If you're not tracking your marketing efforts, how will you know if they're working or not? That’s when Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, come into play! KPIs help you measure the metrics that matter the most to your business, so that you can keep scaling.
Let's take a closer look at what you need to know about tracking your digital marketing KPI.
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a quantifiable measure, or metric, that you can use to gauge some aspect of your business' performance. KPIs can be related to any part of your business, from employee performance to sales.
Digital marketing KPIs are metrics that are directly tied to your digital marketing strategy. They include data such as your website traffic, search engine optimization (SEO), conversion rates, and anything else that's part of your online marketing.
You need to track your KPIs in order to have a clear picture of what's working and what isn't. If you generate a profit at the end of the day, but have no idea where the profit is coming from and what part of your marketing strategy played a role, you’ll never know where to invest. For example, a single source of website traffic might be driving almost all of your qualified leads and sales while you're throwing money away on other marketing channels that aren't driving any.
Almost everything can be tracked nowadays thanks to numerous platforms such as Google Analytics, or Google Ads, so it's easy to see exactly where your customers are coming from, your cost per lead, how much it costs to acquire a customer, what digital marketing efforts worked out best, etc. With this knowledge, you can drop the unprofitable parts of your strategy and focus on making the profitable ones work even better.
Choosing the right KPIs for digital marketing isn't a "one-size-fits-all" decision. The best KPIs for one company to track aren't necessarily the same for another.
To choose the best KPIs for your business, you need to look at your goals and work backwards. For example, if your lead follow-up is done entirely over the phone or face-to-face, there's no need to track email marketing KPIs.
Regardless of what KPIs are most valuable for you to track, they need to meet the SMART criteria. The KPIs you track need to be:
In other words, the KPI needs to provide a specific result that digital marketers can measure, that can be identified when you achieve it, is relevant to your goals, and can have a deadline or timeframe applied to it.
The ease of tracking any digital marketing KPIs from website traffic to e-commerce metrics, churn or organic search can be a double-edged sword. It makes it easy to track important metrics but it also makes it easy to track things that have no value, wasting valuable time and focus.
When deciding on what KPIs you're going to measure, consider whether the information is going to give you any useful insights into ways to improve your bottom line. If the metric isn't something you can act on or affect, it's likely a vanity metric, so it's not worth tracking.
For example, you might be tempted to track vanity metrics like your Facebook likes or twitter followers, but if you’re not currently doing a social media campaign aiming towards the goal of getting more likes or followers, why track it? It's not an effective KPI.
While the specific combination of KPI that you track will depend on your business and exactly what channels you're targeting with your digital marketing campaigns, several categories apply to most companies doing business online. These include:
There are also some general marketing metrics and KPIs that most companies will benefit from having.
The lifetime value of a customer is how much revenue a typical customer generates over time. This could be a matter of days, weeks, months, or years, depending on your typical retention rate and back-end product or service offerings.
The acquisition cost is how much you have to spend to get a new customer. This could include advertising, sales calls or visits, and anything else that goes into your prospecting and conversion process.
The ROI is a function of the previous two KPI. It tells you how much profit you generate when you compare your customer acquisition cost to revenue generated.
The conversion rate is what percentage of visitors turn into leads and leads into customers. This is a general marketing KPI but it can also apply to any of the other categories if you want to track each channel separately. You could also track the total number of leads or conversions.
Search traffic metrics include total visits, unique visitors, organic traffic, website visitors, traffic sources, page views per session, top pages, and various other KPIs related to the traffic coming to your site from Google and other search engines.
This KPI will tell you where your site ranks for your most valuable keywords and phrases. You can track changes in ranking over time to see what is working and what isn't with your SEO efforts.
Backlinks are an important factor in search engine optimization. This KPI lets you track how many other sites are linking to yours and when combined with the search traffic KPIs, you can see how those links affect your rankings and traffic.
Domain authority is a measure of how much authority the search engines attribute to your website. In other words, how important they think your content is. Page authority is the same type of measurement on a page-by-page basis.
When a visitor lands on a page on your website and immediately clicks away, it's called a bounce. Tracking this KPI will help you improve your landing pages to get visitors to stay on your site longer.
Likes, comments, and shares are the lifeblood of social media sites. If social media is one of the channels you're targeting, these KPIs will tell you how much exposure you're getting on those sites.
You need a steady stream of new followers to generate new leads and customers. This KPI will measure the growth rate over a time period.
Social media traffic metrics cover all the same things as SEO traffic (visits, unique visitors, traffic sources, etc.) but from social media sites in particular. You may want to track your overall KPIs for all channels as well as specific numbers for each channel.
Like social media traffic, you may want to track overall conversions as well as each channel's results.
If you're using paid advertising, CPC is one of the fundamental KPIs you should be tracking.
CTR is another fundamental KPI you need to track when you're paying for traffic. A better CTR doesn't only bring you more traffic, it could help lower your CPC in some ad networks.
One of the factors the ad networks use to determine your CPC is the quality score of your ad. A more relevant ad that gets a better CTR will generally have a higher quality score, which results in lower CPCs.
The signup rate for email marketing is what percentage of the visitors to your site sign up for your email list, whether you offer a newsletter, white paper, case study, or any other incentive.
The open rate is how many of the people on your email list open your email messages. This KPI is a great indicator of how effective your subject lines are.
If you include links to pages on your website, products or services, or anything else in your emails, you can track how many people click on those links to measure the engagement.
Email bounce rate is different than website traffic. An email bounce is an undeliverable email - it "bounces" back to the sender.
Every email you send your customers likely has an unsubscribe link so they can remove themselves from your list. This KPI lets you track the number of unsubscribes so you can see what types of messages are most effective and what types lead to more unsubscribes.
Tracking the various digital marketing KPI we've discussed in this post will give your marketing team all the information you need to make sound decisions about your business. But it takes a lot of work to keep this information updated, especially if you're marketing across several different channels.
DashThis can help. Our digital marketing reporting dashboard software will gather all your most important KPIs into an automated report so you can see up-to-the-minute metrics whenever you want. We offer a range of report templates to track KPIs for SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, and more.
Sign up today for a 15-day trial and get 10 free dashboards. Test them out with live data from your business and you'll see how valuable it is to have all this information at your fingertips.
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