Tracking the results of your marketing plan is key to success, but identifying the right marketing metrics and KPIs to track varies per business, and even per campaign. The best place to start is to identify your business’s overall objectives and then break down the objectives of each type of campaign.
For instance, you may need to identify the metrics and KPIs for a paid search campaign versus a Facebook video ad campaign. Where the former’s objective is to drive traffic to your website, the latter’s objective may simply be brand awareness.
The Difference Between Metrics and KPIs
But let’s back up and identify the differences between digital marketing metrics and KPIs:
- Metrics are measurements used to evaluate all of the different technical and minute components of a campaign. Metrics and project tracking tools provide insight into why a campaign is or isn’t performing. When managing a website, the important metrics to monitor would be website traffic, bounce rate, time on page and how many pages the average single user visits.
- KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are measurements that identify if your campaigns are achieving your objectives. They typically refer to conversions, leads, or sales. When managing a website, the important KPIs would be conversion rate or your traffic-or-lead ratio, and how many websites leads became customers, or your lead-to-customer ratio.
The Importance of Tracking Campaign Performance
Why is it important to track campaign performance and differentiate between key marketing metrics and KPIs?
- Setting the right metrics and KPIs gives insight into why a campaign was successful or not.
- Setting the right metrics and KPIs can also help you identify issues that may have gone unnoticed.
Let’s build off the website management example:
By monitoring your website traffic, bounce rate and time on page, you’ll better understand why you’re getting a particular number of leads. If you’re not getting enough traffic to your website, then you’re most likely not going to hit your lead goals. This lack of traffic tells you that it’s not necessarily your website that isn’t converting, but perhaps the campaigns aren’t driving enough traffic.
Or, say you are getting a high amount of traffic to your website, but consumers keep leaving after 15 seconds. This tells your website development team that they need to investigate why consumers are bouncing—whether it be website load time, a non-responsive design, etc.
Setting the right metrics and KPIs isn’t only important for digital marketing campaigns. You can also set metrics and KPIs to help you measure productivity and resource management to reveal the truth about performance from the individual to whole departments.
KPIs and metrics go hand-in-hand. Trying to define all of your metrics per campaign without setting your KPIs first means you’re not looking at the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Tracking Digital Marketing Efforts
Do Set Up Proper Tracking & Analytics
There are a number of beneficial codes and tags to include on your website to identify the traffic and actions of a user. Utilizing remarketing tags and Facebook Pixels will also allow you to run remarketing campaigns for website visitors who now already know your brand.
Tools like Google Analytics will provide you with an overview of traffic, events and other metrics that are important to your campaigns.
Do Be Specific
Impressions, clicks, and conversion rates can look very different per campaign. Even the same type of campaign that’s split into different target groups can vastly vary in results. Generalizing your campaign metrics may give you a better overall number, but it won’t help you improve problem areas.
Do Separate Out Branded Search
One area marketers forget to differentiate is branded versus non-branded search campaigns. Consumers using search terms with your specific brand name will generate very different results and will fudge your numbers. Not splitting out these two metrics will also prevent you from seeing how well known and searched your brand is. This goes for paid and organic search campaigns.
Related: Search Engine Marketing Defined & Where SEO Fits In
Do Be Transparent
No matter who you are reporting to, a client or boss, trying to cover up underperforming campaigns only means you won’t be working towards fixing them the next month. In this case, you miss out on showing your stakeholders the steps you took to improve them in the next report.
Do Consider Offline if Applicable
Digital marketers sometimes hit surges in online traffic without having changed anything in their campaigns. This could be due to outside or offline sources, so don’t forget to report on these other campaigns as sources of traffic if applicable.
Do Include Phone Calls & Driving Directions
You may hear some marketers turn from the use of “leads” in their reports to “lead engagements.” This is due to marketers figuring out that they should consider phone calls and driving direction clicks just as important as a form submission—which they definitely should.
Sometimes a consumer would rather pick up the phone than submit a form for more information or drive to the location itself. If this is true for your business, you need to include phone calls and driving directions in your reporting as well.
Don’t Lump Data Inappropriately Together
Be specific as part of the Dos for tracking and reporting your digital marketing efforts. Not lumping data together reinforces that statement. However, there are occasions when key data points and metrics have to be gathered from multiple sources. In this case, you want to include two separate report metrics: one that shows the results as a whole and one that shows the results broken down by source.
For example, A campaign received 100 leads in the month of July. Of those 100 leads, 50 came from Facebook, 30 from paid searches, and 20 from organic searches. Of the 50 Facebook leads, 10 were from video ads and 40 from lead gen ads. Etc.
Don’t Ignore Discrepancies
Sometimes there are anomalies in the numbers that could be good or bad. Even if it’s the first time or a one-time occurrence, always investigate discrepancies in the metrics because you could be looking at an issue that’s just starting and could snowball into the next month and the next.
Related: Free Issue Tracking Template
Don’t Forget the Big Picture
Sometimes digging deep into data and numbers can cloud the overall objective of our digital marketing campaigns. Although digital marketing can be very technical and data-driven, we’re still marketing to people who act emotionally and sometimes inconsistently. Keeping the big marketing management picture and your consumers in mind will help you not only to understand the metrics more holistically but allow you to keep improving.
Reporting & Sharing Data to Stakeholders
Whether your stakeholders are your clients, boss, team members or all three, there are a few best practices you want to put into place when sharing results and data on your digital marketing campaigns. Sending over charts and jargon they don’t understand or aren’t relevant to them, won’t prove the worth of your campaigns.
When putting together your reports, follow these five best practices and modify them as needed for your stakeholders.
1. Identify the KPIs, Support them with Metrics
Going back to the difference between KPIs and metrics, KPIs are going to be a high-level overview of your campaigns that every stakeholder will actually understand. They should be front and center in your reports, and then use specific metrics and data from your campaigns to back up how and why you hit these KPI numbers.
In each section of your report, summarize the data for your stakeholders. Some stakeholders will be able to read your charts and measures and understand, while others won’t. Others still just won’t have the time to look at them and need to be able to scan the report easily.
The final executive summary should include your top KPIs, recommendations moving forward, and also be front and center on the first page of your report. You always want to assume your stakeholders won’t read the full report unless they see something wrong. If you put your executive summary and recommendations on the last page, it most likely won’t be read.
KISS is a military acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. This reinforces the first two best practices for reporting and sharing data with stakeholders.
Never exclude data because you think it may be too complicated or confusing because your report will most likely come off as having holes for the stakeholders who do read it. Instead, find a way to simplify what you are trying to show into a more easily digestible report.
Be consistent with when you send your reports and the date range on which you report on. Set up a communication plan. Do not send a report for a month in February, a report for three months in April, and then a report for a month and a half in June. This actually skews your data and can appear fishy to stakeholders.
They’ll wonder why you chunked performance and results into inconsistent date ranges and assume it’s because you were trying to make your numbers better, which may or may not be the case.
5. Brand & Customize
An aesthetically pleasing and professionally put-together report can go a long way with the higher-ups. It shows that these reports are important. You spent your precious time on them, and they should too.
Brand the report to reflect your company or client. If you are creating multiple reports for different departments or clients, customize them to fit who will be reading them; not just the branding, but by what KPIs and metrics are most important to them.
With a clear understanding of digital marketing metrics and KPIs and how to package them into a report for stakeholders, make sure to include reporting as your final task into every digital marketing project. ProjectManger.com is a cloud-based project management software that features a real-time dashboard and instant reports for tracking project metrics. Try it today with this 30-day free trial.