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A lot goes into a successful digital marketing strategy. From paid media to social media, and from content to SEO, there are many angles a marketing expert can take to build your business’s presence online. But how do you know if your marketing strategy is succeeding? That’s where key performance indicators, or KPIs, come in.

KPIs are the critical indicators of progress your digital marketing agency will use to evaluate the effectiveness of your current marketing strategy. There are a host of KPIs available, with paid media KPIs differing from SEO KPIs, and so on. Typically, your marketing agency will choose a handful to consistently focus on, analyze, and—if they’re an ethical, transparent marketing agency—present to you in regular reports.

Of course, you shouldn’t be doing the legwork and analysis yourself for each of these paid media KPIs (that’s why you hired a marketing agency, after all!). But gaining a basic understanding of these indicators will help you better understand the success or shortcomings of your business’s current marketing strategy.

At Elevation Marketing, we strongly value transparency throughout all of our business operations. Reporting on the marketing strategy we’ve developed for our clients is a major part of that, and we think that business owners in general would benefit from learning more about the metrics we use to measure our success. So in this blog series, we’re breaking down some of the major KPIs for several areas of digital marketing—starting with the major paid media KPIs! Let’s get started.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Perhaps the most important of all paid media KPIs in terms of your bottom line, CPC tells you how much your business is paying per click. You can sometimes reduce CPC over time by making your account more efficient. In many industries, however, competition is constantly increasing over time. This means that the overall CPC for most businesses in those industries will rise consistently.

Even so, that rise in CPC can be mitigated, so lowering your CPC or minimizing the increase should always be a focus of your marketing partner. If you aren’t seeing your CPC going down, you should at least be talking to your agency about measures they’re taking to keep it from rising exponentially.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Your CTR describes the ratio of clicks to impressions for your paid media. Improving your CTR is actually an effective way to improve your CPC, as Google rewards account holders with higher CTR. This makes CTR one of the most critical paid media KPIs.

There are several ways for you to improve your CTR. Regular optimization is key, as is effective bid management and negative keyword management. It’s also important to conduct regular A/B testing on your ad copy to ensure that your business is putting its best foot forward with every ad campaign.


At the end of the day, conversions are one of the major end goals for your marketing efforts. This metric describes what action you would like your audience to perform. Some businesses may use completing a contact form as their primary conversion, while others may aim to have their audience reach a gated piece of content (such as a case study). 

The important thing here is that your target conversion should be unique and specific to your business. Work with your marketing agency to decide what conversion you’re trying to drive with your paid search efforts, and revisit the conversation often. Ensure that you have tracking in place via Google Analytics to monitor your conversions down to the keyword level. 

Conversion Rate

Your conversion rate tells you the ratio of completed conversions to overall clicks. As you optimize your account, your conversion rate should steadily increase, making this one of the most important paid media KPIs for evaluating your program’s improvement.

When evaluating conversion rate, don’t forget to take seasonality into account. Depending on your industry, seasonality can have a major impact. For example, a roofer should expect to see higher than normal conversion rates during storm season with lower rates during slower times of the year (typically winter). Be sure to talk to your agency about how they are optimizing for improvement as well as seasonality.

Cost Per Conversion

This metric describes how much you’re paying to drive a given action (your chosen conversion). As with all paid media KPIs, your partner agency should be working to improve this over time.

As you evaluate your cost per conversion, be sure to consider your margins on the products or services you’re advertising. For example, if a single new client lead could equate to thousands of dollars of business, you can afford to pay a higher cost per conversion than you could for a lead that typically drives a one-time sale of $100. Your cost per conversion should help you ensure that you are achieving a positive return on your advertising investment.

Optimization Score

Your optimization score is a new metric that Google uses to assess the overall health of your account. When your marketing efforts are well optimized, you will get a higher score and will often be rewarded with lower CPCs. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that Google’s recommended optimization efforts should be analyzed closely. Google is in the business of selling advertising, and not all of their suggestions should be put into place. 

An example of this could be a recommendation to increase your budget in a given campaign. While limiting your budget could leave some traffic on the table, if your budget doesn’t allow for increased spend, you shouldn’t feel obligated to raise it despite Google’s optimization suggestions. 

Impression Share

Your impression share tells you how much of the time your ads are being shown on a given keyword. If you’re hitting your budget for a given keyword by midafternoon most days, you will see an impression share number that reflects this. 

This KPI is useful as it can tell you where you may need to spend more (or less) of your paid media efforts. If you are only getting a 60% impression share on your brand name, you might want to consider shifting some budget to protect that valuable brand real estate. Or if you’re only getting 55% impressions share on your highest converting non-brand campaign, you might want to shift budget from a lower performing campaign. 

Follow the Elevation Marketing Blog for More Marketing Tips!

While this is far from a complete list of all paid media KPIs, these are the metrics we often focus on here at Elevation Marketing. We hope this helps you and your business better monitor the success of your current marketing efforts—and the marketing agency you’ve partnered with!

For more digital marketing tips, be sure to follow our blog and catch up with us on our social accounts: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And don’t forget to tune in next week, when we break down the important social media KPIs to keep an eye on!

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