Choosing Effective Marketing KPIs for Client Success

Choosing the Right KPIs for Your Agency Clients

QUICK SUMMARY:

Marketing KPIs are vital metrics offering clear insights into marketing performance. Essential in tracking lead quality, guiding sales strategies, and enhancing customer acquisition, these KPIs are pivotal for informed decision-making. Discover effective ways to choose and track these indicators to drive client success.

At a digital marketing agency, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the cornerstone of success. They're the concrete data that shapes and guides marketing campaigns, steering them away from waste and toward tangible results. It's not about impressing clients with a jumble of metrics but rather about making wise use of the client's marketing budget by focusing on real, meaningful key performance indicators.

Marketing qualified leads, for example, are more than just a catchy buzz phrase. They're a testament to the effectiveness of marketing efforts, revealing the true impact of the strategies in play. They're a compass for your campaigns, leading the way toward results that matter.

This guide is about those critical marketing KPIs that shape client success. It’s about using data to sift out the noise and highlight the indicators that matter most. It's about navigating the digital marketing landscape with a keen eye for value, seeking out the KPIs that can elevate an average campaign to a successful one.

With this wealth of data at our disposal, the responsibility to use it wisely lies heavily upon us. It's time to step into the realm of marketing KPIs with confidence, ready to make every marketing effort count.

This guide is a map to marketing success, helping you identify and track the top KPIs that can drive your clients to new heights. It's time to delve into the world of marketing KPIs, using them to steer your clients' campaigns toward success. Let's get started.

Why Marketing KPIs Are Important

In the dynamic marketing world, one golden rule reigns supreme: knowledge is power. That’s where marketing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) come in. 

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–this is our agency's true north "results for clients.”

David Krauter, SEO Strategist at Websites That Sell

Your clients have business goals to meet and rely on your agency marketing team to come up with the most promising marketing tactics. But they’re merely bells and whistles if you can’t show tangible or quantifiable results. 

Marketing KPIs are the quantifiable measures that give us an unfiltered view of how marketing efforts are performing. They help in identifying qualified leads, guide the sales team, steer marketing campaigns, and significantly contribute to sales growth and customer acquisition.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Marketing KPIs

The relevance of picking the right marketing KPIs cannot be overstated. This process, like choosing the perfect ingredients for a gourmet dish, determines the taste of your campaign.

The right marketing KPIs help us zoom in on what works and discard what doesn't. They ensure that every penny spent contributes to achieving the set goals and optimizing the return on investment.

Tracking Marketing KPIs to Optimize Client Success

Constant monitoring allows for real-time adjustments and course corrections, maximizing the impact of each marketing initiative.

Tracking important marketing KPIs enables quick response to trends and shifts, allowing us to ride the wave of success and circumnavigate potential pitfalls.

Reporting Marketing KPIs to Clients

Reporting marketing KPIs to clients goes beyond merely presenting numbers. It’s about translating data into meaningful insights and weaving a story of success, challenges, and opportunities.

digital marketing executive dashboard example

Regular and transparent reporting fosters trust, instills confidence, and positions the agency as a reliable partner committed to the client's success. It provides clients with a clear picture of where their marketing budget is being spent and how it contributes to their business growth.

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But with so many metrics at your fingertips, how do you decide on the most appropriate marketing KPIs?

Defining Key Performance Indicators in Marketing

Marketing KPIs are the data-driven, quantifiable gauges of your client’s marketing strategy performance. Agencies use them to:

  • Assess whether campaigns are progressing as expected

  • Measure profitability and whether there’s marketing ROI 

  • Determine if any adjustments are needed

  • Provide informed recommendations for future strategies

  • Demonstrate your agency’s worth and ability to deliver results

Showing KPIs from all sources enables our clients (and our team) to evaluate which of their efforts is working best. From there, we help guide them as to where to spend their efforts and their dollars.

Terrence Gordon, CEO of Pl8ted

9 Types of Marketing KPIs for Agencies

Marketing KPIs are like puzzle pieces; individually, they provide valuable insights, but when assembled, they paint a complete picture of marketing activities. Let's delve into the various categories of marketing KPIs that form this broader narrative.

1. Acquisition KPIs

Lead generation is a crucial catalyst in sustaining and driving the success of your clients' businesses. It’s an opportunity to fuel your clients’ business growth, nurture a user through the flow from marketing qualified lead to sales qualified lead to customer, and increase revenue–that’s where acquisition KPIs come in. 

For our clients, the KPIs are pretty simple: It's leads and Cost Per Acquisition. Our clients are typically local, service-based businesses and thus don't care too much about brand awareness or percentages. The marketing dollars need to translate to top-line revenue, and so it's our job to help our clients connect the dots to that in our reporting.

Lane Rizzardini, Co-Owner of Marion Relationship Marketing

But how do you determine the marketing channels with the greatest acquisition potential? When you’re busy getting more clients, you won’t have time to rummage through multiple marketing channels just to figure out what’s happening.

Agencies need to track acquisition insights at a glance, including: 

AgencyAnalytics - Google Analytics Acquisition

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2. Engagement KPIs

After you’ve hit ‘Post’ on your clients’ social media posts or sent out their email email marketing campaigns, you’ll need to know exactly how well it was received. 

Engagement KPIs give you more insight into what content resonates with your clients’ target audiences, which comes in handy for future campaigns. Think about it–engaged customers are more likely to provide word-of-mouth referrals, share your clients’ content, or even make repeat purchases. 

The only way to assess how what you are saying is perceived is by studying the reactions. Whether someone clicks, shares, and/or replies are the "facial expressions" and "words" that a person shares back that can tell you how well your conversation is going.

Seth Giammanco, Principal, Strategy & Technology at Minds On Design Lab

If you’re not in the mood to track these insights manually (newsflash: no one ever is!), no worries–use a marketing dashboard.

From a single, streamlined dashboard, visualize your client’s data to get instant insights on:

  • Overall audience engagement, which helps you identify well-performing content or areas for improvement

  • Types of engagement (e.g., likes, shares, comments)

  • Demographic breakdown so you know whether you’re reaching your clients’ intended target audiences

An example of Facebook engagement metrics

Track and analyze engagement KPIs for each of your clients’ social media platforms–straight from one platform–it’s free for 14 days

3. Conversion KPIs

If you’re managing clients' marketing campaigns that are interested in generating user action further down the sales funnel, you’ll need to keep tabs on conversion KPIs. These insights go a step further than engagement KPIs and monitor how many users have followed your clients' calls-to-action (e.g., making an online purchase). 

If a client runs an e-com site, then their most applicable KPIs are how many people are adding items to shopping carts and the number of purchases. Displaying these KPIs is very easy–just use an AgencyAnalytics dashboard (create them with just a couple of clicks).

Pinku Ranpura, CTO of Zib Digital

Depending on your clients’ marketing campaigns goals, create a custom dashboard to include conversion KPIs like: 

  • Goal conversion rates (how many website visitors follow through on a specific CTA)

  • Top conversion sources (e.g., organic or paid search, social media, display advertising)

  • Revenue-related metrics like:

    • Number of eCommerce sales

    • Total revenue generated

    • The average number of items per purchase

  • Marketing attribution insights (e.g., first impression conversions, assisted conversions)

Goals and conversions metrics in Google Analytics custom dashboards

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4. Customer Retention KPIs

For your clients with subscription-based models (e.g., eCommerce or SAAS businesses), be sure to monitor customer retention KPIs. It’s crucial for their business success, especially since they’ll rely on repeat customers or ongoing subscriptions for revenue.

Be sure to monitor customer retention KPIs like:

  • Changes to subscriber rates (e.g., canceled or unpaid online subscriptions)

  • Reorder rate (how many clients purchase more than once)

  • Reorder frequency (how often current clients purchase)

  • Customer Lifetime Value (average total money spent by customers during their lifetime)

  • Monthly recurring revenue, also known as MRR (how much predictable income is generated each month)

  • Customer churn rate (how many existing customers have unsubscribed or failed to renew their subscriptions)

  • Average discount (which helps your customers to determine what price point or incentives work best for revenue-related results)

5. Brand Awareness KPIs

Brand Awareness KPIs serve as indicators of a brand's footprint in its market landscape. They demonstrate how many people are aware of the brand, how frequently the brand is being mentioned in conversations on social media channels, and the extent to which the brand is recognized within its industry and beyond. Why are these so important? Brand awareness is the springboard for all marketing efforts, and is often the first step in the customer journey. Before a customer can engage with a brand, let alone make a purchase, they first need to be aware that the brand exists. Hence, higher brand visibility often correlates with increased customer engagement and conversions.

6. Content Performance KPIs

Content Performance KPIs are like the heartbeat of your digital marketing efforts, reflecting the health and vitality of a brand's content marketing strategy. They evaluate the success of a brand's content in attracting, engaging, and persuading its audience. These content marketing KPIs help to answer key questions: Is the content reaching the intended audience? Is it resonating with them and keeping them engaged? Is it persuasive enough to steer them towards desired actions, such as signing up for a newsletter, downloading a white paper, or making a purchase? Commonly-used content marketing KPIs include:

7. Customer Satisfaction KPIs

Customer Satisfaction KPIs are akin to a company's report card from its most important judges–the customers. These crucial metrics provide insight into how pleased customers are with a company's product, service, or overall experience.

Beyond merely quantifying happiness, these important marketing KPIs uncover areas for improvement and innovation. They can help a company understand the reasons behind customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction and take actionable steps to enhance the customer experience. By addressing issues and showing responsiveness to customer feedback, a company can turn dissatisfied customers into loyal ones and prevent customer churn.

8. Sales Performance KPIs

Sales Performance KPIs are the radar system guiding a company's sales strategies, providing real-time feedback on the strength and efficiency of sales efforts. They offer invaluable insights into the proficiency of the sales team, the effectiveness of sales processes, and the overall health of the business's bottom line.

These marketing KPIs not only track the results–the sales revenue numbers–but also provide insights into the mechanisms behind those numbers. They provide a clearer view into the length of the sales cycle, the conversion rates from marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads to customers, and the average revenue generated per sale.

  • Sales Growth

  • Sales Target

  • Average Purchase Value

  • Sales by Region or Channel

  • Sales Conversion Rates

By breaking down the marketing KPIs into these categories, you get a multidimensional view of performance, ensuring no crucial detail gets overlooked in understanding the overall success of important marketing KPIs.

9. Return on Investment KPIs

Return on Investment (ROI) KPIs play a starring role in any marketing analysis. Although revenue on its own is a common key performance indicator, ROI KPIs show the financial impact of marketing campaigns and help determine whether the investments in marketing activities (and marketing cost) are paying off.

These metrics are the financial validators of your marketing efforts, quantifying the returns gained from investments made, down to the individual marketing campaign. They provide a clear picture of profitability and are vital to understanding the monetary effectiveness of different campaigns and strategies.

ROI KPIs can help answer essential questions: Are the marketing expenditures justifiable? Which marketing initiatives deliver the highest returns and lowest customer acquisition costs? Should the marketing budget be adjusted or reallocated to focus more on high-performing activities such as an in-depth SEO strategy instead of PPC ads?

By closely monitoring ROI KPIs, businesses can make informed decisions, optimize marketing budget allocation, and maximize marketing efficiency.

Here are some ROI KPIs commonly tracked by digital marketing agencies:

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3 Common Marketing KPI Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Even if you have the best intentions, it’s still possible to fall short and miss the mark altogether. To avoid any KPI mishaps, here are a few common pitfalls and how to nip them in the bud. 

Pitfall #1. Overemphasis on Vanity Metrics

All the metrics in the world won’t mean much if they don’t tie into your clients’ business objectives. 

Vanity metrics are just that–surface-level, good-looking, and glittery. It’s easy to get lost in the glare of “1M video views” or “10K opened emails”. While seeing those metrics may make you feel warm and fuzzy, they don’t mean much if they don’t tie into your clients’ long-term objectives. 

Vanity metrics make you look good to others but do not help you understand your performance in a way that informs future strategies. Actionable metrics offer insight into changes you should make, and strategies you should continue that will have a meaningful impact.

Expand Agency

What To Do Instead: To avoid being blinded by the light of vanity metrics, contextualize when needed and only use them as support for more tangible results. As Jacob Hicks, Owner of Magnyfi, shares, “KPIs allow us, as the agency, to demonstrate our value to the client.”

“There are basic KPIs such as spend, clicks, impressions, ranking, etc., but the real KPIs every client wants to know are leads and/or sales. We like to include both in our monthly reports for more context.” 

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Pitfall #2. Ignoring the Dynamic Nature of KPIs

Having a “set and go” approach to marketing KPIs isn’t always the best approach.

Marketing KPIs are affected by many factors, some of which aren’t even in your control (e.g., a recession). So even if you develop the most compelling digital marketing strategy in one quarter, it may not be viable in a few weeks.

And KPIs may even have an interdependent relationship. To help you understand this better, remember the Marketing Metrics Power Triangle below–traffic, conversion, and customer value are all intertwined. 

Marketing Metrics Power Triangle

For example, say your client’s SAAS business depends on free trial signups, which eventually leads to paying customers. During one month, their website traffic decreased, and free trial signups took a hit (due to seasonal influences). 

As a result, there was a trickle-down effect, and your client’s marketing campaign conversion rate (i.e., new paying customers) also experienced a significant dip. And so, remember to consider the overall picture and don’t look at marketing KPIs in isolation. 

What To Do Instead: It’s sometimes tough to adjust your sails or revamp your clients’ marketing strategies (especially when you’ve invested so many billable hours) and the marketing KPIs that go along with them. But remember to think long-term and adapt when necessary (e.g., creating seasonal promotions for slower months). That way, your clients won’t be blindsided by subpar results. 

AgencyAnalytics HubSpot Data Trends

KPIs are dynamic, and your client reporting should reflect that. Choose the data visuals that most reflect your clients’ marketing data–try it on AgencyAnalytics, free for 14 days

Pitfall #3. Focusing On Too Many KPIs

Repeat after us–it’s all about focus, focus, focus! Don’t get lost in a numerical whirlwind–stick to a few marketing KPIs instead of attempting to execute everything simultaneously. 

Less is more. Don't overwhelm clients marketing campaigns with tons of widgets on their marketing dashboards and complex reports. Just report on the KPIs that you know matter.

David Friedman, Technical SEO Manager at PaperStreet Web Design

For example, say you’ve got a client who just launched a new e-commerce site. Instead of focusing on building brand awareness in the early stages, they’ve insisted on setting multiple KPIs goals for the month. 

At the end of the month, they’re overwhelmed by the volume of KPIs on their report (like engagement, email open rates, CAC… the list goes on). Aside from the daunting number of marketing KPIs, there definitely wasn’t enough time to generate favorable results. After all, they just launched, and no one knows who they are! 

And so, this scenario resulted in scattered insights and a lack of clarity. As a consequence, it may be more challenging to make meaningful decisions or show more impactful results.

What To Do Instead: Come up with realistic KPIs, and focus on a few at a time to really hone in on your marketing strategy that your marketing team should focus on to get results. The marketing department should consider questions like: 

  • What are my clients’ goals (short-term and long-term)? 

  • Realistically, how much time will be needed to achieve those goals?

  • Which marketing KPIs matter most for a given time period (e.g., the next 3 months)? 

  • Are there any marketing KPIs that should take priority over others? 

  • Would it make more sense to focus on a few KPIs in the short term so that marketing efforts aren’t diluted? 

  • For longer-term KPI strategies, what’s the best agency pricing approach

Once you’ve devised a plan of action, communicate realistic expectations, and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

5 Steps To Streamline Your Marketing Strategy with KPIs

No two clients are the same, and neither are their marketing KPIs. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all digital marketing strategy across the board, which is why you must know how to choose the right marketing KPIs. You definitely don’t want to:

  • Dilute your clients’ marketing efforts 

  • Disperse your staff’s time, which could lead to under-resourcing projects or missing targets

  • Confuse clients with a jumble of KPIs on their marketing reports

Failing to choose the right marketing KPIs limits your ability to create personalized strategies and differentiate yourself as a top agency. Need guidance? Here are some pointers.

1. Understand Your Clients’ Overall Business Goals and Objectives

To help your clients meet their marketing goals, you’ll need to dig deeper and figure out what they’re trying to achieve.

Each client has different goals (even if they’re in the same industry). For example, one retail client may be focused on brand awareness for their new product, while another is only interested in conversions. 

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 clients’ 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 of Bespoke Marketing Plans 

When meeting with clients, remember to keep transparency on the table and be sure to explain any complex marketing jargon or terms. 

You’re the expert here, and your clients won’t necessarily know the ins and outs of marketing analytics. Explain the metrics you’re tracking and why so you’re both on the same page. 

As David Krauter, SEO Strategist at Websites That Sell, puts it, “Most of our clients don't even know what marketing key performance indicators are; it's a new concept we introduce to them.”

“However, once they understand what they are, how they work, and the power behind working towards KPIs, the client understands the full value we provide. KPIs help our clients see what we do and give assurance about our work.” 

2. Analyze the Complete Customer Journey 

To devise the most effective marketing strategies, evaluate your clients’ customer journeys. It’s all about understanding where their customers at in the sales funnel and deciding on the most effective marketing tactics.

For example, if you’re launching a brand new product for a client, jumping right to purchase as the main KPI may be a bit premature, and you should look at some leading indicators (such as visits, video views, etc.) to confirm that you’ve piqued their interest.

As a refresher, consider the following funnel stages, possible marketing goals, and marketing KPI examples we’ve previously covered: 

Customer Journey Stage

Possible Client Goals

Examples

Customer Journey Stage

Awareness

Possible Client Goals

Bolstering brand visibility through tactics like display ads and outbound marketing

Examples

Acquisition KPIs related to awareness (e.g., number of new website visits

Customer Journey Stage

Consideration

Possible Client Goals

Differentiating from competitors; creating informative inbound content 

Examples

Engagement KPIs (e.g., likes, shares, comments) 

Customer Journey Stage

Conversion

Possible Client Goals

Prompting users to follow through on a call to action 

Examples

Conversion KPIs (e.g., number of eCommerce sales)

Customer Journey Stage

Loyalty

Possible Client Goals

Fostering brand loyalty through incentives (e.g., loyalty program) 

Examples

Customer retention KPIs (e.g., churn rate) 

3. Choose the Marketing Channels That Drive Results

Not all channels are created equal. Some are great for direct response, others are better for awareness–it all boils down to what your clients want to achieve. Here are a few common marketing KPI reporting examples and their commonly associated marketing analytics. 

KPI

Source

KPI

Total Website Traffic

Source

Google Analytics

KPI

Organic Search Rankings

Source

Keyword Rank Tracker

KPI

Sales Qualified Leads

Source

HubSpot

KPI

Monthly Recurring Revenue

Source

Stripe

KPI

Social Follower Growth

Source

Facebook

KPI

Email Click Rate

Source

Mailchimp

KPI

PPC Cost To Acquire

Source

Google Ads

While you’re doing the groundwork, keep in mind that not all marketing metrics are KPIs. Take the visual below for a better understanding–metrics are just measurements in isolation.

However, KPIs are performance monitoring gauges that let you know how things are going. 

Metrics vs KPIs Graphic

4. Setting Clear and Measurable Marketing KPIs

Stick to the SMART (smart, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive) criteria when deciding on your clients’ KPIs or OKRs.  

For example, setting a goal of “more website visits” can go either way–it could mean 10K views or 1M views! Having goal-setting parameters removes ambiguity, streamlines focus, and establishes priorities. 

That sounds good, but how will you present those insights? No one wants to be bored by a sea of numbers!

Luckily, it’s easy to show visual goals and annotations on AgencyAnalytics. This lets your clients know:

  • Exactly how things are progressing over time 

  • Whether they’re on target to meet their objectives

  • If any improvements or tweaks are needed (e.g., increasing ad spend, creating a better inbound marketing strategy) 

Set goals and hit your performance targets

Transparency is key for client retention. Incorporate visual goal-setting into your clients’ marketing dashboards and reports to showcase progress at a glance. Start your free 14-day trial today

5. Have a System in Place to Monitor and Analyze Marketing KPIs Regularly

After you’ve put your clients’ marketing tactics in motion, you’ll need to invest in performance monitoring tools that help you get the job done. 

Copying and pasting metrics into a manual spreadsheet just won’t cut it, especially since marketing KPIs are ever-changing and fluid.

Using a client reporting tool like AgencyAnalytics means:

  • Getting real-time data updates so you’ll know exactly what’s happening

  • Creating an unlimited number of user login profiles. This means your clients will have 24/7 access to their important marketing KPIs

  • Seamless integration with over 80 marketing channels

  • Getting access to a range of pre-built marketing KPI dashboards and reporting templates

We previously used a static stats platform to track performance–it was essentially just a table with numbers on it and "%+/-" next to it. No dynamic adjustable graphs. We also didn't have any integrations hooked up, and KPI tracking took quite a long time. AgencyAnalytics really helped us with beautiful dashboards, a flexible reporting system, and great integrations with our tools. 

Rachel Jackson, Lead SEO Wit Digital

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Streamline Your Marketing KPI Reporting and Scale Your Agency 

Performance monitoring is a vital part of being a successful marketing agency. To decide on the right marketing KPIs for your clients:

  • Understand their overall business objectives 

  • Choose the most appropriate marketing channels 

  • Use the SMART goal-setting criteria 

  • Have a system in place to monitor marketing KPIs over time

Whether you’re aspiring to move further down the digital agency life cycle or tighten up existing processes, a tool like AgencyAnalytics will put billable hours back into your day. 

Agency Analytics is one of the most essential tools we use as an agency. Not only do we use it daily with our internal team to check specific KPIs, but it has also saved us countless hours with our monthly reporting. The reports we send to our clients have the data clearly visualized and look professional. It gives our clients reports they can finally understand!

Brian Ferritto, Partner at 42connect

Track your clients’ important marketing KPIs at the click of a button. Invest in the client reporting tool used by over 6,500 agencies–start your free trial today! 

Faryal Khan

Written by

Faryal Khan

Faryal Khan is an experienced marketer and brand photographer with a passion for content creation. She creates value for brands through storytelling and captivating visuals.

Read more posts by Faryal Khan ›

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