The Marketing KPIs You Should be Measuring

Last Updated: 
January 18, 2023

Table of Contents

What are Marketing KPIs?

Marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a marketing team is achieving key marketing objectives.

Marketing KPI Examples: The Most Important Key Performance Indicators

If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to get distracted by the sheer number of things we can track as marketers and analysts. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just focusing on the most important things can help you stay on track.

The most important Key Performance Indicators that should be tracked are:

  1. Return on Investment (Marketing)
  2. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
  3. Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
  4. Conversion Rates
  5. Branded Search Volume
  6. Customer Referrals
  7. Cost Per Lead (CPL)
  8. Customer Retention Rate
  9. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  10. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

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If you’re looking for specific KPIs based on a certain marketing channel, such as content marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing, etc. Just click the button below to quickly scroll there.

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Where to Start with KPIs?

Marketing KPIs have to be identified and tracked in order to achieve progress toward an objective. To do that you have to know two things:

  1. Which marketing KPIs should I be tracking?
  2. How do I track KPIs?

The answer depends.

There are a few core KPIs I think everyone should track but it will vary depending on what your particular role is in the marketing industry. In this article we're going to cover:

How to Define Your KPIs?

Anyone can throw a word like KPI around in conversation but knowing what your KPIs are and knowing how to choose the right ones to measure is more important. Trying to measure everything wouldn’t be a good use of time and resources.

You’ll want to focus on the things that directly impact the business objectives you’re responsible for.

Every single KPI should be tied to a particular desired outcome you want to track.

Where most people get off track is by confusing metrics with KPIs. Metrics are just quantifiable measurements. KPIs are the most important — the key — measures that should be tracked.

KPI measurements graph

Establish your Desired Outcome

You absolutely must set a clear objective if you’re going to effectively use KPIs in your business. If you skip this step, you’re going to go in circles and waste your time.

Your KPI must be directly related to an objective that is essential to your business’s success.

I cannot emphasize this enough.

It must be an indispensable, requisite, vital component to your business. I would recommend that you discuss this with other people who have an interest in the success of your business (key stakeholders).

If you’re part of the executive team, this would be your other partners, majority shareholders, members of the board, etc.

If you’re part of a smaller team this would be other directors, managers, supervisors, team leads, and if you’re very small: other team members.

Whatever you decide to track should not be arbitrary. Measuring your KPIs are a way to track your progress toward your goal — if you treat this step with a cavalier attitude you might as well be running your entire business that way as well.

Action Item:

Write down your top three desired outcomes. Have other important stakeholders do the same, then compare your choices and finalize your desired outcome in writing.

Determine How You Will Measure Progress

It should go without saying but whatever outcome you choose will need to be measurable: the way(s) in which you can measure progress will be your KPIs.

Some KPIs are easier to measure than others. For example, revenue is much cheaper to measure than customer lifetime value (CLV).

That doesn’t mean that you should aim to track things that are easily measurable though. How you measure your KPIs will be influenced by your level in the organization, the technical means you have available, and most importantly: the established outcomes.

If you’re measuring revenue then all you need to do is multiply the number of sales by their corresponding sales price — your accountant should be keeping up with this for you.

If you’re a customer-centric business then it often makes sense to track customer lifetime value or CLV for short.

Why? Because it’s far more profitable to retain a customer for longer than it is to acquire a new one.

Calculating CLV is not as straightforward as revenue, however, and requires some acknowledgment that your numbers will often be less than perfect.

A basic way to calculate CLV is to take the average order total across all sales, multiply it by the average number of purchases in a given period (e.g., years), multiplied by the average retention time in that period).

$ \mu(AOV) \times mu(Purchases) \times \mu (Retention \space in \space Months)$

Action Item:

Based on your desired outcomes, determine how you will measure your progress toward achieving them. This includes determining what data will need to be collected, what tools will be needed to collect it, and what formulas or algorithms (if any) will be needed to process it into a measurable data point.

Define What Success Will Look Like

Now that you’ve identified your desired outcome and determined how you’ll measure your progress you should define what criteria constitute success.

I remember when I first began doing this I often wondered how defining what success looked like was any different than establishing my desired outcome.

The important distinction is that KPIs are indicators that I will achieve my chosen outcome — they are not the outcome itself. In other words, they provide some definitive criteria that I have achieved my outcome in a meaningful way.

Let’s think about this in terms of weight loss. Suppose your desirable outcome was to lose weight. You get a baseline measurement and then you’re ready to kick things off. Throughout your first day let’s say you spent some time in a sauna, took the stairs, and rode your bike to and from work.

At the end of the day, you hop on the scale and see you’ve lost 3 pounds!

Victory, right?

You’ve technically achieved your desired outcome…

But we would hardly call this a victory. It was just one day and is not indicative of sustainable improvement or change.

The same applies when defining your success criteria for your KPIs. Whatever you choose, it should have a component that would reflect meaningful results.

To take our example related to customer lifetime value, we could define our success criteria as follows:

  • Desired Objective: Increase customer lifetime value.
  • Success Criteria: Increase customer lifetime value by 15%.

By the way, by defining your success criteria you have defined your KPI.

Someone Realizing they just established their Marketing KPIs

Designate Who Will Be Responsible for the Outcome

Determining who will be responsible for the outcome is pretty damn important. There are a few philosophies on this topic:

The “Buck Stops Here” Approach

Leadership in Marketing

One school of thought argues that a single individual should ultimately be responsible for the success or failure of a campaign to achieve an objective.
This approach is common in the corporate world as well as the military. Failure to perform is almost always followed by an expected resignation.

The “Gung Ho” Approach

Teamwork in Marketing

Okay, a quick history lesson: The term gung ho came to mean “overly enthusiastic” in the English language thanks to Marine Corps Major Evan Carlson who lead the enthusiastic 2nd Raider Battalion during World War II.

The original meaning of the word is more accurately defined as work together.

“I was trying to build up the same sort of working spirit I had seen in China where all the soldiers dedicated themselves to one idea and worked together to put that idea over,”

This approach distributes the responsibility for success amongst the organization. Now, this doesn’t mean it has to be spread out equitably. In fact, doing so would probably be disastrous.

The thing that’s most important with this approach is that you have everyone contributing toward the goal in a manner that they are best suited for.

For example, if we were a yard mowing business and we wanted to increase CLV by 15% then we wouldn’t have our accounts receivable staff sweeping the excess grass clippings off of the yard decorations it happened to land on — that would be the responsibility of the service staff.

However, the AR staff might be responsible for ensuring they’re always polite and courteous when attempting to collect money owed.

Another way to think about this approach is like the motto of Alexander Dumas’ The Three Musketeers: “All for one, and one for all!”

So Which Approach is Right?

Well, they both work. I’m a fan of a hybrid between the two. Most groups of people are incapable of mobilizing, organizing, and achieving major undertakings spontaneously.

They often need a leader at the helm — guiding and keeping everything on track and a hallmark of nearly every great leader is a great team.

The best leaders are those who are able to extract from their team their best skills in such a way to ensure objectives are met.

Set a Schedule for Progress Reviews & Start Tracking

We have our objective, we know how we’re going to measure it, what we’re going to measure, and who’s responsible. Now we can add a time component to our plan and we’ll be ready to put things into action.

You can set any number of review points to gauge your progress along the way. You’ll want to make sure that your setting realistic and attainable expectations, however.

Going back to our example of increasing CLV by 15% we might set a target date of 12 months to achieve this. Once we’ve done that we can then begin to create milestones between now and then to gauge our progress.

The frequency at which you schedule your progress reviews is entirely up to you. I recommend small teams set bi-weekly or even weekly targets to measure progress against whereas executives can space these out a bit farther apart, such as quarterly.

It’s important for you to be flexible and ready to adjust your KPIs to match the current needs of the business. For example, if you add a new product or service to your offering, you’ll probably want to revisit your KPIs to ensure they make sense or to develop new ones to accommodate the changes.

The Importance of Flexibility & Adaptability

It’s important for you to be flexible and ready to adjust your KPIs to match the current needs of the business. For example, if you add a new product or service to your offering, you’ll probably want to revisit your KPIs to ensure they make sense or to develop new ones to accommodate the changes.

Example KPI: Increasing the Number of Qualified Inbound Leads
Suppose you want to increase the rate at which your business converts inbound leads this year. You’ll call this your Inbound Lead Conversion Rate Growth KPI and lay it out as follows:

  • Increase lead conversion rate by 30% this year
  • Reaching this objective will allow our business to increase revenue and profitability.
  • We will measure our progress as an increase in our conversion rate from inbound channels measured relative to inbound volume
  • We’ll achieve this goal by segmenting our email lists and sending marketing emails catered to their particular interests
  • The Director of Marketing is responsible for this
  • Success will be achieved when we increase our average lead conversion rate by 30% for the year
  • We will review this KPI on a biweekly basis

The Big List of Marketing KPIs

See a KPI we’re missing? Let us know by emailing us and we’ll get it added!

Digital Marketing Metrics

Returning VisitorsTracking Returning Visitors tells you when someone returns to your website. You can use this metric to see how effective you are at building and retaining an audience.

Brand AwarenessTracking Brand Awareness tells you how often people are searching for you on social media as well as via search engines. You can use this metric to see how popular you are growing with the public over time.

Return on Investment (ROI)Tracking ROI is probably one of the most important metrics out there. This simply tracks the amount of money you got back based on how much you spent.

Sales RevenueTracking Sales Revenue (i.e. revenue) tells you how much money your company is generating. This is one of the most basic metrics for measuring growth.

Web Traffic by Source/MediumTracking your website traffic based on the source and/or medium tells you which channels are driving the most visitors to your site. Knowing this information will help you determine which channels are working and which ones are not.

Total Visits

Tracking total visits (to your website, app, or social profiles) tells you how popular you are and how much your popularity is driving traffic. Knowing this metric will inform you how interested people are in you or your brand.

Unique VisitorsTracking unique visitors allows you to get a more detailed understanding of your popularity online. Knowing this will help you better understand how valuable your traffic is and how effective your marketing campaigns are at spreading awareness.

Customer AttritionTracking customer attrition tells you at what rate you’re losing customers over time. Knowing this will help you identify a positive or negative trend in attrition which typically sparks deeper investigation for recovery if negative.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)One of the most important metrics in marketing. Tracking customer lifetime value informs you how much revenue a single customer generates for your business over a period of time. Knowing this helps you understand and project profitability as well as determine how much you’re willing to spend on customer acquisition.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)Tracking customer acquisition costs tells you how much it costs to obtain a new customer. Knowing this will help you determine what your max spend will be to bring in a new customer without losing money.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)Tracking click-through rate tells you how compelling your links are to others. Higher CTRs typically result in more leads and more conversions. Knowing which links have the best performing CTR will help you understand what messaging resonates with your audience.

Conversion RateTracking conversion rates is extremely important and tells you the rate at which you convince people to convert and take some action. This includes actions like downloading a PDF, signing up for a demo, becoming a customer and many more.

Pageviews Per SessionTracking pageviews per session tells you how compelling your content is to the reader and how engaged they are. Alternatively, it can also inform you how badly you’re miscommunicating something important if visitors are viewing several pages after first arriving on a landing page.

Referral TrafficTracking referral traffic gives you a sense of how respected you are by others. Referral traffic is an underutilized KPI that more people should pay attention to as it converts higher than most other forms of traffic (depending on the referrer).

Net Promoter ScoreTracking your Net Promoter Score tells you how satisfied and loyal your customers are. Knowing this will help you identify areas of improvement before they become a problem.

Cost Per Lead (CPL)Tracking your cost per lead is a granular metric that tells you how much it costs just to generate a lead. You can use this metric to refine your targeting and decrease your cost per lead.

SEO Marketing Metrics

Organic Traffic

Tracking organic traffic informs you how much of your site’s traffic is coming from search engines via non-paid clicks. Knowing your how organic traffic growth will inform you how well your SEO campaigns are performing overall.

Traffic by Source/Medium

Tracking your traffic by source/medium allows you to see which sources are driving the most traffic to your site as well as allowing you to delineate which sources/medius are driving the most revenue.

Conversion Rate of Organic Traffic

Knowing your conversion rate from organic traffic allows you to track how effective your SEO campaigns are at attracted qualified traffic.

Average Impressions

Tracking your average impressions gives you a high-level understanding of how well your pages are performing in search over time. Separate from average position, average impressions gives you more detail into the viability of your target search terms as well.

Average Position

Tracking average position shows you how well you’re ranking on search engines over time. However, it can be a misleading metric. As you add more content to your site you will rank for more terms which invariably decreases your average position over time.

Click-Through RateTracking click-through-rate for SEO is a good indicator that you’re optimizing your title tags for the searcher’s intent. An increase in CTR tends to correlate with higher rankings on search engines like Google.

Top Viewed PostsKnowing your top viewed posts will help you better understand what content is performing best on search engines when segmented by organic traffic. You can use this to identify which content needs additional effort as well to rank better.

Keyword RankingGoogle has gradually moved away from the keyword-focused search engine we grew up with and is more focused on topics now. However, tracking specific high-value keywords can be effective for gauging your SEO campaign’s success over time.

Domain Rating (DR)/Domain Authority (DA)Domain rating (developed by Ahrefs) and domain authority (used by Moz and SEMrush) are metrics that indicate your website’s overall popularity and trustworthiness online. Higher organic traffic and rankings for search terms tend to correlate with higher DR/DA.

Number of Unique Referring DomainsTracking the number of unique referring domains developed is an indication of how well your link building efforts are performing. Knowing the number of unique referring domains earned will help you determine future SEO and content marketing strategy goals and targets.

Total Number of Organic Keywords in Positions 1-10Tracking the total number of organic keywords in positions 1-10 informs you how well your SEO efforts are over time. Ideally, you should see this number increasing over time and with greater ease.

Total Number of Organic Keywords in Positions 1-3Similar to tracking ranking for positions 1-10, tracking position 1-3 gives you an indicator of which SEO efforts are proving to be the most impactful. Most clicks go to the first three results on Google so knowing this number and its growth rate over time is very valuable.

Total Number of Featured SnippetsFeatured snippets tend to have the highest click-through rate and can result in a massive increase in your overall organic traffic for a given search phrase. Tracking the total number of featured snippets earned over time will inform you how well the SEO team is performing.

Lighthouse Performance ScoreWhile this metric is often considered more important than what it really is, it still does have some value. Tracking your lighthouse performance score for various pages will inform you how well your site is developed architecturally and services as a “teeny tiny factor” for the search engines as well.

Velocity of Passive Links Earned Per MonthTracking the velocity at which you earn passive links to your site is one of the most underrated metrics in SEO. Knowing this value will help you understand which content is the most link-able and help you better prioritize your content marketing efforts.

Social Media Marketing Metrics

Engagement/Interaction Metrics

One of the best social media KPIs you can measure. Tracking this tells you the number of shares, likes, and comments your social updates generate, which gives you insight into how well your content is performing socially.

Number of Followers/Subscribers

Tracking follower/subscriber growth rate is one of the most obvious KPIs to track for social media marketing campaigns. Knowing your pure numbers and growth rate of followers or subscribers will tell you how well you are doing building an audience.

Number of Likes

People like what’s popular. Tracking your likes lets you know what is resonating with people so you can continue to create the content your audience prefers.

Conversion Rates from Social

Tracking conversions is a guaranteed way to track the success of your social media campaigns. You can define conversions however you like but knowing this will is the first step to tracking real ROI.

Number of Social Shares

Shares are greater than likes. People will like things all day long in passing but tracking the number of times your content gets shared lets you know what content is really performing the best as well as what your audience likes the most.

Email Marketing Metrics

Number of Emails Delivered

This is one of the most important metrics in email marketing. Tracking this will help you identify in advance if there are any issues with your email provider, your email marketing campaigns, etc. You’ll want to track this and fix it if you see it dropping. Poor deliverability is usually a sign of something going very wrong.

Open Rate

Tracking your open rates on emails will let you know how well your copy is for your subject line and also informs how receptive people are to your email campaigns. Tracking this will let you know what types of headlines work and what types do not as well as guide you as to how useful your audience typically finds your emails.

Click-Through Rate

Tracking click-through-rate informs you of how compelling your offers were in your email. Tracking them, as well as where they were positioned in the email, will inform you of what your audience prefers, is happy to receive as well as act on from your emails.

Unsubscribe Rate

Tracking your unsubscribe rate is critical. You need to know if you stop resonating with people so you can act to resolve it quickly. If too many unsubscribe too quickly it will impact your deliverability rates. One quick way to reduce unsubscribes is to ensure that the only people who get signed up are qualified receivers.

Shareability via Social & Forwards

If your email content gets shared or forwarded that’s an indicator that piece of content was very useful to your audience. Knowing which content gets shared the most can be used to inform the direction other campaigns take as well.

  Conversions from Email   Tracking your conversions by email gives you the info you need to see how effective your email marketing campaigns are at driving an ROI.

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Skyler Reeves
Iraq vet turned engineer then marketer. Focused on helping other agency owners grow to 8 figures.
Skyler Reeves
Skyler Reeves
Iraq vet turned engineer then marketer. Focused on helping other agency owners grow to 8 figures.
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