There are a lot of ecommerce businesses out there. It's estimated there are 9.1 million ecommerce retailers in the world. With so many ecommerce storefronts competing for attention, it's essential to have a strong digital marketing strategy. And a critical component of any digital marketing strategy is tracking your performance—frequently achieved with key performance indicators (known as KPIs). 

KPIs are mission-critical metrics that measure the success of your marketing campaigns. By tracking your KPIs, you can identify what's working and what's not and change your campaigns accordingly.

This blog post will discuss essential ecommerce KPIs—and best practices for tracking and attributing them. By following the tips in this post, you can use KPIs to improve the success of your ecommerce business.

What is a digital marketing KPI?

A digital marketing KPI, or key performance indicator, is a metric that measures the success of a digital marketing campaign. KPIs can be used to track a variety of metrics, such as website traffic, engagement on social media, and sales.

Critically, KPIs are generally used to judge your success relative to your prior performance. For some ecommerce businesses, 1,000 users a day is good. For others, it's bad. But KPIs can be used to gauge relative achievements. If you had 1,000 users yesterday and have 2,000 users today, you know you're doing something right. 

Most ecommerce platforms will track KPIs. Otherwise, you may need an ecommerce integration for a specific solution, like Google Analytics.

The most essential ecommerce KPIs

Many different KPIs can be used to measure the success of your marketing efforts. Every business is unique and must track different KPIs, depending on their industry and audience. Remember that there are many metrics out there, but a KPI is a guide—it’s a metric that’s most vital to your marketing success.

Some essential KPIs include:

  • Website traffic: This popular metric measures the raw number of visitors to your website. It is crucial to track website traffic because it can help you to determine your reach. Website traffic is often improved through search engine optimization (SEO), without which your content may go unseen.

  • Conversion rate: The conversion metric measures the percentage of your visitors who take the action you want, such as purchasing or signing up for more information. A high conversion rate can indicate your marketing campaigns effectively drive sales. Conversion rates may be applied to many marketing channels, from landing pages to social media.

  • Average order value: The average order metric measures the average amount of money that each customer spends when they purchase something from your website. A high average order value indicates that your customers spend more money with you. To improve marketing performance, you can increase upsells.

  • Customer lifetime value: This metric measures the amount of money a given customer is expected to spend with your business throughout their relationship with you. A high customer lifetime value indicates that your customers are valuable assets to your business and must be retained. A low CLV means that you may need to focus more on acquisition. CLV is frequently driven through customer engagement

  • Return on ad spend (ROAS): This metric measures the money you make from each dollar you spend on advertising. A high ROAS indicates that your advertising campaigns are effective at driving sales. This is one of the digital marketing metrics you must pay the most attention to, as over time, you will frequently see an inflection point when ROAS starts to go down. That means your market is saturated, and you must change your tactics.

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): This metric measures the money you must spend to acquire a new customer. A low CAC indicates that you effectively acquire new customers cheaply. So, you might want to go all in on your marketing goals and keep acquiring new customers because they are profitable.

  • Customer churn rate: The churn metric measures the percentage of customers who stop making purchases over a period of time. A low churn could indicate that you are effective at retaining customers.

  • Net promoter score (NPS): This metric measures the likelihood of customers recommending your products or business to others. A high NPS generally means your customers are satisfied with your business and will likely recommend you to others.

  • Click-through rate (CTR): This metric measures how many users see a link or ad and "click-through" to the content. A low CTR means the ads aren't appealing to users, even if the content could have been.

  • Cost-per-click (CPC): This metric measures how much users cost per click in a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. A high cost per click means you need to make sure your conversion rates are high; you don't want to attract users unlikely to buy, even if it does improve traffic.

  • Bounce rate: This metric measures the total number of individuals who come to your site (frequently from organic search) and then leave immediately. A high bounce rate indicates that your content marketing must be improved, as users are not finding the information they expected.

A company focused on high-value sales might not care too much about website traffic but more about conversion rate. Meanwhile, a company that has a one-off product (such as a swimming pool) might not care about customer lifetime value but might care about customer acquisition cost.

Best practices for digital marketing KPIs

Because KPIs are so complex, there have been large bodies of literature written about them. The easiest way to really dig into KPIs is to use an analytics platform and follow a few general best practices. There are a few best practices that you can follow to get the most out of your digital marketing KPIs:

  • Don't use too many KPIs: You may have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of marketing metrics, but they aren't useful if you can't focus. Choose a primary KPI as a goal and a few supporting KPIs within a holistic marketing strategy.

  • Choose the right KPIs: Not all KPIs are created equal. KPIs that aren't right for your strategy are just metrics. KPIs must be relevant to established business goals and you need a plan to get there.

    For example, if you are trying to increase sales, you would want to focus on KPIs such as website traffic, conversion rate, and return on investment. If you're trying to improve brand awareness, your marketing team might instead focus on organic search, social media follows, and email marketing signups.

  • Track your KPIs over time: Track your KPIs over time to see how your marketing campaigns are performing. This will help you to identify which campaigns are working and which campaigns need to be improved.

  • Set goals for your KPIs: Set goals for your KPIs so that you have something to strive for. For example, your KPI goal could be increasing website traffic by 10% in the next month. You may not always meet these goals, but you'll know whether your marketing activities are working.

Once you have tracked your KPIs and set goals, you need to change your marketing campaigns based on your results. For instance, you might have a lead generation campaign focused on bringing in a specific number of leads through organic traffic.

If your sales team doesn't see those qualified leads coming in, you may be bringing in the wrong type of website visitors, or you may not have effective CTAs. You could experiment by modifying your call-to-action messaging—something that would not overly impact your marketing spend.
If you discovered that leads rose, then you would know that your lead conversion hinges on great CTAs. If you discovered that leads remained flat, you would know that you probably need to increase your marketing budget and improve your website traffic.

Take the next steps toward ecommerce success

By following these best practices, you can use digital marketing KPIs to improve the success of your ecommerce business. 

Here are a few additional KPI tips:

  • Ensure the quality of your KPIs: Track your performance across all channels together, not separately and make sure your data is accurate.

  • Track your KPIs regularly: Don't just track your KPIs once a month or quarter. Track them regularly to make changes to your campaigns as needed.

  • Make changes based on your results: Don't be afraid to make changes to your marketing campaigns based on your results. If something isn't working, experiment!

The best way to ensure your data is accurate and timely is to use a marketing platform built for it. With Emotive, you can use a single dashboard utility to track all your marketing campaigns and KPIs across multiple channels—gleaning actionable insights across your marketing strategy.

Emotive Attribution lets you spend more time developing your marketing strategy and less time tracking it. Try out Emotive today.