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Marketing KPIs your compass for a winning strategy
Reading time: 7 minutes
Updated 19 February 2024

Marketing KPIs: your compass for a winning strategy

Nowadays, many companies invest large sums in marketing. However, these large investments do not always translate into actual results. To avoid unnecessary waste of money, therefore, it is necessary to be able to understand from the very beginning whether an advertising campaign is really succeeding. To do this, one must keep an eye on so-called marketing KPIs.

But what are they? This guide tells you in detail how to use marketing KPIs to evaluate the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns.


Introduction to marketing KPIs

To understand what marketing KPIs are, you first need to know what the acronym KPI stands for: this acronym stands for “Key Performance Indicators.”

The definition of corporate KPIs specifically refers to some particular indices that, when monitored regularly, provide valuable insights into the performance of certain crucial areas of the business, as well as corporate goals and the best strategies for achieving them.

Among the crucial areas of business that you can explore in depth through KPI analysis is, precisely, marketing. Marketing KPIs, then, represent a particular type of business KPI.


Marketing KPIs

Marketing KPIs


The importance of measurement in marketing

Since there are so many and, often, very different factors involved in promoting sales, it is difficult to determine the effectiveness of one’s advertising efforts.

Marketing KPIs, to use Neil Patel‘s words,

“are the compass that guides a startup toward the effectiveness and success of its advertising campaigns.”

They serve precisely to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of advertising campaigns, through the analysis of ROI (return on investment) in the area of content production and promotion. These particular business KPIs allow, among other things, to objectively measure the results of initiatives put in place to attract and win a customer or to acquire customers, but also the level of satisfaction related to the customer experience.


Difference between KPIs and standard metrics

We will delve into what the main marketing KPIs are shortly, but already now it is possible to remember that all KPIs are metrics but not all metrics are KPIs: to be considered key performance indicators, metrics must have certain attributes in particular. For example, they must be relevant, functional, and meaningful, that is, useful in showing whether the company is making progress toward established goals.


Quantitative vs. qualitative analysis

The approaches you can take when analyzing marketing KPIs are essentially of two types: quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis.

In this regard, it is important from the outset that you know that there is no one approach that is better than another. You must also be well aware, however, that these two approaches have very different purposes.


What is quantitative analysis and how it works

Quantitative analysis is simpler than qualitative analysis since it only takes into account the numbers and does not require critical reading or interpretation of the data. The downside is that a quantitative analysis merely highlights an absolute figure that, if not contextualized, remains merely a figure and is not a true indicator of business success (or failure).

This, however, as already mentioned, does not mean that quantitative analysis is the wrong approach: it is, more simply, a different approach, with a different purpose than that behind qualitative analysis.

Data that may be the focus of a quantitative analysis in this area include, for example, the number of followers or interactions on a social page or the number of conversions achieved on a specific social network.


The deepening of qualitative analysis

What allows critical interpretation of performance is, as you have probably already guessed, qualitative analysis.

To better understand what we are talking about, it may be useful to give an example: knowing that in one month you got 100 interactions on social media may tell you little, but knowing that in one month you got 100 more interactions than the previous month or 100 more interactions than your direct competitor represents, on the other hand, more complete and useful information.

In the first case, in fact, we have a simple number, while in the other two cases we have introduced a time-based/competitor-based benchmark to contextualize the numerical data and draw more useful conclusions.


The essential metrics of digital marketing

Digital marketing has the great merit of being much more easily measurable than traditional marketing, since it offers the possibility of more precise use of metrics and, in particular, dynamic metrics (which, unlike traditional metrics, depend on a more limited number of factors, can be more easily controlled, and show significant variations even in the short term).

It is now time to understand what, in detail, are the key marketing metrics to consider.


Marketing fundamental KPIs

Marketing fundamental KPIs


Return on investment (ROI)

The metric you really cannot afford not to know and consider for your startup is the aforementioned ROI, or Return on Investment. With ROI you measure the results achieved by a particular marketing action, in relation to the investment made to complete that action.


Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Also very important is the so-called CAC, or customer acquisition cost: it is calculated by adding up all marketing and sales expenses (including personnel costs) made in a given period and dividing the resulting figure by the number of customers acquired in the same time frame. Be careful: the lower (and more constant) your CAC, the better off you and your startup will be.


Click-through Rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CR)

Two other digital marketing metrics you definitely need to know about are CTR (Click-through Rate) and CR (Conversion Rate).

The former is calculated by dividing the number of impressions (views) of a page by the number of clicks generated by a link or CTA on that page, and thus indicates the percentage of users who clicked on that link or CTA. In contrast to the former, it is good to have this number as high as possible.

Conversion Rate, similarly to CTR, indicates the percentage of users who took the action you desired (from filling out a form to purchasing a product or service) out of the total number of users who viewed the page within which that action was required.


Open rate and bounce rate in email marketing

The last, but not least, metrics are the Open rate and the Bounce rate in email marketing: the former figure shows the number of users who opened a given email compared to the total number of users who received it, while the latter figure refers to the percentage ratio of undeliverable emails to the total number of emails sent (more generally, the Bounce rate can also stand for the number of users who abandon a site or page within a few seconds, without having taken any action).


Social Media Marketing Metrics

Even in the area of Social Media Marketing there are certain metrics to keep a special eye on. In this specific area, which is a branch of Digital Marketing, you have to stay away from the so-called “vanity metrics.” In the next few lines you will find out what they are.


Beyond “vanity metrics”: what really matters

Vanity metrics” measure, for example, followers or likes on social media. These data can be easily tampered with (e.g., through the use of paid bots) and, more importantly, are little more than useless if they are not interpreted in the right way, that is, if they are not contextualized and connected to business goals.

Another example may be useful: knowing that you have 10 thousand followers is useless if these 10 thousand followers do not bring real value and do not increase the ROI of your social media.

Looking only at vanity metrics, therefore, is a mistake. More useful is to pay attention to what are referred to as “heavy metrics” and “micro metrics“: the former are KPIs that represent a primary goal for your business (e.g., purchases), while the latter refer to medium- or long-term secondary goals (such as referral traffic), allowing for periodic measurements and at different times.


The importance of genuine comments and interactions

If you read the previous lines carefully, you will have noticed that we talked about paid bots: it is unfortunately not uncommon to observe social profiles with “inflated” numbers regarding followers, likes or comments. As frequent as it still is today, this is a practice that is absolutely not recommended because it is useful only to satisfy personal ego or improve external perception (but only at a superficial glance). Not only that, this practice is also (and especially) discouraged because it is penalized by social networks themselves. Fundamental, therefore, is to obtain genuine comments and interactions.


Conclusion: how to use KPIs to improve

Now that you know what marketing KPIs are, what they are for, and why they are so important, you may find some tips on how to use them to best effect helpful.


Benchmarking and comparison with competitors

We have already pointed out several times that a number taken in isolation means little or nothing; far more useful, however, is to compare it with other numbers, such as, for example, those recorded by your rivals.

Comparison with rival companies is crucial because it allows you to discover the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and, as a result, lets you know if and where you need to improve. The competitive analysis, among other things, allows you precisely to refine your marketing strategy so that you can create or maintain a competitive advantage over your rivals.


The continuing evolution of marketing strategy

Marketing KPIs, like all business KPIs, need to be monitored on an ongoing basis, with a regular cadence that you will need to decide based on the time period within which your startup needs to achieve a particular goal. Not only that, it is very useful to compare the data with previous periods to understand the progress of your marketing strategy over time. Constantly monitoring your results gives you, in this way, the opportunity to intervene as you go along, to refine your strategy according to the marketing KPIs you have identified in relation to new scenarios.

Nicola Zanetti

Founder B-PlanNow® | Startup mentor | Startup consulting & marketing strategist | Leading startup to scaleup | Private angel investor | Ecommerce Manager | Professional trainer | Book writer

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