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It’s that time of year again when everyone sits down to make resolutions. Maybe you want to finally nurse a sourdough starter, or run a marathon, or widdle down your speedrun time for a video game. Whatever it is, you’ve likely heard again and again that it needs to be measurable.
The exact same principle applies to the goals we make at work all year long. When we launch a new marketing campaign, or simply look to improve our current success rate, we need to know what exactly we’re aiming for and when we’ve accomplished it.
That’s where KPIs come in. They are a vital part of every campaign from planning through execution. If you’re looking to upgrade your marketing in the new year, you’ll need to have a full and complete understanding of what these measurements are and how you can put them to use.
What is a KPI?
Before we jump into why you need KPIs in your marketing practice, we should make sure we’re on the same page about what they are. A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that allows companies to see how effectively they’re accomplishing their goals.
If you were to assign a KPI to your reading goal for the year, you might track
- Books Read
- Time Spent Reading
- Days Read Per Week
- Pages Read
- Genres Read
As you can see, KPIs break down complex goals into smaller, more manageable data points. This is especially important with amorphous goals like those you’ll have for a marketing campaign.
Why KPIs are Important
There are several reasons KPIs have become a staple in the business world. While many people believe they are simply used to assess past performance, they are actually an invaluable part of creating the future you want for your team.
By taking the time to define and routinely check your progress, KPIs can greatly enhance
- Performance Measurement - Clearly see how well your project is performing and whether it is on track to achieve your objectives
- Focus and Alignment - By having clear and well-defined KPIs, everyone has a clear understanding of what to focus on and how their efforts contribute to the overall success of the project
- Communication and Accountability - Create a common language across different departments and teams and enable effective communication. With clear stats about progress, people can be held accountable for progress
- Decision Making - Data-Driven decision-making is made possible with this level of insight. By tracking and analysing KPIs, your team can identify areas for improvement, assess the effectiveness of strategies and tactics, and make course corrections if necessary
- Continuous Improvement - KPIs serve as benchmarks for performance and provide a basis for identifying trends and patterns over time
With this much utility, you’d be hard pressed to find an action that helps with success as much as clearly mapping KPIs.
The world of KPIs is vast, but there are several that are important specifically for marketers. Let’s take a look at the 20 KPIs I use continuously throughout my practice.
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) - How much you've invested in marketing for every customer that finds your brand
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) - Total net profit a business can expect to accumulate from a customer throughout their lifetime
- Return on Investment (ROI) - The ratio of the amount spent on marketing to the revenue generated from that marketing
- Lift on Revenue - The increase in revenue directly attributed to your marketing efforts such as a referral campaign
- Referral Traffic - Visitors who have reached your website through a referral source, such as social media, word-of-mouth, or influencer marketing
- Website Traffic - Number of visits to your website within a given period of time
- Bounce Rate - The percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) - The percentage of clicks on a specific link or advertisement to the number of impressions it received
- Referral Conversion Rate -The percentage of referred visitors who eventually become paying customers or take a desired action on your website
- Referral Revenue - Total revenue generated from referral sources
- Social Media Shares - The number of times your content or referral URLs are shared on social media platforms
- Engagement Rate - The percentage of people who interact with your content, such as liking, commenting, or sharing on social media
- Churn Rate - The percentage of customers who stop using your products or services within a given period of time
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) - Potential customers who have shown interest in your brand and are more likely to become paying customers
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) - A measure of customer satisfaction and loyalty to your brand, based on the likelihood of customers to recommend your business to others
- SEO Ranking - Your website's position in search engine results for relevant keywords
- Organic Sessions -Website visits from users who found your brand through unpaid channels like search engines or social media
- Backlinks - External links to your website from other websites, which can improve your search engine ranking and increase organic traffic
- K Factor - Measures the virality rate of your brand by tracking the number of referrals generated by each customer
- Brand Awareness - The level of recognition and familiarity that consumers have with your brand
Obviously some of these factors overlap, and some will be more helpful for specific campaigns than others. However, tracking as many of these KPIs as possible and applicable allows you to see the connections between them and find out what exactly is holding your campaign back, and what is taking it to new heights.
Putting KPIs to Work
Data is only as good as what you use it for. If you are going to get the most out of tracking your marketing KPIs, you need to see exactly what they’ll be doing at every stage of a marketing campaign.
Before a Project
When you are just starting out with a new campaign, there are several ways you can start incorporating KPIs and design around them.
- Step One: Identify Your Objectives - What exactly do you want to accomplish with this campaign? Is it to build brand awareness? Drive website traffic? Generate more leads?
- Step Two: Find Corresponding KPIs - Which KPIs will help you track the primary goals of your campaign? What about the secondary goals?
- Step Three: Establish Measurable Targets - How will you know you’ve succeeded? Find your ideal benchmark for each KPI, ensuring it’s SMART (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound)
With these goals defined from the very start, your team can ensure every design choice they make ties back to the measurable KPIs you’re tracking.
During a Project
When you’re in the middle of a campaign, it can feel overwhelming to look at all the data and KPIs. However, focusing on these numbers gives you more control over what’s working and what you need to give your focus to.
- Step One: Track KPIs in Real Time - Good software will have built in analytics tools to provide a birds-eye-view of your campaign
- Step Two: Share Your Findings - Regularly report on your KPIs progress so your entire team and all stakeholders can see the campaign’s progress and see what needs more work
- Step Three: Continually Optimise - If you notice that a particular channel is not yielding the expected results, you can reallocate resources to more effective channels. Similarly, if a certain messaging or creative element is resonating well with your audience, you can replicate it for better results
This level of control helps you get the most out of every campaign without having to wait for the post-mortem to learn.
After a Project
Speaking of the post-mortem, the stage after a campaign can be the most important part for any team looking to improve in the future.
- Step One: Check Your Targets - Take out the benchmarks you make in the design stage and see how your campaign measured up. Did you reach your original goals? Blow past them? Were you too optimistic? Were your secondary goals met as well?
- Step Two: Analyze Trends and Patterns - As you collect data from multiple campaigns, patterns are likely to emerge. Does a particular social media platform continually under-perform? Is something clicking for one demographic and not another? Is there an aspect of your strategy that you are not yet equipped to execute fully?
- Step Three: Learn from Your Findings - Finally, take action on the lessons learned from your post-mortem. Implement changes and improvements to your strategy and processes based on your findings to continue growing and achieving success in future campaigns.
By taking stock and bringing this knowledge forward, you can turn KPIs from an endless stream of data to a radical tool for innovation and growth.
The Bottom Line
As we embrace the new year and set our sights on achieving our personal resolutions, let's not forget about the goals we have in our professional lives. Whether it's launching a successful marketing campaign or expanding our brand's reach, having measurable objectives is essential to our success.
KPIs allow marketers to unlock new opportunities for growth and propel their marketing efforts to new heights. Whether you’re launching a stellar new referral campaign or bolstering your social media presence, keeping track of where you are lets you dive even deeper into success.
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