Online Marketing KPIs: Choosing, Tracking & Meeting the Right Ones

Vinny La Barbera
Written by

Vinny La Barbera

Are you setting and tracking the right metrics for your website and online marketing campaigns?

You can’t make the right decisions about how and where to spend your time and money marketing your business without these key performance indicators. More importantly, you won’t realize growth unless you’re analyzing the most crucial data.

In this article, we’re going to help you choose, track and meet the most important online marketing KPIs.

Online Marketing KPIs

The Difference Between Marketing Goals and Marketing KPIs

One of the most common questions we’re asked is what marketing KPIs need to be set for each tactic.

With so many analytics services and endless accessible data points, measuring the success of a marketing push can get overwhelming. Furthermore, many tools report “vanity metrics,” or statistics that make you feel good about your efforts by showing big payoffs, but do little to actually grow your business.

First off, we need to explain the difference between goals and key performance indicators, or KPIs. The goals are the next levels you want to reach when you’re growing your marketing efforts, and your KPIs are measurable data points to determine your success.

For example, when you visit the doctor, he might tell you that you need to become healthier by losing a few pounds. The KPIs you two set would be daily calories you should consume, number of times you exercise each week, and lowering your blood pressure. While you might not hit the desired goal weight immediately, hitting all of the KPIs proves that you’re going in the right direction and making healthy choices. Furthermore, if you fail to meet your goals, looking at the KPIs (like calories consumed) can point to what needs to be changed.

Now that you know how to set your goals and what to use your KPIs for, let’s look at a few common marketing tactics and the KPIs to look at under each of your goals.

Click Here to Access your FREE Google Analytics KPIs Dashboard that you can install in your analytics account in under 10 seconds.

Answer Common Marketing Questions with the Right KPIs

Do You Have an Effective Website?

Oftentimes your website has a direct correlation to sales, which means KPI measurement is crucial to making sure you’re generating the maximum amount of revenue. Track these seven KPIs to make sure your website is driving purchases instead of driving away customers.

Number of Leads Generated

A lack of leads is a symptom of poor website “health,” and all aspects of your site should work to convert visitors to customers. At the most basic level, look to see the number of leads that your website brings in monthly or even weekly. If you’re able to make changes to increase the number of leads, your sales team will have more opportunities, which translate to more customers.

Contact Form Conversion Rate

One aspect of your website that could be preventing lead generation is a poor contact form. To increase conversions, make it easy on your customer and avoid asking for too much information. Oftentimes name, email, and phone number is all you need. In the modern Internet era, giving out a physical address is akin to surrendering your firstborn child, and people grow frustrated by too many fields. Generate more leads with a simple contact form.

Referral Traffic Sources

These KPIs will help you with your blog, social media, and paid marketing tactics. Like a well-balanced diet, you want traffic from diverse sources. If 90 percent of your traffic comes from search, you need to put more effort into social media. Conversely, if the majority of your traffic comes from social media, you need to better optimize your pages. This is a never-ending metric to track.

Number of Pages Visited (on Average)

This KPI partly affects SEO and partly affects conversions. Search engines hold websites that have many pages visited in high regard. This tells them the content is valuable enough to keep people clicking around to learn more. Through optimized design and interlinking, you can increase this number along with the search traffic to your page.

Furthermore, this also helps you track your sales funnel.

How many pages on average do leads visit before they convert? What pages are helpful and lead to a conversion versus misleading pages that get bounced away?

The key is to get into the mind of your target audience.

Time on Page

This one is usually paired with the number of pages visited. If your visitors are bouncing from page to page trying to find what they’re looking for, you need to consider tweaking your website. This KPI tells you what pages are valuable to your target audience. Make it easy on potential customers; direct them to the most important pages and soon you will see an increase in leads.

Percent of Clicks Above and Below the Fold

Like pages visited and time on page, this metric provides insight into the behavior of your potential customers.

Do they make it below the fold before bouncing? Do they click to other pages above the fold?

If your call-to-action is below the fold and only 10 percent of site visitors make it there, you can increase lead generation by moving it up. Consider using eye tracking to see how your visitors view your pages.

Pop-up Interaction

If your website utilizes pop-ups, you should regularly conduct A/B testing to make sure you’re converting visitors as much as possible. Test the time on site before the banner pops-up, conversion rate, size, placement, and messaging. Like tweaking your exercise regime, you need to figure out what works best for you and your audience.

When one of these metrics is weak, it’s a sign that you’re missing out on potential customers and profits to your company. You’re not making the most of your traffic if you fail to meet your KPIs.

Is Your Blog Doing More than Attracting Traffic?

Like other marketing aspects, the goal of your blog is to drive traffic to your website, which in-turn generates leads. While many website KPIs can be applied here (such as referral traffic and number of pages visited) there are a few additional ones to look out for.

Here’s a breakdown of the top seven.

Email Form Sign-Ups

Newsletter forms require fewer fields than contact forms. The name and email, or even just the email, is all you need to convert. A strong conversion rate shows that your content is strong enough that visitors want it sent directly to their mailbox. You may need to either tweak the content or banner placement to increase this KPI. Use your eye tracking tools from the previous section to help make these decisions.

Percent of Relevant Search Terms

It may hurt to see monthly website traffic only in the triple digits, but if those visitors are active customers, then they’re more valuable than a million poor hits. To increase the percent of traffic from relevant search terms (phrases and keywords related to your products and services) adjust your content to focus on your offering and optimize irrelevant articles to interlink to relevant pages.

Traffic Growth Over Time

This section was specifically placed after relevant search terms to illustrate the importance of quality over quantity. While your goal should be growth over time, it’s important to make sure that growth is relevant and from balanced sources. You need to make sure a strong percentage of your traffic is organic, from a mixture of search and social, just in case your other, paid sources fall out on you.

Direct vs. Indirect Traffic

While you’re looking at the traffic sources, also consider the direct traffic, which you can learn by homepage views. Oftentimes, visitors that are going directly to your page are return visitors who are actively seeking out your brand. If you already have a solid base of direct traffic, you will want to place your calls-to-action right on the homepage to appeal to your existing fans.

Number of Posts Published

This KPI is mostly for blogs that are just starting out. It’s easy to start strong and fizzle out under pressure or due to a lack of ideas. With the health metaphor, think of this KPI as the number of times you exercise each week. There are other KPIs to measure the value of the exercise, but just getting out there can be half the battle.

Relevant Comments

While it’s tempting to track social shares like Tweets and Likes, the true value lies in the relevant comments. We’re not talking about the “great post, man,” that anyone can write, we’re talking about added insight from industry leaders or questions from your customer base. These comments add value to the post and generate return traffic, which gives you a chance to interact (and impress) a future lead. To increase comments, consider adding a comment widget like Disqus to make it easier to post and limit spam.

Average Views per Post

Like posts published, this is a KPI for new bloggers trying to get into a flow. As opposed to overall traffic, this KPI lets you know the optimal posts to publish.

For example, posting twice a day might generate 800 views, with 400 views per article. When you test different frequencies, you learn whether posting four times a day generates 800 views with 200 views per article or 1,600 views with 400 views per article.

At what point does your traffic plateau?

That’s when you’re wasting resources and need to cut back.

Your blog is a marathon, not a sprint; so use some of these KPIs to establish what works for you and others to grow and become successful.

Are Your Social Media Efforts Actually Producing Results?

By now, many organizations and professionals understand the importance of utilizing social media for their marketing efforts; however, measuring effectiveness continues to elude them.

Before you post another cat meme or link to your homepage, consider these five KPIs to make sure you’re generating the most revenue from your updates.

Click-Through Rate

Facebook recently updated its algorithm to favor articles over memes and text posts. This means you should be using your blog articles for Facebook and other social content. Clicks to your site offer more value than a comment or like because you’re pulling the visitor into the sales funnel. Once you’ve acquired traffic from social media, it’s up to you to retain that traffic with internal links and calls-to-action to buy products or learn more.

Conversion Rate

The next step after the click-through rate is conversion rate. Using tools like Google URL Builder, you can track an update from the initial post to customer conversion. The best way to measure social media effectiveness is to report how much revenue each post generates. Play with the different types of posts, times you publish, and frequency to increase your conversion rate.

Engagement Rate

This KPI can be saddening to the inexperienced social media manager, as anything above a one percent engagement rate on Facebook is considered good. Anything between 0.5 percent and one percent is considered normal. Engagement rate reflects quality over quantity. It’s better to have 100 followers that are actively engaged than 1,000 followers that are all silent. Engaged followers will share your content and turn into customers.


The value of Facebook demographics varies by brand. If you’re a local business, you don’t need to know what states and countries your fans are from, as most of them will be from the town that you’re based in. Instead, make sure you’re attracting the right gender and age to your fan page, as attracting the right fans is crucial to converting. Local businesses that are expanding can take advantage of location-based demographics to track awareness and growth in the new area.

Direct Messages and Posts

Social media is a useful tool for customer service as well as marketing. Depending on your demographic, you should see an uptick in direct messages and posts reaching out with questions or comments as you grow. This also tests your team’s ability to answer in a timely and helpful manner. Track the number of messages and posts, the time it took to respond and find a solution, and the percent of fans who walked away happy.

Social media is a tool to connect with customers and drive traffic to your blog and website. If you’re just getting likes for irrelevant pictures and not generating revenue, it’s going to be hard to justify it as a marketing tool to management.

Are You Getting a Return on Your Video Marketing Strategies?

You might look at video marketing and assume that number of views and shares are the most important KPIs to consider. However, that number only partially paints a picture of video marketing success – or failure. Make sure you check these four factors before you pop the champagne.

Watch Time (Audience Retention)

When YouTube was first introduced, views directly correlated to the number of times the video was loaded. Anyone could refresh the page to increase views. Now they’ve tightened security and will only say that their views count when someone has watched a video.

Instead of trying to game the system by getting people to watch the right amount of seconds, you should be focusing on the quality of the view.

How long does the average viewer stick around to watch your whole tutorial?

These are your future customers. This will also help you learn your audience’s attention span to create content of that length in the future.

Number of Times Embedded

By tracking the number of times your video has been embedded, and what sites have embedded them, you can see how helpful your video is to outside sources. Not only are people watching your video, they’re posting it in their own websites and turning into brand advocates.

You need to take action when outside sources embed your video. Reach out to the site and thank them, and offer to form a partnership or start a guest posting relationship. Think of embedded posts as video-based marketing leads.

Repeat Visit Rate

This one is similar to comparing search traffic to direct traffic. Viewers finding your content through search is necessary to grow your name, but viewers returning to your brand or actively seeking out your content are one-step away from becoming brand advocates and then customers. In order to increase this rate, consider hosting webinars or starting a video series to keep people coming back every month. Also, include a call-to-action for viewers to subscribe to your content so it is brought to their YouTube dashboards.

Traffic Sources

This one is the same as measuring traffic to your website and blog.

Do people find your video under related videos, come directly from search, or arrive via social media recommendations?

Depending on the type of content, this percentage may vary, and that’s okay. A video that’s meant to go viral should have high social referrals while a tutorial should have a greater search percentage.

Like most KPIs, success isn’t a numbers game. It’s about the quality and reasons behind the numbers. To continue with the health metaphor, 100 jumping jacks a day won’t build your upper body strength as much as 10 push-ups.

Is Your Email Marketing Working?

As you get your feet wet with email marketing and begin to expand your subscriber base and frequency, KPIs become more effective to turn good marketing into great results. Consider the CTR and Conversion Rate from previous sections – including unique URLs to track the success of each link – but also remember these four elements.

Unsubscribe Rate

In order to decrease the unsubscribe rate, consider implementing a two-step opt-in process, where users have to verify their emails and desire to receive content from you. While an unsubscribe rate is healthy – those who don’t want to hear your message won’t buy from you – you want to make sure you’re acquiring long-term fans. If this number increases dramatically, see if there are spammers signing up or if there is a new promotion that is attracting the wrong audience.

Unique Opens

Open rate quickly becomes a vanity metric because it counts the number of times any email is opened. The number of unique opens is different because it counts the number of unique subscribers who have opened your email. One subscriber could open your email on their phone, then return to it later on a PC, and then once more before deleting it, which counts for three opens, but only one unique open.

Click Location

Think of your email as a mini-website, where people click is important and tells you where you need to put the most important information. Break down the percent of clicks from top to bottom and make sure your most important links or call-to-action is in that section. If not, move it and watch your conversions increase.

Price per Email Sent

This is one of the most important KPIs on the list. Take the revenue you earn from each email campaign and divide it by the cost. At the end of the day, you should be able to report how much revenue an email campaign brought in and how much each email subscriber is worth.

To increase your marketing budget, you need to prove success and revenue. KPIs are simply ways to show the investment is worth it.

How Cost Effective Are Your Online Advertising Campaigns?

Last but not least, here are the top four KPIs for PPC Campaigns. Like other tactics we’ve reviewed in this guide, it’s easy to get swept away by clicks, impressions, and reach, but there are deeper numbers to consider that paint a bigger picture of success.

Average Cost Per Click

Clicks are great, but they can be costly. If you’re paying for keywords like “shoes,” or “ice cream,” you will have a lot of competition. Make sure you’re not spending five dollars per click when you could be paying 25 cents using more niche – and higher quality, higher converting – keywords.

Average Cost Per Acquisition

This metric is similar to price per email sent. Are you spending $100 on paid campaigns just to bring in one $250 sale? The lower your cost per acquisition (or conversion) the less money you’re losing on a sale.

Average Position

It’s a well-known fact that ads further down the page receive fewer clicks, but it’s not common knowledge that the third ad from the top receives the most clicks. When you start your PPC campaign, you’re probably going to test with trial and error, but as you get your footing, you will slowly start to crawl up the page – and save money doing it. Your position often reflects a combination of relevance and cost, and it’s important to find relative keywords for cheap.

Quality Score

If you learn nothing else from this guide, learn that the quality of a lead, subscription, click, etc. is more important than the quantity of visitors and subscribers. The Quality Score – specific to Google Adwords – ranks keywords on a scale of zero to 10. Because Google wants to provide the best Ads and results to searchers, it ranks to most relevant keywords the highest and gives them a better position. It’s in your best interest to maintain keyword quality.

Data Doesn’t Lie

Best Online Marketing Metrics to Track

The best marketing decisions you will make will be based off of hard data and the only way to get at that data is through proper tracking and reporting.

We’ve given you more than enough places to start, as well as a free Google Analytics dashboard to install right away, so get those online marketing KPIs setup as soon as you can.

And, as always, if you find yourself stuck somewhere or need some additional insights on your newly tracked data, then we would love to help.

Need help understanding or optimizing your website off of your current KPIs?



Categories: Tracking & Reporting

One Comment

    December 27, 2014

    Online marketing is all about attracting visitors to your site fro maximum conversion rate, so make sure to make your site visually appealing by using relevant images.

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