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How to Use Custom Metrics for In-Depth Insights & Reporting

Peter Foy
Peter Foy
Written by
Peter Foy
Marketing at AgencyAnalytics
Sep 02
Sep 2, 2021

When you’re first starting out as an agency owner, the standard metrics from each marketing channel are often more than enough to communicate your results to clients.

As you start to scale as an agency and work with more enterprise-level clients, however, there often comes a time when these standard metrics don’t provide you with the level of depth or transparency that's needed to truly understand the performance of your marketing campaigns.

To solve this, custom metrics allow you to combine data from various marketing sources into a single metric that can be easily understood by clients, regardless of their level of technical marketing expertise. For example, maybe you want to combine data from several PPC platforms in order to understand the true ROAS of your cross-platform advertising campaigns. 

Whatever the use case may be, custom metrics allow you to communicate your results to clients in an understandable way, while still providing the flexibility and granularity that's required for more advanced marketing campaigns.

In addition to improving your client reporting and communication, custom metrics ensure that you and your agency truly understand the performance of each campaign across all marketing channels. This level of granularity in your campaign tracking and reporting can often lead to finding new optimization opportunities to further improve your client's results.

With that in mind, in this guide we’ll discuss what custom metrics are, their value to both agencies and clients, and how you can easily create them inside of AgencyAnalytics. In particular, we'll discuss:

  • What are Custom Metrics?

  • The Value of Custom Metrics for Agencies and Clients

  • How to Create Custom Metrics in AgencyAnalytics

  • 5 Examples of Custom Metrics

What are Custom Metrics?

Before we get into custom metrics, let’s start with the basics. As you probably know, a business metric is a quantifiable measurement that tracks the performance and progress of a particular campaign.

Standard business metrics themselves are created by simple formulas—for example, by adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing various data points to arrive at a single value that can quantify the performance of a campaign.

For example, one of the most common PPC metrics—return on ad spend (ROAS)—is calculated as follows:

ROAS = Revenue Attributable to Advertising / Total Ad Spend

As you begin to get into more advanced forms of marketing, for example, cross-platform advertising, things can get a bit more complicated and standard metrics may not cut it. In particular, you may want to show clients the success of the ad campaigns across all platforms.

This is where custom metrics come in.

Custom metrics are exactly like standard metrics in that they use formulas to aggregate data, which leave you with a single, quantifiable piece of data.

The only difference with custom metrics is in their use case.

Just like standard metrics, custom metrics provide you with a specific measurement of how well a campaign is performing. What makes a metric “custom” is simply that its use case is specific to you and your client's unique needs.

We’ll get to more advanced examples of custom metrics below, but returning to our PPC example, a client that uses Facebook, Google, and Twitter ads could use the following formula to calculate their cross-platform ROAS:

Total ROAS = (Revenue from Facebook + Revenue from Google + Revenue from Twitter) / (Facebook Ad Spend + Google Ad Spend + Twitter Ad Spend)

Since each client has their own unique business goals, this brings us to the true value of custom metrics for both agencies and clients.

The Value of Custom Metrics for Agencies and Their Clients

When it comes to managing clients, agency owners know that each client is looking to achieve their own business results. For marketers, being able to consistently deliver on these goals is often the difference between a client churning and retaining them over the long run.

That said, below are a few of the ways that custom metrics can help you not only achieve results for clients but also communicate these successes in a more accurate and transparent way.

Data Aggregation

As the ROAS example above highlights, there are many times where agencies need to define KPIs that combine similar metrics across multiple platforms. Also, given that the buyer's journey today often involves multiple platforms and touchpoints before an eventual conversion, this use case is more relevant than ever.

With the ability to use simple formulas and create these target KPIs—in this example, a cross-platform ROAS—this allows you to easily communicate the results of your paid advertising campaigns as a whole.

On top of helping agencies achieve their internal performance targets, seeing this data aggregated into a single custom metric ensures that clients truly understand the return they're getting across all marketing channels.

Customizability

There’s no question that the standard business metrics serve their purpose, but many clients that hire agencies want a more personalized experience. By showing them custom metrics created specifically for their company, your agency adds a level of customization and personalization that they likely aren’t going to get elsewhere. Ultimately, providing this level of customization in your reporting shows that you’re going the extra step to help their business succeed.

Granularity

Finally, the reality is that the digital marketing landscape has matured significantly over the past few years. These days, companies are testing and optimizing the performance of every stage in the buyer’s journey, which adds a degree of technical complexity. With custom metrics, you’re able to match this level of marketing sophistication with much more granular insights from your data and easily report on the results.

How to Create Custom Metrics in AgencyAnalytics

Before we get to a few examples, let’s now look at how to create custom metrics so you can get an idea of how they actually work.

In order to create a custom metric, you’ll first need to select Settings from the left-hand menu and then navigate to Custom Metrics in the top menu:

Custom marketing metrics

Next up, to define a custom metric you typically want to manipulate two or more existing metrics using a mathematical operator.  

To do so, you’ll first want to add a name, description, and select the data type for your custom metric, which can be an integer (whole numbers), float (decimal), currency, or percentage:

Custom metric data types

The final Formula field is where you can really get creative. There are three simple steps to create your custom formula:

  • Choose the mathematical operation to perform

  • You can also (optionally) use static numbers, for example, you can divide by 3 if you want the average of 3 metrics

How to create a custom metric

5 Examples of Custom Metrics

Now that we’ve looked at how to create custom metrics, let’s review a few examples of how our Enterprise customers are already using this feature.

Total Ad Spend Across Platforms 

By far the most commonly used custom metric is aggregating PPC costs across platforms, for example below to determine the ROAS or to pace the total ad budget:

Total Ad Spend Across all Platforms (Currency) = FB Amount Spent + Google Ads Cost + Bing Costs

PPC ad spend across platforms

Total Leads from Ads

Another simple custom PPC metric we can calculate is the total leads from ads:

Total Leads from Ads (Integer) = FB Leads + Google Conversions + LinkedIn Leads

Total leads from advertising

Average Cost Per Lead Across Platforms

We could also take this formula a step further and divide by the cost of ads on each platform to arrive at the average cost per lead across channels:

Total Leads from Ads (Integer) = (FB Leads + Google Conversions + LinkedIn Leads) / (FB Amount Spent + Google Ads Cost + LinkedIn Cost )

Average cost per lead

Call Tracking Custom Metrics

Next up, below is an example of calculating the cost per call from Google Ads using Callrail for call tracking:

Cost Per Call = Google Ads Cost / Calls from CallRail

Custom call tracking metrics

Ecommerce Custom Metrics

Finally, below is an example of calculating the Net Profit from a Shopify store after ad spend:

Net Profit = Total Shopify Sales - (FB Amount Spent + Google Ads Cost)

Custom ecommerce metrics

Summary: Custom Metrics for In-Depth Reporting

As you scale your agency and begin to build out more advanced marketing campaigns, there comes a time when the standard metrics from each integration channel aren't sufficient. From an internal agency perspective, these standard metrics often don't allow you to track the true performance of each campaign across channels. From a client reporting perspective, it can also be difficult to communicate the results of each campaign in a way that anyone can understand.

This is where custom metrics can help take your agency to the next level. With the level of granularity provided from both an analytics and reporting perspective, custom metrics allow for the customization that's required in the modern marketing landscape. Given that the customer journey is also highly fragmented these days, this need for custom data aggregation is more important than ever.

In summary, custom metrics are an essential tool for marketers to both find new campaign optimization opportunities and communicate your results to clients in the most accurate and transparent way possible.

Peter Foy
Peter Foy
Written by
Peter Foy
Marketing at AgencyAnalytics
Peter Foy is a content marketer with a focus on SaaS companies. Based in Toronto, when he’s not writing he’s usually studying data science and machine learning.

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