Marketing 101: Key Performance Indicators Across Digital Marketing Services

wooden blocks with kpis

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Digital Marketing KPIs and Why They Matter

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.” Although this analogy provides a fun visual for what it means to experiment, it’s not the best approach for crafting a digital marketing strategy.

When you’re working within a marketing budget, you often don’t have the luxury of constantly trying tactics that might lead to success. You need to choose tactics that are proven to work in your industry and be able to track your efforts, so you can make an informed decision about how to move forward and continue scaling.

To measure the success of your campaigns, look at each tactics’ key performance indicators. These metrics allow you to be more purposeful with digital marketing, so you’re putting your money where it counts.

In this blog, experts share everything you need to know about key performance indicators and how partnering with a data-driven digital marketing company can help you hit your business goals quarter after quarter.

What Are Digital Marketing Key Performance Indicators?

Key performance indicators, often abbreviated to KPIs, are metrics that measure the effectiveness of a business’s digital marketing efforts. They give you a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not, so you can allocate your budget wisely.

For example, after analyzing data, you may discover your search engine optimization (SEO) tactics bring in the most qualified leads, while social media ads offer the least return on investment (ROI). From these insights, you may decide it’s worth doubling down on the most profitable parts of your digital marketing strategy, like SEO. That’s not to say you should cut out social media advertising entirely; you may just need to reevaluate your campaign and tweak it to better reach your target audience.

KPIs act like a compass for digital marketers, providing direction to achieve specific results. Without them, you’re left running unintentional and uninspired campaigns.

Tracking KPIs for Digital Marketing

The KPIs you choose to track largely depend on your business and marketing objectives. Before you can name the metrics you want to measure, you have to understand exactly what you want to achieve. Are you looking to boost brand awareness? Do you want to convert more leads to customers? There’s no universal solution in digital marketing, so the KPIs that work for one company won’t necessarily be right for another.

Whatever KPIs you decide to focus on, though, need to meet the SMART criteria. This means they should be:

  • Specific.
  • Measurable.
  • Achievable.
  • Relevant.
  • Time-bound.

In other words, a KPI should center around a specific goal, be quantifiable, be realistic based on available resources and current performance, directly relate to the most important areas of the business, and have a deadline.

Because KPIs are directly tied to your digital marketing strategy, there are multiple platforms you may use to track them, including:

  • Social media channels, like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  • Paid media tools, like Google Ads.
  • SEO tools, like Google Search Console and Semrush.
  • Web analytics tools, like Google Analytics.

In today’s digital-first world, almost every online action can be monitored, making it easy to see exactly where customers are coming from and which of your efforts are most effective.

Examples of Digital Marketing KPIs

Each channel has its own set of metrics, and the KPIs you prioritize can vary from campaign to campaign. However, there are certain KPIs that apply to many companies marketing themselves online. Listed below are what digital marketing service professionals recommend measuring to keep tabs on performance.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) KPIs

  • Organic conversions: Conversions are actions you want users to take on your website. This could be making a purchase, filling out a contact form, or even signing up for an email newsletter. By tracking organic conversions in Google Analytics (or your web analytics tool of choice), you can more accurately connect your digital marketing efforts to business success.
  • Organic impressions: Search engine optimization is a long-term game, but increased organic impressions can be an early sign that things are moving in the right direction. This KPI indicates the number of times your web pages show up on search engine results pages (SERPs) for a particular query.
  • Organic traffic: Organic traffic calculates how many visitors come to your website from non-paid search sources, including Google, Bing, and other search engines. The higher this KPI is, the more people that are learning about your business, which can lead to more conversions and revenue.

Content Marketing KPIs

  • Branded versus non-branded traffic: Branded traffic comes from searches that include your brand or product name. Non-branded traffic, on the other hand, is a result of general queries related to what your business offers. While branded keywords are a testament to brand awareness, non-branded keywords help users find your website, even if they don’t know you exist yet.
  • Organic click-through rate: This KPI measures how often your web pages generate clicks compared to how often they appear in search results, providing insight on whether your listings resonate with users. If you have high rankings and impressions, but a low organic CTR, you may consider updating your metadata.
  • Keyword rankings: Tracking keywords sheds light on which search queries are driving the most traffic and why. Aiming to rank high for industry-relevant keywords builds authority and helps attract quality organic traffic.

Paid Media KPIs

  • Click-through rate: Click-through rate is the ratio of the number of clicks on your ad to the number of times your ad was shown. This KPI makes it easy to assess how persuasive your messaging is to your target audience. According to CRM platform Hubspot, the average CTR across all industries is 1.91% for a search ad and 0.35% for a display ad.
  • Cost per acquisition: Top digital marketing firms often use cost-per-acquisition metrics to tell the full story of a paid media campaign. Compared to cost per click (CPC), which refers to the average price you pay for every click on an ad, CPA measures how much you’re spending to move a customer through the sales funnel.
  • Conversion rate: Conversion rate can be determined by dividing the number of conversions by the total number of clicks on your ad and multiplying it by 100 to get a percentage. This points to how relevant what you’re promoting is to the audience viewing it.

Social Media KPIs

  • Reach: Reach is the number of unique social media users who have seen your post. Impressions include any views, even those by the same person, but reach counts each user only once. This paints a more realistic picture of your audience and gives you a good gauge of how active your followers are.
  • Likes, comments, and shares: A user choosing to like, comment, share, or otherwise interact with a post suggests they feel connected to your brand. By producing quality content your audience is interested in, you can build trust, facilitate conversation, and foster a sense of community.
  • Average engagement rate: Engagement rate tracks how actively involved your followers are with your content. These metrics offer insight into the posts that perform best on your channels. Knowing this, you can hone your social media digital marketing strategy and implement content you’re confident will grab your audience’s attention.

Are There Digital Marketing KPIs I Shouldn’t Track?

With all the resources out there for tracking data, it can be tempting to collect as many KPIs as you possibly can. However, ask any reputable digital marketing company, and they’ll advise against it. Gathering irrelevant metrics can distract you from those that are actually necessary.

Also referred to as vanity metrics, these statistics often look great on paper, but provide no real value to the business. For instance, social media followers could be considered a vanity metric if you’re not currently working on a campaign related to growing your audience. KPIs aren’t worth tracking if they can’t be attributed to an overall objective.

Digital Marketing Firms Specialize in Performance Management

When you’re running a business, finding time to analyze your marketing efforts can be a challenge. Fortunately, digital marketing services are available to help you optimize your future campaigns.

Look for a digital marketing firm that understands that kicking off a campaign is only just the beginning. Data provides insight on consumer behavior and influences your strategy at every touchpoint. The right digital marketing company will work closely with you to track KPIs that matter most to your brand and come up with customized plans to get you results that exceed your expectations.

Partner with a trusted digital marketing expert and put yourself one step closer to accomplishing your growth goals.

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