Objectives & KPIs

What KPIs should we use? This is a question I get more often than “How are you?”. Therefore I wanted to share my current best thinking. As always, I launch and iterate, but from where I stand today I believe this makes sense.

First, a quick recap of the consumer journey along the See-Think-Do-Care framework (Avinash):

What Example from fashion industry
See Anyone that could buy your product People wearing clothes (that’s a lot of people)
Think Anyone that could buy your product showing some commercial intent People wearing clothes, thinking that they might need some new ones
Do Anyone that could buy your product showing a lot of commercial intent People wearing clothes, thinking that they might need some new ones NOW
Care Your existing customers People who bought clothes from you

The objective of stages See, Think and Care is to drive “mental availability”, something that goes under many names such as “share of mind”, “awareness”, “attention” etc. The principle is that the more people that think about you in relation to competition, the higher the likelihood they buy you when they are ready to buy. The objective of the Do stage is to make it ridiculously easy to buy. So you need to maximize your mental availability at stages See, Think and Care, and maximize ease-of-purchase at Do stage.

So what KPIs are relevant? Well, there are two types of KPIs:

Output KPIs – These are the most important KPIs, the end result we are looking for. For example “absolute profit”.

In-process KPIs – This is what we put into the plan but not really what we are looking for. The means to an end. For example, we can say that we want to reach X people, but that’s not really the impact we are looking for. We are probably looking to create “awareness” from reaching these people, but it’s still a relevant KPI because if we don’t get the awareness we can look at the input and root-cause what went wrong. If we reached enough people but didn’t get the awareness, the reach didn’t have any impact and then we need can look into why that was the case.

So, with this, what are relevant in-process and output KPIs throughout the consumer journey?

In-process KPI Output KPI
See Reach

Share of Voice (SoV)

Think Reach of people showing some commercial intent (often gathered in a remarketing list) Brand searches
Do Reach of people showing lots of commercial intent Whatever financial KPI(s) you committed to your owners
Care Reach among your existing customers Repeat purchase rate

The reason why we have chosen the KPIs we have chosen:




Reach: You need to reach people with your message if you expect to drive a change in behavior. You need to ensure that reach takes viewability into account, since reaching someone with a message they cannot see doesn’t count.

SoV: 50% reach is great if competition reaches 20%, but if competition reaches 70% you will on average have fewer people thinking about you, meaning a competitive disadvantage.


Awareness: You want people to think about you, your product, the benefits you provide etc as it increases the likelihood of sales when people start to become interested in buying something from your industry.




Reach of people with some commercial intent: You need to decide which signals you deem as qualifying for commercial intent and gather all of that in a remarketing list. It can be people visiting your site, choosing to see a video, downloading an App etc.


Brand searches: When people start to have some commercial intent and “look around”, you don’t want them to look for competition or the industry in general, you want them to look for you. When people look for you directly you are always better off, for example in search marketing to increase your share of branded searches.




Reach of people with loads of commercial intent: Just as in Think stage, you need to decide which signals you deem as qualifying for loads of commercial intent and gather all of that in a remarketing list. It can be people putting something in the basket but leaving it without checking out, people searching for “buy” + something etc.


The most important financial KPI: Every business has one or multiple owners that you’ve agreed with what the most important financial KPI is. It’s often either top-line revenue growth or bottom-line profit, or a combination of the two. What is important here is that all actions that you do, including your communication efforts, are optimized towards your most important financial KPI. Anything else would lead to sub-optimization. Many businesses still optimize their search marketing towards a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) target, despite that there are very few companies that have promised a low CPA to their owners. In this regards the CFO should set the output KPI for the Do stage as they are on top of what the most important financial KPI is.




Reach of existing customers: You most probably have a CRM system of sorts where you collect your existing customers. At Care stage you want to reach them with a message to remind them of you.


Repeat purchase rate: To have your customers buy from you again is a good sign that they appreciated your product. That said, it’s more a testimony to a great product than a successful communication plan or loyalty program.


Worth noting is that you shouldn’t have non-specified KPIs such as “engagement”. Engagement is not a KPI. It needs to be defined into something measurable to qualify as a KPI.

An example of what the KPI structure could look like for a travel company:

In process KPI Output KPI
See Reach >50% of population

Keep Share of Voice >60%

Grow top-of-mind awareness +5%pts
Think Reach 100% of people showing some commercial intent Grow branded searches +10%pts
Do Reach 100% of people showing lots of commercial intent Grow topline revenue +20% at >0% profitability
Care Reach 100% of existing customers Get >20% of existing customers to repeat purchase

Depending on how you track your business there are many ways to measure these KPIs in practice. As one example you can measure Awareness at See stage and Brand search uplift at Think stage for a YouTube ad using Google’s free measurement tool called BrandLift.

Now, you are probably not just looking to play, but to win. In order to win over time you need to build a competitive advantage at each stage, and here is how you can do that:

SEE – Drive fast recognition – The faster someone attributes an ad to your brand the better. This since if your brand is faster to recognize than competition, you will get a better result (bigger mental availability) for the same number of impressions. Therefore, always ensure that your communication is properly branded with logo, signature color, shapes etc that people relate to your brand.

THINK – Expand content base – When people start to research your industry you should have relevant answers to whatever they look for. You do this by every year expanding your content so you can increase your relevance continuously and turn it into a competitive advantage. For example, if someone looks for smart ways to travel, few travel companies have great content about that, so being relevant to frequent business travelers that look for smart ways to travel can be a competitive advantage.

DO – Optimize the purchase – The more you optimize the actual purchase, the lower your cost of purchase will be, which can then turn into a competitive advantage.

CARE – Expand reach of owned media – If you capture your existing customers you can continuously expand the reach of your owned media such as your CRM system and e-mail marketing program. This way you can reach people via owned (free) media, and remove them using negative remarketing lists from the See stage, and by doing that save money. For example, if 30% of the population have bought from you and you are great in incentivizing people to become part of your CRM system you can save 30% of your media budget at See stage since you can reach them via owned media.

Note that there are many more things you can measure in addition to the ones we brought up in this article. For example if you look at video as an advertising media you can measure things such as View Through Rate (VTR), Cost Per View (CPV) etc. That said, these are not fundamental KPIs that will drive your business. So as a starting point, instead of starting with everything that you can measure, start with what will truly drive your business and keep it simple. I often find that people include lots of KPIs when really what they need is fewer KPIs and a good discussion about what they want to achieve.


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