It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the different metrics coming at you from your email marketing, social media, and website analytics. It’s even easier for agencies to generate bloated reports with a lot of stats that don’t mean much.
I’ve written here and here about avoiding vanity metrics and focusing on what actually matters.
Macro metrics tell you if your strategy is working, micro metrics help you diagnose problems with your execution, and vanity metrics are pointless
A good rule of thumb is if you don’t understand the metric (or your digital advisor can’t explain it to you), it doesn’t matter to your campaign.
Here’s a breakdown of the key metrics in each area of your digital marketing that every campaign should keep an eye on.
Email & Online Fundraising
Email should be your number one channel for online fundraising, so you want to focus on the number of donations being generated by your emails. As long as this number is growing, you shouldn’t worry about any other email marketing metric.
If it’s not, then you can look at open rates and click through rates to determine what’s going wrong.
Email List Building
Don’t get hung up on cost per acquisition as your key metric for list building. It can often be a distraction because we really want to add new, valid and unique email addresses. This cost is going to be higher than what your Facebook ads account shows.
You should use your email marketing platform (like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor) to keep score here, then simply divide the amount you spent by the valid, unique email addresses added.
If your advertising goal is building your list, getting RSVPs, etc, see above.
Otherwise, when you’re trying to change minds through persuasion, you want to look at the reach (how many voters saw this ad) and frequency (how often did they see it). Most every other metric is a distraction.
BPD subscribers can access this guide to decoding Facebook advertising objective terminology which adds another layer of jargon to decipher.
Engagements, shares, comments, retweets, likes, views…they’re all artificial and have minimal (if any) bearing on the outcome of your campaign. Effective social media for a campaign is all about reaching an audience you are borrowing from the platform, so you should focus on reach – how many platform users encountered your content – and good content sends people to your website or other owned properties.
You really only need to focus on the pageviews (growth is good) and where your traffic is coming from. There are thousands of other metrics in your Google Analytics dashboard that won’t help you, so don’t lose the forest for the trees.
I’m a minimalist when it comes to key performance indicators (KPIs) but in my experience, it’s really difficult to improve key components of your digital strategy if you’re not able to optimize based on one metric.
I’ve also helped out plenty of campaigns who are overwhelmed with the reporting metrics they’re getting back from agencies, vendors, and platforms and don’t know whether they’re good, bad, or ugly. Simplicity is the key and it’s important to communicate to your partners the metrics that matter most to you.