Man studying analytics and KPIs at his desktop PC
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Tom Cruise’s “Jerry Maguire” sports agent movie character famously shared a mission statement with his entire company where he suggested “fewer clients” and getting back to “caring for ourselves.” Money and clients should not, he suggested, be the focus. He was fired the next day. We kept Maguire in mind when we interviewed marketing experts about their key performance indicators (KPIs) outside of things like revenue, conversion, growth and profitability. 

You mean there are other KPIs? Yes, we know those are the holy grails: market thy company and make us money. That was the theme in the CMSWire report on marketing KPIs last month. And just look at Gartner’s CMO Strategy survey last year: researchers found CMOs value KPIs like ROI of total marketing spend, market share versus competition, brand health, lifetime value to cost-of-customer acquisition, cost ratio and, you guessed it, profitability.

Those metrics aren’t the only ones that matter, it turns out. Marketers can be valuable beyond just revenue-production. There are other KPIs to be had that are impactful to your organization, according to experts.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) Love, Positive Reviews

KPIs don’t always have to be monetary. There are plenty of other benchmarks that can validate the ROI of customer experience (CX) programs, according to Kathleen Hickey, marketing manager at Usabilla. She cited increased positive reviews, increased Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and reduced call volumes to traditional customer service call centers as important KPIs to watch. 

“All of these benchmarks may not directly impact a company’s bottom line, but they’re key indicators that prove investing in CX is not a waste of time and resources,” Hickey said.

Related Article: When Data Deceives: Making Data-Driven Decisions Without Misreading Analytics

Don’t Forget About Key Predictive Indicators

Justin Yopp, revenue marketing strategist for The Pedowitz Group, said marketers should note there is a second type of KPI: Key Predictive Indicators. Ronald Baker, author of “Implementing Value Pricing: A Radical Business Model for Professional Firms,” defines these KPIs this way: “A predictive indicator is a measurement supported by a theory, which can be tested and refined, in order to explain, prescribe or predict behavior.” 

Most marketers only concern themselves with performance indicators, missing out on critical data points for effectively managing their marketing, Yopp said. Often, this is because marketers are under pressure to prove their impact on their business. “They need to justify their budgets, their spend, and in a very real sense, their existence,” Yopp said. “Unfortunately, this preoccupation with performance KPIs — specifically revenue and ROI — diverts resources from analyzing and using data that can actually impact future performance.”

Marketers should refocus their attention on predictive indicators, Yopp said, if they want to be effective. “This type of KPI signals what’s likely to happen with performance indicators in the future,” he said. “They are the canaries in the coal mine." Predictive indicators, he added, apply to every level of an organization, not just tactical marketing. For example, sometimes it doesn’t make sense for a company to be concerned with revenue at all.

Consider this list of some key predictive indicators:

  • Landing page form conversion rate and volume
  • Specific content consumption
  • Demo requests and completions
  • Training requests and completions
  • Email list size and growth rate
  • Freemium uptake and utilization
  • App downloads
  • Marketing qualified lead conversion rate and volume
  • Opportunity creation conversion rate and volume
  • Market shifts (especially in financial services)

Be Useful in Investor Pitches

You may not always be working on branding and product marketing. Marketers can be helpful in investors relations, too, according to Laura Hughes, a B2B marketer based in London. "In smaller companies the skills of a marketer can be useful in investor pitches or documentation,” she said. “We know the problem, the product, and how to present complex ideas to an unfamiliar audience.” “Plus, Hughes joked. He added that it allows them to proofread and make documents look pretty. You can work with your investors team to build likely KPIs to measure marketing’s input in that arena.

Related Article: 5 Considerations for Marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Pitching in With Training and Onboarding

Good marketers prepare distributors with excellent reusable templates, raw content, training materials, trade show graphics, product and service detail and training, said Joe Longtin, an Eagan, Minn.-based B2B marketing manager. “I have been measured,” Longtin said, “on how many people I have onboarded, their pipeline, number of customers trained, number of custom proposals, number of demos, volume of samples produced and sent and response time to sample or demo requests."

Monthly Target Accounts on Who Pay Site Visits

In the spirit of setting non-revenue-based KPIs, marketers can look at total number of target accounts that visit their site per month, and number of visits per organization, according to Brandon Pindulic, founder of OpGen Media. “Any company that is focused on ABM (Account-Based Marketing), especially one that is selling to large enterprises, should be tracking this metric. It is one of several leading indicators to tell if your efforts are working or not.”

Separate Organic from Paid Conversions

According to Pindulic, a KPI marketers should be measuring separately is organic conversions and paid conversions. If you lump all of your organic and paid together when determining your average sales cycle, you'll often produce a misleading average, he said. “Outbound/paid leads tend to take a bit longer to convert than organic,” Pindulic said, “because often they are not as far into their buyer's journey, so to speak, and marketing teams should measure that separately.”