While a page #1 rank can provide better visibility to searchers versus not ranking at all, should it be considered a true measure of SEO success? While the number of likes and followers may have been popular social KPIs several years ago, things have moved on since then.
Let’s face it – unless you are Ellen, One Direction or President Obama, your marketing-related tweet isn’t going to be retweeted hundreds-of-thousands of times. Awareness has always been a goal that companies have struggled to apply meaningful metrics towards.
Taking action is important here, even when considering early funnel metrics tied to awareness. Rather than looking at the time that visitors “spent on page,” focus instead on key actions a visitor made while there.
Bridge – Is there a consistent bridge between your targeting, your ad message and your landing page that is aligned with visitor expectations, or does it bait and switch? Landing Page – Does your landing page provide the information needed for the visitor to convert, or does it need to be better optimized?
While these are important indicators to know, they are just that — indicators of how we can better build and design campaigns to drive more responses, inquiries, leads and sales (the real KPIs). Over the years, while technology and channels have changed and evolved, the principles of marketing remain the same – it’s about selling stuff to make a profit.
Operational indicators help to inform the day-to-day running of your campaigns in order to meet KPI targets.
Business goals will often revolve around things like awareness (in order to sell), growth (of sales), profit (from sales), and efficiency (of selling for greater profit).
As a digital marketer, it is important that you are always showing the value of your marketing efforts by measuring the metrics that matter: the metrics that tie to company goals… the metrics that make marketing departments a profit (not cost) center! How do you incorporate it into a meaningful discussion with your client?  If your client has expressed a need, or you have identified an opportunity, to reduce COGS as a percentage of revenue, HOW and HOW MUCH can your solution help them? Let’s take a look at an example of a tool we use here at FinListics.  We call them Business Process Maps and they do just what you might think from the name – they map a financial metric to the business processes that impact it, the activities related to each process, and ultimately to the KPIs that can be impacted by changes or improvements in that business process.
The map connects COGS to the Logistics process and shows warehousing as a % of revenue as one KPI that can be impacted by changes in the underlying logistics processes within a company.
So when talking to a retail client who is focused on reducing COGS as a % of revenue, one example of talking the HOW, would be to show how your solutions can reduce warehousing costs….and HOW that will ultimately reduce COGS.

Not only that, but you can also point out that delaying the decision to implement, or dragging the decision out through a long RFP process, will cost them too – in this example, between $60,000 and $125,000 per month!  Compelling stuff…..
For your clients’ industries, what metrics, business processes and operational KPIs can your solutions significantly impact? What ranges of improvement do your solutions provide for these KPIs and what is the cash flow value to your clients? Every click and action can be tracked through various tools and systems, giving us close to real-time visibility of campaign performance.
The problem is that many variables affect rank — the #1 organic listing seen by one person can often be different when seen by another person conducting the same search.
For example, featured snippets (also known as rank #0) appear above the #1 organic listing.
Similar to keyword rank, the number of Facebook fans should not be seen as an end point but more of a means to an end; an indicator of your addressable audience for your paid social marketing activities.
Similar to SEO, look to tie social KPIs back to measures like visits, leads and sales generated from Facebook referrals or other social media channels. People may argue that social shares can “help with SEO,” but how do you really measure the impact of this on actual business outcomes? Rather than counting shares or retweets, focus instead on how much additional traffic these sent to your pages and whether these visits resulted in a lead or a sale. Outside of expensive and lengthy brand recall studies, impressions are commonly used as an awareness metric to show the amount of reach an ad has managed to achieve. We need to look beyond passive metrics alone (such as impressions) and tie awareness efforts to audience actions. You have multiple windows open, get distracted by your spouse, or child, or dog or co-workers. Whatever your company’s specific business goals are, your marketing goals should be directly aligned with these since these are what your company execs care about most.
While these indicators are often too much information for the likes of your company execs, they can help to inform the day-to-day operational management of work and are particularly useful to look at if actuals are not meeting targets.
It’s really quite amazing when you compare this to 15+ years ago when we would wait patiently (a month at best) to gather all of the postal and fax-back responses from our direct mailer. PPC ads can also push organic listings down the page, very often below the fold on mobile devices.

Therefore, a better KPI would be to look at actual visits to your pages from SEO referral traffic. In fact, having many page likes, with very little engagement from fans, can often cause more harm than good – particularly if those “fans” were acquired in a shady way. Depending on your tracking capabilities, it is also valuable to know how these referrals are assisting conversions of other channels further down the funnel. Can you say with complete certainty that 10 retweets resulted in a 10 percent increase in sales this month?
But just because an ad was served up to someone, how do we know whether that person saw it, remembered it and ultimately took action?
Metrics like clicks provide a good early indicator of interest for those paying attention to your message. You may get up for a drink or a snack, engage in some office banter or go for a bathroom break.
Even better is the ability to track these SEO visitors through to a conversion – be it a response, inquiry, lead, opportunity or sale.
For example, building cookie pools that can be utilized for retargeting across social, search and display helps to increase your addressable audience even further. New web visitors and new names generated as a result of your awareness campaign are even more valuable. Before you know it, 10 minutes have passed and in the meantime, someone somewhere is whooping about how long you’ve spent looking at their page. Importantly, overall marketing KPI targets should be set and measured against — and cascade down to — individual campaigns. These are more valuable actions to track compared to time spent, particularly when these actions provide an indicator of actual interest or intent to purchase.

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