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Marketing KPIs: Which Metrics Really Matter To Your Business?

There are a few elements of your social media strategy that shouldn’t be underestimated, and marketing KPIs are one of them. 

KPIs can be taken as a measure of your achievements, what direction you want to take, and which statistics are cutting it for your business.

With a plethora of marketing performance metrics to analyze, it may be difficult to find the ones that are worth analysing for your particular case. It may also turn out that what you initially thought of as a KPI is no longer valid. Today, we’ll guide you through marketing KPIs from head to toe, so you’ll be able to choose them like a pro.

What is a marketing KPI?

Key Performance Indicators in marketing are metrics that every marketer should use and follow, but not every marketer can properly identify them from day one. 

Marketing metrics - difficult to identify?

Marketing KPIs are marketing performance metrics used for tracking, evaluating and optimizing the execution of a social media strategy. Depending on the aim of a particular campaign, there may be various marketing performance metrics set up. Campaign KPIs steer the communication towards achieving business goals and help with making adjustments on the go or identifying potential bottlenecks in social media management.

How to select KPIs

Choosing the right set of key performance indicators in marketing is not the easiest task. Here’s what’s worth taking into account when it comes to making a wise marketing KPIs choice.

Marketing KPIs - identify your first KPI

Choose KPIs relevant to your business goals

Your business surely has some business goals: increasing conversion, boosting sales, and raising brand awareness, just to name a few examples. Marketing KPIs help you transform those goals into measurable metrics and numbers to track. Choose campaign KPIs that could support you in reaching your business goals and are not too far from what you want to achieve.

If your goal is to increase sales by 50%, your marketing KPIs should mainly cover traffic volume, CPC and CPS. If you launch a new product and want to improve brand recognition, then you may want to fight for significant reach among your target group (especially, if you don’t run a website or e-commerce store, so driving external traffic is not important to you).

Find some benchmarks

When it comes to setting up new marketing KPIs, you don’t need to start from scratch. Take a look at your current and past campaigns or communication plans and analyze their results.

Suppose that your last 10 posts generated a 4% engagement rate in your target group. Not great, not terrible. Setting up marketing KPIs of 5% engagement rate may encourage you to check which posts were your shining stars and what kind of copy generated the most cheerful reactions.

KPIs are not there to stay the same forever once set up, they will need to be adjusted on the go. It’s better to underpromise and overdeliver than vice versa, though. 

Make sure your marketing KPIs are measurable

Marketing KPIs need to be smart and measurable. If you want to grow your sales through social media then set up a percentage of traffic growth, the desired CPC or the volume of sales. Simply “growing sales” is not a KPI.

Match KPIs with the type of campaign

Your marketing KPIs need to match your business goals, and your campaigns should match your KPIs. So, if the aim of a campaign is to bring extra traffic, you should pick “traffic” from all of the goals available in, e.g., Facebook Ads Manager. While “engagement” or “reach” may still bring you some traffic, the results may not be precise or easy to analyze. 

Examples of marketing KPIs to use

As we already mentioned, you really do have many various marketing performance metrics at your disposal. We’ve identified a few groups that may be of help when setting up some campaign KPIs for social media. 

Content KPIs

Publishing content should go hand in hand with a solid promotional strategy. With the right content KPIs, you can improve your distribution channels, better understand what type of content resonates with your audience, and make sure your voice is being heard above the noise.

There is a wealth of data available at your fingertips when it comes to content performance  – all you need is to know what to look for and how to use it.

Examples of Content KPIs:

  • organic traffic
  • number of organic keywords ranked
  • blog post views
  • session duration (average time on page)
  • scroll depth
  • click through rate
  • number of new sign-ups generated
  • referral traffic
  • bounce rate

Example of what these content KPIs might look like:

  • generate 10% more leads from content creation
  • rank on 20 business-oriented keywords by the end of Q4
  • drive 500 new visitors to the website from content in Q12
  • increase blog post views by 15% each month
  • increase published articles quota from 2 to 6 a month

SEO KPIs

We mentioned content, but there are actually more elements that fall into the SEO puzzle. To make your site as visible as possible to both users and search engine bots, you should focus on technical SEO, on-page optimization, and link building – just to list a few.

Keep track of the following SEO KPIs to see if your efforts are paying off and where you need to make some adjustments.

Examples of SEO KPIs:

  • Organic traffic
  • keyword positions 
  • indexation rate / pages indexed by Google
  • pages per session
  • number of external links
  • click-through rate (CTR) from SERP

Example of what these SEO KPIs might look like:

  • increase traffic from organic searches by 20% YoY
  • have 50 new keywords ranked in the top 100 results (for a certain period)

Email marketing KPIs

The bread and butter of many digital marketing strategies, email campaigns can be highly effective when done right. Measuring your email marketing KPIs will give you a good idea about whether or not subscribers are engaging with your content, as well as how you can improve your open and click-through rates.

Since email automation is relatively inexpensive and easy to set up, there’s really no excuse not to be tracking these metrics.

Examples of email marketing KPIs:

  • open rate
  • click-through rate (CTR)
  • unsubscribe rate
  • bounce rate
  • forwarding rate
  • spam complaints
  • conversion rate (CR)

Example of what these email marketing KPIs might look like:

  • decrease the unsubscribe rate by 0.15%
  • increase the open rate by 30%
  • achieve a CR of at least 15%

User behaviour KPIs

Although a somewhat neglected category, measuring user behavior can give you some very valuable insights if you know what to look for. Understanding how users interact with your site or app can help you improve their experience and increase the chances of them becoming customers or returning visitors.

Examples of user behavior KPIs:

  • pageviews
  • top exit pages
  • pages per session
  • unique behaviors
  • top performing pages (revenue drivers)
  • heatmap movements
  • new vs returning visitors

Example of what these content KPIs might look like:

  • increase pages per session by 30%
  • upsell the premium version of the app to 15% of all users
  • increase time on site by 60 seconds
  • shorten the customer journey by two steps in Q1

Sales and lead generation KPIs

Lead generation is the process of converting strangers into website visitors, and then into leads – people who are interested in your products or services. Once you have a lead, it’s up to your sales team to turn them into customers.

How to measure the success of your lead generation efforts? Keep track of the marketing KPIs below to find out.

Examples of lead generation KPIs:

  • number of new leads generated
  • cost per lead (CPL)
  • conversion rate – the number of leads converted into customers
  • sales cycle duration – the time it takes to convert a lead into a customer
  • lead quality score
  • customer retention rates

Example of what these lead generation KPIs might look like:

  • bring in 50 new leads each week
  • decrease the CPL by 30% by the end of the year
  • increase the conversion rate by 20%
  • shorten the sales cycle duration by one week

The bottom line is this: when it comes to marketing KPIs, often less is more. 

Choose a handful of simple, relevant marketing KPIs and track them over time. This will give you the insights you need to make better decisions and improve your marketing strategy. And that’s what it’s all about, after all.

There are obviously more segments and groups of marketing KPIs that you may want to test out and compare. Many marketers start from simple campaign KPIs and, once they make them or are able to specify some more goals within those KPIs, they dig deeper. Marketers may begin from KPIs such as organic traffic volume or engagement rate, then go through more detailed and advanced marketing performance metrics to deliver even better results and set the bar even higher for themselves.

Common mistakes with picking marketing KPIs

Not picking the right KPI in the first place

If it was that easy, we probably wouldn’t be writing this blog post. Many companies still don’t take the time to understand what exactly they want to achieve with their campaigns. Without a clear goal in mind, it’s impossible to know which metric will be the best indicator of success.

Picking too many KPIs

Naturally, you want to increase traffic, improve sales, generate more leads, streamline your work, and so on… 

However, tracking a lot of different marketing KPIs at once will only lead to information overload. Not only that, but you probably won’t be able to take meaningful action on all of that data.

Trying to keep an eye on too many metrics simultaneously is a surefire way to get overwhelmed and ultimately achieve nothing as a result. Stick to a few metrics that are the most relevant to your business goals, and concentrate on improving those.

Focusing on short-term results instead of long-term goals

When you’re in the thick of things, it’s easy to get caught up in daily or weekly results. 

But if your goal is to increase brand awareness or build customer loyalty, you need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Marketing campaigns are often long-term projects, so you should set KPIs that reflect that. Instead of fixating on how many leads you generated this week, try to track how your campaigns are affecting your brand over time. 

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Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Underestimating the effort required to track and measure KPIs

Measuring KPIs is not a one-time task that you can set and forget. To get meaningful insights from your data, you need to track KPIs on a regular basis and adjust your campaigns accordingly.

If you’re not prepared to put in the time and effort required to properly measure your marketing KPIs, you might as well not bother. Make some space in your schedule or ask someone to help you out. You simply need to know how you’re doing in order to improve.

Not revisiting KPIs often enough to ensure they’re still relevant

Again, you can’t just start tracking certain marketing KPIs and assume they will always be the most important metrics for your business. What you set as a goal in 2020 may no longer be relevant or achievable in 2022.

As your business grows and changes, so too should your KPIs. Make sure to revisit your KPIs on a regular basis, updating them as and when necessary. If you’re not making progress towards a certain goal, it might be time to adjust your strategy.

Measuring vanity metrics instead of actionable metrics

And for this one… we’ll let our next paragraph do the talking.

Vanity metrics vs KPIs

There’s a group of statistics that, indeed, represent some metrics, but very rarely are they actually important or relevant to a real business goal. 

Yet marketers tend to pick some of those goals, set up targets, and proudly call them their KPIs, when in fact they are nothing more than vanity metrics

Vanity metrics reflect numbers that can be tracked on social media, but in the majority of cases shouldn’t be used to evaluate overall performance. The most common vanity metrics include page likes (and the equivalent counters on other platforms) and short video views. 

Page likes, in an era of bots and fake accounts, cannot be regarded as an important KPI. They don’t mean much in 2020: if a particular page has 20k followers, but the engagement rate stands at whooping 0.02%, then the quality of content and the follower base leaves a lot to be desired. It’s better to reach a smaller audience and maintain interactions than to collect random followers like stamps, but struggle or even fail to entertain them.

Short video views, such as 3-second long ones, are usually too abrupt to carry any message about the brand, and they could also just be random watches. Yet, if you start a campaign on Facebook with such a goal, you could be gobsmacked about how “cheap” the campaign is. 

We hate to break it to you, but it means exactly the same as paying for air. And while Facebook claims that 3 seconds is “enough” to get a grasp of a video, it goes without saying that in many cases it’s simply too short, random, and not measurable towards your business goal. 

Engagement as a marketing KPI

When looking for the right campaign KPIs, brands often pick CPC, number of leads, or sales, neglecting engagement rate somewhat. Is that the right thing to do? Not necessarily – there are cases when engagement rate is actually more sought after by brands than sales or leads. 

Analyzing KPIs – what to take into consideration

There are two major questions you should ask yourself when analyzing KPIs. 

Does this KPI really contribute to my business goal?

While the marketing KPIs you’ve chosen should stick with you for a little time, no one says that they have to stay with you forever. You may want or need to adjust them to your business goals. And even a slight change to your marketing strategy may contribute to modifying goals and campaign KPIs. 

Let’s say that you run an online shop. One of your products has become really popular out of nowhere, after it turned out that a few influencers praised your collection. Now your campaign KPIs should basically be about “making the most of it” (e.g. generating more sales or increasing visibility of your online shop), and other marketing KPIs should be a lower priority for now so that you can ride the momentum. 

Some marketing KPIs, such as follower base growth, may simply be worn out once you reach a satisfying level, and you therefore might want to replace them with new campaign KPIs that reflect your current strategy better.

Does it perform well?

You need to check the performance of your marketig KPIs on a regular basis. Can a particular campaign still be adjusted? If your activities were doing well and suddenly there’s a drop in the results, do you know what caused it? It’s not the time or place to be overdramatic, but rather analytical and level headed. 

Be SMART about your marketing KPIs

In marketing, KPIs are like health score checks that indicate whether or not your business is on track. 

If you’re doing well, you can pat yourself on the back and simply keep improving. But if you constantly miss hitting your marketing KPIs, you need to do a bit more to deserve that recognition.

It is not about choosing the easiest KPIs nor as many as possible, but picking those that correspond to your business goals. Do this one step at a time, revisit them on a regular basis, and watch your performance levels increase.

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Kinga Edwards

Owner & Creative Director at Brainy Bees. She believes that insights are everywhere!
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