikeouts, and on-base percentage) to improve overall team performance.
In a similar way, marketing goals help brands focus on what they want to accomplish — and more importantly, what they need to do to get there. And key performance indicators, or KPIs, are the metrics that signal a brand’s progress toward those goals.
Sounds simple enough, right? It is — to an extent.
It starts to get complicated by the sheer number of KPIs you can potentially track, according to marketing platform CoSchedule. At a high level, they include: general marketing metrics, such as brand awareness and customer lifetime value (CLV); website and blogging metrics, as in time on page and bounce rate; SEO metrics, like domain authority and organic click-through rate; social media metrics, including likes, comments, and shares; email marketing metrics, such as open rates and subscribers; and pay-per-click (PPC) rates, including cost per click (CPC), click-through rate (CTR), and return on ad spend (ROAS).
There are many, many more marketing KPIs than those mentioned here. And it might be tempting to track them all to feel like you really have a finger on the pulse of your business. Though it’s certainly better to have too much data than too little, you don’t want to waste time on KPIs unrelated to what your goals are. If an MLB player struggles with strikeouts, for example, the number of bases he steals may be important — but that data won’t help address his goal of striking out less. Instead, his KPI should be a strikeout percentage.
Similarly, marketers can track multiple metrics to gauge how effectively their brands are engaging with and winning over consumers. Still, it’s important to be more selective with KPIs, as they will change as the business evolves.
For more on the metrics for digital success:
First, the Goals. Then, the KPIs
To start tracking marketing goals with KPIs, you must clearly establish them. And be specific. In other words, a marketing goal should not just be to increase the number of email subscribers. Rather, you should zero in on a target, such as 5,000 additional email subscribers by September.
Consider the most important goal for your brand overall, as well as the most vital goal at each stage of the buyer journey. Then, attach a marketing KPI to monitor progress.
If your brand is new to this, your goal will be to build an audience or awareness as well as strong KPIs, including page views, followers, and subscribers. If your brand is more seasoned, you can graduate to boosting revenue with a specific marketing KPI, such as conversions.
Always keep your goals in mind so you know whether certain KPIs are bringing you closer to your goal. This will ensure you focus on the right KPIs and avoid wasting time and resources on metrics that ultimately aren’t useful for what you’re trying to accomplish.
Broadly speaking, here are the most common KPIs to help track the performance of online marketing campaigns:
- Click-through rate: The number of clicks your content receives divided by the number of times it is seen.
- Conversion rate: The percentage of users who perform a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a contact form.
- Cost per lead (CPL): The average cost of gaining a new sales lead. You can use this metric to determine how much you are spending per lead generated by specific channels, such as social versus search to figure out how to better allocate your marketing budget, per internet marketing and IT company, WebFX.
- Customer lifetime value: The total amount a customer spends over the length of their relationship with a brand. If your brand has a high customer lifetime value, you’ll likely be willing to spend more to acquire each lead and vice versa, according to WebFx.
- Organic traffic: How much unpaid traffic comes to your website through search engines.
- Return on investment (ROI): How much money you make as a result of your marketing efforts, which you can also divvy up by channel.
Depending on your specific brand and goals, other KPIs may be useful. Examples follow, broken down by category. Remember to focus on the most relevant KPIs at any given moment because when your needs change, your KPIs change, too.
In terms of financial KPIs, revenue, or gross profit, is best known. It’s simply how much money you’re bringing in, which is clearly important. If revenue is increasing, you’re on the right track. If not, there’s a problem you need to identify and resolve.
In addition to revenue, there are many other revealing financial KPIs, depending on your specific marketing goals:
- Average cart/contract value: The average value of customer transactions within a certain time period.
- Lifetime customer value: How much money a given customer spends throughout their relationship.
- Net profit: Revenue minus expenses.
- Revenue per employee: How much revenue each employee is generating. There are multiple ways to calculate this figure, per WordPress hosting site, Flywheel.
- Sales growth: The difference in sales during two comparable periods of time, such as years, quarters, or months.
For more on how to build a campaign strategy for finance:
Customer and Lead KPIs
If you know how many customers you need in a given time period, you can calculate what kind of traffic you need to generate with the following KPIs:
- Average client tenure: How long clients stay with you.
- Cost per customer acquisition: How much you spend to acquire new customers, which can help set targets and budgets.
- Cost per lead: How much it costs to attract each sales lead. This helps you understand the effectiveness of existing advertising campaigns.
- Lead-to-customer ratio: How many leads actually become customers. Use this to determine how many leads you need to meet your customer acquisition goals.
- Leads generated: The number of leads gained in a specified time period.
- Traffic-to-lead ratio: How much traffic you need before a site visitor becomes a sales lead. When you know cost per lead, the lead-to-customer ratio, and how many customers you need, traffic-to-lead tells you how much traffic is required to meet your customer goals, according to Flywheel.
Site and Content KPIs
The following KPIs help maximize leads and conversions by assessing how consumers engage with brand content:
- Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who click on a page and quickly leave without doing anything else on the site.
- Unique visitors: How many people come to your website. This gives a sense of how discoverable you are on the internet.
- Email conversion rates: The percentage of recipients who become leads or clients.
- Email open rates: The percentage of recipients who open your emails. It should be about 30% but could be lower if you have a particularly large list, per Flywheel.
- Inbound marketing ROI: The ROI of specific marketing efforts, which helps determine what marketing programs are yielding positive results, Flywheel says.
For more on the different types of content to incorporate into your marketing strategy:
Monitor and Adjust
Once your marketing goals and related KPIs are set, you will have to monitor them with analytics tools like Google Analytics on a recurring basis. Then you’ll want to record the results and compare them to your goals. From there, adjust as necessary — including when you have accomplished said goals.
Though there are other KPIs to consider, this list focuses on those most important to marketers. By starting here, you’ll set your brand up for long-term success.
Megan is AdRoll’s Principal Product Marketing Manager who helps uncover and tell important stories to audiences inside and outside of the company. She pulls inspiration and expertise from her experience in marketing for a variety of different organizations, including agencies, technology, education and more. In her free time, she enjoys running (preferably in the beautiful Utah mountains), chasing her two kids and reading anything and everything.