Choosing the Right Key Performance Indicators

Today’s blog is from our partner at NATIONAL Public Relations, an AVENIR GLOBAL brand, Jonathan Litwack. Enjoy! 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a lot like a road trip: we know that we have a starting point and an end point, with speed being our indicator of whether we’ll successfully reach our destination on time or not.

(Analogy lost on you? Check out this other blog post which serves as an introduction to KPIs.)

That said, there are other factors we need to consider; other “metrics” that help us determine if we can keep that speed up. Here are a few:

  • Fuel gauge (do we have enough fuel to sustain us to our destination?)
  • Odometer (how far have we travelled so far?)
  • Tachometer (how many RPMs our engine is running at)
  • Temperature (how hot or cold our engine is)

Not all of these metrics are terribly useful to us at all times. In fact, if you’re driving an automatic transmission car, you might not even have a Tachometer, because you’d only need to know your RPMs to shift gears. So what we start to think about is how to prioritize these metrics. We might only need the fuel gauge unless something bad is happening and we see smoke coming out of the front of the car.

All to say – the only KPIs needed for this trip are Fuel and Speedometer.

Marketing is not a road trip however, and the need to keep our brains clear and focused remains. In this post, we’re going to walk through a simple three-step process for identifying good key performance indicators in marketing.

Instead of taking a road trip, we’re going to sell cars. Let’s say we work for a vintage car company that sells classic Ford Mustangs and have three really simple things we’re trying out – bringing us to step 1:

Clarify the tactics

For awareness and audience building – we’ll run some display ads.

For engagement – we’ll run a small blog where we can post pictures of our cars and provide descriptions of each one so that potential customers can virtually kick the tires.

For action – we’ll provide a contact form through which people can ask for a quote, or offer to buy a specific car.

For each of these elements, we need to think about how we move from the ads, to a detailed car page, to a quote. Which brings us to step 2.

Prioritize the key metrics

For the ads – the number of clicks we get back to our blog (everything else is just a supporting data point to help us improve, but will not lead to our ultimate objective)

For the blog – clicks on the button to access the contact form

For the contact form – number of form submissions completed

Easy stuff, right?

So now that we know the important metrics, let’s define some Key Performance Indicators.

Identify rates of progress

See how I didn’t say step 3 was identifying KPIs? Rates of Progress doesn’t really sound sexy, but it’s basically a KPI, and gets us out of old misconceptions.

So now all we need to do is figure out how many clicks we need from our ads over a period of time, and likewise for clicks on the contact form, and ultimately submissions. So how do we do that?

Well let’s assume that the owner of our vintage car company has agreed to let us perform our marketing experiments, as long as we can prove that they deliver on three new sales each month. Great. We have established a measurable goal. Three form submissions (let’s assume that each one equals a real sale for the sake of this exercise) every month.

So now we identify how many clicks we’d need on the contact form to result in three form submissions. Maybe we assume that 10% of all arrivals to the contact form page result in a submission, which means that 30 visits to that page will get us the results we need.

Thirty visits to that page means that we need enough people coming to the blog to convert to that “Contact Form” click. Assuming on average 1% of our traffic takes that action, we’d need 3,000 visits per month.

Ultimately, that leaves us with the need to drive 3,000 people to the site with ads, which could mean we need 300,000 people every month to see the ad if we have a 1% conversion rate.

All of these conversion rates being assumed, we now have four simple KPIs to use to track our progress:

  • 300,000 ad views / month
  • 3,000 blog visits / month
  • 30 contact form clicks / month
  • 3 contact form submissions / month

What are you working on right now that you can apply this thinking to? Have you established measurable goals? Think about this model on the next project you start, and you’ll find that you’re able to clearly articulate how you plan to measure and optimize your program in a predictable way.

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