As most of the country gradually starts to reopen after shutting down in response to the coronavirus pandemic, companies are faced with a difficult question: what happens now? COVID-19 disrupted a lot of things we relied on as entrepreneurs, so now that the end seems to be in sight, what can we do to recoup our losses and continue to evolve? That’s where knowing how to identify and measure your brand’s most important KPIs comes in.
Whether it was grinding supply chains to a halt, forcing companies to dramatically overhaul their cloud security in response to employees working from home, or discovering that your usual clientele was no longer in a place to do business, COVID-19 has hit every business in one way or another. Now that the country is in the early stages of reopening, what can you do to keep your brand agile and responsive to your industry’s changing trends?
For starters, you can take some time to identify the most important KPIs for your company.
However, it’s not enough to fall back on the same KPIs you were tracking before the pandemic. COVID-19 changed a lot of things, and what may have been a reliable indicator of success before may no longer be as reliable. Even if you do end up tracking the same KPIs, their significance may have changed, which means the way you target and measure them will need to change as well.
Regardless, you’re going to want to know what KPIs you should be prioritizing, how you can measure them, and why they’re valuable to your brand in the evolving aftermath of COVID-19. To help you get started, we’ve outlined five of the most important KPIs that we think are worth paying particular attention to as we begin to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
1) Website Traffic
In the shadow of COVID, tracking website traffic can be one of the most helpful things you do. Web traffic shows you, in broad strokes, how much attention your website and its various pages are getting. Having a web presence is critical to your brand’s resiliency during a crisis like this one. This means that monitoring how much traffic your website is getting (or not getting) can show you how your brand fits into the broader picture of this pandemic and its effect on our country.
If your traffic dropped during the height of the pandemic, you’re far from alone. Countless companies have experienced setbacks as a result of COVID, but the important thing is how you respond to it. Instead of languishing the lower traffic, focus on creating and sharing new kinds of content that explicitly addresses how COVID has affected your brand, how you’re responding to it, and how you can continue to help your audience during this stressful period.
However, maybe your traffic spiked, which could mean your audience is especially interested in what your brand can offer. In this case, don’t let this opportunity pass you by! Curate content, launch email campaigns, and give the new people visiting your site every reason to stick around after COVID is long gone.
Ultimately, though, none of this will amount to much if you’re not tracking the results. It’s not enough to simply name a KPI; you have to monitor and measure it against your goals for it to become a real asset to your brand. So, as you address the changes in your website traffic, set up an expectation for where you would like your website to be, and then define what you have to do to get there.
Once you’re executing your strategies, pay attention to how your web traffic is affected. Are your new blog posts (that you share via email and social media) garnering the kind of attention you want? Are your emails, pop-ups, and content offers experiencing the clickthrough rates (CTR) they should be? If the answer is yes, then great! Keep doing what you’re doing. If the answer is no, then reevaluate the goals you’ve assigned to the KPI and adjust your marketing appropriately.
It’s important to remember that, like Marc Andre of Vital Dollar said to Databox, “There are a lot of low-traffic websites that make a lot of money, and there are high-traffic websites that are losing money.” So, even if your traffic is up, that’s not an immediate signifier of success. Instead, take the extra time to delve into the analytics of that traffic to discern whether it’s generating the business you want.
2) Returning Visitors
In the wake of COVID, returning visitors may be a more important KPI to measure than new visitors, as it will show you how (and when) your audience is active and ready to do business with you again. While you will need to pursue new leads still, reconnecting with a pre-established audience can help you find your footing in this “new normal” before transitioning to new lead generation.
For example, consider the way Search Engine Journal explains the difference between returning and new visitors: “If your returning visitors metric is higher than new users, this might be a sign that you have a loyal band of followers. The opposite situation demonstrates that you have some work to do to get people to come back again.”
If you want to prioritize returning visitors with your marketing, then an email campaign will be the best place to start. And when it comes to measuring KPIs like this, direct traffic will be the analytics to study.
3) Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
When it comes to measuring how successful an ad, pop-up, email, or landing page is, clickthrough rate (CTR) is the KPI to focus on. Your clickthrough rate tells you how many people, out of everyone who has visited one of your web pages or opened one of your emails, clicked on the ad located on that page. In case you need a refresher, you can calculate your ad’s CTR with the following equation:
Total Measured Clicks / Total Measured Ad Impressions ✕ 100
In other words, you take the total number of clicks you’ve received, divide it by the total number of impressions (i.e., the total number of people who have visited a particular page), and multiply the result by 100 to get a CTR percentage.
This is a valuable KPI to track in any situation, but as we all collectively recover from COVID, it’s perhaps more important than ever. The reason? If someone is clicking on an ad or a link in an email, that person is expressing an interest in your brand that you can begin to nurture. Since email campaigns are going to be one of the best tools to rely on in the early stages of reopening, measuring your CTR can be an excellent way to gauge how ready your leads are to pick up where they left off.
4) New Contacts
In normal times, the number of new contacts you generate (via downloads of whitepapers, filled out contact forms, etc.) would show you how well your marketing has driven sign-ups for further info about your brand. But in the wake of COVID-19, you may have noticed a dip in your number of new contacts. And it’s likely no fault of your marketing strategy.
While this is to be expected—after all, experiencing a crisis usually compels people to buckle down and maintain their status quo, not branch out and expand their horizons—it’s not ideal. As you track KPIs like traffic, CTR, and returning visitors, you’re also going to need to track how many of those numbers are converting into new contacts.
You can have all the best, most timely content imaginable, but if it isn't generating new contacts, you need to reassess. When you launch a new email campaign or start sharing a new whitepaper on social media, track the response, and see how many (if any) new contacts come in as a result of that marketing. This will inform you if your marketing is still directed toward the right people and if it’s being received in the right way by those people.
Thankfully, HubSpot makes this easy, as the platform can track every new contact that comes in from every outlet you use. And since HubSpot knows what kind of data marketers look for, it automatically records the sources new connections come from, their lifecycle stage, country, date of conversion, and their activities across your site and platforms.
When tracking new contacts as a KPI, don’t just look at the total number of new contacts. To get the most out of this data, you need to delve further into the metrics. Where are the new contacts coming from, specifically? Social media? Paid ads? Organic traffic? Emails? By pinpointing where a contact came from, you’ll get a clearer picture of where your marketing efforts are really succeeding and/or where your audience is most likely to convert.
The lifestyle changes from social distancing may have a lasting effect on your customers' habits, so the post-pandemic metrics may look different than they did pre-pandemic. As you get your brand back into the spotlight, having the data at your fingertips to show where the newest customers are coming from can be a tremendous asset.
5) Revenue by Product or Service
Ultimately, your brand’s marketing should be to sell your product or service to the people who will benefit from it most. As such, measuring revenue KPIs for your product or service should be one of the KPIs—if not the definitive KPI—for gauging your brand’s success.
Revenue KPIs may be the most prominent post-COVID signifier that your audience is fully prepared to get back to business. Generating revenue is great, but tracking it with KPIs is critical to gaining the insights that fuel future revenue.
If you see an email campaign bring in ROI (as it often does: $44 for every $1 spent), then keep it up! If you see demand return from a COVID slump, then track it with hard metrics! How many people are closing? Why are they closing? Where did they come from, and what pushed them to close the deal? The more metrics you track, the clearer the picture of your audience (and your industry at large, even) post-COVID will be.
It can feel daunting to get back on your feet after a crisis like COVID, especially since the pandemic isn’t something we can conclusively put an end to quite yet. However, as things reopen and people begin to return to the way of things, you should be tracking, measuring, and optimizing your brand’s services in response to some of the most important KPIs.
Set realistic but flexible goals for yourself and update them as frequently as necessary to keep up with the radically changing landscape we’re all operating out of. And remember, no matter how things look right now, something better is coming, and you’re going to want to be ready to embrace it when it arrives.