About five years ago – the whole digital marketing field started REALLY worrying about analytics. I mean really worrying.
Many of us started talking about how we were entering an “Age of Accountability”. If you remember that phrase being thrown around, let’s get a beer together and commiserate over how that never really happened.
Those of us who got excited over this impending sea change – weren’t energized just because we were nerds. We were energized because it heralded an era where we as marketers would be able to focus our energies on what mattered. Those single points of truth within our marketing programs, rather than every tiny detail of every single program. Those points of truth were Key Performance Indicators. KPIs.
You see – when we talk about analytics – we could just track everything… But who wants to pay for that? The trick is to track what’s important… What is KEY to your marketing efforts.
So as I’m sure you’re wondering, no. There was no “Age of Accountability”. What we did get was the “We are a culture of measurement”. A very different thing altogether. The first one is about measuring for the sake of determining how we rank in performance… Or more harshly, are you a good or a bad marketer. The second simply says
So that’s where we’re at today. We measure all the things. It’s messy. And mostly because people still don’t actually know what a KPI actually is.
This is mostly because everyone’s been forced into thinking they have to be good at analytics, and yet – most everyone doesn’t want to have to be good at math… Seems kinda incongruous, no?
Key Performance Indicators – are simply – the MOST important metrics, or even the recalculation of a net new metric based on given metrics that help to indicate whether what you’re doing is working or not.
Here’s a scenario for clarity.
You’re a brand manager for General Motors and you’ve been given the task of creating a microsite that promotes a new vehicle. The site has a series of pages and a whole slew of engaging pieces of content. As far as your CMO is concerned – you need to demonstrate in some way shape or form how this has helped drive vehicle sales. He wants to see the KPIs you plan to use for your monthly performance reports.
There could be literally thousands of metrics you can use – but your CMO is a smart person. If you present them with all of the data – they’ll wonder why they need you at all when they can just pull the same data themselves. They want the data synthesized into just a few key points (get it? Key? HA!).
The trick is to think about how your visitors need to flow through your site through to your business objective. In this case – let’s assume it’s finding a dealership.
KPIs are simply the metrics that indicate whether a visitor made it from one step in that sequence to another. The hard part is choosing the right ones within that sequence.
In this case it might be:
– Visits to site (Acquisition)
– Clicks on “Find a Dealer” (Intent)
Literally everything else on the site serves as evidence to help understand how visitors use the site, but those two KPIs are ultimately the “In” and “Out” of the marketing platform.