Tom Hileman leads an award-winning agency to deliver high-touch, data-driven marketing solutions for leading organizations nationwide.
Success can be measured in many different ways. For some, it’s the size or location of their home. For others, it’s the kind of car they drive. For digital marketers, success — both short- and long-term — is measured by key performance indicators (KPIs).
In an age of data and technology, practically everything is quantifiable. KPIs are measurable values that inform actionable insights about what is and isn’t working with your digital marketing. Good KPIs can help you track and measure success in everything from click-through rates to lead conversion.
But not every KPI is valuable. With so many to choose from, it’s best to focus on the ones that actually and directly affect the success of your business.
Looking Good Vs. Performing Well
The reality is that calling a metric a “KPI” doesn’t make it key. Vanity metrics, like impressions, page views, likes and follows, all look good on a digital dashboard. But those alone don’t offer actionable insights. These metrics are merely data points. They’re missing a backstory and the big picture they belong to. It’s like being told you have a beautiful logo — that’s better than an off-putting logo, but how is it effective?
The metrics that truly matter are the ones directly tied to your organization’s goals and objectives. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call them meaningful metrics. These metrics reveal a strength or weakness you can build upon or address to move your business closer to its goals. Unlike vanity metrics, meaningful metrics provide actionable insights — the intel you need to adjust your marketing strategies in real time and ultimately grow as an organization.
Deciding What To Measure
The only KPIs worth having are the ones with meaning. So what should you measure? Here are seven KPIs to focus on:
1. Bounce rates: This metric helps tell you whether people are substantively engaging with your content or simply passing by. It represents the percentage of visitors who arrive and then leave rather before viewing other pages. A high bounce rate (over 60%) is one of the most common conversion killers. Providing consistent, customer-centric content using optimized images, engaging videos and clear calls to action can help improve this metric.
2. Landing page conversion rates: Whether your website has one landing page or dozens, you want to know how well each is performing. Your landing page conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who take the desired action — whether that’s downloading a guide, subscribing or scheduling a demo. To improve your conversion rates, make sure the user experience on these pages is easy, the call to action (CTA) is clear and what you’re offering is compelling.
3. Click-through rates: More telling than an email open rate, click-through rates measure how many recipients clicked on a CTA button or other link within an email. This is usually an email’s total number of clicks divided by its total number of opens. Benchmarks can vary by your industry but even more based on whether you are sending emails to clients or prospects.
4. New visitor and return visitor conversion rates: New visitors and returning visitors interact with sites very differently, so improving your first-time visitor conversion rate requires separating this metric from your return-customer conversion rate. Take note of what new visitors engage with and where you might be losing them to bounces, as well as what content returning visitors need to engage with before they convert.
5. Mobile traffic conversion rates: Why track mobile conversions separately? Consumers are now accessing more websites from mobile devices than from desktops, meaning if your website is losing visitors on mobile at a higher rate than on desktop, you have a problem. This can be an indicator of whether users find your website to be properly optimized for smartphones and tablets — or it can illustrate something important about user behavior and your buyer’s journey so you can adjust your marketing appropriately.
6. Cost-per-conversion (CPC): Also known as cost-per-action, this metric shows how much it costs to get a customer to take a final desired action. You can calculate it by dividing the total ad spending on a campaign by the total number of conversions attributed to that campaign. This is where the rubber meets the road: Sure, your campaign did something — but was it worth it? Did it do enough, and when you compare it to your other efforts, would you run it again?
7. Return on investment (ROI): Finally, ROI is your bottom line when it comes to measuring a marketing effort. Everything needs to come back to what the actual return is for the hours and dollars you put into it. However successful a campaign may appear to be according to any other measure, it needs to be accountable to the revenue it’s responsible for generating through effective conversions.
Marketing That Measures Up Is Measurable
Converting leads isn’t an exact science — but make no mistake, it is a science. Today, we have far too much ability to measure marketing to think that the art is all that matters. We want our efforts to be successful, to be effective and to have a high return. The way to make sure that they do is to make sure that we are valuing the right metrics of success and to measure, measure, measure.
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Author: Tom Hileman, Forbes Councils Member