The four key performance indicators in digital marketing

Digital marketing is not new, but it is continuously and rapidly evolving. We break it down into four distinct KPIs to help you cut through the clutter.

Breaking down digital marketing into bite-sized bits

Digital marketing is like any other marketing, except it is still new and rapidly changing. Think how the advent of TV in South Africa back in the day changed the marketing landscape and those who understood the medium were able to benefit greatly. Digital is that new marketing space today, and those who can use it will win, while those who cannot or will not will lose. 

All marketing is about setting goals and measuring how well you meet those goals. But understanding digital marketing, what success looks like and how to go about measuring this success is a daunting task. The best way to tackle this task is to break it into manageable chunks or key performance indicators (KPI). Let’s briefly look at the four main KPIs. 


For most marketers the number of views is king. It used to be SABC news and the soaps on TV, and advertising on these cost a fortune. It was called broadcasting and you had millions of captive viewers, but only some of them would heed your message. With digital you are able to tailor your audience much better, go where your demographic or geographic or any other kind of –phic are, and pay for only those. The trick is to get as many of those as you can. 

There are several ways to build your views, and the most successful are quite aggressive. You have to create great content and take it to your viewers. This can involve a mix of social media, PR, emails, banner ads and so on. It will take time and money, but when the returns come, they will be worth it. 

Viewership is also something you can actively pay for, like pay per click and various options on channels like YouTube and Facebook. The thing is you need a call to action, otherwise your great content will be passively enjoyed with no benefit to you. But because it is digital, your audience’s response can be measured in real time and you can adjust your message or medium accordingly.


Building a successful audience or follower base is marketing gold, but it is tricky and requires a lot of work. Your platform and the way your target audience engages with it will determine success or failure. Obviously your content has to be spot-on to create loyal followers and the frequency of new posts will be critical. 

Building a great audience generally require cross-platform promotion, a very good understanding of who they are and why they are there, and how to hold their attention without annoying them away. 


Engagement is a child of social media. It means getting your audience to interact with your brand online, whether via likes, shares, comments, competitions, reviews, ratings and so on. It is like someone coming into your shop twice a week, even if they don’t buy something every time they do.

This is an ongoing conversation with your target audience: “So what do you think of my new product? Please tell your friends about it. Buy it today and you can win this great hamper.” 

Engagement is more about relationships than sales, but could be vital in getting those sales – a process called conversion.


Call it sealing the deal, ROI, the sale – this is where the digital rubber hits the monetary road. All other KPIs ultimately funnel to conversion. It is also the most difficult and elusive one to achieve in the highly fragmented and notoriously fractious digital marketplace. 

Successful conversion will require careful content placement, the right content type and the discipline to prioritise – to place the right offer in the right environment in a clean and alluring way that will motivate your audience to click that CLICK.

Call to action

Digital marketing is not difficult to do if you know what you are doing, but very easy to completely mess up. It is new and it is changing every day. Each of the four KPIs covered here can be subdivided into several separate fields of expertise. You are the best at what you do. We are experts in all things digital. Let’s talk. 




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