Identifying & Showing Digital Marketing KPIs in Megalytic – Part 2: Cost Objectives

Published March 24, 2015
Most of us don’t have unlimited marketing budgets. Even Super Bowl commercials, which can cost $4.5 million for a 30-second spot, have to fit within a budget. That budget is determined by their value to the business’ overall marketing objectives.
But how do you measure that value? What metrics are most appropriate for the digital campaigns that your business is running?
In this post, we look at how you can identify KPIs relating to the cost effectiveness of your campaigns and how you can report on them in Megalytic.
This is the second part of a series looking at KPIs. In Part 1, we focused on KPIs based on business objectives. In Part 2, we’ll look at KPIs based on cost objectives.

Blog Image KPI Cost Objective


Marketing Department Cost Objectives

As discussed in Part I, the marketing department has specific cost objectives for their portfolio of campaigns.

  • Cost per Click (CPC) of Less Than $1.50
  • Cost per Trial Account (CPA) of Less than $40.00

Each individual campaign may vary somewhat from these objectives, but, on average, costs need to net out within those parameters for the campaign to be considered profitable.

To help the marketing department assess the performance of individual campaigns, we want to report on KPIs related to these two objectives.

Cost per Click (CPC)

Cost per Click (CPC) is defined as the average cost you paid for someone to click on an advertisement and land on your website. It is a common metric for tracking the cost effectiveness of paid ad campaigns. 1

So, suppose you paid $1,000 for the ads and you received 400 click-throughs. T the CPC for this campaign is $1,000 / 400 = $2.50.

The marketing team typically has a goal for how much they are willing to spend to increase website traffic. For example, suppose that goal is $1.50 per visit. In this case, our advertising campaign should have a CPC of less than $1.50 to be consistent with our marketing goal of not paying more than $1.50 per visit.

The CPC of a campaign may fluctuate from day-to-day based on how many people click on the ads and what rate you are bidding to display the ads. So, for the KPI, you probably want to look at CPC over some consistent period of time – weekly or monthly.

Many organizations like to look at KPIs monthly. his will help smooth out any volatile daily fluctuations and is consistent with monthly planning.

Displaying Monthly CPC for a Campaign using Megalytic

If you are running an advertising campaign with Google AdWords, you can easily use Megalytic to display Monthly CPC as a KPI. Start by dragging the KPI widget onto your report.

By default, the KPI widget displays the Sessions metric. However, you can choose from a wide range of metrics to be displayed.


Megalytic Widget Selecting a Metric


In this case, we are going to select the AdWords CPC metric – which appears in the “Adwords Tracking” category in the metric selection list.


Megalytic Widget Selecting the AdWords CPC Metric


At this point, the KPI widget is set up to display CPC, but for which campaign? By default, the widget displays the average CPC across all of your AdWords campaigns. To select a specific campaign, use Megalytic’s filter capability. Click on “Show Filter” as shown below.


Megalytic Filter for KPI Widget


This will open up the Filter editor where you can configure it to match your campaign. Select “Include” and “Campaign,” and then type in the name of your campaign. If you are unsure of the specific campaign name, use the Megalytic widget “Traffic by Campaign/Keyword” to see a list of all your campaigns.


Megalytic Widget Filter for AdWords Campaign


In this case, we entered the name of a general purpose search campaign called “Search – General.”

As shown below, you many also want to adjust the title of the widget to include “Search – General” so it is clear to the readers of your report what campaign is being reported on.


Megalytic Widget Edit the KPI Title


Lastly, double check you are reporting your KPI for the correct time period – monthly in this case. By default, the KPI widget shows data weekly. To change this, simply click on the date range as shown below.


Megalytic Opening the Widget Date Picker


This will open the date picker where you can update the Period from Weekly to Monthly. For “End Date,” pick “Rolling” to select the last full month of data. For example, since it is March, the date picker shows February. When April rolls around, it will advance to March – always showing the last complete month.


Megalytic KPI Date Picker


Click “Apply” to save your changes and then close the Widget Editor by clicking on the gear symbol in the upper left. The KPI widget now looks like this:


Megalytic KPI Widget Showing Partial Data


Because this campaign has only been running for five months, the display shows some empty space on the chart, and the year-ago comparison (to February 2014) doesn’t make sense. The widget is showing the CPC as $0.00 in February 2014 – because the campaign was not running then!

By default, the KPI widget displays two comparisons – the previous month and the same month one year ago. In this case, we only want to show one comparison -- comparing with the previous month. To do that, open the Widget Editor again and set the “2nd Comparison” to “None.”


Megalytic KPI Widget Adjust Comparison Dates


This will cause the widget to only display a single comparison – with the previous month. The resulting KPI display is shown below.


Megalytic KPI Widget for CPC


This shows that our CPC for February was $3.31 – 12.59% worse than in January, when it was $2.94 – and far higher than the target of $1.50.

In this kind of situation, when the KPI shows you are not meeting the campaign cost objectives, further research and explanation may be needed. For example, not all traffic has equal value – right? If this campaign is bringing in traffic that is much more likely to convert into paying customers, then it might be a good business decision to pay more than $1.50 per click for this campaign.

Determining whether of not the traffic from this campaign is worth a $3.31 CPC, we need to look at the other KPI that the marketing department identified – the Cost per Acquisition (CPA).

Cost per Trial Account (CPA)

The Cost per Trial Account is the total cost of the campaign, divided by the number of trial accounts created by visitors who found the website via the campaign. A Trial Account is a type of acquisition, so the appropriate metric to look at here is the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). For example, suppose the campaign costs $1,000 and yields 25 visitors who create trial accounts. The CPA for this campaign is $1,000 / 25 = $40.00.

The marketing department may care more about the CPA than the CPC. That is because, ultimately, the purpose of marketing is to bring in business. So, a campaign that is efficient at generating trial accounts (the first step in the sales funnel) – as measured by a low CPA – may be great for the business even if it has a high CPC.

So, let’s examine the CPA for the same campaign we looked at above, Search General.

Displaying Monthly CPA for a Campaign using Megalytic

In Google Analytics, a Trial Account signup can be tracked as a type of Goal Conversion Assuming you have set up this type of Goal to track Trial Account signups, then you can use Megalytic’s KPI widget, as above. This time, however, select the metric named “AdWords Cost per Goal Conversion” to display the CPA. Be sure to select the correct Goal for Trial Accounts.


Megalytic Widget KPI Cost per Goal Conversion


Once you have made those selections, change the title to read “CPA – Search General Campaign.” Now you have KPI displays for both CPC and CPA. In Megalytic, you can even drag them side-by-side to look like this.


Megalytic KPI Widget CPC and CPA Together


Notice the CPA is below $40.00 in February (even though it rose 29.03%). So, even though this campaign seems costly on a CPC basis, it is very efficient when looking at the CPA. The marketing department will probably conclude that it is worth the CPC cost to bring in this qualified group of users that converts at high enough rate to drive the CPA down below their $40 threshold.


Even if you aren’t analyzing Super Bowl ads, it’s important to pick the right KPI to track the cost objectives of your campaigns. Depending on the campaign’s objectives, the KPI will vary. For Super Bowl ads, CPM might be the right choice. But, for AdWords campaigns, it’s more likely to be CPC or CPA. Consult with your marketing department to make sure you understand the objectives for each campaign and how to best measure them.

This is the second in a two-part series. Here, we have looked at KPIs based on cost objectives. In Part I, we examine KPIs derived from on business objectives.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.