Identifying & Showing Digital Marketing KPIs in Megalytic – Part I: Business Objectives

Published March 20, 2015
You been asked to prepare a monthly report to track digital marketing performance. But, with all the different marketing activities going on within the organization, you have questions.
Questions like:
  • Where should you start - which campaigns or activities are most important to look at?
  • What metrics should you focus on – traffic, engagement, conversations, etc?
  • And, of course, how should you visually display the results to best communicate the insight?
It’s a lot to consider! Thinking in terms of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a good place to start. KPIs are metrics (quantifiable measures) that your organization can use to evaluate how well a campaign is meeting its marketing and business objectives. For example, say the goal of a campaign is to introduce women between 18-26 to a brand. A KPI for that campaign might be the number of new unique website visitors from that demographic that happen during the course of the campaign.
In this post, we look at how to identify KPIs for your digital marketing campaigns, and how best to report on them using Megalytic.

Blog Image for Megalytic KPIs Part 1


Identifying KPIs

Ideally, digital campaigns will be created to focus on two types of objectives – business objectives and cost objectives. So when you’re identifying KPIs for a digital marketing campaign, you’ll want to look at what the business hopes the campaign will achieve (an increase in more qualified sales), as well as the cost-specific goals you have (a decrease in the cost per click) for that campaign.


Digital Campaign Objectives


The business objectives will have been determined by the senior management within the organization. To uncover these, you’ll need to speak with the management team or someone who is aware of their priorities. If you don’t have access to such a person, you can use your intuition about what benefits the campaign seems designed to generate for the business. See How to make a Web Analytics presentation to the CEO for some more background on sussing out business objectives.

The cost objectives will probably have been laid out by folks in the marketing department. These are likely to be determined based on how the campaign fits into the overall portfolio of marketing activities.

For the purposes of this post, we are going to assume the campaign has the following business objectives:

  • Increase Traffic from Social Media
  • Increase the Rate of Trial Account Signups

In this particular situation, the business is very happy with the performance of organic and paid search traffic. As a result, they have tasked the marketing department with increasing the volume of its social media traffic. They feel this is an area of great opportunity. This is objective one. A good KPI for this is to simply measure the Monthly Sessions coming to the website from Social Media sources.

The second objective goes right into the heart of growing the business – increasing the rate of trial account signups. Based on past experience, generating more trial accounts invariably leads to more revenue as the trials convert to paying accounts. A good KPI for this objective is to measure the Monthly Trial Account signups. Fortunately, these signups can be tracked using Google Analytics Goals.

For the marketing department, this campaign is one of many that need to adhere to specific cost objectives with their portfolio of campaigns:

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

The marketing team has a specific budget for delivering clicks and generating trial accounts. They know that if they can keep CPC and CPA within these ranges, they’ll be able to deliver the results the business needs and stay within their budget. In this case, the KPIs for these objectives are simply the CPC and the CPA for the campaign. We will look at how these are calculated in the next part of this series.

Reporting on KPIs

Once you have identified the KPIs you want to track, its time to start thinking about the best way to report on these. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to present KPIs in a couple ways.

First, you should provide a simple display of the result and how it compares with a prior period. For this, we invariably use KPI widgets. It is also a good idea to provide a time series representation of the data to provide context. For further analysis, you may also choose to segment the data between general website traffic and traffic coming from the particular campaign you are reporting on. This will show the effectiveness of the campaign most clearly.

Traffic from Social Media

Starting with the Megalytic KPI widget, we open the widget editor, click on “Show Filter” and then set the Default Channel Grouping to exactly match “Social.” This will restrict the widget to report only on the traffic from Social Media.


KPI for Social Media Traffic


Next, we click on the date range in the upper left and select the period to be “Monthly” (as the business likes to look at marketing data on a monthly basis), and the end date to December 2014 – the month that the campaign ended.


Selecting the KPI Date Range in Megalytic


We will also edit the title to be “Social Media Traffic” – a reflection of the way the business management expressed its goal: “Increase Traffic from Social Media.” When presenting data, it is always a best practice to use language that is as close as possible to the terminology your audience uses.


KPI Widget showing Social Media Traffic


This campaign started in June 2014, and as you can see from the sparkline chart in the center of this KPI widget, has been very successful in increasing traffic from Social Media during the last six months. The last month of the campaign (from November 2014 to December 2014) was particularly successful, with a 48.38% traffic increase. To add context, it’s helpful to know Social Media traffic increased over 750% since December of 2013.

This KPI widget shows social traffic from all sources. But what about the specific campaign that started in June and ended in December? It makes sense to also show a time series chart that focuses on just that campaign.

To do that, we can use the Megalytic widget named “Traffic by Campaign/Keyword.” As we did above for the KPI Widget, we add a filter that restricts the traffic to the “Social” channel. Having done that, we select a line chart to display the monthly Sessions over the last six months.


Selecting Line Chart Format in Megalytic


This produces a chart that graphs the top three campaigns producing social media traffic over the six month period.


Line Chart of Social Media Traffic KPI


The campaign we are tracking is named “Social2014” and it clearly dominates the social media traffic in this chart – the other two closest campaigns are tiny in comparison. What is interesting, however, is that this campaign peaked in October and then trailed off in November and December. But, as we saw in the above KPI chart, the social medial traffic kept increasing. How it that possible?

Organic growth! The Social2014 campaign was so effective t that it sparked a larger overall interest in this brand on social media. Soon, the campaign itself became less important, as there was enough organic tweeting and Facebook sharing. Seeing the natural success, the marketing department made the decision to scale it back.

Why scale back something that is working so well? The answer has to with managing the overall CPC budget. We’ll dive more into that in Part II of this series where we’ll talk about KPIs Based on Marketing Objectives.

Trial Accounts

As we did above, we are going to use a KPI widget to highlight the number of trial accounts created each month. In this case, we don’t use a filter, but we do change the metric being displayed by selecting “Completions.” Since “Completions” is a goal metric, the Goal selector is revealed in the widget editor. We select “New Account – Trial” which is the goal tracking our trial accounts.

KPI Tracking New Trial Accounts - Setup

The completed KPI widget is shown below. You can see that the New Account conversions were rising well in July, August, September and October. Then they dropped slightly in the last two months of the year.

KPI Widget Showing New Accounts

The marketing team will need to explain to the business management the cause of the decline at the end of the year. Is this a seasonal effect, or something defective in the campaign? It is usually a good idea to include key background information like this and a Note that provides text embedded right into the report – see: Notes widget.


KPIs, or key performance indicators, are used to demonstrate how effectively a campaign is achieving its business and marketing objectives. They should be selected carefully as, over time, they will become you organization’s agreed upon, de facto standard. In this post, we have looked at KPIs based on a business’ objectives, focusing on how to identify them and how to report on them. In Part II of this series, we will example KPIs based on marketing 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.