What is KPI in Marketing? What You Should Be Watching

Everybody wants their clever posts to go viral, or for their website to become the next big thing. However, those goals are difficult to achieve because they lack definition. Before you “go viral”, for example, you need to know what that really means to you and your business. This is why having a KPI in your marketing strategy is not only extremely important, but also extremely effective.

What Does KPI Stand for in Marketing?

In “What is KPI and ROI in digital marketing,” we shared that “KPI” stands for “Key Performance Indicators”. Much like in any part of business, KPIs are the marketing metrics; they indicate sales growth, improvement in site traffic, or a rise in click through rate, among others. They are the indicators of success or failure for any area of business or marketing you can think of.

These indicators give you and your team a concrete way to actually quantify your online business’s progress. Instead of dreaming up a goal that’s lofty and undefined, you can point to specific figures and monitor changes over time in certain areas to better direct your marketing efforts.

Not only that, but they also help you and your search marketing team speak the same language. They define specific goals that your marketing or sales team can point to and say, “Yes, we’ve reached those,” or “No, we have more work to do.”

KPIs set expectations, qualify the most important values to the marketing team, and quantify the growth needed for success.

How To Set KPIs for Better Campaign Performance

KPIs can be used to track as wide as the success of your entire business to something as detailed as how well a single landing page is performing. There is a KPI to match any pain point or effort you’re trying to resolve.

In and of themselves, key performance indicators won’t bring success to your company. However, they do help funnel that success, in that they’re the guides that define that all important question: What next?

How a KPI Works in Online Marketing Campaigns

There are a number of pain points–target goals–in an online marketing campaign. Ranking in the search engines, increase website traffic and getting a higher number of leads are just a few.

Each KPI address a different pain point with absolute specificity.

For example, instead of “I want qualified leads,” the KPIs says, “I want to double our qualified leads in 6 months from the website.”

Notice how specific the information is:

  • The quantity: double
  • The target: qualified leads
  • The time frame: 6 months
  • The marketing channel: website

The level of detail is important because this is the KPI. It’s the goal for the next marketing campaign, as well as how the success of that campaign will be tracked.

7 Basic Marketing KPI Examples to Watch

There are a number of valuable KPIs, but the most important ones are going to what your company and team customize and deems of value. Customer acquisition, conversions, and social sharing are the ones that jump out when talking to new clients. Without these numbers, there’s no accountability for what your customers are doing on your site or if you’re making an impact on your users, if any at all.

Basic marketing KPIs can give you information and a good starting point for calculating more complicated KPIs, so always keep an eye on these indicators:

1. Conversion Rates

Your marketing efforts are converting clickers into leads, but how many? Can you tell which new leads came from Facebook, Twitter, or Google search? Knowing the rate of conversion for your ads can help you move marketing money to the most effective outlets.


Here are a few articles on how to set up your conversion rates via Google Analytics.

2. Customer Acquisition

How many new customers are you actually capturing from your efforts? Clicks and converted leads are a good step, but if they never turn into purchases, there’s no real value in the lead generation source. Figure out where your customers are coming from and you’ll improve your bottom line.

Extra: Read the ultimate customer acquisitions guide from Hubspot.

3. Repeat Customers

Repeat customers mean that you did something right the first time, so congrats are in order. Now determine what percentage of your customers come back for more and you’ll know if you need to tweak customer retention efforts.

Extra: Read about 11 customer retention tools from Bootstrapping Ecommerce.

4. Social Sharing

Short of a referral, there’s nothing better than social sharing. Your current customers can tell other people how great your products are with just a click of a button. Keep track of which networks get the most shares and adjust your social media presence accordingly.

Extra: Sprout Social shares 10 social media analytics tools and some information on each.

5. Mobile Leads

How’s your mobile site doing? Track your mobile customers in the same way you track your main site’s customers and find out.

Extra: Practical E commerce has 11 mobile apps for customer management and lead generation.

6. Page Views

It sounds pretty basic. After all, page views have been monitored since the Internet was in its infancy. Page views are still an important metric, telling you just how many people are looking at your site. With that data, you can compare new customers, repeat customers and other KPIs to come up with all sorts of information.

7. Sales Revenue

Like page views, sales revenue is a basic metric that you should be tracking closely. Knowing how much money you’re making from your website is vital to determining how to pilot your online marketing plan.

Once you’ve got a handle on your basic KPIs, you can then tweak and calculate results with short and long term goals. You can create a scalable content campaign based on proven formulas that work directly with your audience. That’s why it’s imperative you understand what parameters you value. What will speak of your brand, while creating a community.

Advanced KPIS Can Help Your Business Grow

So, your basic KPIs are in line with your goals — customers are converting, sharing and you feel that your marketing dollars are well spent. Good for you. The next step is figuring out how to further grow your business using the same type of tools.

With a closer look at the numbers you’re already generating, it may become obvious where your marketing still needs improvement. There are countless KPIs that fall under this category, but you should definitely not forget these:

8. Cost Per Lead

Knowing how many leads you’ve generated makes it simple to calculate what each one costs. If you’re spending more on generating a lead than they’ll likely spend at your site, it’s time to reconsider your marketing.

Extra: There are so many great articles on this topic I wouldn’t know where to start sharing. I think it’s important to first share this article about the definition of a lead.

9. Customer Lifetime Value

Once you’ve had a few sales, you can start calculating this metric. Take the average customer sale amount, multiply by the average number of purchases per customer per year, then multiply all that by your average retention time in years.

Extra: Learn how to identify your most valuable customers from American Express.

10. Return on Investment

Everybody’s interested in their ROI, even if they don’t know it. Figure out how much you’re making off the new marketing campaign and compare it to what you’re spending for it to determine your ROI.

Extra: I could write a whole new article with all the information on this one topic, but I’ll share this article about marketing ROI tools from WebFX.

11. Search Performance

How well your site is performing on Google is important whether you’re using traditional SEO or going for a more organic approach. High rankings for your targeted keywords means more views that might turn into traffic.

Extra: Find out about 27 tools you can use to help you enhance your search performance.

12. Traffic to Lead Ratio 

If you’re already tracking traffic and lead numbers, it’s a breeze to compare your traffic to the number of those same people who actually convert to leads. A higher number of conversions means you’re targeting the right group of people.

Extra: Aside from the obvious Google Analytics there’s a great list of media monitoring tools.

13. Lead to Customer Ratio

Just like traffic to lead ratios, it’s important to figure out how many of those good leads are actually becoming customers. If your leads aren’t turning into customers at a high enough rate, you need to look at your content more closely.

14. Time Spent Engaged

This one is related to your lead to customer ratio. In fact, it’s safe to say that there’s a direct correlation. The longer leads spend on your site, the more engaged they are and the more likely they are to turn into customers. Engagement is everything when it comes to turning a customer into a sale.


There are plenty of KPIs to chase out there on the web, but it’s a good idea not to have so many that you’re overwhelmed. Don’t over-focus on those KPIs you’re tracking, instead use them to gently pilot your marketing plan. With careful structure, specific goals and fine-tuned marketing campaigns, your largest KPI will grow: the success of your company.

Today's Author

International SEO consultant is my title…but who cares about those? What I love is creating strategies that include marketing, social, SEO, relevance, ruffling feathers and starting revolutions. What you read on this blog will hopefully inspire you to continue the conversation. When I’m not multitasking around Level343 I sneak away and go sailing. I’m crazy about pistachios, and of course Nutella.


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