How To Identify Your Campaign's KPI Before Kick-Off

In an ideal world, marketers base decisions on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). But more often than not, it seems that many marketers and brand managers will kick-off a campaign without setting KPIs or having little to no consensus on which KPI they will be monitoring and the creative rationale driving it.

As you probably know, KPIs are important to track because they are the one sure way that a campaign can be improved and optimized. It's how you monitor a campaign's health. Below we weigh in on how you can best set-up your KPI without sacrificing the emotional impact of your storytelling.

Choosing the Right Metric


Choosing your KPI is about understanding the desired result and trying to be as specific as possible. It's easy to gravitate towards top-of-mind metrics (such as generating more leads, increasing spend-per-head or click-through rate) and there's nothing wrong with those metrics, but the truth is that there are hundreds of KPIs and focusing on the wrong indicator can be harmful. It's nerve-wrecking. Digital analyst Avinash Kaushik puts the danger in context in his post You Are What You Measure:

Choose the right metric and they'll create the most glorious digital experience in the universe, the perfect acquisition campaign, the most amazing customer service channel. And they will shock you with the profits they deliver. Choose the wrong one and they'll create self-serving, sub optimal, non-competitive, tear-inducing outcomes that will, slowly over time, bleed the business to death.

If you're biting your nails at this point, we understand. The bottom line is that your marketing will work more efficiently across platforms and translate across your consumer journey when all is rooted in a strategy. Keep the points below in mind and you should have an easier time establishing what you're measuring, why you're measuring and what you will do as a result of meeting (or failing to meet) your expected goals.

1. KPIs must ladder up to something greater

This one seems obvious but not everyone does it: KPIs gain meaning in reference to a broader context. You might have existing KPIs for your business or sales team. Other great references could be your annual goals, a SWOT analysis, your company vision or mission statement. You get the point.

2. Involve those who will contribute to the project early on

Some believe that KPIs should be set by top management but involving your team early on will create a sense of ownership and embed accountability across your team. We highly recommend it.

Yes, your project might experience a fluctuation in resources but it's a good idea to involve all those who will touch a given project early on for the reasons mentioned. This includes your producers, creatives and those who will execute. This could help creative ideation come from a strategic mindset rather than the this-would-be-a-cool-thing mindset.

3. Go beyond your dashboard tools

Get an idea of how your users feel about you or how they might react to your product and message. There's quite a few pipeline management tools (like Hubspot or Salesforce) for you to track user behavior, but don't go into tunnel vision with your tools.

Quantitative platforms do a bad job of factoring in things like sentiment. The footprint of your work goes beyond quantitative data, so try to solicit open-ended feedback, seek out reviews and tweets and incorporate sentiment to deepen your team's understanding of how your KPI will interact with consumer emotions and subconscious feelings.

4. Consider how your KPI will manifest across platforms and across the consumer journey.

The idea of having sub-KPIs or "micro-conversions" for critical portions or platforms within the consumer journey is not an uncommon one. Be patient in figuring out how your KPI is expressed in different channels because this is one thing you should not set in stone before a project kicks off.

You may be leaning towards a specific execution or UX idea but chances are you will have a greater degree of clarity once your creative team gets to work. Give them the opportunity to lead in determining how your KPI is expressed and you will have a happier team.

Choosing specialized spaces where your user lives can really help deepen the impact of the creative execution. Docurated drives this point home:

When you begin to develop a variety of tactics for meeting your marketing goals, each tactic should include a forecast for what you expect the outcome and estimated cost to be. From there, you will need to determine how you will track and measure each tactic.

The takeaway here is that some KPIs are tactic-specific while others are broader. Take for example, the KPI of Visitor Loyalty. This can manifest in the form of a follow/like, returned visits or perhaps video completions. Going back to Avinash Kaushik's POV, he talks about the need to have a good eye for "micro-conversions" which are like baby-steps that will lead to your conversion in gradual steps, adding value as the consumer moves across the journey.

It engages in the awareness, consideration, comparison, purchase slow dance. It delivers higher macro-conversions (revenue!) over multiple visits by the same person by incentivizing you to behave optimally, in sync with your customers and at their speed. It gently encourages everyone in your company to obsess about the micro-conversions by saying they are of business value, to create better designs, more prominent placement of content/images/stuff customers want.


KPIs help crystallize a story by giving it a central focus and can help create a backbone to your narrative; these initial checkpoints are just the begining.

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How to set KPI


The Performance Group, 2005

Klipfolio, 2016

Scoro, 2016

Forbes, 2014