25 digital marketing metrics and how to use them effectively for campaigns
Without a doubt, you know that marketing works. You’ve seen how the projects you and your team members create attract prospective customers, delight them with exceptional experiences, and ultimately persuade them to become loyal buyers. There might even be a handful of customer testimonials you point to that prove this to be true.
But a few anecdotes, no matter how powerful, don’t provide an entire picture of your marketing campaign performance. So, how do you really know that your team’s efforts are effective as a whole? Look to digital marketing metrics.
By regularly tracking and reviewing a variety of data points, you can gain a clear picture of what’s working, which tactics or campaigns are falling short, and discover ways to continually improve. Before getting into the specifics of which metrics to pay attention to, let’s start with a bit of background on digital marketing metrics to make sure you have a solid foundation.
The importance of metrics in marketing today
Take a moment to consider the sheer amount of digital information in existence today. Research from Statista shows that the amount of data created, collected, and stored has skyrocketed over the last decade — and this growth shows no signs of slowing. In fact, this research predicts that the volume will reach 181 zettabytes (each zettabye is 1,0007 bytes) by 2025.
While not all of this data is related to marketing, much of it is. According to a Salesforce report, 88% of marketing organizations make use of analytics and metric measurement tools. Why is so much attention given to analyzing the data marketing teams collect about customers? There are many reasons, but it’s worth specifically mentioning that tracking and evaluating digital marketing metrics allows you to:
- Determine whether you’re on track to achieve goals
- Motivate team members to do their best (positive reinforcement, anyone?)
- Discover what resonates with audiences
- Identify effective tactics you should replicate in the future
- Prove the value of marketing
That last bullet is particularly important. The more you’re able to demonstrate the value that marketing provides to your organization, the more likely you are to get your ideas approved by leadership. According to McKinsey & Company, 45% of CFOs say the reason marketing proposals aren’t fully funded is because they don’t show a clear connection to value. This same research indicates that 83% of CEOs think marketing can be a major driver of growth.
Clearly, it’s important to keep tabs on metrics that help you convey exactly how your efforts are paying off.
Digital marketing metrics vs. digital marketing KPIs — What’s the difference?
As you start exploring the world of marketing metrics, you’ve probably come across a similar term: key performance indicators (KPIs). While KPIs and metrics are closely related, they are quite distinct.
Metrics are numbers you can use to evaluate progress, pure and simple. But KPIs are more about goals.
So, what is a KPI in marketing? As Databox explains, “A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a metric that’s used to quantify progress towards important business objectives.”
Here’s an example that can help you further understand the difference:
Let’s say, as part of your company’s overarching objective to boost revenue, marketing is focused on driving more prospective customers to request product demos. The KPI might be to increase demo registrations by 20% in the next year. Related metrics that feed into this KPI (don’t worry, we’ll get into the details of these shortly) include conversions, impressions, and social media link clicks.
In other words, KPIs are the goals and metrics are the measurements that allow you to track how close you are to achieving that goal.
Delving into the most important digital marketing metrics to track
As you get more familiar with digital marketing metrics, you’ll be able to determine which ones are most relevant to you. But to get started, we recommend focusing on a few important ones that align with different marketing tactics.
SEO metrics & website metrics
Want to know whether your SEO efforts are driving organic traffic? Curious as to how you can improve your website? These metrics will help you gain a sense of overall website performance, which also includes your content marketing efforts.
- Keyword rankings: This refers to where your website appears on search engine result pages (SERPs) for desirable keywords. You can obviously track the total number of keywords you’re ranking for, but consider getting more specific by focusing on how many page 1 rankings you have.
- Organic traffic: The users who visit your website come from any number of sources — social media, another domain, paid ads, etc. Organic traffic is the traffic that comes exclusively from organic search, which can be expressed as a total number or a percentage of overall website traffic.
- Domain authority: Expressed on a scale of 0 to 100, domain authority conveys how strong a website is based on factors such as the number of referring domains and the authority of those referring domains. There are a number of tools you can use to check domain authority, such as this one from Semrush.
- Backlinks: In simple terms, backlinks are links from other websites that direct to your website. Having a high volume of quality backlinks is important because it heavily influences organic rankings.
- Exit rate: This metric shows the portion of exits from a specific page after visiting any number of pages, whether that be 1 or 20. It can reveal issues with your conversion funnel if there’s a particularly high portion of exits from a page that’s only partway through the buyer’s journey.
Social media marketing metrics
According to a recent report from Sprout Social, 88% of marketers say their social media strategy positively affects their bottom line. This means it’s essential to track metrics like the ones below to evaluate performance and identify ways to improve.
- Impressions: Getting your content in front of your target audiences is the first step to achieving social media channel growth. The number of impressions your posts receive does just that by indicating how many times your social content was displayed.
- Engagements: This is the total number of interactions that a post received, including clicks, reactions, shares, and comments. The more engagements you have, the more your content is resonating with your social media followers and their networks.
- Engagement rate: This rate is the total number of engagements divided by the total number of impressions. It helps to give more context to your engagements. Think of it this way — a post with 30 engagements is far more impressive if it had 100 impressions versus 1,000 impressions. At Aimtal, we use engagement rate as our North Star metric to guide clients in understanding how well their social content is performing.
- Link clicks: Yes, link clicks fall under the engagement umbrella, but they’re worth singling out. Why? Because they show you whether the content you’re linking out to sounds interesting to audiences.
- Followers: For many social media managers, growing followers is the ultimate goal of their marketing efforts. An increase in followers indicates that audiences like the type of content you’re posting and want to see more of it.
Video Marketing Metrics
You’re certainly not alone if you’re just dipping your toes into the video marketing waters. But don’t wait too long before diving in because, as Salesforce reveals, video saw the largest increase in value of all channels during 2021. And what better way to kick off your introduction to this new medium than by keeping tabs on relevant data points?
- Views: This metric represents the total number of times someone started watching your video. Note that doesn’t mean the user watched the entire video — they may have only watched 10 seconds before moving on to another destination. That said, views help to give you a sense of how interested audiences are in a particular piece of content.
- Average view duration: When you want to know whether viewers were captivated by your content, look to average view duration. It tells you the average amount of time people spend actually watching your video. The higher the duration, the more engaged viewers are.
- Impressions: As with stagnant social media posts, impressions indicate the total number of times your videos were displayed. It’s not realistic to expert every impression to result in a view, but getting a sense of how many people you reach with different videos can help you understand which topics have the broadest appeal.
- Likes: This metric is pretty straightforward — it’s the total number of positive reactions your video received. It’s also wise to evaluate likes in comparison with negative reactions to get a more holistic sense of whether viewers enjoy your video content.
- Audience retention: Platforms like Facebook and YouTube allow you to see this metric on a graph, which can be incredibly helpful for seeing if there’s a specific moment in time when people stop watching your video. This can help you identify whether certain tactics aren’t effective or if you perhaps need to play around with the order in which you present information.
Email marketing metrics
Statista predicts that more than 330 billion emails will be sent during 2022. With so many messages headed towards prospective customers’ inboxes, it’s important to have a strong email marketing strategy. By tracking the below metrics, you have a great opportunity to find out exactly what works and what doesn’t.
- Bounce rate: Having high-quality emails lists is essential for running successful campaigns, and evaluating bounce rates can help you in this arena. The bounce rate measures how many email addresses didn’t receive your message. A high rate could indicate that your list contains a lot of fake, old, or incorrect email addresses.
- Open rate: Often considered the gold-standard metric for email marketing, open rate is the portion of recipients who actually opened an email. A high open rate is a good indication that your subject lines are grabbing recipients’ attention while a low open rate suggests they could use some work.
- Click-through rate (CTR): The CTR represents the number of people who clicked on a link in your email out of the total number of people who received that email. It’s a good metric for gaining an overall understanding of email performance.
- Click-to-open rate (CTOR): While similar to CTR, CTOR differs in that it measures how many unique recipients clicked a link in your email out of the total number of people who opened it. This can be helpful for digging into whether an email’s content was engaging to readers, regardless of whether the open rate was high.
- Unsubscribes: When it comes to email marketing, you need to strike the right tone and also find a good email cadence to ensure you aren’t overwhelming subscribers with too many messages. Evaluating unsubscribes is the best way to do this because it reveals how many people are indicating they no longer want to receive emails from you. If this number spiked when you went from monthly newsletters to weekly newsletters, it’s a sign that you might want to cut back.
Paid media marketing metrics
For professionals in other industries, paid media is what they envision when they think of marketing. This makes sense when you consider how multifaceted paid media is and the sheer volume of metrics you could choose to track. That said, homing in on a select number will help you stay focused on reaching business goals
- Conversions: Ask any demand generation manager, and they’ll tell you that this metric is the most important because it shows how many prospects are taking the desired action after clicking on an ad. This could include requesting a demo, registering for a webinar, watching a video, or subscribing to a newsletter.
- Impressions: Ads need to get in front of people before they can result in conversions, and impressions tell you just how well you’re doing in this regard. In the simplest terms, impressions represent the total number of times your ad is shown. More impressions equate to more awareness of your brand.
- Cost per click (CPC): Not surprisingly, CPC is the total cost of an advertising campaign divided by the total number of clicks. Note that you also set your maximum CPC — the absolute highest amount you think a click is really worth — before launching the campaign. Unsure of your max CPC? Google recommends starting with setting it at $1.
- Click-through rate (CTR): CTR for ads is pretty similar to CTR for emails — it’s the portion of how many times your ad was clicked out of how many times your ad was displayed. A high CTR is a great sign that your offer and your messaging are connecting with audiences.
- Cost per acquisition (CPA): This is the total amount of money you paid for a specific action on an ad. Because it shows how efficient your ad spend is, it’s a great indicator of ROI.
Putting the KPIs, CTRs, CPCs, and every metric acronym all together
You might be wondering how all these numbers fit into your overall marketing strategy. The truth is that it depends on what the data reveals. If you’re not ranking within the top 5 SERPs for any of your target keywords or growing website sessions from organic traffic, a key part of your strategy might be writing two top-of-funnel blog posts each month for the next year.
Or maybe the data paints a rosier picture, showing that several of your most recent ad campaigns set new records for driving conversions and minimizing CPC. In this case, your marketing strategy might focus on aligning all of your paid media messaging and creative to the new look and feel you were testing out in those campaigns that proved to be high-performing.
In terms of how you can actually leverage metrics to get buy-in from leadership — which we already discussed as being important — keep your sights set on the larger organizational objectives. With so many metrics at your fingertips, you can quite convincingly tell a story that helps you secure more of the resources you need.
Moz illustrates how this can work in practice. Rather than spouting off a bunch of metrics that you see as positive, such as growth in organic traffic and growth in traffic from social media, step into the C-suite’s shoes. Spell out how growth in these channels directly translates to a decrease in the cost to acquire a new customer.
Digital marketing metrics give you the information, but it’s up to you to use it effectively.
Use digital marketing metrics to start improving performance
Taking a data-driven approach to marketing ultimately pays off in the form of higher-performing campaigns, better engagement, and higher conversions. You likely have access to many of the tools you need to start digging into digital marketing metrics, so you can start taking action right now.
Don’t worry if you discover that your metrics are below industry benchmarks or lower than you were expecting. It’s all about making progress and finding ways to improve. In some cases, it may be that you’re simply not connecting with the right people.
While it can be intimidating to identify who your ideal audience truly is, it’s completely doable. Find out what it takes to find your target audience and start tailoring your strategies to their needs.