International online marketing – the main KPIs.

International online marketing – the main KPIs

So your organisation’s strategy has been defined. Now it’s time to meet the targets and demonstrate convincing international online success. How? By correctly using clear and specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). But be careful – an incorrectly defined KPI or too many KPIs can potentially have a negative effect.

Defining good KPIs

KPIs offer important information for your entire organization. The information in KPIs can be used to follow the progress of your online performance and compare it to the competition. In addition, KPIs can be used to observe trends and make predictions.

For example, monitoring the number of visitors to your site will give you insight into the effectiveness of your SEO and Ads campaigns. Monitoring the cost per online lead will tell you if your online budget is being spent effectively or if you need to optimize your campaigns.

So how do you define good KPIs? One way is to use the SMART principle: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound. The principle is well-known, but here’s a quick reminder of what it means for KPIs:

  • Specific

Be as specific as possible when you define your KPIs. The more clearly you define a KPI, the sooner you will be able to tell if you will meet your targets or if you will need to make changes in your online marketing campaigns.

For example, it can be interesting to monitor the number of visitors, but the number of unique visitors per month to your desktop website from Ads campaigns is a more specific KPI and will give you the information you need to optimize your Ads campaigns and meet your targets.

  • Measurable

Measuring holds the key to knowledge. KPIs are by definition quantifiable. Make sure you have access to the right measuring tools for each of your KPIs.

For example, we all want potential customers to engage with our content. But how do we measure engagement? A KPI that includes length of visit or number of pages viewed – both of which can be measured – gives us information about how well visitors engage with our content. This type of KPI is very useful in content marketing, for example.

  • Attainable

Aim for the sky, but make sure your KPIs aren’t sky high! Unattainable KPIs will lead to nothing but frustration.

For example, in international B2B online marketing we see that cost per lead (CPL) can vary greatly from country to country. Monitoring a KPI of CPL for individual countries will tell us when to optimise to reduce the CPL, but a KPI of a low CPL will not be attainable in some more expensive countries, like the United Kingdom.

  • Relevant

There are endless numbers of possible KPIs for international online marketing. The best KPIs for your organization are the KPIs that are relevant to your business and your goals. For example, if you sell products online, then revenue per visit could be a KPI, but this KPI is very different  if your online target is to generate marketing qualified leads and revenue will be achieved over time.

In international B2B online marketing KPIs must include local relevance. For example, local factors like local search engines or local legislation can throw a spanner in the works. A KPI that measures Bing traffic will provide much less useful information in countries where Bing has a small market share.

Be sure to avoid defining KPIs that you cannot influence. For example, your website may be effective in terms of online KPIs like average time on site and returning visits but still generate 0 revenue if sales performance is under par. The marketing manager cannot influence this performance, so it should not be included in his KPIs.

  • Time bound

Without a time-frame your KPIs are less meaningful. For example, a KPI of 10 sales qualified leads means very little unless it includes a time-frame. Make sure you include a time-frame for each KPI.

In addition, set a time-frame within which you wish to achieve your KPI. Your KPIs are likely  not to be at the desired level from day 1. Optimising campaigns, messaging and budgets will help you steer results towards your KPIs. Set a deadline for your KPI – if you haven’t achieved your KPI despite optimisation, perhaps you need to find a new approach. Without a deadline, you have no way of knowing how long you will continue to optimise.

KPI categories

Now you understand how to set SMART KPIs, it’s time to start work. As we saw above, the KPIs you define will depend on your business, your goals, local market conditions and many other factors. The following is a list of examples of KPIs in 4 key categories.

Category: website traffic

  • Website sessions
  • % of mobile traffic
  • Ratio of Paid to Organic traffic

Category: engagement

  • Bounce rate
  • Average time on site
  • Average pages per visit
  • Average returning visits per user
  • Email open rate
  • Email click rate

Category: Ads

  • Impressions and clicks
  • CTR
  • Cost per click
  • Average position
  • Traffic spend
  • Conversion rate

Category: leads & conversions

  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per lead
  • Revenue per lead
  • Marketing qualified leads
  • Sales qualified leads

Ideally, you will select 5 to 6 main KPIs, depending on your goals and your online activities.

What tools can I use to monitor my KPIs?

For online marketing, a measurement package like Google Analytics is essential. B2B organisations often use a CRM system. Linking this CRM system to Google Analytics is vital to be able to follow the customer journey ‘end to end’.




Dashboards are an excellent way to monitor KPIs. Tools like Google Analytics include dashboards, but a disadvantage of analytics packages is that they often do not offer the option of defining goals. So they can’t be used to create a dashboard showing indicators and targets.
External dashboard tools are an alternative. These tools have the advantage that external data sources like a CRM system can be incorporated. It is common to see dashboards for each country, each business line and for the organization as a whole. Tools like Klipfolio allow the incorporation of data from various data sources in dashboards, even if you are using a legacy system.

KPI dashboard

Different phases, different KPIs

A common mistake made when defining KPIs is generalising KPIs over the entire conversion process. For example, B2B customers are often acquired online and converted offline. So it’s important to define separate KPIs for the online phases and for the offline phases of the conversion/lead process. In the online phases, downloads and time on site could be KPIs, whereas in the offline phases, quote requests or phone calls could be more apt.

The aim is to find a good balance of online and offline KPIs. Ideally, you should display them together in a single dashboard. This prevents an online department claiming success and passing the buck to the offline department.

Remember to define a KPI from beginning to end in order to have total overview. KPIs that track performance from beginning to end tell the entire organisation how they are doing and creates a shared responsibility.


Maxlead has created an convenient checklist with crucial aspects of online B2B marketing to help you develop international campaigns.

Download our Checklist International Online B2B Marketing.


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