Last KPI Standing: A debate of the most important metrics for optimization

Last KPI Standing: A Debate of the Most Important Metrics to Optimize

This morning’s MITX panel discussion in Boston’s Innovation District had the room buzzing (once the coffee arrived!) as four pros of the trade debated: Which metrics are the most important metrics to optimize?

The customer experience perspective

ISITE Design’s Jeff Cram presented his top 3 metrics first, as he delved into optimizing from the customer experience perspective that drives our Day2 program.

He pointed out that “Lately, it seems too many marketers are focusing on optimizing the spend [in acquiring customers] versus optimizing the experience”. His three metrics to consider most in building experiences:

1. Micro conversion rates: With so many touchpoints affecting overall experience, it is most important to consider and optimize the ones with tangible, visible, improvable business value.

Jeff cited the work we did with KinderCare as an example: just by changing a button on a key landing page, we saw a 57% increase in micro conversion rate. 

2. Bounce rate by segment: While the average bounce rate may seem alright, it’s important to note the range to understand the significance and areas for improvement. He referenced a KISSmetrics infographic that breaks down the segments behind bounce rate.

A great example of what can happen from improving the right segment? Our work with SolarWorld Americas drove a 200% increase in conversions.

3. Return on content: Knowing which content is most valuable is key to building a strategy behind your content marketing efforts.

The social side

Rishi Dean of Nanigans shared his top metrics for optimizing from the social perspective, sharing the holy trinity of user acquisition optimization: Balancing volume, cost, and return of customers to understand the predicted Lifetime Value (LTV).

It was a bit early for a deep dive into the math behind it all, but Rishi’s equation for considering the components of LTV all boiled down to one thing: it’s about customers, not clicks.

I appreciated Rishi’s recognition of the problems behind optimizing social efforts that often keep marketers at bay from digging deep into the metrics. Some potential challenges that stood out: low numbers with delayed conversions; short campaigns that are tricky to optimize for; and particularly quick burnout of social campaigns.

Optimizing for Search

Bob Glazer of Acceleration Partners was up next, discussing what he asserted to be the biggest problem in marketing today: attribution.

Issue #1 with attribution: Bob explained that often, many different departments and individuals are working with you as you optimize, and the problem of “double counting” – attributing a conversion to more than one source – can confuse your understanding of conversions.

Issue #2:  Branded – the White Pages of search – versus non-branded – the Yellow Pages – is the wrong place to focus on optimization. Instead, SEO efforts should be put behind non-branded efforts, and ensuring people find your brand when they aren’t necessarily searching for you by name.

Lastly, Bob reminded everyone to notice the branded/non-branded split – the total ROI average won’t tell you the whole story to focus your optimization efforts.

Mobile Optimization

Craig Palli rounded out the panel, covering some key metrics for optimizing mobile. His top 3 metrics: cost per conversion, viral coefficient, and cost per loyal user.

Craig noted that it’s important to benchmark the competition when it comes to mobile app performance, and shared the Fiksu Indexes. He also pointed out that it is poor practice to observe only the number of app downloads; what’s important is the number of engaged daily users, to determine the cost of maintaining loyal usage.

Tools and resources

Jaime Reynolds of MITX ended the program by asking all of the panelists for their favorite tools for optimizing:


Though today’s event was a true fire hose of information, it seemed the Day2 perspective of optimizing throughout the beginning-to-end experience – rather than primarily focusing optimization efforts on acquisition – was a bit of an anomaly.

We’ll be hosting a webinar later this month to talk more in-depth about the optimization efforts Jeff discussed in today’s panel. Stay tuned to our Insight blog and Twitter for more information on the webinar, coming soon!


Here are the slides from Jeff's presentation, for the full scoop:

Experience Optimization: Three metrics every marketer should be looking at from ISITEDesign


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