What’s a KPI, and How Does It Help You Reach Your Goals?

Key Performance Indicators can give your marketing strategy the boost it needs.

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Setting marketing goals isn’t always simple. You want to sell your product, but how should you go about doing it? You could get more Twitter followers, start a YouTube channel, take out a print magazine ad, attend three conferences … it can be hard to decipher which is the most important and which will have the most tangible effect on your business.

Enter the Key Performance Indicator, or KPI.

A KPI, according to Investopedia, is “a set of quantifiable measures that a company or industry uses to gauge or compare performance in terms of meeting their strategic and operational goals.”

In layman’s terms, a KPI is a factor that is actually driving your business forward. If you don’t establish specific indicators of how well your marketing efforts are performing, you’re completely in the dark—you aren’t sure what to do next because you aren’t sure what actions are effective. So, how do you go about discovering what exactly those factors are?

First, take a look at how most of your paying customers (note: not just social media followers!) first came into contact with your business. If the answer is Instagram vs. a physical billboard, those will tell you very different things about who you’re trying to reach. But it can also tell you where you should be investing going forward. Second, look at the last thing your paying customers did before purchasing. Was it reading an e-mail you sent, meeting you at a trade show in person, or visiting your website?

Some examples of common marketing KPIs are:

  • Website visits
  • E-mail list subscribers
  • Reviews received
  • Facebook followers
  • Free guides downloaded
  • Instagram likes
  • Funnel conversion rate
  • Average e-mail open rate
  • Page view per visit
  • Podcast downloads

Narrow your list down to 5–7 factors you’d really like to focus in on. Then, you can make numeric goals involving each of those KPIs. The grass is greener where you water it, so by focusing your physical and financial energy on particular areas, you’ll see them blossom.

How do you know if your KPIs are working? Simple—your bottom line. If your sales went up this year, that’s a pretty good indication that you’ve been focusing in the right places. If your sales remained stagnant or went down, that might be a sign that you’ve misread the data somewhere along the line.

Your KPIs should be looked at every quarter to make sure you’re staying on track to meet your goals. With the right data and effort, you can easily take your marketing strategy to the next level.