KPIs & Metrics

4 KPIs That Still Matter—and 3 That Don’t

Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be an immense source of stress for customer care or marketing teams. After all, they’re numbers and tracking and data—things many creative people tend to run from. They can also drag teams down into the mud. Instead of focusing on serving customers well, employees become overly focused on hitting metrics and measurables.

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So how can you get your team excited about KPIs? The easiest way to do so is to make sure you concentrate on the right ones. Making your employees focus on all of the numbers, including ones that don’t really matter when it comes to the bottom line or company values, is a fast track to burnout and frustration.

In our ever-changing marketing landscape, it’s important to be constantly evaluating your KPIs. As technology and trends change, focusing too much on numbers that are less important can eat up all of your time. That being said, there are still a handful of KPIs that are important to track and achieve.

Which KPIs Still Matter?

Return on Investment

Whenever you spend money on a business expense, you should track how much you’re spending and how much it’s bringing in. It’s easy for marketers or customer support teams to spend tons of money on different software, freelancers, or advertising systems. But if those things aren’t bringing in what you’re paying for, they’re going to hurt your profit margins.

Make sure you’re consistently tracking your direct spend on certain expenses and how much they’re earning for you. For instance, how much are you spending on your e-mail marketing provider? How many of your sales come through e-mail? Knowing these two vital statistics allows you to determine how important an expense actually is. Every single thing you spend money on within your team should have some kind of concrete return on investment, even if it’s simply that someone frees up time for you to go out and make sales.  

Content Click Conversion

Producing a large amount of content? The most important analytic you should focus on with your content is how well it’s converting. For instance, podcast download numbers may be helpful. But it’s much more important to know how many people listened to the episode and then followed up with your call to action.

Say you have 1,000 podcast episode downloads. If you introduced a content upgrade in the episode and invited people to go download it, leading to 300 new people joining your e-mail list, that’s great. If you have 1,000 podcast episode downloads and only 10 people go to your download, however, that’s quite a bit lower. That means you poured time, energy, and resources into creating a piece of content that really didn’t do much for you. Understanding how you want each piece of content to convert, and then seeing how well it actually did convert, is an essential KPI to track.

E-Mail Open Rates

Having a massive e-mail list is fantastic. But what if all of those messages are going to spam and promo folders? That means your message isn’t really getting out there, even with a lengthy list. Because most e-mail marketing providers charge by the size of your list, a large e-mail list with a very small open rate can be killer for a business.

Make sure your e-mail open rate is in line with your industry standard, and work to achieve the highest open rate possible. It will never stop being important to evaluate subject lines, comb through your content, and make sure your e-mail marketing efforts are paying off.

Customer Retention Rate

Are your customers returning again and again? Being able to retain customers is a hallmark of any successful business. If you provide enough value and support to your customers, they’ll return for future sales, which is more meaningful for your bottom line than almost any other measurable. Tracking how many of your customers return to you for future purchases allows you to evaluate your customer support efforts. Customers may give you high ratings on a generic feedback survey, but the true mark of a satisfied customer is one who returns again.

Which KPIs Are No Longer Worth Paying Attention To?

Social Media Platform Followers

Believe it or not, the number of social media followers really isn’t that important of a statistic. First of all, you don’t make money from having a massive Instagram following, unless you’re an influencer. Second, with the way social media algorithms are now designed, a very small portion of your audience actually sees your content. Having a large following and posting multiple times a day hoping someone saw it used to be a more viable strategy, but in our current marketing landscape, engagement is much more important.

Spending tons of time getting new followers could also lead to the wrong types of followers seeing your content—i.e., people who are never actually going to purchase from you. Feel free to leave loop giveaways and other “follow me” schemes in the dust.

Customer Call Time

Customer call time is not a meaningful KPI for a few reasons. For starters, it doesn’t take into account anything that comes after the call—was a customer retained? Did the person leave satisfied or with a refund? Did that customer get his or her questions answered? It’s too cut-and-dried to have any actual meaning behind it. Second, different industries will understandably have wildly different customer call times. If you have a product that may need a quick fix, that’s one thing, but if you’re offering a lengthier or more in-depth service, people are understandably going to call in with questions.

Customer service agents should, of course, be efficient, but rushing through customer calls in order to achieve a KPI doesn’t serve the customer well. If a customer service agent spends a long amount of time talking to a customer but that customer brings an incredibly high value to your business, you should be thanking that agent, not shaming him or her for failing to achieve an arbitrary numerical goal. It’s much more important to focus on how satisfied a customer is than how long an agent talked with the person on the phone.

Website Traffic

Website traffic isn’t really a useful KPI because it doesn’t actually tell you anything. How many people stumbled upon your website only matters if you’re also tracking your conversion rate. Having eyeballs on your sales page isn’t what puts money in your company bank account—conversions are. So, although it’s nice to know things like which pages on your website are the most popular or where people are coming to your website from, it’s important not to place too strong of an emphasis on the simple KPI of website traffic.

KPIs vs. Metrics

Remember: All KPIs may be metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs. That’s because KPIs are key performance indicators—they’re ones that have a direct impact on how well your business does. In our data-driven world, you could easily spend all of your working hours combing through analytics and getting overwhelmed by numbers. But that will harm your business efforts in the long run. Instead, stay focused on the numbers that actually indicate how well you’re serving your customers.