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What Are Digital Marketing KPIs And Why Are They So Critical In The Planning Process?


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What is a KPI?

KPI stands for “key performance indicator”. These are essentially quantifiable measurements of a business’s long-term performance for a specific objective. In this case, we’re going to be focusing on KPIs within the digital marketing arena.

Naturally, the KPIs will vary depending on the specific area of digital marketing you are focusing on – and indeed what your goals are. In marketing, there are three key KPIs:

  • Awareness: getting as many eyes on your brand as possible.
  • Conversion: taking leads and transforming them into customers.
  • Analysis: how much money / resources were spent on acquiring each new customer.

Below are some examples of the various KPIs for different digital marketing strategies.

Email marketing KPIs

  • # emails successfully delivered, opened, and / or responded to.
  • CTR (click-through rate) of embedded links and CTAs (call to action).
  • Social shares / forwards.

Social media KPIs

  • # followers Vs. unfollowers.
  • Likes, comments, and shares.
  • Latest impressions.

Content marketing KPIs

  • Unique visitors.
  • Average time spent on page.
  • CTA and link CTR.


  • Rankings for focus keywords in SERP (search engine results page).
  • Organic traffic.
  • Link CTR.


  • CTR
  • SCR (sales conversion rat.
  • CPA (cost per acquisition).

Why are KPIs so critical in the planning process?

So, why are KPIs so important in the planning process? For one thing, identifying which KPIs are important to you can help you better understand what it is that you want to gain from the digital marketing strategy in question.

Let’s use an SEO agency in Abu Dhabi as an example: when strategizing SEO campaigns for the clients, the major KPIs that will help them track and measure their success are:

  • Current SEO rankings for the focus keywords being targeted (so they can measure positive and negative movement going forward).
  • The amount of organic traffic gained (from the focus keywords and all related long-tail variations).
  • The link click-through rate (how many people are actually clicking on the organic listing in a Google SERP).

With those in mind, it is clear what the primary goal of the SEO strategy is going to be: improved rankings, more traffic, and a higher click-through.

Another important KPI that they would likely measure in this scenario is “conversion rate”. So, how many of those organic visitors click through to the website and ultimately end up converting into customers?

As you can see, KPIs are essential for helping to formulate the campaign – and then to track the overall success rate of the campaign as it progresses.

Using the above KPIs, the SEO agency can determine what is working and what is not. For example, if the CTR rate is high but the conversion rates are low, then it is clear that there are some onsite issues that are holding people back from converting into business.

In which case, they can conduct the necessary research and identify which areas are holding them back and make the appropriate adjustments (e.g., refining the sales copy and/or adding social proof to help overcome objections).

Final thoughts

KPIs are all about making your digital marketing efforts as efficient as possible. These quantifiable measurements are key indicators of efficiency,  thus helping businesses to fine-tune their messaging on the fly.

If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having to track and measure everything, a viable alternative is outsourcing your marketing needs to a third-party digital marketing agency.

In any case, we hope this article has been insightful and that you now have a better understanding of what KPIs are and how they fit into the planning process of a digital marketing campaign.


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