KPIs – Making Metrics Meaningful

Nothing’s worse than working closely with your client to get a campaign up and running, only to find out that you had one campaign goal in mind and your client had another.  Perhaps the conversation about goals and KPIs never occurred.  Or maybe it did, but the client got hung up on requesting and sifting through a sea of metrics for months and months, rather than keeping their eye on achieving their goals.  Either way, you’re stuck holding a bag of impressions, when they should have been white paper downloads, and the client isn’t happy about it.

So, how do we avoid this headache?  Simple – by nailing down the campaign goal(s) and identifying a handful KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) prior to doing any work.  Prior to creative design.  Prior to website design.  Prior to media planning.  Then, implement the right types of ad tracking and optimize the campaign continuously along the way, by keeping an eye on your KPIs.

Now we all know what goals are, but what is a KPI, really?  Key Performance Indicators are metrics that evaluate the success of a campaign.  They must be 1) measurable, 2) accessible, and 3) actionable (optimizable).  And you must have all three attributes, or you don’t have a workable KPI.  Here’s an example:  Let’s say your client wants you to increase the number of hamburgers sold (goal) at their fast food joint that offers a variety of meals.  Now, you can measure the number of hamburgers they sell, and have access to the number of hamburgers sold.  But can you truly optimize a campaign’s media towards selling more hamburgers?  No.  Not really.  But you can optimize your campaign towards the number of hamburger coupons that are downloaded and hope the customer doesn’t go for the chicken sandwich when they arrive at the counter.

No doubt about it, knowing your client’s goals ahead of time will help inform creative messaging (I.e., a “Download Now” CTA is far more direct than a “Learn More” CTA).  And it will certainly help build the website infrastructure to support the end goal (Do we need a form page?  Do we need a content hub?, etc.).  But just as importantly, identifying KPIs ahead of time will help select the best media mix and implement the right level of ad tracking to support your goals.  It will also limit the number of “relevant” metrics in your campaign report, making it easy for your clients to digest and tying results back to the goal(s) they set for the campaign.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
– Albert Einstein