Marketing teams work hard to build engaging, persuasive campaigns in the hope leads are nurtured into customers -- well, that's the short and sweet description, right?
In reality, it's a little more nuanced than that. Marketing departments use different mediums to communicate with their audiences based on numerous factors, like industry, location, persona information, and more. For example, if you're a small retail shop, you may opt to utilize SMS marketing to send promotions to your contacts. Larger B2B corporations may find more traditional digital marketing, such as email marketing and blogging, more effective. The point is: it all depends on the makeup of your business and your potential buyers.
But while your marketing campaigns will be specific to you, there is one universal component to the trade: Ensuring your efforts are sufficient enough to convince your prospects to take the appropriate steps to purchase. So, how do you do this?
Just like you wouldn't bake a cake without a recipe and leave it to burn in the oven, you shouldn’t leave your campaign running month after month without checking in on it. Instead, monitor your progress to make improvements -- and the best way to do that is to study key performance indicators, or KPIs, and make modifications as needed. To do that, you need to know:
Here's a deep dive into KPIs to help you build a leading marketing strategy.
As noted, KPI stands for key performance indicators, which are measurements of progress toward an intended result. If that is too generic of a definition for you, consider a fitness goal. If you want to run a marathon in under four hours, you'll want to track how long it takes you to complete a mile, two miles, and so on. All of this monitoring culminates into a strategy behind how you'll conquer that 26.2 miles on race day.p
Similarly, KPIs provide a calculated focus for your overall marketing efforts and can help you with operational improvement. A more concise look at how they help move your efforts forward:
Think back to that marathon. There's likely not a person on the planet who would go from never running a day in their life to attempting something that athletes spend months training for. That's because they have no reference points of their ability, unlike a seasoned runner, who has a substantiation in the form of past races. Likewise, if you've never promoted a gated piece of content before, you couldn't reasonably expect that your first attempt would get you featured on Mashable (or whatever your dream goal is). You'd need to work toward it and use a KPI, like the number of downloads of an individual piece of material, to indicate your progress.
Say your marketing revenue has exponentially skyrocketed this year. After celebrating, you'll want to find out why. Consistently tracking different KPIs is a sure-fire method of seeing what went right one year as opposed to another. Then, you'll know what to emulate to ensure the following years are just as successful.
This is a large bucket of other examples of what a KPI does, and we've briefly touched on some of them, but they're all critical to note. Timeliness, for example, may not seem important when you're crafting a campaign, but if you're trying to news jack something, the longer you wait, the less impact you'll have.
Your content is everywhere, and it's a critical component linked to your marketing strategy. Analyzing and measuring it through a series of content KPIs is almost as important as creating it in the first place – because without looking back on it, how will you know if your latest blog was impactful or not? You can know for sure with KPIs like:
Think of your website as a virtual salesperson. You want to captivate your online visitors, so they're persuaded to keep interacting with your brand. With these website KPIs, you can see whether your website is doing its "sales" job:
Generally, your marketing department's end goal is to pass off qualified leads to your sales representatives, who will then work their magic and land them as closed deals. That suggests that tracking various sales KPIs is a fundamental piece of the marketing strategy puzzle – and it is! With these sales KPIs, you can see how your reps are performing:
Research shows it's easier to upsell or cross-sell to an existing customer. Most – if not all – organizations want to increase their revenue, so it only makes sense to measure your customer service teams' performance consistently. One way to do this – and you guessed it – is through a series of KPIs linked explicitly to customer success. To keep delighting your customers, measure these:
Every marketing team needs to consistently measure a variety of KPIs to fully discern what's happening within their department and how it influences the company as a whole. Without any type of KPIs and their associated objectives, you may waste time emailing your customers when SMS could have been a more dynamic option for you. With that said, the KPIs that matter most will depend on your particular situation because not all marketing strategies are created equally. However, you'll always want to know metrics like who's visiting your site, who's engaging with your content, and whether or not your customers are satisfied.
If you've been tracking your KPIs in a convoluted Excel spreadsheet, you don't have to. As digital marketing has evolved over the years, new platforms have emerged to make marketers' lives a little easier. These include extensive and helpful tools to monitor your KPIs. Some favorite ones:
HubSpot offers pre-built KPI dashboards that let you quickly check in with the elements of your marketing strategy so you can see where to make changes.
Databox pulls in your KPIs from different sources into one dashboard to measure and make improvements based on data insights.
Services like HotJar and CrazyEgg offer reports that make monitoring your website user experience KPIs uncomplicated.
One of the most powerful SEO solutions, Moz offers clear and compelling SEO reports for your marketing strategy.
Most people are familiar with Google Analytics, one of the most popular web analytics services on the market, because it offers high-quality, comprehensive reporting functionality.
This tool allows your team to easily collaborate and visualize your data from a wide variety of sources. Getting started is easy with their marketing templates.
Creating a custom KPI report may sound like a pain – after all, we just mentioned several tools that offer out-of-the-box analytics – but because marketing is as unique as the back of your hand, it's worth considering. Numerous solutions exist that offer custom reporting capabilities for tailored KPI tracking, and Google Data Studio is a top contender. Why?
Google Data Studio aggregates data from multiple sources, like HubSpot, MailChimp, Google Analytics, and Ad Roll, and puts it all together. When you can quickly see everything in a single glance, you can recognize what's going on with your business so you can confidently make adjustments over time. For example, your dashboard could reveal your current keyword strategy is not increasing your rankings, or your website's pricing page isn't getting as many hits as usual.
To create visual reports showing the exact data you need to strengthen your marketing efforts, start by setting up a Data Studio account. All you need is a Google Account for this step. Because Data Studio automatically integrates with Google Drive, you'll be able to store and access anything you create from your Drive and the Data Studio Interface.
Before you start making charts with your KPIs, you need to connect Data Studio to various data sources where your metrics lie. In Data Studio, you'll see "data sources" as an option on the left-hand side, under reports. Once you connect these to your account, you can use it any time you like. A bonus? These connectors save you a ton of time exporting data. After you've connected all the KPIs sources you need, you can build a report by selecting various sources, drawing visualizations, connecting data to those visualizations, changing your dimensions, adding filters, and changing the graph styles to match the look you want.
Your company's KPIs reflect factors that are critical to your marketing strategy's ultimate success. Without them, you can't measure your accomplishments. And without acting on them, you definitely can't see progress. But making improvements based on your KPIs is more than just a simple action. It involves a series of steps. Take these steps into account when it comes time to make appropriate adjustments based on your KPI data:
KPIs are not goals or targets themselves but methods to help measure said goals. In fact, KPIs show you how close or far you are from reaching a particular ambition – and if you're up a creek without a paddle, you're not going to see any company growth any time soon.
On top of that, KPIs encourage your team to grow and learn more about their own job roles and which tactics or tools help them succeed in it. They also hold your team members accountable for their work – which may seem like a negative but can actually boost company morale as positive KPI data reveals the importance of their work (just remember to give them a shout-out for hard work).
When it boils down to it, without KPIs in place, you're effectively "spraying and praying" when it comes to your marketing strategy – and that won't get you far in today's advanced, digital landscape. With this guidance in tow, you'll be able to strategize useful KPIs to follow and act on, improving your overall marketing strategy and, in turn, your business's performance!