What Metrics Truly Measure Success in Digital Marketing?

Apr 03, 2017

By Deborah Gibbs

What Metrics Truly Measure Success in Digital Marketing?

When potential customers look for products to buy or local businesses to patronize, their research almost always begins online. Companies are well aware of the value of marketing online. Over the next year, experts predict that marketers will increase their online advertising budgets by as much as 15 percent.

You already understand the enormous potential of digital marketing. At the same time, it’s likely that you sometimes have trouble understanding the exact results of your campaigns. Which of your marketing channels consistently produces the best return on your investment? Would your company earn more revenue if you changed your budget allocation? Unless you know which metrics to track, you can only guess.

Consider this article something of a digital marketing boot camp. In it, we’ll explain some of the metrics that you should watch to determine the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. We’ll also explain what makes each metric important.

Email Marketing Metrics

If you’ve spent a bit of time with it, email is probably one of your favorite marketing channels. Marketing professionals around the world agree with you; surveys suggest that email can generate revenue of up to $44 for every dollar that your company spends. Email marketing is so inexpensive that it’s almost impossible for it not to generate a positive return.

Marketing successfully via email requires you to maintain a delicate balance between providing genuinely helpful information and making sure that your products or services always receive prominent placement.

Are your newsletters doing their job? These are the email marketing metrics that you should watch.

Unique Open Rate

A potential customer has to open your newsletter before he or she can see what you’re offering. The unique open rate measures how many individual subscribers open your messages. To increase the unique open rate, you’ll need to improve the subject lines of your messages. More people will open a message with a compelling headline.

If the same person opens a message more than once, the unique open rate will not increase — but the number of total opens will. If your leads typically open your messages multiple times, it’s a good sign that you’re writing effective email marketing copy.

Click-Through Rate

Before an email newsletter can generate a sale, the recipients need to click a link leading to your website. Every message sent with the intent of generating revenue needs to include a clear call to action encouraging the readers to click an offer. The CTR of a campaign is a percentage expressing the number of readers who clicked the offer. Combining effective writing with a strong call to action will result in a high CTR.

Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is a percentage expressing the number of people who purchase the product or service offered by clicking the link in a newsletter. You can also send a newsletter with the goal of encouraging a conversion other than a purchase. Other conversions include completing a software download, submitting a form or registering for an event.

Return on Investment

Subtracting the amount of money spent on an email campaign from the campaign’s total earnings tells you how much the campaign has returned on your initial investment. How profitable are your email campaigns, and how does email fit into the overall picture of your company’s digital marketing strategy? The ROI of your email campaigns answers those questions.

Bounce Rate

A bounce is an email newsletter that doesn’t reach its intended recipient. If your mailing list is large enough, a few of your messages will always bounce. Bounces are generally nothing to be overly concerned about. However, a low bounce rate indicates that you are doing a good job of capturing high-quality leads.

A bounce can be a soft bounce or a hard bounce.

Soft Bounce

A soft bounce occurs when an email address is valid, but a problem prevents the server from delivering it. If a message can’t reach its destination because the recipient’s inbox is full, your email marketing provider will consider it a soft bounce.

Hard Bounce

A hard bounce occurs when the server can’t deliver a message because of an irresolvable problem. If a message can’t reach its destination because the recipient’s email address does not exist, your email marketing provider will consider it a hard bounce. Most email providers will remove an email address from your database if a hard bounce occurs.

Social Media Marketing Metrics

Social media isn’t just for young people, although approximately 90 percent of adults aged 19-29 use it. Corporate executives use social media as well; 84 percent of corporate vice presidents and chief executives say that social media affects their financial choices.

If you want your message to reach your potential customers, your company needs to be on social media. Track these metrics to determine how your campaigns are performing.


A social media user can only act on your offer if he or she sees it — and just being seen among the constant flood of content on social media is often difficult. The impressions metric tells you how many people see your message and could potentially act on it.


The engagement metric tells you how many people interact with your message after seeing it. An interaction could be clicking through to your website, sharing your content or simply clicking a “Like” button. Although not every interaction directly leads to a conversion, interactions at least mean that your audience isn’t ignoring your content.

Bounce Percentage After Clicking

A bounce occurs when a visitor views only one page on a website before leaving. If a visitor bounces after clicking your social media ad, it means that you did a good job of creating compelling social media content — but your website failed to close the deal.


When someone views your content on social media and takes the time to share it with his or her friends, you’ve done an excellent job of creating compelling content. Social shares are incredibly valuable to you because they increase the reach of your content at no cost.

Digital Advertising Metrics

If you want to rapidly get the word out about your company, paid advertising is a great way to do it. The most common forms of paid online advertising include display advertising, search engine advertising and retargeting. To confirm that your investments are paying off, watch these metrics.

Cost per Click

Traditional online advertising has two primary payment models. You’ll either pay for the number of times that your ad appears on a website, or you’ll pay directly for each click. If you’re paying for views rather than clicks, you can divide the total advertising cost by the number of clicks to determine your effective cost per click. If your advertisement is compelling, more people will click it — and your cost per click will be lower.

Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is a percentage representing the number of people who become customers after clicking your advertisement. If the advertisement has a high conversion rate, the landing page delivers exactly what people expect when they click the ad. A high conversion rate also means that your website is doing an excellent job of expressing your company’s value proposition and convincing visitors to buy.

You can divide your total advertising spending by the number of people who ultimately purchase products to determine your cost of acquiring each new customer.

Website Metrics

Whether you’re marketing by email, social media or traditional online advertising, your ultimate goal is for people to visit your website. Is your website doing a good job of selling your company’s products or services? These metrics can tell you.

Bounce Percentage

As explained above, your website records a bounce if a visitor leaves after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate generally means that your website isn’t providing exactly what your users expect. Check to ensure that the quality of your content is high and that your website has a clean, appealing design with no obtrusive advertisements. Every page should also have a clear call to action directing visitors to the next step in your sales funnel.

Engagement Statistics

How compelling is the content on your website? You can find out by checking the average length of each visit and the average number of pages that people view before leaving. If both statistics are high, it means that your visitors find your content compelling and want to read more of it. Strong engagement statistics almost always lead to strong sales totals.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

How many of your potential customers add products to their shopping carts but fail to complete their purchases? High shopping cart abandonment may mean that your checkout process has a critical flaw. Are there too many stages in the checkout process? Are you surprising customers with high shipping costs? Is there a popular form of payment that you don’t accept? If your conversion funnel has multiple steps, determining the step at which people usually leave can help you troubleshoot cart abandonment.

Final Thoughts

No company has an unlimited budget for digital marketing. You need to spend your allocated funds in the most effective way, and you need to prove to your superiors that the decisions you’re making are correct. Tracking the right metrics ensures that you’ll always do what’s best for your company.

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About TA Digital

TA Digital is an innovative digital transformation agency, specializing in delivering the digital experience, commerce, and marketing solutions. For nearly two decades, we have been helping traditional businesses transform and create dynamic digital cultures through disruptive strategies and agile deployment of innovative solutions.