E-commerce has revolutionized the business world by allowing sellers to move their products through online platforms. This may be in stark contrast to traditional retail, but there are plenty of similarities between the two modes of business as well. One common denominator is the use of E-commerce KPIs or key performance indicators. Without these indicators, it’s much more difficult to gauge the success of your marketing campaigns on an objective level.
KPIs can only be effective if you understand what they are, how to choose the right ones, and why you should use them. They provide valuable insights that you can use to make better decisions and run your business more efficiently. Read this overview of E-commerce KPIs so you can make the most of your performance indicators.
Understanding Key Performance Indicators
There are performance indicators and then there are key performance indicators. The difference is that key performance indicators are the most relevant to your specific needs. You might outline dozens of performance indicators, but it helps to focus on a few KPIs that are specifically tailored to your goals.
KPIs provide a way to objectively measure the success of your campaign. If your goal is to improve sales, you’ll want to look at the quantifiable number of products sold to see if your campaign is working. That number serves as a KPI, as it shows whether or not you’re meeting your goals.
If your KPIs show that you’re meeting your goals, then you’re on the right track. If your KPIs suggest you’re falling short, you can use them to find out where you could be doing better. Knowing what works and what doesn’t is key when it comes to revising your strategy.
Identifying Your KPIs
Every business has different key performance indicators. What really matters are the ones you choose to focus on and the way you use them to reach your goals. The point of KPIs is to teach you about your business so you can recognize trends over time. Since there are so many different areas of a business to analyze and ways to do the analyzing, it’s helpful to choose the right KPIs. Think about your goals, which may involve anything from better customer relationships to more sales, and consider the indicators that best describe your progress.
Look at your business like a high-performing athlete. Athletes have different goals they set for themselves in practice or in a game that may not necessarily result directly in a win or loss, but help them monitor their progress in between games and seasons while also preparing them in getting to the ultimate goal of a win.
Different Types of KPIs
There are different kinds of KPIs, so choose the ones that make the most sense based on your goals. The categories include marketing, sales, customer service, manufacturing, and project management and each category uses different types of indicators. Here’s a closer look at some of the different pools.
You should be measuring the success of your marketing campaigns as you run them and after they’ve finished so you can see what works and what doesn’t. This will help you craft your next campaign and will also give you an idea of what to expect from it. Before you can sell a product, you need to come up with a marketing campaign. KPIs for this category will help you analyze your marketing and advertising success, and they’ll show you which products are selling the best.
General Marketing KPIs:
Some KPIs apply for all types of marketing (and therefore should be tracked across them), whether social media marketing or email marketing. These key performance indicators for marketing are:
- Click-through-rate: How many people are clicking on your links is a good indicator of the quality of your marketing.
- Leads: Again, you are doing well if you generate leads from your marketing efforts.
- Conversions: Generating conversions means that your marketing is really working.
Your website is a key part of your marketing strategy and so you need to keep an eye on your website KPIs.
- Site Traffic: General site traffic will show how popular your site is.
- Organic Reach: If customers are searching for you, this shows your marketing techniques are working well.
- Referral Traffic: Traffic coming from other sites can help you learn how your social media marketing is going (and if your content is being shared).
- Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is how often visitors leave your website after briefly viewing one page. Bounce rate can be caused by factors like bad website design, too many ads, low-quality content or misleading metadata.
- Unique vs. Returning Visitors: If your site mostly attracts new visitors, it needs to be very intuitive. If you are attracting returning visitors, your marketing efforts are probably working.
- Page Load Time: If your pages are taking a long time to load, you will probably have a high bounce rate. Page load time is particularly important in mobile (for which there is a separate KPI, Accelerated Mobile Pages).
- Mobile Usability: Talking of Accelerated Mobile Pages, you need to make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices.
Content Marketing KPIs:
Content marketing KPIs include general website KPIs (such as organic reach and site traffic) and specific content marketing KPIs.
- Site Traffic: An increase in overall site traffic after starting a blog or adding new content can indicate that your content marketing is working.
- Time On Page: If visitors are staying to read your content, it’s a good sign it’s high quality.
- Scroll Depth: Scroll depth (i.e. how far visitors scroll through your pages) is important for figuring out how much of your content visitors are reading. This KPI can help you decide how far down the page to put a call-to-action opt-in form.
- Bounce Rate: A high bounce rate can show that your content is low-quality or not what visitors expected (for example, your metadata is inaccurate).
- Post Engagement: Comments and social shares (i.e. shares on social media) show a high level of engagement with your brand.
- Links: Measuring how many links back to your content (backlinks) you have got in the first 30 days of publishing your content is an indicator of content quality. Backlinks are also important because they increase your organic rankings by showing Google that your content is trustworthy.
While most content marketing KPIs (such as site traffic) are relevant for SEO, there are some KPIs that are particularly relevant as SEO KPIs.
- Organic Sessions and Organic Ranking: Highly-ranked pages are an indication that your SEO and content marketing in general is working.
- Keyword rankings: The higher your keywords rank the better.
Social Media KPIs:
- Likes: Likes are the basic KPI of audience interest and engagement.
- Shares: Shares are more important than likes because they are a more active form of engagement.
- Clicks: Clicks are an indication of how interesting your posts look. Getting lots of clicks and few likes and shares may mean that your content is misleading or low-quality.
- Total Followers vs Active Followers: The total number of followers of your page is a good estimate of reach, but, as most followers won’t engage with your page, not a good estimate of engagement. For that, you need to look at your active followers, followers who have engaged (i.e. “liked”, “shared” or “commented”) with your page in the last 30 days.
- Audience Growth: A steadily increasing number of followers shows that your content is good and that your brand awareness is improving.
- Impressions: Impressions are how many people have had the chance to see your posts. This includes both followers and people who might see your posts through shares and ads.
- Engagement by Content Type: Looking at what types of content are working can help you improve your engagement.
- Profile Visits: Profile visits are important for your brand awareness because social media platforms are often used to search for brands.
- Brand Mentions: The number of times you’re mentioned or hashtagged will give you a vague idea of your brand awareness.
- Social Share of Voice (SSoV): How often your brand is mentioned in comparison to your competitors will give you a better idea of how you are doing on social media.
Email Marketing KPIs:
KPIs for email marketing are relatively similar to website KPIs (for example, click-through-rate is important).
- Comparative Open Rate: Open rate is a commonly used email marketing KPI, but it’s not actually that useful because it doesn’t tell you if your subscribers actually read your emails—partially because open rate is calculated by whether subscribers see your images and a lot of people use image-blocking software. However, open rate can be useful if you compare open rates over time (comparative open rate).
- Bounce Rate: “Bounce rate” for email is slightly different than for websites. Email bounce rate is the number of emails that are undelivered, which you should keep track of so that you aren’t sending emails to invalid addresses.
- List Growth Rate: A growing email list means that your lead generation and email marketing are working.
- Email Sharing/Forwarding Rate: A high email email sharing/forwarding rate is important not only because it shows that your email marketing campaign is working, but because it is a great way of adding new subscribers to your email list.
- Unsubscribe Rate: Your unsubscribe rate is a useful KPI because it tells you that your email marketing campaign is not working.
The most important PPC KPI is obviously click-through-rate, however, there are other PPC KPIs you need to check.
- Cost Per Click: Cost per click is how much your ad campaign is costing you per click. If your cost per click is more than the conversions you are getting from your ads, doing a PPC campaign may not be worth it.
- Cost Per Impression (CPM): PPC impressions, as in social media, are potential views. Your impressions can vary according to what share of keywords and other factors you have, which will also affect how many impressions you get for a certain campaign (and your cost per impression).
- Quality Score: Your quality score is how relevant your ad is and is calculated by metrics like click-through-rate. Quality score is important because it influences other KPIs like...
- Average Position: Average position is what position your ads tend to end up in searches. It is assigned from your ad rank which is your quality score multiplied by your cost per impression.
Sales and Conversions KPIs:
It’s impossible to run a business if you have no idea how much of your inventory you’re selling. That’s where KPIs based on sales and conversions come in. These KPIs analyze your revenue, so you know how much is coming in as well as where exactly it’s coming from. You can get especially specific with sales KPIs; you can tailor them to individual employees, specific time periods, or different channels to learn about particular areas of your business.
- Gross Profit: It’s always useful to know how much profit you are making.
- Conversion Rate: Conversion rate is the ultimate test of your marketing campaigns.
- Shopping Cart Conversion Rate: Your shopping cart conversion rate measures how many visitors actually complete the checkout process.
- Shopping Cart/Checkout Abandonment Rate: Conversely, shopping cart abandonment rate and checkout abandonment rate are important KPIs because they show you need to try to increase conversions by methods like using incentivised pop-ups at checkout (and getting people to sign up to your email list).
- Average Order Value (AOV): Your Average Order Value lets you know how much customers typically spend.
Customer Service and Retention KPIs:
Every sale helps, but it’s more helpful to keep your customers loyal so they continue to purchase from your store. Repeat customers will reliably patronize your business, and they’re more likely to tell their friends and family about you. This boosts exposure in addition to bringing in consistent revenue. Customer service KPIs look at your relationships with consumers by analyzing the amount of customer outreach and the time it takes to reach a solution.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): The customer satisfaction score is the most popular customer service metric. It is calculated by getting customers to give direct feedback on their experience with your brand.
- Response Rate and Quality: Social customer service is an important (and often overlooked) metric. A quick response time (especially a quick first response time) and high response rate will improve brand trust.
- Time to Purchase: If your visitors are taking a long time to become customers, you may need to improve your marketing campaigns and customer service.
- Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): Cost per acquisition is how much it costs to turn a visitor or subscriber into a customer. This is a good metric to see if your marketing campaigns were worthwhile.
- Customer Lifetime Value: Your customer lifetime value is how much you can expect to earn from a customer across their lifetime as your customer.
- Customer Retention Rate: Your customer retention rate is your ability to retain customers. This is important both for referrals and because it’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones.
- Net Promoter Score: Your net promoter score calculates how likely customers are to refer friends to you. Like the customer satisfaction rate, your net promoter score can be obtained by surveying customers.
Manufacturing Process KPIs:
Without the actual manufacturing process, you wouldn’t have any products to sell. Safe and effective manufacturing and warehousing ensure that shipments go out according to plan. This keeps your whole operation on track and it keeps your customers happy. In terms of manufacturing KPIs, you’ll want to look at things like how much inventory is being manufactured, how frequently accidents occur, and how long it takes to get a shipment out.
- Yield: Your yield is a simple metric of how much you produce. A more complicated and useful KPI is the yield variance KPI which measures the difference in yield.
- First Time Yield (FTY) and First Time Through (FTT): These KPIs show you how wasteful your production process is.
- Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE): Your overall equipment effectiveness KPI measures how well your equipment is working.
- Overall labor effectiveness (OLE): Likewise, your overall labor effectiveness measures how well your employees are working.
- Cycle Time: Cycle time shows you how long it takes to manufacture your products.
- Number of Incidents: You should track the number of incidents that happen in the production process, both to improve safety and to make sure you are in compliance with regulations.
Project Management KPIs:
Sometimes it helps to put the higher-ups under the microscope as well. Every team needs a strong leader in order to succeed, and project management KPIs see how well your managers are doing when it comes to organizing and completing specific projects. You can look at indicators regarding the budget you have to work with, the amount of time you spent on the job, and how much of your investment is returned through sales or exposure.
- Budget: Keeping track of your budget will allow you to plan realistically and realize when you’re spending too much or too little.
- Hours Worked: Hours worked tells you how much time your team put into the project (and how long future projects will take).
- Return on Investment (ROI): Your ROI KPI will help you figure out if your campaigns have been worth it. Obviously, the higher the ROI, the better.
- Cost Variance: Figuring out if your project cost more (or less) than expected will help you budget future projects.
- Cost Performance Index (CPI): A cost performance index (earned value/costs), like ROI, tells you if your project was worth it. A cost performance index under 1 tells you that you need to improve.
The proper use of KPIs can pave the way for you to reach your business goals. However, you still need to set reasonable, attainable goals for yourself. If you start with an unreasonable goal like tripling sales in a month, your KPIs won’t be as effective because your goal is so far-fetched in the first place. Instead, you can actually use your KPIs to set more realistic goals for yourself by analyzing the data in front of you. If you see growth in a certain area, find out what’s causing the growth and take advantage. Look at this growth and decide if it could be further improved, and then set your goal.
Checking Your Progress
Once you’ve set your goals for the future, then you can create a game plan. KPIs help you identify the most important aspects of your business, but what you do with that knowledge is ultimately up to you. Be sure to continually check in on your KPIs to see how you’re progressing. It’s not enough to simply identify them and look once; instead, set benchmarks so you can track them throughout your marketing campaigns. Then you can adjust as necessary until you’ve reached your goals.
Of course, there are tools and apps you can use to help you track your KPIs (such as Hootsuite).
Building Toward Your Future
As long as you use them the right way, E-commerce metrics and KPIs can be exceedingly helpful to your understanding of your business. As much as you think you know about your company, there is always more to learn. Don’t forget to apply the information you learn: KPIs can highlight just about any aspect of your company, like what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. If you find out that part of your manufacturing process is losing you money, quickly make changes so you can save. If customers tend to call with complaints about a particular product, double check your inventory and get to the bottom of the issue. Use E-commerce KPIs to get to know your business so you can make the necessary adjustments and reap the benefits.