Marketing KPIs for Your Small Destination
One area of marketing we see many small destinations struggle with is identifying and tracking the proper metrics, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), for marketing activities. KPIs are not only important to track success, but also can provide additional insights into your audience, content, and revenue. Although it may not be everyone’s favorite topic, KPIs are necessary for the continued success of a destination’s marketing efforts, or any brand for that matter. Keep reading below for more information on marketing KPIs and how best to keep track of them based on our experience working with small destinations.
Why Tracking KPIs is Important
Before we get into which KPIs your destination should be tracking, let’s first discuss some reasons KPIs are important. Tracking KPIs allows destinations to monitor the success of a particular activity to see if it is generating the desired results, or worth continuing to invest in. KPIs are also important in revealing necessary adjustments that can be made to continuously improve. By doing this, you are not only increasing your chances of success, but also preventing wasted budget on content or channels that are not generating the desired results. KPIs assist in validating which activities are worth investing in, information about your audience, and more, all of which are important in generating real business impact for your destination.
Business Impact vs. Vanity Metrics
When creating your list of KPIs be sure to prioritize business impact metrics, not vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are KPIs that make you look good to other people, like number of followers, or likes on a post, but don’t impact the bottom line. Be sure the metrics you choose align with a strategy that is designed to drive revenue. For example if your marketing content is focused on emphasizing the free attractions in town, that is not going to positively impact your revenue like highlighting trade shows, events, restaurants and hotels.
Everyone’s Favorite KPI – Revenue
One question that every client has, not just DMOs, is, “how do my marketing activities impact revenue?”. Although it may be difficult to prove a direct correlation between the two, tracking KPIs like, change in hotel bookings, and sales tax revenue, can aid in attributing your marketing activities to revenue generated. Both of these metrics are tied directly to destination marketing and can be an indicator of a campaign’s success if compared to other periods of time where no marketing, or a different marketing strategy was in place. Be sure to not place too much emphasis on just revenue related KPIs as they ignore the long term benefits that marketing has on a destination.
Tracking + Organizing KPIs
Our philosophy when sharing marketing KPIs with small destinations that has proven to be successful is to group them by marketing channels.
- “Earned Media”: How other people are talking about the destination, without having to pay them, ex: newspapers, TV, radio etc.
- “Owned Media”: How the destination talks about itself, ex: website, social media, etc.
- “Paid Media”: Paid advertising
Within each of these categories track a mixture of reach, performance and revenue metrics to get an overall picture of success over time. For example in owned media an important metric to track is, what percent of your social reach is made up of visitors. This is important because you want to be sure that you are reaching visitors through your social channels, as they are the ones that have the most potential to generate sales tax revenue and increase overnight stays. Tracking this metric can help you directly correlate your social media activities to a revenue generating metric, like hotel stays.
Here are some other common KPIs we recommend tracking:
*How many total social media posts around the world include hashtags specifically related to a destination and its attractions/businesses.
We could go on and on about different KPIs, why they are important and how best to track them, but then this would be a really long blog post. If you have additional questions regarding marketing KPIs, we would love to chat! For additional resources, take a look at some of our other blog posts here.