Six Measurements You Shouldn’t Use As KPIs

Six Measurements You Shouldn’t Use As KPIs

Choosing KPIs is always a challenge – you want metrics that reflect the business, show the success of your marketing, and are manageable. As humans, we also love metrics that make us look good. However, metrics that make us look and feel good can frequently overshadow problems with performance.

Of course, each of these “don’t use” metrics has its place in evaluating your campaign. Some have a bigger role than others, especially in certain types of campaigns. Ultimately, use these tips to structure your KPIs so that your marketing campaigns are aligned with your business results.

1. Don’t Use Gross Impressions

Gross impressions is always a tempting measurement to report – it’s one that is a good, big number. It’s fairly easy to pull. And it’s relatively consistent. But, it covers up so many other things. Gross impressions tell you nothing about your campaign, other than what you’ve paid for.

Instead, Consider Actions Per Impression or Another Second-Order Measurement

Always look for the second-order measurement. If you’re running a direct response campaign, the number of actions per impression is going to be a better measurement than gross impressions. As far as which actions to look at – that depends on your campaigns.

2. Don’t Use Gross Clicks

This is a bit oversimplified, but by and large, the number of clicks generated by your campaign should not be a KPI. Clicks and click through rate are good metrics to look at to understand a basic level of response to your campaign, but they are far too easily fooled. How many times have you been playing an app on your iPhone, only to accidentally click on an ad? This and other reasons are why gross clicks can be misleading.

Instead, Consider Actions or Multi-Page Views Per Click

The goal of this KPI is to weed out the accidental clicks. The idea being to measure non-accidental actions per click. If someone accidentally clicked on your ad, they will likely bounce. So non-bounced visitors tend to be a good indication of people who clicked AND are interested – and that is ultimately what you want in a campaign.

3. Don’t Use Number of Fans

Thankfully, this one isn’t used as much any more. But the number of Facebook Fans, Instagram Followers, Twitter Followers etc, can be easily gamed or purchased. Thus, the count doesn’t necessarily reflect interest or engagement with your brand.

Instead, Use Post Engagement

If you have 300,000 Instagram followers, but each of your posts is getting 50 likes, you have an engagement problem. If you have 2,000 followers and each post is getting 1,500 likes, you’re doing something right. These numbers are purely made up, but engagement on your posts will tell you about what’s resonating with your audience, and how your content is performing over time.

4. Don’t Use “New Visitors”

New Visitors is one metric I’ve encountered many media companies wanting to use to show how successful their campaigns are. It’s definitely an interesting one – just about every campaign seeks to bring new customers to the fold, thus they must first start as a new visitor. But, like clicks, it can be easy to get people to a page while they’re entirely uninterested.

Instead, couple it with “New Visitors Who Performed An Action”

Measuring new visitors who then performed an action is a better measurement of how engaged potential new customers are – and how effective the messaging that brought them there was.

5. Don’t Use “Time on Site”

Time on site can be a tempting metric – after all, won’t more interested people spend more time on the site? That can be true, but more confused people might also spend more time on the site. When you’re measuring and managing for time on the site, you might see a decrease in time on site that’s actually representative of a huge gain. One change could have made people decide to buy much faster – which would not be shown in a “time on site” metric.

Instead, Use “Actions Accomplished”

Actions accomplished will tell you more about the engagement and effectiveness of your site than an overall time on site metric will. Not to mention – there are a lot of measurement issues with collecting accurate time on site. Actions accomplished will tell the bigger picture.

6. Don’t Use “Pages Per Visit”

Pages per visit is another metric that starts having negative consequences when maximizing it becomes a goal. Like time on site, increasing average pages per visit could actually represent a confusing site experience. Similar to time on site, choosing actions as conversion metrics are better ideas.


Ultimately, the goal of any measurement plan is to use the most concise and effective numbers needed to produce the business results desired. If a metric isn’t adding to the discussion, it should be removed from the shared reporting.



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