Defining Key Digital Marketing Metrics and Acronyms

Defining Key Digital Marketing Metrics and Acronyms

Not all digital marketing metrics are created equal. Whether you’re purely looking for the definition of key marketing metrics or trying to understand which are applicable for your business, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we break down the metrics that are most commonly discussed in the realm of digital marketing, and when each can be applied.

Chances are, if you’ve made it to this article, you’re already interested in learning more about digital marketing metrics that matter. However, it’s important to have the bigger picture in mind when you dive into specific reporting details. Your metrics allow you to evaluate the success (or failure) of marketing strategies, in order to enhance your ideal customers’ user experience. Not all metrics are applicable to every area of marketing, so we’ll share which ones to pay attention to for different channels.


Return on investment (ROI) is a big one. There’s some debate over the accuracy of using ROI as a metric for reporting, but it works well as a snapshot into how your channels are performing compared to each other. You can use ROI for any channel, whether it falls under the category of paid or earned. Another popular variation of ROI is ROAS, or Return On Ad Spend. ROAS is specific to paid advertising, and many advertisers will do this calculation for you under advanced reporting.


Impressions constitute the total possible number of users who could have seen your content. Impressions are measured on social media, as well as part of the given analytics on paid ads on any channel.


Click-through-rate (CTR) is the conversion from Impressions to clicks. It is used to compare the effectiveness of the ad and its messaging to benchmarks within your company or industry.


Engagement is a broad term that takes other metrics like impressions, likes / clicks, and comments into account to give an analysis of a specific piece of content. It allows for general comparisons between pieces of content. For example, if you typically get 12 likes and a handful of comments on a social media post, then a new type of post gets thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, you’ve discovered a new strategy to boost engagement. Your content strategy should be formulated around boosting engagement.


A key performance indicator (KPI) is a general term for an important metric that you’re accountable for within your business. A KPI can be specific to a short-term project or a consistent performance metric associated with your role. KPIs can include many of the acronyms listed here, like impressions, conversion rate or ROI.

Defining Key Digital Marketing Metrics and Acronyms


Search engine optimization (SEO) is a multi-dimensional, strategic approach to increasing your visibility online. We’ve written a few blog posts on SEO, but we recommend this one to start understanding exactly what goes on behind the scenes and screens.


Traffic is an indicator of the health of your content strategy because it takes into account visits from both paid and earned media. With Google Analytics (and other built-in analytics tools), you’ll be able to see the breakdown of how people are getting to your website. If you see less organic traffic, it might be time to revisit your earned media strategy – think social media and blogging for SEO. If you see less paid traffic, revamp your keywords and ad copy.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate indicates how quickly people leave your website after viewing one page. A bounce rate of 99% could mean that 99% of your website traffic didn’t find your content relevant and left your site after just seeing the homepage. On the flip side, a low bounce rate (typically between 26% to 40%) means that your website traffic likes your content and wants to spend more time onsite, leading to higher conversion and sales. Search engines like Google factor your website’s bounce rate into where you rank in search results, so the lower your bounce rate, the better.


A conversion rate (CR) measures goals for a specific campaign or channel. Click-through-rate is an example of a conversion rate from impressions to clicks. Conversion rate can also measure the rate that visitors to your website “convert” by signing up for your newsletter or making a purchase.


Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the total dollar amount spent to acquire one customer through paid advertising. CAC doesn’t factor in the total time that your customer remains loyal, but it is useful in comparing which advertising platforms perform best.


A customer’s lifetime value (LTV) is the total dollar amount of purchases that customer will make with your company. This is an average of historical purchases by all customers, and can be used to estimate sales in upcoming timeframes. All channels contribute to a customer’s lifetime value.


Objectives and key results (ORKs) inspire, empower, align teams. These strategic objectives allow you to quantify your goals and rally your team.


A content management system (CMS) is a back-end system that allows you to organize and distribute content. CMS tools are typically used for managing your website. The most well-known examples of CMS include WordPress, Shopify, and Squarespace… Find out which ones we recommend here.


A customer relationship management (CRM) tool is software that allows you and your sales / marketing team to keep track of actions customers take on your website. CRMs also track metrics related to form submissions and email marketing efforts.

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