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Do you agree that doing any job without tracking results and metrics is meaningless and a waste of time, as there isn’t an opportunity to learn whether you’re heading in the right direction? The answer seems obvious. Those who value their time and seek to improve the performance outcome create a KPI-driven culture and implement it in their work. Marketing isn’t the exception, and that’s what this article is all about. So what are the key metrics for digital marketing that are necessary to monitor? How do you measure KPIs in digital marketing? Let’s cut to the chase and get down to the heart of the matter.

For a start, let’s get through the definition of a KPI and respond to the question “What is a KPI in digital marketing?” It’s a metric in which businesses or individuals can evaluate their progress concerning the objectives and consistent with expectations. A large variety of services and apps are used to make sure digital marketing metrics are accurately measured and displayed correctly in dashboards. And though this task is time-consuming and challenging, there is no doubt that it’s worth it. Any company department should set KPIs, yet we’ll focus on the digital marketing metrics. There are plenty of indicators businesses choose to monitor for managing their performance, and each of these metrics is good in its own way. Still, we’ll list the most widespread ones.

Key Metrics for Digital Marketing Worth Tracking

Website Traffic

Website conversion demonstrates the percentages of visitors who performed the desired action—for instance, signing up for receiving promo emails, clicking a specific button, or making a purchase. To effectively influence this digital marketing KPI, you must face the fact that traffic and conversion rates go hand in hand. Driving more visitors to your site—especially those on the same wave with your brand—means increasing the number of new prospects who will probably be turned into customers and recommend your product to their friends and loved ones. PR professionals, who often are a part of a marketing team, check this digital marketing metric to choose a publisher with the greatest possible number of visitors and, as a consequence, increase the traffic from these publications to their sites and improve brand reputation.

Search Engine Ranking 

Even those far from marketing know that the higher Google, Bing, and Yahoo rank your website, the more advantages you have and the greater likelihood a user clicks on your site, as there are very few of them who venture into the second, let alone the third page of search results. Search engine position is a crucial metric as some of the ultimate goals—namely, traffic, leads, or conversions—depends on this. That’s why marketer managers pay special attention to the digital marketing metric and continue to search for opportunities to improve the impression share along with making the website more visible on Google. There are many different factors that can help to move your website from unseen to the top of the list in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), such as the quality of dofollow backlinks that points to a page or the content relevance.

Social Media Engagement, Impressions, and Reach

Digital marketing KPIs overview

An impression is the number of times a piece of content appears in someone’s newsfeed, no matter whether it was clicked or not. Tracking this metric helps you to get an insight into how many users are exposed to your content. Reach KPIs show the number of unique users across your social media accounts and posts. This digital marketing metric also includes the potential audience who can see your content. It doesn’t reveal whether or not users are interested in what you post—for this purpose, there is another metric called engagement. As may be gathered from the name, it displays all the actions—namely likes, mentions, shares, profile visits, clicks, or comments—whose numbers indicate the level of interaction with your posts. 

Engagement is the most significant KPI among these three digital marketing metrics, which should be given due attention when drawing any conclusions about the effectiveness and success of any social media account. Because, unlike reach and impression, only this metric directly involves users. Having those who just watch your posts and scroll past them is certainly not wrong in principle, but it doesn’t compare to getting them to interact with your content. What about it is so precious? If your content is catchy and it’s impossible to pass by it without interaction, it moves consumers further down your company’s so-called funnel of awareness. You have a much better chance of turning such consumers into viable sales leads rather than those who only stumble across your posts.

Though we emphasized the importance of the engagement digital marketing KPI, it’s impossible to overlook the other two, as they are all related to each other—the higher your reach, the greater the chance users will interact with content. Better engagement, in turn, will lead to more reach.

Email Engagement Score

Before preparing your follow-up message, every marketer should define the goal of sending this. Spawning conversions? Collection of user reviews? Announcing an update? Or growing a social media following? No matter what you choose, the next thing to do is to identify the digital marketing metric for monitoring how you’re progressing toward that goal. Let’s get over the critical ones, which are worth paying attention to:

1. Clickthrough Rate

This is the percentage of users who clicked on a banner or link in an email message. It determines the activity of those receiving an email and helps figure out how many of them are interested in your offer, newsletter, update, etc.

2. Conversion Rate 

This is the number of recipients who followed a link contained in an email and took the action the sender had been working for, for instance, making a purchase, or leaving feedback, thereby helping marketers to gather representative data about their customers. 

3. Email Open Rate

This is the percentage of the audience who are not only subscribed to an email distribution list but open it. Though the numeric value is considered critical, and marketers struggle to optimize the subject every single time when writing a letter, it’s also a very misleading digital marketing KPI. That’s because an email is considered open only if a recipient loads an embedded image in the email. Given that there are many people who don’t allow the automatic loading of images in an email and block them, the open rate won’t be tracked properly, and will appear lower than it actually is.

4. Email Unsubscribe Rate

This refers to those subscribers who have refused to receive emails due to bombardment with daily letters containing irrelevant offers or low-value content. Despite the importance of the digital marketing metric, this is far from saying that it isn’t particularly revealing. It somehow reminds us of the open rate because many subscribers weary of reading your announcements, updates, or newsletters neglect the unsubscribe feature built directly into the messages. They simply ignore your email without giving you every chance to get precise statistics of unsubscribed users. 

5. Email Marketing Return on Investment (ROI)

This is a critical quantitative assessment of investment efficiency in email marketing campaigns. The formula for calculating the metric is as follows:

(Total revenue from email campaign – Total cost spent on the campaign) / (Total cost spent on the campaign = ROI

Cost per Lead (CPL)

Digital marketing KPIs overview

Another essential indicator determines the cost of gaining one new prospect for your company. The digital marketing KPI shows a marketing campaign’s profitability in generating new leads. Given that the metric provides marketer managers with specific figures without a margin of error, it’s widely used for a company strategy’s budget planning and development. Cost per lead differs significantly depending on the industry and marketing channels it utilizes. That’s why every company decides for itself how much money is allocated to acquire one lead. Yet it’s worth considering two significant things-the prices of your product and the conversion rate. When offering a costly service, don’t count on a low CPL. Don’t despair if it turns out this digital marketing metric in your company is high in the case of converting the majority of your prospects into paying customers.

Bounce Rate

This key metric for digital marketing occurs when a website visitor navigates away from it without any page interaction, such as product or service search, clicking on the “Read More” button, or filling out a form submission. Despite some subtle differences, many confuse the metric with the exit rate and use them interchangeably. The bounce rate determines the number of website users who enter the only page and subsequently leave it. On the other hand, the exit rate represents how many site visitors depart a particular page and tells us which pages they are fleeing from. Low and high bounce rates are relative concepts and not always should be of alarming concern to marketers. For instance, ecommerce and retail websites have lower average bounce rates than other kinds of sites. If we’re talking about blogs filled with valuable content that satisfies users and answers their questions, such pages have a relatively high bounce rate. So in case you want to find out if the digital marketing KPI of your site is any good, compare it with analogs.

Web Traffic Sources

This key metric for digital marketing gives an understanding of where the visitors of your site are coming from and shows how they are distributed between those sources. The most widespread sources are direct traffic, referral traffic, email traffic, display advertising traffic, and social media traffic. A few words should be said about each of them:

  1. Direct traffic is generated by users who get to the site by typing your URL into the browser. Moreover, those users who bookmarked the URL of your site in their browser and arrived through it generate direct traffic as well. 
  2. Referral traffic describes the users who come to your domain from an outside source rather than directly or from searches. Increasing this type of traffic implies building a backlink portfolio by writing a guest blog article or submitting your site to relevant web directories.
  3. Email traffic refers to those visitors directed to your website by clicking the CTA button or link provided in the email. Unlike the two previous types of traffic, this one is generated partly by your existing customers. That’s why the traffic deserves special attention, as the value of those subscribed to your newsletter doesn’t compare to cold leads who stand at the top of the sales funnel.
  4. Display advertising traffic, also known as a banner ad, refers to the use of a creative ad that is shown on other sites (ideally, where visitors are likely to be interested in your business and share interests with yours) with the expectation that it will increase traffic on your site.
  5. As the name implies, social media traffic shows the number of visitors who entered your site after clicking on the link on Facebook, Instagram, or other channels. 

Having collected this data, a savvy employee will be able to evaluate the company’s current position, examine its weakness, and shape a strategy to achieve success.

New vs. Returning Visitors

New users, defined as unique visitors, are those who are interacting with your site for the first time with a single device and have never visited it before. The letter clarification is according to the Google tracking snippet, which is an important note, as there are a lot of cases when returning visitors are identified as new ones: 

  •  When a visitor surfs a site using incognito mode
  •  When a person comes to a site through different devices when the second visit to the site was three years after the first one
  •  When a user clears cache and cookies after visiting a site

All of this results in the fact that there are certain inaccuracies in the numbers you shouldn’t neglect. It’s not difficult to guess that returning visitors, on a fundamental level, are those who have already been on a site before more than once. A new user rarely turns into a paying customer after the first site visit; that’s why return ones are essential for commercial success.

Cost per Click (CPC)

The digital marketing KPI is another key indicator that defines how much you pay every time a user clicks your ad. Some factors that will affect CPC are ad placements and optimization, its format, quality score, ad rank, and bidding strategy. It’s also undeniable that the amount per click varies depending on your industry and your business type, as your CPC directly links to the number of competitors you’re bidding against. It’s worth considering that the concept of “Click” refers to different things that depend on the channels where an ad is published and could not be compared. For example, Facebook counts this as actions like viewing a banner or watching a video from your post but not necessarily clicking on the link put in ads. Monitoring this digital marketing KPI is vital when it comes to paid marketing campaigns. It provides an overview of expenditure based on which marketers improve the quality of the advertisement, adjust the strategy for better performance, and make an impact on the return on investment.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Digital marketing KPIs overview

This digital marketing metric describes the percentage of clicks per one hundred ad impressions. When tracking the CTR, you’ll easily be able to compare ad performance across different channels and websites of various sizes. In addition to that, CTR is often used to gauge the appropriateness and adequacy of the keywords. Regardless of small business with its benefits or world-famous corporation, any marketing team must work towards a higher CTR while considering that benchmark CTR differs considerably depending on a business model. For instance, B2B CTR is lower than B2C in most cases, which should not be omitted when making decisions.

Customer Lifelong Value (CLV)

This is a measurement that indicates the total income a company can count on from a customer throughout the period the person remains the company’s client. In the right hands of successful teams, the digital marketing metric can increase customer loyalty and retain existing ones that cost a lot less than acquiring new prospects. Furthermore, improving CLV will raise your company’s income because the longer a customer benefits from your business, the more revenue your business earns.

Concluding Words

The digital marketing metrics we’ve mentioned in the article are just a tiny part of measuring marketing efforts, but actually, there are a very large number of them depending on the type of company and objectives lying ahead. Yet if you’re a newbie in the matter and making the first steps in digital marketing, this framework and acquaintance with these primary KPIs will help you keep on the right track to successful goal achievement and deliver the experiences your customers are looking for. So take the time to determine the right ones before executing your campaigns to not drain your budget in the wrong channels and have better marketing performance.


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