KPIs in Digital Marketing: What They Are, Why You Need Them & How to Track Them

KPIs in Digital Marketing: What They Are, Why You Need Them & How to Track Them
Article by DesignRush DesignRush
Last Updated: February 27, 2023

KPIs are essential when it comes to measuring the success of digital marketing campaigns. By tracking KPIs, businesses can understand how their customers interact with their content, what works best in engaging them and where they should focus their efforts for optimal results. 

And isn’t that what makes a business successful? 

Today, we will discuss why you need to track KPIs in digital marketing and some of the key metrics that any business should consider utilizing. Plus, we’ll let you in on a little secret on how to measure KPI data. 

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What Is KPI in Digital Marketing?

KPI stands for “key performance indicator” and in terms of digital marketing, it measures the success of the execution of digital marketing strategies. As such, these indicators are among the most important tools a business can use. 

Providing key insights into the effectiveness of a campaign, KPIs in digital marketing enables businesses to make informed decisions regarding where to focus their efforts and improve results. 

They are used to monitor website traffic and performance, social media engagement, conversion rates and much more. By tracking these metrics over time, digital marketers can understand how their strategies are impacting customer behavior and tailor their approaches accordingly.

Each KPI has a different purpose, but their common goal is evaluating each stage of the customer journey, such as acquisition (how customers find you), engagement (how they interact with your content) and retention (how likely they are to return). 

While there are different types of key performance indicators, as HubSpot explains, KPI data is often divided into two main categories, quantitative and qualitative metrics. 

Quantitative KPIs provide numerical values to help you track progress over time. Some examples include page views per session, conversion rate or cost per click (CPC). 

Qualitative measures allow you to better understand users’ behaviors and preferences. These can be customer feedback or surveys that help assess the impact of campaigns from a consumer perspective rather than purely from numbers alone.

It’s best to define which KPIs you want to track from the get-go so you don’t waste time making sense of endless rows of data for no apparent reason. For instance, if your goal is to increase web traffic, set up KPIs such as visits per day or pages viewed per visit.

5 KPIs in Digital Marketing Any Business Should Track

While there are as many digital marketing KPIs to track as there are business objectives, some of the most important are: 

1. Website Traffic

Website traffic includes the total number of visitors over a given time period. By looking at this data, you can determine how successful your campaigns are at generating new visitors to your site. 

Tools such as Google Analytics allow you to track not just the overall number of visitors, but also other metrics such as bounce rate, page views per visit, average time spent on site and referral sources. 

These detailed analyses can provide insights into the type of content that works best for your audience and which sources are bringing in the most traffic. Tracking website traffic alongside other KPIs can help inform future digital marketing strategies and ultimately boost ROI.

2. Conversion Rate

This KPI measures the percentage of website visitors who complete a desired action, such as registering for an account, signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, downloading a piece of content or filling out a form. 

A higher conversion rate indicates that your digital marketing efforts are resulting in more qualified leads and revenue-generating customers. You can further optimize your digital campaigns and increase profitability by measuring the various elements of your campaigns such as click-through rate, cost-per-click and total marketing cost per conversion.

3. Social Media Engagement 

With social media platforms becoming the strongest tool in the arsenal of any digital marketer, you better measure the success of your social media presence. 

This could include tracking metrics such as how many likes or comments a post receives, total followers, click-through rates on links posted and user interaction with shared content. Measuring these KPIs gives insight into which posts are performing well and can be used to create more effective content in the future. 

Analyzing this data can indicate how engaged customers are with your brand online, allowing you to better assess the impact of your social media campaigns.

4. Email Open Rates 

Email open rates indicate whether recipients find your message relevant enough to click through or not. Expressed as a percentage, it’s a metric defined as the number of people who open an email divided by the total emails sent out. 

Monitoring email open rates help marketers understand how many people actually receive and engage with their message and can provide useful insights into what kind of messages recipients find interesting or engaging. 

Ultimately, tracking email open rates can help marketers improve communication with customers and prospects, increase response rates and improve overall ROI.

5. Return on Investment (ROI) 

No matter what your digital marketing strategy is or what your goals look like, you should always track ROI.

Tracking ROI is especially important when running paid campaigns like PPC ads. In these cases, you need to monitor cost-per-click (CPC) closely to determine whether ad spending has resulted in increased sales. 

Depending on your findings from tracking ROI, you can make the right budget allocation decisions moving forward, based on hard facts rather than guesswork alone. 

How to Measure KPI in Digital Marketing

To ensure accurate results, businesses should always calculate the right metrics for their particular objectives so they can accurately measure progress over time.

The first step when setting up KPI tracking is to define broader business goals around what you want to achieve with your campaign, as 98% of marketers agree. This will help you determine which metrics are relevant and how best to monitor them throughout your campaign duration. To avoid any confusion down the line, make sure these goals are measurable. 

Set up tracking codes and software for website analytics purposes so you can track your website visitors' behavior, such as page views and conversions. Luckily, there are a number of tools available for collecting relevant data. 

Depending on your needs, you can opt for web analytics platforms such as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics or social media monitoring apps such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social, just to name a few. 

Don’t forget to create an action plan that outlines how data related to these KPIs will be collected and analyzed. 

Note that this process is anything but simple and requires your undivided attention if you’re to identify your strong and weak sides. That’s why many companies nowadays choose to hire a digital marketing agency and leave KPI tracking to professionals. 

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How to Define Digital Marketing KPIs You Should Track

Without a plan, your efforts are as good as nothing. Planning what, why and how you’ll be tracking will not only help you measure success but also achieve it. 

When defining digital marketing KPIs you should track, start by determining what success looks like for you. The marketing strategies for small businesses differ greatly from the strategies enterprises employ, so they’re most likely not tracking the same KPIs. 

No matter your scope of work, you should always take into account factors such as the type of campaign, target audience and desired outcomes. 

You should also consider your industry’s standard KPIs since these can provide a benchmark by which you can assess how well your strategies are performing compared to other players in the market.

Why You Need to Track KPIs for Digital Marketing

Tracking KPIs in digital marketing paints a clear picture of what’s working, where you’re lagging behind and what can be improved in your strategy. Ultimately, this process aids in correct targeting for maximum impact. 

Although this should be enough to convince you of the importance of keeping track of your efforts, we’ll talk about several more reasons that’ll make you wonder why you haven’t started sooner. 

Namely, KPI tracking helps you:

  • Measure ROI accurately
  • Make informed decisions 
  • Allocate resources more efficiently
  • Establish benchmarks for comparison
  • Measure the effectiveness of different channels
  • Monitor digital marketing trends across the industry
  • Track and analyze customer behaviors more effectively
  • Monitor team productivity and identify under-performing team members
  • Keep costs under control by identifying poor performers before they become too costly to fix

Broadly speaking, measuring KPIs provides invaluable data about customer behavior, enabling businesses to optimize strategies accordingly. This leads to increased ROI from investments made, making it an integral part of any successful online presence today. 

KPIs for Digital Marketing: Key Takeaways 

Now that you realize how important KPIs are for your business, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start analyzing. 

Possibly the biggest benefit of regularly tracking digital marketing KPIs comes from the fact that it provides an early warning system by detecting problems before they become too serious. This minimizes potential losses due to ineffective strategies being employed. 

If you don’t have the time to analyze this data, don’t leave it for tomorrow, but choose to outsource. Even if you're on a tight budget, there are plenty of small business digital marketing agencies you can hire that charge just a fraction of the cost. 

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