3 Steps to Setting the Right KPI with Your Client

by | Apr 24, 2019 | Impressions

Indulge me for a bit on a hypothetical: you own a house and are getting tired of maintaining the lawn by yourself.

After some research, you find a talented landscaper who comes highly recommended by a neighbor. You give the gentleman a call, set a budget and schedule a day for him to come by.

The day arrives and you greet him in the morning as you’re leaving. You return eight hours later and, to your delight, he has installed three lovely rose bushes and trimmed the hedges.

However, to your dismay, he failed to trim the lawn — the one thing you originally set out to accomplish!

We find that this is how a client feels when their media team fails to hit what they consider to be the most important metric.

This miscommunication is more common across the industry than it should be thanks to one basic fact:

The disparity of knowledge is huge in modern digital advertising.

As a media professional who lives in this world day in and day out, it’s easy to forget how deep your knowledge base really is. Clients, who are top professionals in their own right, often come in with only a piecemeal knowledge base, if any at all.

Between wading through ecosystems and acronyms, it’s important to step back and realize that few clients are true digital media experts. And not being on the same page can lead to a very unhappy client, even when you’ve done an objectively good job.

So, establishing a clear KPI (Key Performance Indicator) early is vitally important. Let’s get into how to do it.

The Importance of KPIs

The KPI is your goal post. It is the set of rules that you and the client agree upon that signifies the success or failure of a campaign.

While any digital marketer worth their salt knows that a campaign is more complex than a single metric, the KPI is a contract. While working through this contract you’ll need to do three things: educate, clarify, and gain consensus.

3 Steps to Setting the Right KPI

Setting the Right KPI Expert Guide Subhead: Educate

1. Educate

As mentioned before, few clients are digital advertising experts. As a result, expect education to take up about half of KPI establishing process.

The right KPI should provide value, and you are likely going to have to educate a client on the value certain KPIs provide. This will help avoid the pitfall of setting a KPI that doesn’t fit what the client wants out of the campaign.

While it may be tempting to set a KPI that’s easy to hit so you can make your company look stellar, trust will be permanently lost when the client finds out they have been watching the wrong ball. Pick an important KPI, inform the client on why it’s important and explain how it will help them get the value they want out of the campaign.

Setting the Right KPI Expert Guide Subhead: Clarify

2. Clarify

The clarifying step of setting the right KPI is arguably the most important because it goes both ways. Not only should you outline to the client what is and isn’t important, you should also gather information on what is important to them.

At the end of the day, clients pay the bills. So, clarifying what the client feels is most important is crucial. As a digital advertiser, it is your job to tread a careful line between what the client initially feels is right and what proves to be right as the campaign develops.

Sometimes there is no option but to accept a client has their heart set on a suboptimal KPI. This is just a part of client interaction. If the KPI isn’t the best, make sure you clarify with the client why it’s suboptimal and the issues they’ll face because of it.

Setting the Right KPI Expert Guide Subhead: Consensus

3. Gain Consensus

The final step is to gain consensus. Getting the client to agree is great, but it doesn’t mean a thing if there is no record of it.

The best way to get an agreement is to have a KPI baked into a contract that both you and the client sign. This ensures that as time moves on, no one is moving the goalposts. It’s the best way to make sure you’re covered if there is friction down the road.

The KPI is a great tool for setting a baseline across teams. It gives a point to watch and a landmark to gauge success from. For less advertising savvy clients, KPIs create common ground to clearly communicate success.

If established using the steps above, the right KPI will show your client the value of your work. And clients who buy in to your performance will be excited to keep working with you.


LumenAd helps organizations bring media in-house. Learning how to consistently establish the correct KPI is a vitally important first step. Schedule a demo today or subscribe below to learn more.

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