KPIs and Success Events

Ah… months with 5 Tuesdays… I don’t like them.

When do I post? Week 1 and 3, as usual? Do I leave a gap in week 5, then? Or do I post more frequently — say in weeks 1, 3 & 5, shortening the potential gap? How about posting in weeks 1 & 4, as a compromise?

Those are the things a blogger thinks about but noone ever mentions that, do they?

Anyway, the answer is fairly obvious for me: no long gaps. So here we go with a posting to bridge the gap and give you, my dear reader, your fix of information.

Speaking of readers, I am still totally chuffed about your repsonse! According to WordPress, March 2014 saw more than 1000 visitors on the blog, and even though Adobe Analytics disagrees (969 Unique Visitors), that is just spectacular!


Blog Stats according to WordPress


Blog Stats according to Adobe Analytics

I can’t thank you enough!

Goals and KPIs

Remember how I said Page Views really isn’t a valuable metric? Did I say that on this blog? Well, if I didn’t: Page Views are not a valuable metric! There you go.

So why on Earth am I showing you a graph that clearly includes Page Views?

The reason is that my blog is not a commercial undertaking.

I do not make money off it, nor do I want to. My motivation has to do with two things: a) getting information in the hand of developers so I don’t have to hop on calls all the time, and b) helping everyone to get past the “let’s build it” stage as quickly as possible, into the “let’s make use of it” stage. Remember: Implementation phase is not key!

My colleague Brent Dykes released a whole book on that subject some time ago (Web Analytics Action Hero). He calls it “setup land” and “action land”.

The point is that a lot of people in our industry are spending way too much time in “setup land” rather than “action land”, and blogs like this are trying to change that. I want you — the developer — to be informed so you can quickly and easily build the things that your friendly marketer needs. And I want your friendly marketer to not care about setup and instead use the data.

So for me, a Page View is actually a success. Someone — you! — looked at some content I wrote and hopefully understood it. It’s up to you to put it into practice, of course. I can’t measure the ultimate success of what I write, but I can measure how it gets consumed, and that’s why I show you Page Views and Unique Visitors.

I am certain noone else has the same goals, though, which means my original statement stands: Page Views are not a valuable metric.

Valuable Metrics

Can I tell you what metric would be valuable?

Technically, no, I can’t. Each business is different. Overall goals differ. The current focus shifts. There’s a bazillion tactics out there and even more KPIs.

But practically, there are things that make more sense than others, so I can try to give you a feeling. When your friendly marketer asks you to implement something the next time, think about it, then simplify and/or say no.

Let’s start with some built-in metrics:

Metric: Page Views
Valuable: Rarely
Used for: Often used to measure “reach”
Alternative(s): Custom Events (“White Paper Downloads”, “Blog Views”, …)
Metric: Visits
Valuable: Yes
Used for: Often used in calculated metrics (“Revenue per Visit” , “Click-through Rate”, …)
Alternative(s): Use segmentation to get more specific numbers!
Metric: Unique Visitors
Valuable: Yes
Used for: Often used to measure “reach” or in calculated metrics instead of Visits
Alternative(s): Use segmentation to get more specific numbers!
Metric: Orders / Units / Revenue
Valuable: Yes
Used for: Awesome if you’re a retailer! Measure your very business goal!
Alternative(s): None (but you can use Transaction IDs and upload returns, so you can optimise against net revenue!)
Metric: Time Spent per Visit
Valuable: *phew*
Used for: understanding “engagement”
Alternative(s): never use it on its own! Always take into account what people actually do. See Custom Events.
Metric: Carts / Cart Additions / Cart Views / Checkout
Valuable: Yes
Used for: Checkout funnel analysis or any other funnels
Alternative(s): None (but I recommend you add Custom Events on intermediate steps)
Metric: Bounces / Single Access / Reloads
Valuable: So-so
Used for: Understanding content performance
Alternative(s): Surveys? This is a tough one. Some say these are not needed at all.
Metric: Entries / Exits
Valuable: So-so
Used for: Understanding content performance (as in “do some things make people want to see more?”)
Alternative(s): Segmentation
Metric: Average Page Depth
Valuable: So-so
Used for: understanding site complexity and navigation patterns
Alternative(s): None, maybe surveys

Now I am sometimes a harsh judge, I know that, and obviously YMMV.

But here is the thing that I want to really point out: your business has goals. Those usually map to initiatives and tactical goals which are then measured using KPIs.

So why not measure exactly those KPIs?

Exactly. You should!

And that’s what Custom Success Events are for.

Let me point you to a good explanation of what they are here: Adam Greco on Success Events. This is an article that your friendly marketer should also read.

The great thing: they are very easy to implement!

Let’s say your main goal this quarter is lead generation. The one thing that you want to measure then is “Form Submissions”, when people fill in your contact form and hand over their email address. Right? Oh yes! Sweet email addresses for the sales team!

Let’s say your friendly marketer has set up event12 for this. All you have to do is send that event when the form is submitted, like so:"event12";

How exactly do you do that? Or rather where exactly?

Up to you, really.

  1. You could put it on the “Thank You for contacting us, we will be in touch soon” page.
  2. You could track it when the user hits the submit button, as described in Tracking Links & Actions.
  3. You could create a Processing Rule that sets the event on the “Thank you” page.
  4. Your tag management system might be able to add that event into the existing tracking code.

There’s a bunch of possible techniques, so you can choose and use the one that works best for you.

What matters is that you use Success Events as much as you can! It is the shortest way to get your friendly marketer reports that she can use!

Use them to measure the things that actually matter for your business!

Bonus track: if you want to go further, I suggest you read these two articles and wow your friendly marketer next time you speak about them: “Über” Success Events & Success Event Pathing. Both those concepts are highly valuable!


German expat living in Switzerland (formerly UK and France). Consultant and member of the Multi-Solutions Group at Adobe, working with the Digital Marketing Suite. Father of 4 girls.

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Posted in Principles
11 comments on “KPIs and Success Events
  1. […] about Success Events and let me explain using an […]


  2. […] the top menu, you can add “Variables” and metrics (Please tell me your app has an actual purpose! If it does: good. Make sure you add metrics for it […]


  3. […] Events in the help or KPIs and Success Events for […]


  4. […] built-in Visits and Visitors metric if you want to look at cross-usage. You need to set your own Success Events and use […]


  5. […] I was looking at it from the Analytics point of view, which I thought was obvious and easy: an event becomes a metric in a report, and if you want dimensions for your report, send data into […]


  6. […] Analytics. Tento lze zjednodušeně popsat takto: každou zajímavou událost označíme za “Success Event”, tím se stane metrikou v reportu a pokud chceme znát nějaké detailnější charakteristiky […]


  7. […] of Google Analytics. That should be even easier with Adobe Analytics, given that we have a bunch of Success Events and flexible […]


  8. […] bigger picture features can be tracked. Say you wrote a messaging app, you could absolutely use Success Events for the following features or activities: user opens editor, user writes more then 5 letter, user […]


  9. […] topic: I know that I am setting a “variable” or event somewhere — say event2. How can I find out which rule is doing […]


  10. […] our case (using Adobe Analytics), we would send a Success Event plus an eVar carrying the name of the page. This would later allow us to see two things for every […]


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