Many digital marketers—even good ones—often struggle to connect the dots between their work (which matters to them) and its real-world impact (which matters to the client or their manager). Even worse, many of us fall into the trap of just optimizing for the sake of optimizing, not really knowing which key performance indicators (KPIs) should serve as our proverbial north star.
It’s time to find some direction. In this article, we’ll review which KPIs you should focus on and how you should optimize your digital marketing campaigns with them in mind.
Which KPIs should you focus on?
Due to time and budget constraints, digital marketers often have to narrow their focus to a few core KPIs that tell the most complete story about their work—and what they can do to improve it.
Here are four KPIs you should really be tracking, if you aren’t already:
Funnel Conversion Rate
Is what I’m doing working? If you want to get the heart of this question, you really need to look at your funnel conversion rate (FCR). This metric shows you how effectively your digital marketing efforts are moving users through the buying funnel—and where they might be dropping off in the process. Draw insights from your FCR! If 50% of all users start filling out a form, but only 10% of all users finish it and graduate to the “lead” phase, there might be something drastically wrong with your lead-capture tools.
Don’t beat yourself up over a low FCR: data collected by Adobe Digital Index 2020 shows that the average rate hovers around 3%. As always, your mileage may vary depending on what industry you’re working with.
Whether you work in-house or at an agency, you should start tracking the return on investment (ROI) for each digital marketing channel or approach. You already know the amount originally invested (your budget) and the number of leads coming in through different channels. The only thing left to do is assemble a matchback report and connect your leads to actual, real-world sales.
ROI is a powerful KPI. It reveals which of your digital marketing channels is generating the best bang-for-your-buck, which may inform where you invest your limited time and resources in the future. It can also help you defend your digital marketing efforts as a business priority: managers and clients will think twice about raiding your budget once they learn how much business it’s driving.
Average Lead Score
Your average lead score is related to your ROI. Basically, it acknowledges that not all leads are the same. Certain types of leads from certain channels may be generating far more sales than the same number of leads from a different source. For instance, some businesses track all phone calls and website form fills as “leads,” but—if the sales results from website form fills are weak—that may inform your digital marketing strategy moving forward.
Just like ROI, the easiest way to start this is by tracking leads and results in a CRM. You’ll have to work with sales on a system for grading leads before you can start measuring their quality relative to one another.
Keyword strategy has been central to digital marketing for a long time. Marketers may not be stuffing pages with keywords any longer, but you should still think about keywords in relation to user intent. When a user searches for something related to your business or client, how able are you to provide the answer. This, in effect, is what keyword performance is measuring. You’ll want to analyze which keywords (or phrases) are most often used, and then work to ensure your website and content answers those questions or responds to those queries.
Optimizing your digital marketing efforts
Here are three areas where you can put your newly focused KPIs to work:
KPIs aren’t just something you throw into a report at the end of the month. They’re a tool to be used. Know where you stand on your KPIs, and use digital marketing data to make informed decisions when optimizing your website and honing your on-site SEO strategy.
For example, we’ve already mentioned how funnel conversion rate can be used to find weak points in lead-capture tools. But, it can also help you diagnose keyword optimization issues. If you’re an optometrist, creating content to go after fashion eyewear keywords will bring in more traffic. But, stretch too far, and you’ll probably see it in your funnel clickthrough rate plummet as many disappointed users, failing to find what they’re looking for, quickly exit your site. In this instance, your KPI is a helpful barometer for how well you’ve optimized your website.
No matter how large your business is, understanding the return on investment (ROI) for SEO is essential for determining the success of your online marketing strategy. With the right approach and some simple calculations, you can get a clear picture of the impact SEO makes on your bottom line.
What do you want out of your social media campaigns? According to data collected by Statista in 2019, most digital marketers use social media to drive site traffic, generate leads, and grow fan loyalty. Ideally, your social media accounts should be doing all three, but the relative importance of each goal may depend on your business and your industry.
No matter what your goals are, be sure to engage in some social listening. In a 2020 HubSpot survey, marketers indicated that social listening was their top tool for optimizing campaigns. That only makes sense: just as an UI/UX expert needs to understand the core intentions of website users, so do social media marketers. Using a tool like Mention can help you stay on top of what your customers are saying, wanting, and doing.
For many marketers, the website remains at the center of the digital marketing solar system. Its landing pages, blog posts, and chat widgets not only communicate what the business is about, but also transform visitors into leads. If your website is not doing a good job of that—as measured by conversion rate and ROI—it’s time to make some changes.
Start with a 10,000-foot view. At a basic level, is your website providing users with what they’re looking for? Does its call-to-actions and interactive elements fit their goals? There are a variety of ways to answer these questions—surveys, direct feedback, persona-building—but the bottom-line is that they need to be answered.
Take your campaigns to the next level
In the infographic below, we break down the components of a successful marketing strategy—including effective goal-setting and where automation can fit into your campaigns.