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The Two Most Important Marketing KPIs For The New Year

We have more metrics and analytics at our disposal than ever before. We have access to data from dozens of internal sources and hundreds, if not thousands, of public repositories. Yet, marketers seem more confused, more bewildered than ever before when it comes to measuring the impact of marketing.

Let’s simplify our marketing analytics for the new year. Let’s put together everything we need to understand just two numbers, two key performance indicators, and use those numbers as our north star, our compass, our coin toss for making decisions throughout the year. Let’s use two numbers than any marketer, in any role, will find valuable.

The Big Goal

Before we tackle our two numbers, our two KPIs, we need to understand what business goal we serve. Chances are, our business goal is a revenue number of some kind: a million dollars in new sales, a thousand sales over a certain dollar amount, a certain amount of monthly revenue.

If we don’t have that number, we must stop here and obtain it. Without that number, we have no idea what we’re working towards – or whether we’re there yet.

The Two Most Important Marketing KPIs

Assuming we have the Big Goal, we now turn our attention to our two numbers, our two KPIs:

  • The value of our result
  • The cost of our result

As with so many things, these numbers are simple – but simple doesn’t mean easy.

How do we begin computing these two KPIs?

The Value of Our Result

Whatever we do in marketing, from SEO to email to social media, we create some sort of result. What’s the value of that result? To understand the value of our result, we need clear, strong attribution analysis. In recent years, sophisticated marketers have pivoted to using machine learning algorithms to calculate attribution, a trend that is accelerating. However we compute attribution, we should have at least a ballpark idea of what our efforts are worth.

The way I typically recommend marketers calculate value of results is by a simple operations funnel. What’s the value of the Big Goal? What steps occur before the Big Goal, and in what order? From these steps, assign a conversion rate between each step, then divide each step by the conversion rate to obtain the next step’s value.

For example, suppose I sell 100 copies of my book, AI for Marketers. The Big Goal value there is 1,499.

To reach 100 sales, I need 1,000 clicks to the landing page, a 10% conversion rate. Thus, each click is worth1,499/1,000 clicks, or $1.49.

Next, suppose my website converts 10% of the people who read anything on it to the landing page. Thus, I need 10,000 visitors to create those 1,000 clicks on my book’s landing page. The value of a website visitor is 10% of the value of a landing page click, or 14.9 cents.

If my job were to drive traffic to my website, every visitor I drove would be worth 14.9 cents. That’s the value of my result.

Calculate the value of your result the same way as a starting point; if you have access to more sophisticated attribution analysis then by all means, use it.

The Cost of Our Result

What does it cost to generate our result? We would follow a similar process as we did above, except that instead of sales and revenue, we would compute costs. We would add up everything it takes to generate the Big Goal, then spread that cost out through our marketing operations funnel:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Utilities
  • Advertising
  • Hosting
  • Software
  • etc.

Suppose it cost 1,000 for me to market my books, adding up the costs of my website hosting, email marketing, etc. and my time. Each book’s cost would be1,000/100 books, or 10 per book.

Next, we distribute the cost of landing page clicks; using the same 10% conversion rate, each click costs1.

Finally, we distribute the cost of website traffic that leads to clicks, again using the 10% number as we researched in the Value section above. Each website visitor costs 10 cents.

What Next?

Once we have the Value of our Result and the Cost of our Result, we compute ROI. Recall that ROI is always a financial and mathematical formula, nothing else. We express ROI as:

( Earned – Spent ) / Spent

In this case, we would compute it as:

( Value of our Result – Cost of our Result) / Cost of our Result

If we were charged with driving website traffic, we would use:

(14.9 – 10 ) / 10 = 49% ROI

Knowing ROI is important and useful, but our final step in understanding our two most important marketing KPIs is what to do next. We have two fundamental approaches we could take:

We could increase the value of our result, which typically means focusing on repeat purchases or other ways of extracting more revenue from the work we do.

We could decrease the cost of our result, which typically means focusing on reducing expenses and cutting out the least cost-effective marketing methods.

The smartest marketers do both.

Ask yourself how you could increase the value of your result.

Ask yourself how you could decrease the cost of your result.

Collaborate with the other marketers in your organization to compute their results’ costs and values, then help them improve the net value of their results.


Focusing on the cost and value of our results helps us clarify our marketing. Instead of overwhelming ourselves with too much data and noise, we focus on the value we bring and how to increase that value. Do the same for your business, and you’ll have a great new year.

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