Between changing customer behaviors post-COVID and technological developments, digital marketing continues to expand. Indeed, customer journeys become ever longer and more complex, requiring significant effort from marketers to craft holistic, enticing experiences. Among its other challenges, this trend introduces a key obstacle; monitoring one’s actions.
The “M” in “SMART goals” stands for “measurable” and mandates both the ability to measure performance and the knowledge of exact valuable KPIs to track. We cannot truly help with the former, as it will typically hinge on your own campaigns and assets. We can, however, try to help with the latter by pinpointing some of the most valuable digital marketing metrics to track.
1. Content marketing metrics
As the proverbial spearhead of digital marketing, we may begin with content marketing metrics. Those you can typically measure through website analytics, your CRM solutions, and other analytics assets.
#1 Customer retention
Alt. tag: An infographic on the benefits of customer retention.
Starting at the end of the customer journey and making our way back, customer retention is a crucial metric to track – as LinkedIn’s Shaumik Saha argues just above. Customer retention will often suggest your loyalty programs are effective, your content delivers consistent value, etc.
It bears noting that customer acquisition and customer retention are two sides of the same coin. You may prioritize one or the other, and this is a common dilemma whose answers vary. However, neglecting either rarely bodes well.
#2 Customer acquisition
For that matter, retention can only apply once you have a steady income of new customers. Customer acquisition is, by all means, costly, but it is the proverbial lifeblood of digital marketing. It is an express goal of SEO strategies, social media marketing, PPC and email campaigns, and more. Thus, measuring customer acquisition rates is among the safest ways to have a basic overview of your strategies’ overall effectiveness.
#3 Lead generation
Finally, returning to the very start of all customer journeys, lead generation is among the most vital digital marketing metrics to track. Lead generation constitutes the first step toward a successful sales funnel and is typically a primary goal of most digital marketing strategies. A sufficient lead generation rate should help ensure your SEO, landing pages, and brand awareness campaigns perform well.
2. SEO and content performance metrics
Having mentioned SEO, its own KPIs present the second group of metrics worth monitoring. Those can typically be monitored through Google Analytics, website heat maps, and similar analytics solutions.
For convenience and readability, we may divide these into two general groups; on-page and off-page metrics.
#1 On-page metrics
First, on-page metrics refer to the performance of the pages themselves. Those include:
- Loading speeds. As Google’s research above finds, this crucial metric directly correlates with bounce rates.
- Bounce rates. It is a very valuable KPI, as it informs your SEO score and affects lead generation and customer acquisition.
- Page views; the fundamental metric that gauges a page’s online visibility and appeal.
- Time on page. With bounce rates and page views, time on page helps gauge overall content engagement.
- Average session duration. Beyond individual pages, this metric can reliably suggest how robust your general customer journey across your content is.
#2 Off-page metrics
Next come off-page metrics, which go beyond on-page or on-site activities. Equally crucial digital marketing metrics to track include:
- Keyword rankings. This metric gauges how well your content ranks for your keywords of choice. Keyword rankings can substantially inform organic and paid marketing efforts.
- Backlink types and value. Follow backlinks will enhance your Page Authority (PA) if they come from authoritative sources. However, both Follow and NoFollow backlinks have value, and Google prefers a balanced backlink profile.
- Referral traffic. Both backlink types generate traffic, often among more engaged audiences at that. Gauging referral traffic from backlinks can further ensure your SEO efforts are paying off.
3. Social media metrics
On the subject of referral traffic, few marketing channels boast as much potential for audience growth as social media platforms. Very few, if any, marketers can afford to overlook the opportunity to tap into vast, ever-increasing audience pools, after all.
Thankfully, most social media platforms offer powerful built-in analytics tools that can help track marketing performance.
#1 Audience growth
First, plain audience numbers can become a vanity metric; a large audience will typically only confirm you’ve done well before. Audience growth, however, will always be among the best digital marketing metrics to track, as it constantly monitors progress. By continuously monitoring your audience growth over time, you can better understand what works for your audiences and what does not.
If your platform does not offer this metric, you can calculate it using the following formula:
Audience Growth Rate = (Number of New Audience members / Number of Existing Audience) x 100
#2 Post reach rate
Next, the goal of amassing large audiences is to reach them. In this regard, impressions may not paint the complete picture, as many platforms count repeat views by the same viewers as impressions. Instead, you may monitor reach, which only counts unique views.
Once you have your post reach in hand, you may calculate your reach rate as follows:
Post Reach Rate = (Post Reach / Audience Count) x 100
#3 Audience engagement rate
Finally comes engagement, the next step toward nudging audiences into your sales funnel. Here, too, you may count individual post engagement, such as:
You may then deduce your audience engagement rate with this metric in hand. This metric will help grasp how much your audience actively engages with your content and activities, informing your course. Engagement rate you may calculate as follows:
Audience Engagement Rate = (Total Engagement / Number of Audience) x 100
4. PPC metrics
Should organic marketing not suffice to secure success, many marketers will rightly turn to PPC marketing to complement it. PPC comes with multiple digital marketing metrics to track and ensure cost-effectiveness remains optimal.
Thankfully, PPC providers will typically offer comprehensive analytics tools to help marketers stay informed.
Among the most vital metrics for paid marketing of all kinds, Cost Per Click (CPC) gauges exactly what the name suggests; how much the advertiser pays for each click earned. This single metric will directly affect Return On Investment (ROI), and the slightest changes can have massive impacts on final campaign costs.
Unfortunately, CPC does differ across PPC platforms, but WordStream helpfully illustrates the calculation for Google Ads above. For a deeper dive into this subject, you may also consult their article on CPC.
Still on the subject of clicks, Clickthrough Rate (CTR) measures how often audiences click on ads in relation to how often they see it. This is among the most popular digital marketing metrics to track across various channels, as it helps gauge interest in your ads and then inform optimizations.
Google explains that:
“[CTR] can be used to gauge how well your keywords and ads, and free listings, are performing. […] A high CTR is a good indication that users find your ads and listings helpful and relevant. CTR also contributes to your keyword’s expected CTR, which is a component of Ad Rank.”
As they also note, CTR is quite easy to calculate:
CTR = (Clicks / Impressions) x 100
Finally, once your ads have earned a click, they may still fail to convert your potential customers. To identify such shortcomings, you may track conversion rates – a metric that most platforms offer by default.
If one does not, calculating conversion rates is also rather simple:
Conversion Rate = (Total Number of Conversions / Total Number of Clicks) x 100