How to Determine your Digital Marketing Key Performance Indicators
Astronaut Mark Watney was left behind by his crew mates on planet Mars, presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, 33.9 million miles away from Earth and with a few cans of food in a place where nothing grows, he had very slim chance of surviving.
This scary situation is the scenario of the movie “The Martian,” and it’s amazing how the astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) deals with every one of these challenges like a scientist. Everything he does is measured and has a key performance indicator(KPI). This is the ONLY way he can keep breathing.
Key performance indicators can also mean the prosperity – or death – of your business.
For Mark Watney, the KPIs were very tight. He didn’t have a lot margin for error, and his primary indicator was to stay alive. Hopefully, your company’s margins are not this tight. But either way, you need to determine these benchmarks before it’s too late.
What are digital marketing KPIs?
When logging into Google Analytics, there is an avalanche of information. And if you don’t have a specific goal in mind, it’s very unlikely you’ll find what you need to improve your marketing. It’s like going to a Target store without knowing what you intend to buy. First, you feel overwhelmed. Then stressed. And, before you know it, you leave the store empty-handed.
The key to finding what you need every time you log into Google Analytics (or any other digital marketing dashboard) is to identify and isolate the problem.
For example, let’s say you want to increase conversions on your website. What is the first thing you should seek? The places you have set up as conversions (Points of conversion).
- Are they working? Can you see any recent conversion (less than 24 hours)?
- From all conversion points, which one(s) is generating most of the conversions? Can you make it stand out more? Maybe change the position or move it to a different page?
- Were the conversions higher or lower before this time frame? When? How does it compare with the situation today? Did anything change on the website?
As you can see, the questions will guide the KPIs. Good questions give you focus and lead to more valuable measurement. Let’s look at another example. Say you want to reduce the average CPC on your AdWords account. What questions should you ask?
- What are my most expensive keywords? Do they generate conversions? Should I stop buying some of them?
- What is the keyword match type (Exact Match, Phrase Match, Modified Broad Match or Broad Match) set up for most of my keywords? Are they generating a lot of impressions from unrelated keywords?
- What ads are showing up for these keywords? Can I organize the account structure better so my ads are more relevant to the keywords I’m buying?
Some of these questions require in-depth knowledge about the subject, but the more you think about it and witness changes, the better your questions become. And if you don’t have a lot of experience yet it is a good strategy to think the 80/20 way. Meaning, find the 20% of elements that bring 80% of the results and act on them.
Most of the time this 20% of elements lie in the conversion, which is your most important KPI. Things like:
- Reach a specific page
- Fill out a form
- Spend a particular amount of time on a web page
- Watch a video
- Download a PDF
You must determine your conversion points based on the structure of your business, website, and industry. For example, for the auto dealer industry, it’s important to send people to the vehicle details page (VDP). For the insurance industry it’s important to get people to request a quote. For the pool construction industry, it’s important to get people to call or fill out a website form to set an appointment.
Besides conversions, there are a few other metrics that are critical to follow to see if anything stands out, whether good or bad.
For example, if your site goes down you will see an instant drop in the number of sessions…
If a new channel started to bring new conversions you would see it on the “source/medium” list…
Or maybe you started a new campaign and site traffic increased…
Once you have determined your KPIs, you must make it a point to review them at least once a week, with the following objectives in mind: take action to increase metrics that are performing well, eliminate a problem or prevent a problem from happening. Which leads to another important question:
What specific marketing KPIs should your business track?
Below are the metrics that we consider to be the most important for Website traffic and Paid Search (Google AdWords and Bing). These should give you an idea of what you should be tracking on a consistent basis. But don’t always assume these are the right KPIs for your specific business. Think about your needs and consider how these KPIs may fit your unique process.
As you can see, we like to look at KPIs broken down by each marketing channel (paid search, Pandora, Facebook, etc.). This way we can easily see each one’s performance and assess positive or negative points, and then analyze how to proceed with each tactic. In this case (as shown in the table chart above), each tactic is measured based on:
- Site Sessions
- Micro Leads
- Vehicle Details Page Views (automotive)
- Website Form Fills
- Bounce Rate
PPC Search (Google AdWords & Bing)
For Paid Search specifically, these are the metrics we review on a consistent basis. Note that these metrics do not show any digital display tactics, because those channels work to achieve different actions entirely.
What should you make of all this?
Hopefully, this information has helped you determine the KPIs of your business, or it has compelled you to make a list of questions to get started. Either way, there should be no doubt about the importance of determining these benchmarks and how they will impact your company’s future.