What Are KPIs?
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
Renowned business guru Peter Drucker never actually said this, despite the number of CEOs who quote this daily. However, it makes an important point — if you don’t measure what you’re doing, then how do you know it’s working? A 2021 study showed that 66% of CEOs still think marketers aren’t adequately focused on business results. You need to make sure to track your B2B marketing and demonstrate why it was worth the return on investment (ROI). But how?
That’s where KPIs come in.
Simply put, KPIs are Key Performance Indicators. They measure what matters to your individual business. It’s an actionable scorecard that keeps your strategy on track and can help you develop and tweak your strategic marketing plan.
- Relate to a business objective
- Are chosen by the people accountable
- Provide context by being tracked over time
- Are based on legitimate data
- Are easy to understand
- Create meaning that gives control
- Require action
Why Do KPIs Matter?
Not only can KPIs help you track revenue goals, but they can also help you to achieve them (and any other business goals you have). They work to:
- Measure your marketing strategy’s progress
- Create data-informed decisions
- Allow for learning and adjustment
- Analyze important patterns over time
Let’s say you are a technology company looking to increase overall sales by $100,000 over the next three months. You’re planning on doing this by launching a new product at an upcoming tech show. Your first KPI is obvious: measuring the number of sales dollars from the first day of the show to the last day of month three.
But you know it will take time to get the word out: You’ll need to get people to come to your booth at your show, and you’ll need to continue to raise awareness of the new product after the launch. But if your original strategy and tactics aren’t working, you’ll want to find out and change course quickly before the three months are up. In addition to tracking sales in dollars, you might set up KPIs that measure smaller goals along the way that connect to your B2B content marketing.
For example, the first goal would be to make people aware of the new product and want to visit your booth at the show. KPIs could include the number of unique visits to the new webpage you set up, the number of shares on social media about your new product, and foot traffic at your show booth. With this information, you can conclude that either your current tactics are working, you need to tweak them, or you need to scrap them and come up with new ones.
Once you’ve listed the goals and KPIs that are important for your particular business, you can develop specific metrics that offer direction and focus for your day-to-day marketing activities.
You’ll notice the term “metrics “ is freely tossed around when discussing KPIs. But there’s one thing you need to be perfectly clear on: KPIs are not metrics.
Metrics Vs. KPIs
Although they are not the same thing, there would be no KPIs without metrics. But by itself, a metric is only a standard for measuring or evaluating a specific business activity.
To give it any meaning, it needs to align with the key targets/goals of your business. A KPI is, in fact, a metric tied to one of these business targets. The main difference is that KPIs are strategic while metrics are often operational or tactical.
Some marketers can confuse the two, and wonder why the CEO’s eyes glaze over when presented with a long list of impressions, unique visits, and retweets. Unless it can be tied back to the business’s goals, strategy, and bottom line, they won’t be interested.
To make sure you don’t make that mistake, here are a few of the main differences between metrics and KPIs:
- KPIs measure performance based on key business goals; metrics measure performance or progress for specific business activities.
- KPIs are strategic; metrics are often operational or tactical.
- Metrics are often lower-level indicators specific to a single department; KPIs can be tracked by various departments that are working towards the same goal.
- Metrics provide context to business activities; KPIs allow for strategic decision-making.
Choosing the Right KPIs for Your B2B Marketing Goals
If KPIs vary from business to business, then how do you define yours? Here is a list of steps that can help:
- Start your measurement plan by defining your vision of success. This is where you identify your primary goals and create your B2B marketing strategy.
- Establish a framework to manage what you measure. A marketing strategy framework is a plan of what actions you’ll take to meet your goals. This helps align everyone on what the goals are and what needs to be done to get there. But it also works to combine the individual KPIs to form an overall picture of how your strategy is working. Overall success or failure shouldn’t be determined by a single KPI.
- Choose KPIs and metrics that matter, are actionable, and clear. Keep it simple and doable. Ensure each metric and KPI relates to your main goals and is tied to a marketing action you can take. Use SMART goals as a guide: Is it Specific? Measurable? Attainable/Achievable? Relevant? Time-bound?
- Identify a realistic timeframe. Let’s go back to the tech company example. If one of the chosen KPIs was based on unique visits to the new product webpage, it would be foolish to conclude that only 5 unique visitors on the first day of launch indicated failure. You need to determine a reasonable timeframe that provides an accurate picture of its performance.
Tracking Your KPIs
The best way to track KPIs and keep a handle on all of your data is by using a marketing dashboard. A marketing dashboard visually displays key marketing metrics and KPIs in a way that is often easy to digest and displays progress toward your goals.
Some popular ones are Google Analytics, Hubspot, Domo, and Zoho, just to name a few. It’s important to do some research and identify the ones that will work best for you.
At this point, you should have a good idea of what KPIs you want to track. But if you’re still a bit unsure, here’s a short list of a few to consider (but only if they tie in and align with your business goals!):
If you’re getting clicks on your content, then it’s doing what it’s supposed to. It’s often an important first step in knowing if your marketing efforts are working or not. Whether it’s paid advertising conversions or taking desired actions on your site, these actions can help determine engagement. Common ones to consider are CPC (cost per click) and CTR (click-through rate).
Your website is your business’s digital front door. It should house everything needed to inform, convert, and close with your customers. If your site visits are low, it could indicate a problem with your marketing strategy.
People may see your content, but when they are following a specific action you’re asking them to take, that’s a strong indicator they are turning into a lead. Actions such as filling out a form, signing up for a newsletter, or making a purchase (usually with a call to action) all qualify as conversions.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
Marketing Qualified Leads are leads who have taken a more specific action that shows a specific interest in your product or service. This may be filling out a form to speak to a sales rep or downloading a whitepaper.
Marketing Revenue Attribution
This is one for the C-Suite: this metric shows how much revenue your digital marketing campaigns brought into the company.
Need Help? We’re a Trusted Top B2B Marketing Leader
Creating the right marketing strategy and determining KPIs can be time-consuming and a challenge. Creative MMS has the expertise to help you do it right. For the second year running, we’ve been named as one of Clutch’s Top B2B Leaders in Pennsylvania for digital strategy.
Reach out to us today to discover how our B2B digital marketing services can help you not only reach but exceed your business goals.