What Are KPIs in Marketing and Why They Matter

What are KPIs in marketing? How about sales or other departments? Key performance indicators (KPIs) are what modern businesses and organizations use to keep score of who accomplished what. They track how many of these accomplishments exceeded company expectations. Beyond just subtracting expenses from revenue to determine profitability, KPIs allow businesses to examine their success in more detail.

KPI in marketing
Source: Shutterstock

The Difference Between KPIs and Metrics

Many people confuse and interchange the terms “KPIs” and “metrics.” A metric is simple measurable data such as a company’s achievements for the year. For example, business owners like to know how much they made (revenue), how much they earned (profit) and how much they spent (expenses). Note that metrics simply report information as it happens and don’t need any qualifiers.

KPIs are metrics that track performance and progress against set objectives. For instance, companies that aim for growth expect an increase in revenue. After all, expanding your services or manpower means little without a bump in revenue. So, while revenue is a metric, the KPI would be projecting how much revenue will increase this year. Specifically, a KPI places a number in the goal, such as targeting a 10% increase in revenue versus last year or doubling revenue within five years. This lets management determine whether their gains more than offset their efforts (and expenses).

What Are KPIs in Marketing?

Marketing makes sure the sales department has a steady supply of prospects, leads and customers. The department is in charge of keeping the brand relevant to attract new customers. At the same time, it also needs to develop campaigns and promotions to ensure loyalty among existing customers. These goals directly support the company’s overall objectives of growth and profitability.

In particular, marketing objectives revolve around customers. They need to answer such questions as

  • How can the brand attract more interest?
  • What strategies should we implement to attract customers from new market segments?
  • How can sales shorten the buyer’s journey?
  • What can customer service do to prevent customers from leaving the brand for another?  

Common KPIs in Marketing

While there are plenty of KPIs applicable in marketing, most fall under the two most common types: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative KPIs

A quantitative KPI depends on numerical data to measure performance toward an objective. This data is usually expressed in terms of money (revenue), time (completion of a sales journey measured in days) or physical count (number of inquiries in a day).    

Qualitative KPIs

A qualitative KPI measures abstract data. While some KPIs continue to generate numerical data, analysts also look into some qualitative information that can shed more light on the situation. These include individual consumer feedback, the contents of a product complaint email or notes from a product survey. The information contained in these messages can go a long way toward improving the product.

Leading and Lagging KPIs

There are also leading and lagging KPIs. Both indicators help companies measure the reaction to planned changes to a brand or product. Leading KPIs project future results by showing improvements in performance even though the planned change has yet to happen. For example, when a company announces the launch of a new product and customer inquiry rates jump, that could mean good news.    

Lagging KPIs provide the actual measure of the performance after the planned change gets implemented. The lagging KPI provides a more realistic—and, therefore, more accurate—market reaction.

Why Keep Track of KPIs?

Source: Shutterstock

To determine whether your business should track KPIs, marketing needs to look at customer data and check patterns and behaviors. This will tell them whether their campaigns generate more new customers or make existing ones purchase again. Data can also tell the marketing team how much they’re spending for every lead generated. They’ll need to quantify these metrics into KPIs and then monitor their performance to see if they’re on the right track.

Here are some additional reasons to track marketing KPIs:


Campaigns, promotions and events utilize resources, which are mostly time and money. All companies aim for the efficient use of resources when paying for these programs. Benchmarking the performance of individual programs allows the company to see if marketing endeavors cost more in terms of effort compared to the revenue they bring in.


Tracking the results of your KPIs provides a clearer picture of each program’s success or failure rate. This can help you and the team make the crucial decision on whether to continue a program or terminate it. For the former, it means increasing support and resources to further maximize returns. Additionally, it can also mean duplicating the program in other brands for similar success.

For the latter, it’s a sign to start cutting losses and prevent further ones. This also frees up resources for other programs that might work better.

Choosing the Best Marketing KPIs to Track for Your Business

While it’s tempting to track all available metrics, the resulting data can be a messy jumble instead of the orderly business intelligence you need. When determining and tracking your marketing KPIs, remember the confines of your specific marketing objectives. By narrowing your KPIs to the relevant ones, your team focuses on the needed tasks instead of spreading themselves too thin. After all, KPIs transform lofty goals into realistic and reachable targets. They then make sure the team keeps those targets within sight at work.  

Be SMART When Making Your Marketing KPI Shortlist

Use the SMART criteria to finalize your marketing KPI shortlist. Ask the team these five questions:  

  1. What is the team’s SPECIFIC goal?
  2. Is the goal MEASURABLE?
  3. At the same time, is the goal ATTAINABLE for the team?
  4. Is the specific goal RELEVANT to the company objectives?
  5. What is the TIME frame for completion?

It also helps if the marketing team sets clear objectives and realistic targets during the KPI development process. You should go over each KPI with the team to make sure everybody is on board. This can prevent confusion or miscommunication during the implementation or monitoring stages.

Best Marketing KPIs to Consider Tracking

marketings KPIs to track
Source: Shutterstock

Determining whether marketing programs are successful is a matter of choosing the right audience, the correct medium and an ideal time. Messaging also plays a very important role, as the right words can connect with your intended market. To monitor your campaign’s health and check the market’s reaction, you’ll need to establish a few KPIs and benchmark your program accordingly.      

Below are seven quantitative marketing KPIs you can use to track your campaign’s effectiveness. They can indicate if it’s working as planned, if you need to make some adjustments down the road or if you need to come up with an exit strategy.    

1. Return on Investment

How soon you get a return on your initial marketing investment is a good indicator of success. This lets the marketing team plan ahead and project realistic budgets for the rest of the year. To calculate the basic return on investment (ROI), simply divide the profit by the marketing cost and multiply by 100.

Keep in mind that individual marketing programs can all contribute to the bottom line. It would be unfair to attribute the company’s entire profit to a single campaign. Instead, you might want to use organic sales growth instead of total profit.  

A Note on Long-Term and Short-Term ROI

In the rush to prove their strategies are working, many marketers become too eager to publish their ROI and base it on a few days’ or weeks’ worth of campaigns. These findings aren’t the marketing ROI—they’re the short-term impact of their campaign. That’s because a typical sales cycle takes three to six months.

According to LinkedIn, only 4% of marketers actually measure ROI over six months or more. The rest show the short-term numbers. So, next time you want to compute the real ROI for a campaign, consider the length of a typical sales journey.

2. Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value (CLV) measures the total amount of revenue a company makes from an average customer. This covers the duration of the customer’s relationship with the company, from the first sale to the last. Ideally, the CLV increases as the customer maintains communication with the seller. A higher CLV means better retention rates and lower churn.

To compute for CLV, subtract the customer acquisition cost (CAC) from the total revenue generated from the customer. CAC is what the company initially spent to convert a lead.  

3. Organic Traffic

Organic traffic is the traffic brought to your website through free search engines. In contrast, search engine advertising (SEA) is the traffic generated by paid ads. Between the two, having higher organic traffic is more desirable due to the lower costs involved.  

While you can have more control in SEA as to where, when and to whom you promote your site, organic traffic provides a more authentic experience. People are searching for your brand, not the other way around.

4. Social Media Engagement

Look beyond the number of people following your social media accounts. Companies should also monitor their engagement rates to see how people react to their content. Social posts can chart engagement through the number of likes, comments, mentions and shares.

While engagement doesn’t necessarily lead to sales, this KPI can determine your campaign’s success in terms of market acceptance. Plus, high engagement opens opportunities for other promotions and even the acceptance of new products.    

5. Email Opt-In and Click-Through Rate

Despite the detractors, email remains a popular marketing KPI due to its relatively low cost but high ROI. Why? Everybody still uses email, and even with advances in technology, nobody has come up with an effective way to stop spam email marketing.

Opt-in rates calculate the number of recipients that followed through and accepted the offer to receive future emails. This KPI is more accurate in gauging customer interest because the sender made an effort to ask for more.

The click-through rate (CTR) measures the rate at which emails get opened and users clicked on the provided link. CTR also measures the effectiveness of a brand’s messaging and communications.

6. Marketing-Qualified Leads

marketing qualified leads
Source: Shutterstock

Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) are leads that have contacted the company in some way. They have already engaged with the brand and are ready to move through the sales pipeline. Usually, sales will have to take over and nurture the relationship by converting them to sales-qualified leads and ultimately to customers.

MQLs are a great KPI as they track leads transitioning from marketing to sales. This also helps measure how many leads marketing brings into the pipeline and the effectiveness of the transition from marketing to sales.    

7. Conversion Rate

The last but by far the most important KPI is conversion rate, which is how often a subject performed a desirable action. This can mean convincing an email recipient to subscribe to a newsletter, a social media user to follow your channel or a website visitor to sign up for a new account. Conversion rates measure the number of leads that turn into customers by completing a sale.  

Conversion rates are the ultimate gauge of success in marketing efforts, as they represent the forward movement of a customer into the next (or last) stage of the buyer’s journey. Measuring this KPI against the others can indicate how well your campaigns are working, how costly (or economical) your expenses are compared to the expected ROI and how well your messaging hits the target.

Reporting Made Easier Through Presentation Software

So, what are KPIs in marketing? It’s the set metrics that support your company’s success, growth and profitability. Whatever KPI you track, reporting the results won’t be a problem if you use the right presentation software. Ingage is cloud-based interactive presentation software that lets you and your team create and collaborate from anywhere.

Ingage’s interactive features allow users to create highly detailed presentations that pop up when prompted. The interactivity is especially useful when creating KPI reports that require a lot of detail.  

In addition, collaboration features let teams work on the same document online. This allows each member to contribute and share ideas during development, while others can provide immediate feedback.

Once finished, it’s time to send a copy to the client. Ingage’s analytics features will track viewer reactions to each slide and generate insights. The information can tell you which areas of the presentation engaged the viewer and which ones need more work. This can prove helpful when making revisions or improvements.

Learn more about how Ingage can make your interactive presentations stand out. We’d love to talk with you and learn more about your company’s specific needs. Afterward, we’ll be happy to arrange a free demonstration so you can see for you yourself how Ingage can change the way you create presentations.  

No items found.