Best Practices for Measuring Your Digital Strategy

So, you’ve got a great digital strategy and you’re ready to execute. How do you prove it’s successful?

Choose the Right KPIs

First, you need to understand your business goals and strategic direction, as well as what drives revenue for your company. Then you can identify the KPIs that will tell you how effectively you are performing.

Key performance metrics should be quantitative (measurable), and help you evaluate how your business is performing (directional). They also must be actionable, so you are able to improve them. Everything else is a Vanity Metric.

You should also understand the difference between KPIs and metrics.

  • KPIs – The top 5 or 6 metrics that explain how well you are performing against a specific business objective. The best KPIs are presented as composites, so they provide the business intelligence you need to quickly gauge how they are changing over time, in what direction, and at what rate. For example, presenting net sales in the context of performance over last year is better than presenting just net sales.
  • Metrics – Just about everything else. That doesn’t mean other metrics, like page views and downloads, aren’t still useful. However, they should be communicated in a meaningful way. For example, instead of presenting the raw number of downloads, provide a ratio.

Let’s say one of your business objectives is to improve customer retention. One of your digital objectives might be to drive repeat purchases. KPIs that you might consider include:

  • Purchase frequency
  • Average purchases per customer
  • Repeat purchase conversion rate
  • Repeat AOV (average order value)

I’ve found that using a visual hierarchy like the one below makes it easier to select and map the right KPIs for your business objectives and digital strategy.


Other Digital Reporting Tips

  1. Prove an Executive Summary – To ensure everyone understands the key takeaways, always include a written, high-level overview, along with specific recommendations for improvement.
  2. Show trending – Raw numbers are useless without the context that indicates direction over time.
  3. Report meaningful data – There’s an infinite amount of data available today. Keep your team focused by distilling your reports down to the critical KPIs, and only providing the metrics that matter. Not only will you save time and avoid unnecessary distractions, your reports will be easier for users to digest.
  4. Avoid hyper-focus – Data fluctuates naturally, and measuring it too frequently can sound false alarms, causing you to make unnecessary adjustments to your strategy. It’s also most valuable when used for trending. While some data points, like revenue, might need reported daily, monthly and quarterly reporting is usually adequate.
  5. Do the deep dives – One of my friends came up with the really smart plan of doing a monthly “deep dive.” One month, he would go into detail around the checkout process. The next month, he might get into the weeds examining site search. This was great, because it provided us with a methodical approach for consistently improving the performance of our website, without dragging us down in data overload.
  6. Automate reporting – Almost all analytics programs can be configured with a custom dashboard that displays the KPIs specific to your organization. Some, like Google Analytics, have hundreds of custom dashboard templates that can be installed, and further customized, in just a few minutes. They’ll even generate and send your report. Rather than wasting time on data collection and presentation, you can focus on what matters – analyzing and interpreting the information.
  7. Know your audience – Executives, managers and project-level employees need different metrics. Rather than taking the one-size-fits all approach, giving everyone everything, create 2 or 3 different reports with the data relevant to them.

What to Metrics to Report

I’ve been helping clients create and interpret analytics for 15 years. The most difficult have been ones related to testing, collecting and evaluating data not available in current analytic programs; I had to do everything manually (or help them develop new reporting capabilities).

Thankfully, there are plenty of great metrics already available in most analytic tools, including Google, that will provide you with business intelligence and insight into how well your digital marketing strategy is performing.

Below are some metrics you may want to collect, broken out by dashboard view — there’s probably quite a few (really good ones) you aren’t using, yet!

Traffic Overview

  • Page views
  • Visits
  • Unique Visitors
  • % New Visits
  • Revenue/Visit
  • Pages/Visit
  • Avg Visit Duration
  • User Segments
  • Bounce Rate
  • Traffic by Source (direct, search engine, social media, email, display, ppc, referral)
  • Avg Site Speed

Ecommerce Overview

  • Revenue
  • Conversion Rate
  • AOV
  • Products Sold
  • Orders
  • Revenue by Channel (direct, search engine, social media, email, display, ppc, referral), including conversion value, total conversions and % of total conversions
  • AOV
  • Top Products (# orders, quantity sold, revnue, avg quantity sold and % of total revenue)
  • Top Categories (# orders, quantity sold, revnue, avg quantity sold and % of total revenue)
  • Top Referrers (# orders, revenue, conversion rate, % total revenue, per visit value, AOV)
  • dROI
  • % of Total Sales
  • CPA
  • New Accounts (by source)
  • Returning Customers/Retention Rate
  • Assisted Conversions
  • Abandoned Carts (# of orders, revenue)
  • Promotions Activated
  • Discounts Given (promotions)
  • Top Campaigns (# orders, quantity sold, revenue, % of total revenue)
  • Top Non Branded Keywords (visits, revenue)
  • Visits & Revenue
  • COTA: AOV Ratio
  • CoCA:LTV Ratio
  • Shopping Cart Removes
  • Product Compares

Desktop Overview (repeat metrics to create Mobile and Tablet Overviews)

  • Visitors
  • Unique Visitors
  • Per Visit Value
  • Bouce Rate
  • Revenue
  • Conversion Rate
  • AOV
  • Products Sold
  • Orders

Organic Search Overview (repeat for other channels)

  • Marketshare
  • Marketshare by Category
  • % of Total Visits
  • % of Total Revenue
  • Visits
  • Revenue
  • Top Keywords (visits, revenue, AOV, conversion rate, revenue/visit, % total revenue)

Adwords Overview

  • Revenue
  • % of Total Revenue
  • Impressions
  • Cost
  • ROI
  • Cost Per Transaction
  • Top Adwords Search Queries (visits, revenue, AOV, conversion rate, % of adwords revenue, % of total revenue)
  • Top Campaigns (visits, revenue, AOV, conversion rate, % total revenue)

Social Media Overview

  • Orders
  • Visits
  • % Total Visits
  • Revenue
  • Top Social Networks
  • On Site Social Actions
  • CTR
  • Engagement
  • New Visitor Acquisition from Social
  • Audience Growth Rate
  • Influence
  • Reach
  • Negative Feedback
  • Likes, Shares, Retweets, Pins
  • New Likes, Shares, Follows, etc.

Brand Overview

  • Share of Voice
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Mentions
  • Complaints
  • Returns
  • Sentiment
  • Engagement

Content Overview

  • Most Popular Posts
  • Top Converting Pages
  • Top Landing Pages
  • Top Exit Pages
  • Most Shared Content
  • Comments
  • Most Commented Content
  • Comment Response Rate

Email Overview

(In addition to the metrics provided by your email delivery provider.)

  • New Email Subscriptions
  • Subscription Conversion Rate

Live Chat

  • Conversion Rate
  • AOV
  • Overall Generated Revenue
  • % Assisted Transactions