As marketers, we’ve been brought up to believe that reporting is an intricate part of our job. But we’re given tools that only allow us to measure success based on channel-specific, operational KPIs. At best, these metrics are a shallow representation of the work we do.

They don’t give us information about how our campaigns are impacting the overall success of the business. We need to break free from the mindset that open rates and click-through rates mean success. Marketers must transition into a more strategic role by graduating from operational KPIs to strategic KPIs.

In doing this, marketers will become invaluable assets to their organization — being able to connect their day-to-day activities with higher business objectives.

The Marketing Metrics & KPIs Your CMO Really Cares About

Let’s look at the differences between operational and strategic metrics and a few examples of strategic metrics that can impact your e-commerce business right away.

Operational Metrics

Operational metrics are the ones we’ve been led to believe we should report on. They prove we’re successful in our role. At least that’s what every channel-specific technology platform would have us believe. But operational metrics mostly focus on results that can be impacted daily. They can fall in different channels or in operational processes.

And while they are important metrics, they don’t give marketers the full view of the impact marketing is having on the business.

These metrics might include:

  • Emails sent
  • Email open rates
  • Message CTR

I feel it’s important to say again that these types of metrics still matter for marketers. They help us understand what’s working on a day-to-day basis when it comes to process and operations. They can also give you insight into how and where your customers are engaging with you best.

But to take your marketing to the next level and grow your team into the next generation of marketers, you need to shift your focus outside of just operational KPIs. It’s time to dive deeper into some strategic KPIs that can actually impact business goals.

Strategic Metrics

Strategic metrics align with the objectives of the overall business goals. These goals usually come from the CEO and focus on revenue and customer growth — two very important parts of growing a successful e-commerce business. Let’s break down some e-commerce marketing metrics that strategically align to both revenue and customer growth.

Strategic KPIs for Revenue Growth

Revenue growth is obviously an important part of any e-commerce business. Marketers need to focus on metrics that impact this. These metrics can focus on things like converting buyers and increasing purchase frequency.

Using these metrics, marketers can make the most impact by creating a strategy around them and deploying tactics that best create results:

Take Increase lead to first-time buyer conversion, for example. By increasing this metric, you can directly impact the bottom line by creating more revenue through purchases. To do this, you can choose from several different tactics that work to affect this strategy best.

A Birthday campaign can be a great way to engage customers to a conversion by offering them a gift incentive in the lead-up to their birthday. This may seem like a tactic you might only use with active customers, but it’s a great tool for converting your contacts who’ve registered their email (and birthday) but have yet to make their first purchase.


An Abandon browse campaign is a great tool for following up with customers and visitors who visited your site but didn’t make a purchase. This tactic is popular within many strategies, but it’s a proven method for helping marketers increase lead to first-time buyer conversions.

This is just one strategy that can affect the very important metric of revenue growth. But, as marketers, this is how we should think about planning out our strategies. First, aligning our strategy to the overall goal of the business, and then executing the tactics that can make the most impact on our strategy.

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Strategic KPIs for Customer Growth

Customer retention and growth should be on the forefront of all marketing strategies. If e-commerce marketers want to make an impact on growth, focusing in on creating active customers is a great way to deliver results.

Customers are the lifeblood of your business, yet many marketers spend more time on acquiring new customers than retaining their existing ones. While both strategies are important, retaining customers is far less costly than acquiring new ones. Meaning we should spend more time focusing on retaining the customers we have.

You’ve already impacted revenue by increasing lead to first-time buyer conversions, but now we need to think about how we can keep those customers around. This is where a strategy like Increase first-time buyer to repeat buyers comes into play.

This is a strategy that can impact customer growth in big ways. You can use many different tactics to keep customers engaged and shopping, making them an active customer base that purchases again and again.

For example, Price drop is a great tactic that encourages customers to purchase items you know they’re interested in by enticing them with a lower price alert. This can create a spontaneous purchase that will create an active customer out of one who may have only made one purchase with your e-commerce brand.

Price drop

Another popular tactic for this strategy is Replenishment. Replenishment is a way for us to remind customers to purchase an item they may be running out of. This works great for beauty brands or even shoe stores.

If you know customers typically repurchase the same mascara every 60 days, you can remind a new buyer that they may be running low to entice a purchase — creating value for the customer and an additional chance to purchase.

Just like we discussed above with revenue, this is the way marketers should be selecting and aligning their metrics. With these examples, we can also see how the marketing strategies we select can even work together to increase both revenue and customer growth — giving you a strategy that works and shows your business how much marketing can help impact the greater goals.


By shifting our focus to include both operational and strategic metrics in our reporting structure, we’re getting the opportunity to not only show our worth as marketers, but also become a strategic asset to the business.

Marketing is a constantly evolving field. Every time we think we have a handle on what’s working, the next best thing comes out that promises to deliver incredible ROI and make us the stars of the company.

But what if we stopped relying on the next trend and started focusing on the real future of marketing — marketing that actually impacts business results?
Marketing is changing constantly, but if we want to thrive as marketers in the coming years and grow our value (and careers), we need to focus on aligning our work to the goals of the business. In doing that, we’ll not only take back control of the work we’re doing, but we’ll also prove ourselves to be invaluable assets to the organization.

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