What digital marketing metrics should you measure? Part one: KPIs for long-term social media marketing success

What are the digital marketing metrics you should be measuring? In this two-part series, we begin by reviewing social media metrics.

At Davos this year, the great and the good of business turned their attention to escaping short termism – through initiatives such as considering employees to be equally important stakeholders as shareholders.

This made me think about how we, as communicators and marketers, measure our campaigns and how troublingly short term the focus has become. Digital marketing covers so much from social media, community management, PPC, SEO, email marketing and more. So, at a time when Facebook is tinkering with its algorithms, and users are getting smarter with their data, what digital marketing metrics should you measure?

Innumerable campaigns have followed the narrowest interpretation of “performance marketing” to focus only on communications that clearly move the needle on last-click attribution. Sell, sell, sell!

What if that simply amounts to grabbing low hanging fruit while irreversibly damaging future harvests. Ok, that’s a horribly mixed metaphor! But if you are securing a sale from 1% of your audience, isn’t there still a chance that your approach is turning off the remaining 99%? This should make communicators value some metrics that have previously been disregarded as “vanity” metrics or not amounting to tangible results.

Let’s start with social media.

What social media metrics should you measure?

1) Follower growth

It seems obvious but you should definitely be tracking follower growth. If sales increase due to your approach, but follower growth plateaus or declines, that is not a recipe for long-term success. Whether you’re tracking daily, weekly, monthly or annually, the closer you look into the data, the more you get out of it. Are you seeing faster growth around the holidays or Black Friday when you are pushing results-driven campaigns? Or is it in quieter periods when you’re seeking to engage around the brand?

Perhaps when you Tweet about a specific topic such as “what digital marketing metrics should you measure”, do you see more digital marketeers follow you? This will inform what content you post and when.

2) Engagement

The engagement rate shows how many and how often people are engaging with your content. Conventional wisdom has been to see these as vanity metrics and focus in on where the sale is made. Even for a quick boost in sales, don’t cannibalise your audience and simply post content which the majority of people aren’t engaging with from an organic standpoint. And don’t disregard one underperforming post, either from a sales or engagement standpoint. Monitor this type of content over time and at scale and see if any trends appear before changing tact.

3) Reach

Reach is all about unique views. It’s important to maximise the number of unique users who see your content. You can post your Instagram story to one person every day but it’s not going to necessarily expand your customer base. If you help grow your following, then you can help grow your reach.

4) Impressions

A CMO may say (they often do), I don’t care if social media content hit one million views in March, no one bought a product. Clearly there is always pressure for sales here and now. But our jobs as digital marketeers is to create multiple touchpoints with users, so they feel empowered and informed to buy your product or service (now, or in six months!).

If we want to get into theory, remind your CMO of The Marketing Rule of Seven – potential customers need to see an ad around seven times or more before they buy.

Of course, there’s also the saturation point, which can also be exacerbated by purely focusing on the single most effective tactic from a sales or lead gen perspective. You need variety and to be in front of a large audience with interesting content. It is too often forgotten that impressions matter for the top of the funnel.

5) Clicks of All Kinds

Finally, clicks remain crucial for social. With the emergence of social commerce and click-to-buy options, it has led to a myopic focus on the clicks-to-conversions equation. Yes, this is critical to ensure that you are not driving hoards of people who will never do business with you. However, all types of clicks deserve attention, not just the “last-click” that leads to a sale. If a user finds their way to your site and spends 15 minutes looking around without jumping on a call-to-action, that is still valuable. They are absorbing your story. This click-through may well be sealing the foundations of a life-long relationship with a valued customer.

So take a look at the full picture, and stop speed-dating!

Make sure you follow Madano on Twitter and LinkedIn for more digital marketing tips. We’ll be posting key performance indicators for websites soon.

Madano are experts in digital marketing for long-term success. If you want to have a call, get in touch today and we’ll set it up.