What is a Marketing-KPI and why should you care?


An excerpt of this article was printed in The Reading Eagle on 9/12/17

Having an effective marketing strategy isn’t only about creating brilliant and compelling visuals with educational and impactful data, it’s about understanding what digital metrics to look at and how to effectively communicate those numbers to stakeholders in order to drive high level decision making. Marketing strategists often use the acronym KPI, which stands for Key Performance Indicators. In its most basic form, marketing KPIs are a series of numbers that are tied to a company’s overall goals. When KPIs are properly established, a company can measure its progress toward their goals by associating this number (a marketing metric) to the outcome of an intrinsically defined target.

Many leadership teams monitor the performance of these numbers over time and use them to adjust their plans, their programs, and their products to support and improve their overall strategic goals. In the past, most teams associated financial metrics with the classic example of measurable indicators, however using only past performance to forecast marketing results no longer yields a good prediction about whether to keep, reject, or try out a new marketing strategy. Why? Buyers have changed; today’s buyer is highly informed, and their journey from first hearing about a product or service until they actually buy it is not linear. Today’s modern buyer researches products and services online at any time of the day or night, on any device, and consumes information from multiple sources. They compare and contrast reviews, seek out recommendations, and educate themselves more than ever before.

The good news for digital marketers is that we can measure these actions and behaviors in ways that we couldn’t measure before, and this is a captivating source of information when tied to a KPI.
Today, marketing metrics offer guidance that is literally black and white. In the past, leadership teams could only make assumptions about the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. Consider this: how do you accurately measure the ROI (return on investment) of a billboard or a magazine ad? Online, however, the numbers measure real data which serves as an impressive way to make decisions about process and improvement.

For example, an increase in a measurable statistic, such as downloads of a comparison pricing guide or engagement with a cost calculator, is likely to forecast an improvement in a key indicator such as customer education. This is just one particular phase in the buyer’s journey, yet understanding this KPI and the process that logically follows (retargeting those specific buyers with a carefully planned ad or funneling them into a specific nurturing sequence at an appropriate time) is what leads to high performing digital marketing campaigns, and ultimately conversions.

Planning for marketing KPIs is a strategic process and involves the collaboration of your top marketing executive and all company stakeholders. If a company’s key objectives are not clear, that can lead to an imbalanced and incomplete view of the overall strategy. Measures that are important in one area of the company may not be that important in other areas. Limitations can also occur if a company doesn’t have the right team, leadership, or internal reporting systems set up.

Modern marketing becomes a powerful way to help drive revenue when the right message is delivered to the right audience at the right time. Gain a competitive edge by focusing on the importance of automated intelligence in your data by aligning KPIs to implement strategic, data-driven decisions about your marketing ROI with a tool such as HubSpot.