team meeting to set KPIs

It’s exhilarating having all the digital marketing metrics you could ever need at your fingertips, but all that data can get overwhelming when planning how to measure your projects or campaign performance. To help you get out from under your data overload, read on to learn about creating smarter goals and digital marketing KPIs.

What Is a Metric?

Metrics are numbers or ratios that track the status of business processes. They provide insights but aren’t as relevant to measuring your performance related to your business objective.

Need some inspiration on what metrics you should consider measuring? See what eMarketer now says are the top metrics most important to worldwide companies when measuring their own digital marketing success.

What Is a KPI?

KPI stands for key performance indicator. Think of a KPI as a compass: It can tell you if you’re headed in the right direction toward your goal and also how you’re doing along the way – whether you’re on track, falling short or exceeding it.

KPIs

  • are actionable,
  • give you a baseline to measure performance,
  • and tell you where to focus your team’s time, energy, expertise and talent to accomplish your objective – whether that’s to increase revenue, grow new customers, send more traffic to your website, get more social media followers or something else entirely.

Metrics vs. KPIs: How Are They Different?

Metrics only become KPIs when you apply and compare data to your goals. So KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs. KPIs are the relevant and insightful metrics you select, monitor and track to help you make informed decisions about your marketing initiatives.

A 5-Point Checklist for Creating Smarter Goals and Digital Marketing KPIs

After that quick refresher, here’s a 5-point checklist to setting goals and KPIs for any upcoming marketing project or campaign:

  • #1: Ask the Right Questions.

    • What do you want to do and why? This can help you easily generate the right goals for your team.
    • When writing goals, remember to make them clear (don’t use jargon), short (one line if possible), and SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timebound).
  • #2: Find Your Target.

    • Every goal needs a target – that numeric value that shows what you hope to achieve and by when. A target shows you what to aim for and whether you’ve hit the mark. It’s what gives KPIs the power to gauge your goal’s performance.
      • Take this example: Say you achieved a sales volume of 5,000 widgets by a set date. That seems good, but how can you be sure? You don’t have any reference point. But if you know your target was 3,500 widgets by that set date, then you know you significantly surpassed your goal.
  • #3: Be Careful What You Measure.

    • Before tying KPIs to any goal, ask yourself these questions:
      • How do you envision success?
      • Which metrics align with your particular goal and support what you’re trying to accomplish?
    • Digital marketing KPIs – such as ROI, website page views, cost per lead, customer lifetime value, to name a few – abound, but our data insights analysts suggest having two to five logical and relevant KPIs at a time per goal that are actionable as well as easy to measure and quantify.
    • To put together what you’ve learned, let’s look at this digital marketing initiative example:
      • Objective: Grow B2B sales leads
      • Goal: Grow company’s subscriber list by 50% this year
      • Marketing Initiative: Develop and post 5 engaging and evergreen lead magnets on website landing pages, all free to download in exchange for contact info
      • Potential KPIs: % increase in website’s subscriber conversion rate; % change in landing page views; % change in lead magnet downloads
      • Owner: Marketing Manager
      • Frequency Check: Monthly
  • #4: Keep Tabs on Your Results.

    • Assign a point person to analyze each of your goals and KPI performance regularly, whether that be daily, weekly, monthly or at another interval. The specific timing you can select is flexible and should depend on what you’re tracking.
    • To analyze results, either take a manual approach and piece together the data for review into a report, spreadsheet or slides or set up an automated dashboard that can do the work for you and can always give you an at-a-glance view of where you stand.
  • #5: Be Willing to Change.

    • Goals and KPIs are fluid so will change over time. If something isn’t working and needs shifting, switch up your strategy and experiment. Retiring old KPIs in favor of introducing new ones is natural. Keep only those that serve you best and can best gauge your performance over time.

Interested in learning more ways to tie your digital advertising efforts back to measurable results? Check out our president Jay Friedman’s latest book, Prove Your Advertising Works (no need to get it from Amazon; download it here for free!). Or let’s connect to discuss your specific digital advertising needs and challenges. We can give you the knowledge and guidance you need to harness your data, set the right strategy, and confidently make the right data-driven decisions to move the needle on your next digital marketing campaign.