As marketers, it’s crucial to understand marketing campaign performance metrics and how you can adjust your strategy along the way to improve the outcome. When calculating return on investment (ROI), many marketers automatically start to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) in the first month of a campaign. While understanding ROI and KPI in digital marketing is essential, many marketers are guilty of gathering data too soon and cannot provide an accurate measurement of their ROI.  

According to a study by Insider Intelligence, fewer than two-thirds of marketers have confidence in measuring ROI across various channels. Avoid being part of this statistic by understanding the key differences between ROI and KPI and when to measure the performance metrics of your campaign.


Understanding KPI vs ROI is the key to becoming more confident in your marketing campaign performance metrics and decision-making processes. KPIs are the specific metrics to measure the performance of the digital marketing campaign. They measure the progress of the campaign against defined goals. Common KPI examples can include cost per acquisition, sales qualified leads, return on ad spend, and total revenue.  

On the other hand, ROI measures the revenue growth and impact of the marketing campaign. It attributes profit and calculates the return on the marketing investment. This metric can justify marketing spending and give insight into budget allocation for future campaigns.  

According to LinkedIn, 77% of digital marketers start measuring ROI within the first month of a campaign’s launch; thus, they aren’t getting a reliable representation of the performance metrics. Many business sales cycles take much longer, likely six months to a year. Marketers can use KPIs to drive success during their campaigns to ensure the best possible ROI. Instead of jumping too quickly to provide ROI reports to sales and finance teams, utilize KPI metrics to show the current campaign performance.

Think of KPIs as a micro measurement that calculates how a campaign is doing along the way, whereas ROI is the big picture. KPIs look forward, and ROI looks back. KPIs are crucial because they guide goals and help you stay on track to reach the desired result.  


KPI metrics allow you to assess the short-term impact; however, they don’t give an accurate reading of the big picture. Evaluating key marketing metrics is extremely helpful in the initial stages of a campaign and can improve the final outcome.  

Digital marketers should regularly measure performance metrics to adjust as needed to improve the result. These metrics are a more forward-looking predictor, whereas ROI metrics mark a campaign’s conclusion and look back at the overall performance. 

The key takeaway is not to move too fast. We know that digital marketers are often under pressure from outside players to provide proof of performance to secure future budget asks, and because of that, they’ll measure ROI too early. Measure KPIs and let those metrics guide you to a better result. 


Understanding and leveraging KPIs and ROI can make all the difference in driving your strategy forward. Let's explore how to use these metrics to optimize your marketing efforts and achieve tangible results.

  1. Set Clear Objectives
    Like any journey, you need a destination. Define specific, measurable goals aligned to business KPIs like revenue growth, customer acquisition cost, or brand awareness. This gives your efforts clear purpose and direction.
  1. Identify Relevant Metrics
    Choose metrics that map directly to your goals. For brand awareness campaigns, social media reach and engagement make sense. For lead generation, monitor conversion rates and cost per lead. Choosing the right KPIs keeps you focused on your end goal.
  1. Measure ROI
    Ultimately, your strategy should be as cost-effective as possible. Regularly calculate return on investment by comparing revenue to costs across campaigns, factoring in direct and indirect expenses. This gives a real insight into profitability and what areas of your strategy you should continue to invest in.
  1. Test and Optimize
    Don't get stuck in a rut. Use A/B testing, geo-targeting, creative versions, and more to improve performance continuously. Experimentation reveals what resonates with your audience. When A/B testing, make sure to focus on one sole variable per reporting period. Too many variations can cause cluttered data. Dig deep into what is working and what isn’t.
  1. Communicate Progress
    Report back frequently with clear data visualizations and summaries. Celebrate wins, discuss areas needing work, and align on the next steps. Transparency builds trust with internal teams.

By leveraging KPIs and ROI when creating a marketing strategy, you empower yourself to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely, and continuously refine your approach for optimal performance. It's not just about data; it's about fulfilling the full potential of your marketing endeavors.

Need help using KPI and ROI metrics to drive growth? Download our Top Five KPIs for Data-Driven Marketing Cheat Sheet.

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