Which are the most important KPIs in digital marketing

Time and time again, one of the biggest slip-ups I see businesses making with their marketing, especially digital marketing, is not measuring the impact and results of their efforts.

How can you evaluate whether your marketing can be considered a success if you don’t have any data to back it up? What are some of the most Important KPIs in digital marketing ?

The excuses I generally hear are “there’s no time”, “it’s pointless”, “it’s difficult”, or even “it’s impossible”. None of these things are true. If you have time to do marketing, you have to have time to measure.

Marketing without measuring is pointless.

Measuring is easy if you know what you’re looking for and where to find it. And no matter what the activity, there’s a way of monitoring impact. In this blog post I wish to dispel any doubt you might have that measuring isn’t essential to marketing and show you that it’s generally easy too.

If you’re measuring, you’re a step closer to having a strategy

Most businesses take an ad hoc and day-to-day approach to their marketing. They don’t really think about what they’re hoping to achieve and they don’t look to the future. They think tactically. If you’re measuring, you’re one step closer to thinking strategically. While measuring itself doesn’t mean you’re being strategic, you are providing yourself with the data and skills necessary to get a strategy started.

This is actually a typical progression path I see businesses take; it’s like a maturity model for marketing strategies.

Stage 1: getting started. Get involved in day-to-day and week-to-week marketing activities, based on industry best practices. Don’t really think about objectives and what you want to achieve. Don’t monitor results or success in any formal way.

Stage 2: recording statistics. Begin recording performance based statistics for each marketing channel. Don’t give much thought as to which metrics to track but record everything and dump it in a spreadsheet. Look at results from time to time and get an idea of how well certain activities are working.

Stage 3: objective setting. Set metric-based objectives for each marketing channel, generally focused on growth, looking at achieving results within a specific time-frame. Begin thinking about how best to meet those objectives; what are we going to do, how are we going to do, who is going to do it, and how much will it cost?

Stage 4: formalise a strategy. Pull together everything learned in the previous three stages into a formal, written strategy. Take tactical knowledge of marketing channels and apply those to broad strategies aligned to SMART objectives with clear KPIs for measuring success.

Without measuring, none of this would be possible. Spending an hour a day on social media? How do you know you’re not wasting your time if you have nothing to measure your success by? How can you set a SMART objective if you have no KPI to measure your progress towards meeting that objective? Without measuring, you might as well continue thinking about the tactical and the day-to-day because a strategy demands understanding how well something is working to be strategic.

I’m not suggesting the above progression is what you should be doing, simply what most businesses tend to do. If you want to get it right straight away, jump down to stage 4.

You should be thinking now: but what do I measure, and how do I measure it? Read on as I am going to look at this in more detail.

How to measure the success of your marketing campaign

Use a three level approach to your KPIs

If you’re involved in any sort of marketing, you should already be intimate with the term key performance indicator (KPI). KPIs are your way of measuring how something is performing. But not every KPI is the same; some are more useful than others and tell you more about your performance.

So I recommend you split your KPIs, where possible, into the following three levels of complexity:

Volume (easiest to measure)
Value (hardest to measure but most valuable)

Volume is all about the quantity of something, so with your website, this might be the number of visitors. But, what does that really tell you? Does an increase in the number of visitors always mean you’re doing really well? Not every visitor is made equal; if you acquired 1000 new visitors per month but none of them spent longer than 5 seconds on your website, that’s no good is it? For this reason you need to know the quality of those visitors. For this, you might measure time on site or bounce rate (only bounce rate on an appropriate page, like a landing page). But, not even that’s enough to truly judge the value of that visitor to your business. With value, you’re trying to assign a £ sign to your volume KPI. So with visitors, this might be revenue per visit.

This is one of the areas you need to be starting with. Decide what you’re going to measure. Then figure out how you’re going to measure it. It should be evident to you that as we went from volume to value, the how got more difficult. But there’s almost always a way.

If you were a B2B business, using the above example, you’d count the number of clients who got in touch with you after visiting your website and total the revenue for each of those clients.

But, even if you didn’t measure the value KPI, the volume KPI is still valuable and is, indeed, essential.

There’s something you can measure for every activity

No matter what it is you’re doing, there’s a way of measuring the impact. Using the three levels of complexity approach, I will show you what you could be measuring for a range of “hard to measure” activities, and how.

Social media

Volume: amount of fans or followers (provided by social media platform)

Quality: average amount of shares or retweets per post (provided by social media platform or third-party software)

Value: revenue per fan or follower (for B2B: what percentage of your followers are clients and what’s the revenue from them? For B2C: revenue generated from online sales from social media referrals)


Volume: amount of visitors to your blog (analytics software like Google Analytics)

Quality: average time spent on page (analytics software like Google Analytics)

Value: revenue per blog visit (for B2B: how many leads were generated from visitors to your blog and how many of them turned into clients? What was the revenue from those clients? For B2C: revenue generated from online sales from blog referrals)

In-person events

Volume: number of attendees (sign people in when they enter or count entries at the door)

Quality: for B2B, percentage that contacted you after the event; B2C, made a purchase during the event

Value: revenue per attendee (for B2B: revenue from attendees that become clients later; for B2C: sales revenue during event per visitor)

Obviously, I haven’t covered every scenario and situation in this section, but it should give you an idea of how you can go about measuring for each level of KPI for a variety of activities. If you’re still struggling, contact us, we can help you get on the right track.

Where are the gaps in your measurements?

Think of all of the marketing activities you spent time or money on in 2013. How confident are you in saying they were successful? Were you measuring everything you could have been?

If there’s one thing you do in 2023 to dramatically increase the effectiveness and overall profit you make from marketing, it’s measure.

By Peter Meinertzhagen

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mark-making* is an award-winning creative agency specialising in branding, campaigns and communications