The difference between Goals and KPIs

The terms goals and KPIs are sometimes used interchangeably describing the same thing; what you need to measure and report on to see whether you reach the desirable outcome of your actions.

But Goals and KPIs can be more useful if each is given a more specific definition:

Goals: The desired final outcome.

KPIs: Key metrics indicating whether your performance is good enough to achieve your goals in the end.

Let´s look at the use of goals and KPIs for a digital marketing campaign. The picture below shows a schematic mapping of a campaign (click for larger image).

Mapping of digital marketing campaign

The goal for this specific campaign is 2 000 new paying members. This goal needs to be set taking into account the overall goals for the company. Let´s say the overall company goal is to acquire 20 000 new paying members this year; a figure based on a strategic goal for revenue growth, historical figures for churn and calculations made on customer life time value. Looking at the campaign from a company perspective 2 000 new paying members is not a goal, but instead a KPI measuring the campaigns contribution to the overall goal of 20 000.

The performance of each media are not goals. The ads, email referrals and social media buzz are just means to achieve an end result and the end result is the goal. But none the less we want to keep track of the number of referral emails sent, how the invited friends act when receiving these emails, if there is anyone “talking about” the campaign in social media, if we get any visits with social media referrals, if visitors from certain bought media tend to bounce on the landing page while others proceed to paid membership etc etc. The reason being of course that all these metrics indicate whether the performance of each part of the campaign is contributing enough to achieving the goal.

Relevant KPIs is your tool for optimizing an ongoing activity with the purpose of maximizing the likelihood of achieving the goal for that activity. In marketing it is common to prepare a campaign during a long time, buy all media and then (after some extremely tense days before launch) press the GO-button, pop the champagne and then finally be allowed to sit back after a job well done. But with relevant KPIs in place you just enter a new phase of the campaign in which management and agencies are just as involved as in the preparation phase.

Andreas Franson, andreas[@], +46 733 56 41 51

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2 Responses to The difference between Goals and KPIs

  1. I would be very careful calling mentioned metrics KPIs. For example “Visitors from referral emails” is for sure a good metric, but it can hardly be used as a KPI (check our my article on the topic. And they are mostly lugging (not leading).

    For me the picture looks now as simple as “Get more leads and with some conversion rate they will become a paying members.”

    I think a research of leading KPIs will make sense for the next part of this article.

  2. Pingback: Choosing the right goals and KPIs for your brand | Euler Global Consulting

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