KPI for Marketing team: 7 rules from the most successful online sellers to crush your competitors

by | Apr 30, 2021


Today you’re going to learn how to set up KILLER KPI for your marketing team to crush your competition.

In fact the 7 rules I am going to share with you are used by the best online marketers to deliver growth of 2-3 fold every single year.

They also use these rules to manage their digital marketing teams super easily.


So if you want to get more sales and more profits for your business, then you will love these 7 rules on the KPi for your marketing team.


Let’s get right into the rules:

Rule #1: Don’t set up the KPI for your Marketing team without clear vision and goals

Vision -> Goals -> KPI is your Why -> What -> How.

This is how things work for any business, including yours.

If you set up the KPI for your marketing department without:

  • a clear vision
  • and clear goals to make this vision a reality

You will fail.

This is the very top of the tree. You want great KPI? Then you must have a great vision for your company.

This vision will then translate into GOALS. These goals will determine your marketing metrics.

Let’s do it now!

1) Define your vision

Your vision needs to be simple and time-bound. That is it.

To craft a simple and time bound vision all you need to do is complete the vision formula:

We want to BE (VISION) by DATE.

Yes, it is as easy as this.

Now let’s run that vision to the “Simple test”.

The question is: the vision simple?

For that you want to call your mum, or your auntie, or anyone completely remote from your business. You want to call them and ask – do you understand my vision?

Tell them the vision.

See if they understand.

If they do – great, you’re good to go.

If they do not then you need to ask them – “what do you not understand?”.

Most likely they will not understand how you are going to achieve the VISION.

Be very specific here – what we are checking is if they understand the VISION, not the plan to achieve it – that is the goals.

2) Define your goals

To define your goals you need to apply our method “Goal – How to”.

Take your vision and ask “how to”. Write down what comes up.

5-6 simple things should emerge. Take these ideas and craft 2-3 goals using this format:

We want to DO X by DATE

Note the difference between the vision (BE) and the goals (DO). Goals are much more specific than vision. They are results oriented.

To make sure your goals are strong enough run these 2 simple checks:

  • Check 1 – is the end date realistic? The realistic equation is this:

Resource X Time = SUCCESS

  • Check 2 – call your mum and ask her if she understands your goal. If yes, then your goal is simple. If not then again ask what does she not understand.

If she does not understand what your goal is then your goal is not simple enough. Redefine it.

If your mum understands the goal but does not see how you are going to do it then it is fine. What your mum is on about is “HOW” you are going to get it done.

And that is the job of your KPIs.

Rule #2: Actions are bad online marketing KPI

Marketing KPIs in 2021 must be results oriented.

But marketer keep making that critical mistake. They measure actions over results.

99% of the time action is not the right KPI for your marketing team.


Measuring actions give you 0 information about the ROI of your initiatives. You could post 200 contents a day on Facebook and make 0 extra sales.

Actions are bad KPI for social media.

In the same way a Business Developer could be doing 200 cold calls per day and book no demo or strategy sessions.

You don’t want to measure actions. You want to measure results. And you want to measure results that are the closest to your end goals.

Rule #3: Keep close to the end goal to set up great KPI in your marketing team

A lot of people get confused between KPI and analytics (or marketing metrics).

The best marketing KPIS in 2021 are the one closes to the end result you want to achieve. And yes, most of the time this should be sales. Cold hard cash, money in the bank.

Analytics are only the second line of data. The data that explains HOW the sales happened.

Take an E-commerce store for instance. The digital marketing team KPIs are usually:

  • traffic
  • conversions
  • and another KPI for social media (usually engagement)

But what is the equation of the business?

Traffic X Conversion X Average basket spend = SALES.

This is your e-commerce business right here. It cannot be simpler than this.

So let’s switch things to only 1 KPI in your marketing team – sales.

If the KPI of your marketing team is SALES, then all the rest become analytics.

But if the KPI is traffic, you could end up with a ton of traffic for no extra sales, if that traffic does not convert.

The KPIs for your marketing team need to be super close to their end goal. Otherwise, you run the risk to miss that end goal.

And this is true for btoc as well as btob marketing KPIs.

Rule #4: Stop measuring KPI for marketing without Control and Impact

This one is massive in the marketing community.

The previous logic of KPI was SMART: specific, measurable, accountable, realistic and time-bound.

This is great. But the accountability part was never understood.

So instead I recommend that you set up KPI that 1) you measure and 2) which your employee has Control & Impact on.

Control and Impact means that your employee has control on every element that impact the KPI.

Let’s take an Amazon FBA seller. How does he achieve increasing sales by 50% in the next 4 months?

For this business the elements that impact this goal are:

  • Traffic to the listings (paid – organic)
  • Conversion rate of the listings
  • Launching new products
  • Generating more affiliate deals

Marina, the Marketing manager, is in charge of this goal.

Does she have control on the 4 elements? She does not. She is not in charge of the affiliate deals or launching new products. She is also not responsible for paid advertising.

Too many elements that impact sales are outside her control. Sales cannot be her KPI.

Which brings us to step rule #5: isolate and allocate.

Rule #5: Isolate and Allocate all KPI for digital marketing

This is by far the most common discussion I have with business owners on KPI.

“I have set up the KPI but when we discuss them there is always an excuse or a reason for not meeting the KPI.”

If many employee own or impact the same KPI they will play ping-pong with that KPI.

It’s normal. They do that because they themselves do not understand how their actions affect the KPI.

They are always under the impression that someone else is actually in control of their work.

For instance take the conversion rate of a product listing for an e-commerce company. So many components can impact that conversion rate between:

  • Images of the products
  • Copy of the listing
  • Quality of the incoming traffic
  • Social proof
  • Price
  • Etc.

The head of marketing and head of design here will play ping-pong all day over the conversion rate.

They will do that until you can isolate and allocate each element.

So you need to break down each of these components and isolate its impact on the KPI.

Let’s do it together to drive that point home.

If you want to isolate the design part then you need to remove its impact from the conversion rate.

Which means that you need to test the quality of the design outside of the conversion rate.

The easiest way to do is that is to rate the designs with your team and not have a live design that gets below a certain mark.

Which says – any design that we release on the website is strong enough to drive the conversion rate.

This way you isolate design. It is now out of the equation because we know design is strong enough.


You need to do this for every component when you are working on a KPI affected by many people.

You need to get creative with this and find ways to isolate and allocate, as well as measuring KPI.

Rule #6: Find a way to measure it

Your job is to make good decisions. If you want to that then you need data.

So measure.

Be creative, find ways, and measure.

KPI is about deploying every possible efforts to assess your key measure of success.

If you can measure things that your competitor cannot… Then you are going to see and understand things that they do not.

To find new ways of measuring things you need to list all elements impacting a KPI.

Who is in control of this element and can you measure it?

If you cannot measure it then break it down further into elements that you can measure.

Use your analytics from many sources to work out the measure of a KPI.

Rule #7: Automate the reports for all KPI in marketing

The number 1 reason why companies do not discuss KPI reports on a regular basis?

Because reports are not ready. Too complex, too long to put together.

You want reporting to be simple and automated.

You also want no fluff and no extra data.

Why? Because fluff and data your employees places to hide. They distract from the KPI.

Less is more. You want your reporting to be super simple.

You can do that either with:

  • a simple Google Sheet
  • or with your project management software (Monday, Clickup…).

If you cannot automate your reporting, then you should hire a Virtual Assistant to do it for you.

When discussing objectives and results, you should focus on the KPI. Analytics are here to explain. Not to replace.

And yes, it does mean that even if the analytics are good, hitting the KPI is what matters.

Bonus rule: Stop debating between KPI and OKR

This is one I often get in my emails.

OKR vs KPI – which one is the best?

See that email from someone on my mailing list:

Hello Julien,

I run an online business with a team of 12 people. We sell a software for lead generation on Linkedin.

We are struggling a bit to set up up KPI and OKR. I am having trouble to decide here. In your opinion is it best to go with OKR or KPI for a marketing btob SaaS?

Let me tell you my opinion between OKR and KPi for a marketing btob SaaS or any other marketing team.

OKR vs KPI is a fake debate.

There is no difference.

It is only a different way of describing and explaining the same thing.

I am sure people will come to me and explain that no actually there is a profound difference in this or that.

And yes, if you were doing a piece for the Harvard Business Review… We could argue that there is a difference between KPI vs OKR.

But for the average small or mid-size business?

It’s a non-factor.

What you want to know is:

  • why you want to do things (your vision)
  • what you want to achieve (your goals)
  • and how you want to achieve it (KPI or OKR or whatever you want)

So don’t get sucked in into these fake debates.

Set up some goals and measure how you get on with them.

What about your KPI for YOUR Marketing Team?

There you have it: seven proven rules to set up killer KPI for your Marketing team.

Now I want to hear from you.

Which rule from today’s post are you going to use first?

Are you excited to establish your vision and goals?

Or maybe you want to start really measuring what matters?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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