Success metrics are important — but which ones?

Brands and their agencies should agree on digital Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in collaboration.

That’s according to a survey earlier this month of senior brand marketing and agency professionals in France, Germany and the UK. The poll was conducted by Sapio Research for programmatic marketer DataXu and London-based PR agency WithPR.

Trouble is, in deciding what KPIs were important, brands and agencies are often (excuse the pun) polls apart. And answers differ markedly from one country to the next.


In France, for instance, 44% of brands think Cost Per Action (CPA) the most important metric, but only 25% of agencies believe CPA important. Agencies (41%) think Cost per Click important (and only 24% of brands).

In the UK, marketing Return on Investment (46%) and website visits (34%) are considered important by agencies. Respectively, however, only 23% and 15% of brand executives think those metrics important. Brands instead favour conversion rates (36%) and shares or “likes” (34%) — neither are considered very important by agencies (at 18% and 25% respectively).

Why should you care?

Choose the KPIs that make sense for your business. They should measure what matters, and (to quote Eric Peterson) “drive business-critical action”.

Peterson (in The Big Book of Key Performance Indicators) argues that KPIs should always be “rates, ratios, averages or percentages”, and we’re inclined to agree. They should never be raw numbers which, because they don’t provide context, are less powerful than KPIs.

We’d also agree that they should be determined with client and agency working in collaboration. So if you’re not sure what your KPIs should be, let’s talk.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.