A KPI Development Roadmap for Client and Agency Success (+Template)

Hero Image for How to Develop KPIs that Drive and Measure Agency Success

As a successful marketing agency leader, you’re no stranger to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). 

KPIs are a no-brainer, right? You consistently use them to measure your agency’s performance, track the success of your clients’ campaigns, and set a course for sustainable growth in the future.

So, it may surprise you that many of your clients have no idea what you’re talking about when you bring up KPIs during campaign planning.

Most of our clients don't even know what KPIs are. Once they understand what they are, how they work, and the power behind working towards KPIs, they understand the full value we provide.

Dave Krauter, SEO Strategist, Websites That Sell

That’s why KPI development is so critical for your agency and clients: how can you showcase the actual value of your work?

Think of the KPI development process as drawing an itinerary for your client and agency: you could grab an atlas and say, “Look at all these amazing places we can go!” But KPIs are a strategic approach that will guide you step-by-step from Point A to Point B more efficiently.

In this guide, we’ll provide an actionable KPI development roadmap for agencies.

By the end, you will have a clear set of best practices to get you where you need to be: ensuring client and agency growth and success.

What Is a Key Performance Indicator?

Before developing a KPI roadmap, let’s first look at the instruments at your disposal, starting with KPIs themselves.

What is a Key Performance Indicator? KPIs are performance measurement metrics that track key business objectives or goals.

Common digital marketing KPI reporting examples include:

Think of your KPIs as clearly defined checkpoints.

KPIs keep us accountable. KPIs provide the client transparency into what work we deliver and most importantly, KPIs demonstrate that we are on track and achieving mutually agreed upon goals.

Dave Krauter, SEO Strategist, Websites That Sell

Metrics vs. Key Performance Indicators

Metrics are all the places your client and your agency have been. They inform your KPI development: where you want to go next.

Metrics vs KPIs Graphic

Everything you track in your client’s business is a metric. However, only a few key metrics are relevant to a business or campaign goal. As we’ve explained before, all KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs.

KPIs are specific measurements used to track progress toward specific goals, while metrics can be any type of data that provides valuable insights into overall business operations.

KPIs vs. OKRs

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are loftier strategic goals you set with your client or for your agency. While they work hand-in-hand with KPIs, OKRs may or may not be achievable in the long run.

Think of the OKR framework as “blue-sky” or “moonshot” objectives that would be fantastic to achieve, while KPIs are pre-determined, achievable targets.

Receive Agency Growth Tips, Delivered to Your Inbox

7 Ways KPIs Are Used To Measure Success and Drive Growth 

KPIs point the way to growth: they help you set quantifiable goals, assess business performance, and provide data to identify opportunities for improvement. 

Here are seven ways KPIs measure and drive growth:

1. Setting Goals

When choosing your marketing KPIs, start by defining clear and specific objectives. These objectives may include increasing total revenue or net profit/gross profit, generating new leads or converting new customers, or boosting customer retention and reducing churn rate.

2. Tracking Performance 

Once you’ve set your objectives, the right KPIs will let you track your agency’s performance on the way to attaining your goals. Establishing milestones will provide natural check-in points to address concerns and support your team in consistently progressing toward the target.

3. Collecting and Analyzing Performance Data

On your way to your objective, measure your progress with relevant data. 

This data collection might stem from various sources, such as GA-4 (Google Analytics 4) and Google Search Console for website performance metrics and SEO performance, Google Ads for PPC performance, and Facebook Ads Manager for ROAS (Return On Ad Spend).

A hassle-free way to pull this data and get a top-level view of your marketing performance is to build a digital marketing dashboard with AgencyAnalytics. Visually display data from more than 80 marketing integrations to paint the complete picture of your agency’s efforts.

Google Analytics 4 KPI Dashboard Example

4. Identifying Areas for Improvement 

Yes, you’ll need to course-correct at times. Tracking your KPIs will help you pinpoint areas where you’re falling short of your objectives. 

For example, if a campaign objective is to increase ROAS by 10% over a quarter but you’re only showing a sluggish 2% improvement after the first 30 days, this KPI indicates you need to adjust your marketing strategy.

5. Monitoring and Making Informed Decisions 

As we mentioned earlier, KPIs are your GPS: not only do they chart the course forward, but they also help you identify roadblocks and traffic jams and provide the data you need to address issues, reallocate resources, or pivot to reach your growth objectives.

Keyword Ranking Dashboard example

6. Aligning Goals and Building Motivation 

KPIs provide a roadmap that can be shared throughout your client’s organization and your agency to ensure the entire team is motivated and aligned. Having clear targets increases your agency team's commitment and focuses their efforts.

7. Reporting, Communicating, and Celebrating Success

Reporting KPIs regularly helps everyone track progress. When KPIs show you’ve reached your destination and that growth objectives have been met or exceeded, celebrate your success and get motivated to set even bolder and more ambitious goals.

annotations and goals feature in marketing dashboards to track progress

Use AgencyAnalytics to create customized KPI reports with annotations and goals that show your clients' progress and provide a clear picture of their marketing efforts. Sign up for your free 14-day trial today!

Types of KPIs 

There are several types of KPIs, and each type serves a specific purpose in measuring growth and success. 

KPI Type

KPI Description 

KPI Examples

KPI Type

Quantitative KPIs

KPI Description 

Used to measure performance with objective, actionable data.

Often expressed as numbers or percentages. 

KPI Examples

CVR (Conversion Rate)

CTR (Click-Through Rate)

Bounce Rate

Utilization Rate

KPI Type

Qualitative KPIs

KPI Description 

Provide subjective data based on qualities or attributes.

Often used to assess aspects that are challenging to quantify.

KPI Examples

CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index)

NPS (Net Promoter Score)

Brand Perception and Sentiment

Content Relevance and Engagement

KPI Type

Leading KPIs

KPI Description 

Predictive indicators that help anticipate future performance.

Help guide decision-making to influence specific outcomes. 

KPI Examples

Website Traffic Growth Rate

Keyword Ranking Trends

Email Delivery Rate

Social Media Follower Growth

KPI Type

Lagging KPIs

KPI Description 

Indicators of past performance.

Useful to assess the consequences of previous actions. 

KPI Examples

Revenue and Sales Growth

ROI (Return on Investment)

CLV (Customer Lifetime Value)

CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)

KPI Type

Input KPIs

KPI Description 

Help measure the resources, investments, or efforts put into projects or marketing campaigns. 

KPI Examples

Ad Budget

Marketing Spend

Social Media Posting Frequency

Marketing Technology Stack

KPI Type

Process KPIs

KPI Description 

Used to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of specific marketing processes. 

Provide insights into the quality and productivity of operations. 

KPI Examples

Content Production Cycle Time

Email Campaign Response Time

Lead Qualification Time

Ad Campaign Setup Time

KPI Type

Output KPIs

KPI Description 

Measure the results or outputs achieved as a result of specific marketing activities.

Indicate final outcomes.

KPI Examples

Total Number of Completed Projects

Content Marketing Impact

Lead Generation

Sales Revenue

KPI Type

Vanity KPIs

KPI Description 

May look impressive on the surface but don't contribute to strategic objectives. 

Often superficial and don’t provide actionable insights.

KPI Examples

Total Website Traffic

Social Media Follower Count

Impressions on Display Ads

Total App Downloads

Agency Tip: When developing effective KPIs for your client and your agency, use a mix of quantitative and qualitative KPIs, leading indicators and lagging indicators, and input, process, and output KPIs to obtain a complete view of your agency’s digital marketing efforts.

Ultimately, we know our clients hire us to help them close more deals so the most important KPI we can track for them is how many deals we are helping them close. Everything else is secondary to that.

Jacob Hicks, Founder, Magnify

6 Steps for Crafting Client-Focused KPIs 

Developing KPIs based on relevance and actionable data matters more than ever: 67% of marketers believe data-driven marketing improves the speed and accuracy of decisions. 

Crafting client-focused KPIs is essential to demonstrate the value of your agency's efforts and show you’re aligned with your client's goals. Follow these 6 steps to keep your KPIs on track.

1. Identify Client Objectives

Before you develop KPIs for a client (especially a new client), understand their short-term and long-term business objectives. Create a dialogue to identify their goals, aspirations, and expectations.  

We start by taking a close look at our goals and objectives. We then identify the KPIs that will help us measure goal progress. Once we have a clear understanding of our client’s KPIs, we choose the metrics that will provide the most insights into performance. By taking this approach, we ensure metrics are always actionable and informative.

Guy Hudson, Founder, Bespoke Marketing Plans

2. Select the Right Success Metrics

Now that you’ve set your goals with your client, it's time to determine which metrics will reflect progress toward these goals. Focus on quality over quantity. 

If your client aims to enhance brand awareness, for example, important metrics will include social media engagement, organic traffic, and brand mentions. Tailor your digital marketing KPIs to each client's unique needs, and remember that one size doesn't fit all.

3. Set Benchmarks and Targets

To make KPIs actionable and meaningful, establish benchmarks and targets for each one. 

Benchmarks offer historical context, helping your client understand where they stand today, while targets provide a specific, measurable goal to achieve. These benchmarks and targets should be realistic, yet ambitious enough to inspire growth. 

4. Write and Share the KPIs

Once you've identified the objectives, selected relevant metrics, and established benchmarks and targets, it's time to lock in the KPIs. Craft clear and concise KPI statements that outline what you'll measure, why it matters, and who the stakeholders are. 

Share these KPIs with your client to ensure both parties are on the same page and reduce the chances of miscommunication or misunderstandings down the road.

5. Track Your Progress

With the KPIs in place, you can start tracking progress. This not only allows you to make informed decisions but also shows your client the impact of your agency's work.

With AgencyAnalytics, it’s easy to track goals and visually display how your agency is progressing toward them. Add custom goals and annotations to your client reports and dashboards to keep clients in the loop as strategies are rolled out.

An example of the AgencyAnalytics goal interface for automated client reporting

6. Ongoing Communication with Clients

Constant communication is the key to success in client-focused KPI development. Regularly scheduled check-ins, reports, and updates help maintain a strong agency-client relationship. 

Sometimes, you’ll need to find a different, more efficient path or chart a new course entirely. Be prepared to discuss progress, share insights, and adjust strategies if needed.

KPIs give clients the surety they need to make critical business decisions, scale campaigns, and grow.

Bodie Czeladka, Creative & Managing Director, Dilate Digital

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) dashboard showing bounce rate and engagement rate metrics

Show your clients how your agency is tracking against goals with a custom KPI report. Best of all, automate the entire process to save time! Try AgencyAnalytics free for 14 days.

6 Steps for Building KPIs for Agency Growth

For agency owners, growth is the ultimate destination. However, getting there is quite the journey. 

Much like client-focused KPIs, your agency’s KPIs serve as signposts along the way, helping you steer your team in the right direction and measure progress. 

Let's break down the steps for developing KPIs for agency growth.

1. Understand Agency Growth Goals

Before you draw your growth roadmap, you need to know your destination. Agency growth goals are your endpoint. These goals fall into three different categories.

Financial: These KPIs focus on revenue, profit margins, and overall financial stability. They help you gauge the financial health of your agency.

Operational: Operational KPIs focus on your processes. They include metrics related to project delivery, resource allocation, and workflow optimization.

Culture: The culture of your agency plays a pivotal role in growth. KPIs in this category include employee satisfaction, retention rates, or the successful integration of company values.

2. Select the Right Success Metrics

Success metrics should align with your growth goals and provide a clear, measurable way to track your progress.

It's important to keep your chosen metrics relevant and actionable. Don't overwhelm your roadmap with too many metrics — focus on the ones that truly matter to your agency's growth.

3. Set Benchmarks and Targets

As we mentioned earlier, benchmarks are the reference points with which you assess your progress, while targets are the specific objectives you aim to achieve.

For example, if your financial goal is to increase revenue, you might set quarterly benchmarks for revenue growth and an annual target of a 20% increase in revenue. These benchmarks and targets create a clear path to measure your success.

4. Write and Document the KPIs

Now it's time to set your KPIs. These are the specific metrics you'll track to measure your team's performance. 

KPIs should follow the MASTER goal-setting approach: Measurable, Achievable, Specific, Transforming, Evolving, and Relevant.

MASTER goal setting framework definition

For instance, a KPI related to your financial goal might be: "Achieve a 10% increase in monthly revenue growth rate by the end of Q2." 

This KPI is measurable (a 10% increase), achievable (based on your agency’s resources), specific (monthly revenue growth rate), transforming (it represents a significant leap by the end of Q2), evolving (this goal may change before or beyond Q2 based on data), and relevant (tied to your financial growth objective).

5. Track Your Progress

Once your KPIs are in place, you must monitor and measure your KPIs to see if you're on course to reach your targets. Remember that KPI tracking is not a one-time event but an ongoing process.

6. Adapt and Iterate

The road to agency growth isn't always smooth—detours happen. If you find that you're falling behind, retrace your steps, re-examine your processes, and adjust your KPIs as needed. Just like a GPS recalculates your route when you take a wrong turn, your KPIs guide you back on track.

Agency Tip: Looking for the most important KPIs digital marketing agencies should focus on? Check out the 10 Metrics that Every Agency Should Track for Profitability & Growth.

3 Tips for Developing Powerful KPIs 

As you develop your KPIs, it’s essential to remember the core components that make KPIs effective in driving growth and achieving success.

Here’s a quick tip sheet for fast and effective KPI development.

Tip #1: Focus on the Essentials

Client objectives: Start by understanding the client's overall business objectives and identify areas where your marketing agency can support them. 

Specificity: KPIs should be specific and measurable, and leave no room for ambiguity. 

Relevance: When you create KPIs, ensure they are directly relevant to your marketing efforts and strategies.

Realistic expectations: KPIs should be attainable within the client's budget, resources, and market conditions.

Benchmarking: Use industry benchmarks or past performance measures as a reference point for setting KPI targets.

Alignment with marketing channels: Ensure KPIs work for the specific marketing channels being used (e.g., social media, content marketing, PPC).

Tip #2: Remember These 4 Crucial KPI Components

Metric: Define the specific metric to be measured, such as website visits, conversion rate, or customer acquisition cost.

Target: Set a numerical target or goal your marketing agency aims to achieve (for the client or yourself).

Timeframe: Specify the timeframe within which the KPI should be achieved (e.g., monthly, quarterly, or annually).

Responsibility: Determine which team or individual will be responsible for achieving the KPI.

Tip #3: When in Doubt, Use a KPI Development Template

To get your bearings, here's a template that will help you start writing KPIs:

Download the KPI Development Framework

Improve your agencies KPI development processes

How to Report Results Against KPIs 

You’ve arrived at your destination and developed a set of strategic KPIs that fit your client and your agency’s project goals and business objectives. Now it’s time to track, measure, and report the results.

Tracking each KPI in a manual spreadsheet is difficult, time-consuming, and prone to errors, especially since your digital marketing data constantly evolves across multiple channels.

You don't need a software development team to build a custom marketing dashboard. Use AgencyAnalytics to gain:

  • Real-time data updates so you’ll know exactly what’s happening at any time.

  • Full white-label customization for your clients and a drag-and-drop editor that gives you flexibility and control over reports.

  • Seamless integration with more than 80 marketing channels.

AA Integrations Page

Best of all, you also gain access to a range of popular marketing dashboard templates, including:

Follow the KPI Development Roadmap for Client and Agency Success

Developing KPIs for your marketing agency is an essential component of performance measure and management for growth. 

KPIs give us common metrics the client and us agree are valuable, allowing us to have beneficial conversations that move their business in the direction they want. We're not wasting time or resources moving metrics positively that the client doesn't understand.

Lane Rizzardini, Co-Owner, Marion Relationship Marketing

Just as different KPIs should align with your client’s unique business goals, the same principle applies to developing KPIs for your marketing agency’s business strategy. 

By ensuring that your agency's KPIs drive revenue and growth, you set the course for success.

Join more than 6,500 marketing agency clients and start tracking client goals within comprehensive, white-label custom reports. Sign up for your free 14-day trial with AgencyAnalytics today.

Headshot for Francois Marchand

Written by

Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand brings more than 20 years of experience in marketing, journalism, and content production. His goal is to equip agency leaders with innovative strategies and actionable advice to succeed in digital marketing, SaaS, and ecommerce.

Get Started for Free

Try AgencyAnalytics risk-free for 14 days. No credit card required.
AgencyAnalytics Dashboard Preview