What is a metric?

A metric is a numerical value employed to monitor, compare, and evaluate performance or procedures.

A good example on metrics many people use in their everyday life is on their wrist. Yes, a fitness tracker or a smartwatch that tracks your steps. In this example, steps is the metric.

Since this website is all about marketing, let's do a marketing example.

You have an eCommerce site and decide to run an ad on Facebook. How can you measure success? Looking at the amount of sales generated from that Facebook ad is a good way to measure. The metric in this case would be the amount of sales.

The different metric formats you'll encounter

Metrics comes in a variety of shapes. You can have a metric which is simply a number like the examples above.

You can also see metrics that are percentages. Some examples of metrics that are measured in percentages are:

  • Conversion rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Engagement rate
  • Return on investment

There are also metrics that are give to you as a currency. $40, €40 or whatever your currency is. Some examples of that is Cost per click, cost per mille, cost per action and so on. Usually these metrics are related to your spending or earning.

The fourth metric worth noticing is duration. Duration metrics are given to you or you've engineered them yourself and are presented as seconds, minutes, hours, days etc. Here are some examples of duration metrics:

  • Time spent on a page
  • Video watch time

Metric types

When I talk about metric types, there are usually three things I like to mention.

Platform metric

I like to refer to this type of metric as a platform metric. These metrics are already in place when you open up your analytics tool or ad manager, you do not need to put in any effort to get them. This is a great benefit because you can access them instantly.

A good example of this is Facebook Reach and Google Analytics Sessions. You can just open Google Analytics and you'll find the amount of session instantly.

Engineered metric

These are called engineered metrics. They are not the ones that you can get straightforwardly from the software, it involves additional effort to come up with these metrics.

For instance, custom event tags in Google Analytics. Let's presume you have developed a new website and want to track certain actions that cannot be monitored with a regular Google Analytics setup.

You can add tags in Google Tag Manager to make it trackable. This is an example of an engineered metric that you have generated.

Derived metrics

The third type of measurement is referred to as a derived metric. This can be confusing in relation to engineered metrics, but it simply means that two or more metrics are combined into one.

A great example for a derived metric is conversion rate. This is usually calculated conversion rate by taking the total transactions and dividing it by something else, such as the total number of unique visits.

Derived metrics involve combining two or more metrics to form a percentage or score.

The 6 marketing metric categories

If you put metric in categories like I've done below, you'll see clearly that there are marketing metrics that relates to the customer journey. Exposure metrics are in the awareness stage and conversion metrics are at the very last stage.

Marketing platforms does not all have the same metrics too choose from. To  make it a bit more confusing, some platforms use different words for the same action. One example of that is Snapchat who use "swipe up" and "swipe up rate" which is in all honestly the same as clicks and clickthrough rate. 

Exposure metrics

Total exposure of your marketing or campaign activity. Some examples:

  • Reach
  • Impressions
  • Pageviews

Engagement metrics

Measure the engagement on your campaign. Some examples:

  • Clicks
  • Likes
  • Comments

Perception metrics

Measure how well received your marketing activity was.

  • Sentiment
  • Likes vs dislikes
  • Feedback

Experience metrics

Measure the quality of the experience of those that engaged with your marketing.

  • Page load time
  • Errors
  • Crash reports

Acquisition metrics

Measure the efficiency of your campaign related to the outcomes you seek.

  • Cost per Action
  • Cost per lead
  • Cost per click

Conversion metrics

Measure how many people converted in you marketing activity.

  • Leads
  • Sales
  • Conversion rate

Not all metrics and not all categories has to be measured. Only measure the ones that are important to your campaign's success. You should not only measure conversions, if that is your main goal, because if you do, you might lose valuable data in the stages leading up to conversion rate.

Optimizing for conversion rate will need data from other categories. For example, a low conversion might lead you back to a low clickthrough rate and/or a slow page load time. So keep in mind all the steps or hurdles leading up to your final goal and measure them to keep an eye on them.

One last thing: Never start with your metrics to determine campaign success, start with your business goal.

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