Top 10 KPIs for Conversion Copywriters

Presented live on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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If you go into fight-flight-or-freeze mode when someone brings up bounce rates, drill-down reports or campaign attribution, know this: Google Analytics (GA) is actually every conversion copywriter’s ally.

You can’t do your job well without it. And your team / clients can’t measure how badass you are at your job without it.

GA is only scary if you don’t know what you’re looking at…


Joanna Wiebe: Welcome to tutorial Tuesday’s I’m Joe from copy hackers joined but Angelica hello

Angela Stojanov: Hello.

Joanna Wiebe: But you’ll notice that we also have special guests here, Nicole. Luke. Hello, Nicole.

Joanna Wiebe: Nicole is in to teach us today about analytics specifically 10 KPIs that every copywriter, conversion copywriter needs to know needs to use.

Joanna Wiebe: Nicole, welcome.

Nicole Luke: Hi there. Thanks for having me.

Joanna Wiebe: Thanks for coming. I’m so stoked to have you come in and talk about, well, what you do, but talk about it specifically for copywriters. So I’ll let you take it away.

Nicole Luke: Great, thanks. So I’m going to share the deck that I have here. So, thanks for having me. Joanna. Today I’m going to talk about the top 10 KPIs for conversion copywriters, specifically targeted you guys because that I believe is my audience. So first of all, who am I and why should you listen to me?

So I’ve actually been working with data since before it was cool, which really feels like forever for me. I’ve always loved data that makes me weird. I used to have a cookie spreadsheet at Christmas time, and I can tell you about that another time.

Joanna Wiebe: I am not surprised – not even a little. It’s all good though.

Nicole Luke: Well, you’ve got to make sure people have the right allocation of cookies. Joanna, you just have to.

Joanna Wiebe: That’s all I think about.

Nicole Luke: So it’s all a spreadsheet.

Joann Wiebe: Yes, of course. I should’ve known.

Nicole Luke’s Introduction [01:30]

Nicole Luke: Yeah. Now I’ve also backed all of this experience with some degrees. I do have a degree in finance and management science, which is just fancy statistics. I do have an education degree, I taught junior high math for a little bit too. So try to get my love of numbers down to that level. And I’ve also had a ton of work experience, now that I think about it, 20 years of work experience working with data. Bunch of industries: banking, software, healthcare, e commerce, retail. So I’ve kind of seen data from a lot of different perspectives. So that’s who I am. But let’s get going.

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes for me data feels a little bit like this. Right? Everybody likes to say that they are data driven, they make decisions based on data, but a lot of times there’s you know politics involved. There’s gut feel and stuff like that so, my job is to help you increase the data fluency and hopefully you guys will break real database decisions. So that was just my little I love Dilbert. Sorry.

What is a KPI? [02:30]

Okay, so first of all, what is a KPI? So for those of you who don’t know, a KPI stands for key performance indicator, which is a quantifiable measure to evaluate success, right? I like to think of it as a way to measure progress towards a goal. You’ll sometimes see your KPIs being talked about as goals, but they are not. A KPI is not a goal. It is a way to measure your success, your progress towards that goal. You also see the word indicators and metrics, they’re often used interchangeably to will an indicator indicates, as it says, in the word there, is meant to tell you about an outcome or a trend. And it can be a metric, so a metric is something that measures. So the numbers. So for example, you might say, is my gas tank full? That’s a metric, but it’s also an indicator if you can drive your car.

So they can be both, but they are slightly different. There’s a bit of an overlap, but they are different. And key performance indicators is usually a group of metrics that are comprised for you to kind of get an idea where you’re going. 

What Can KPI’s Help You Understand About Your Website? [03:30]

So, but once again, what is a KPI? So the key is in the word key, it’s not all metrics. It is just the key metrics. Helping you understand where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going. So you don’t want to look at everything you want to look at just the right amount of information, right? I did a dash, I did a blog post last year on dashboards and I’d like to also use this as an analogy for KPIs.

Look at your vehicle dashboard, probably the picture I have down there. It tells you how much gas you have in your tank, how fast you’re going, has a lovely little check engine light so probably should deal with that sometime soon, Right? It tells you, just the right amount of information for you to go on your journey and to get to your destination safely. But too many times companies because let’s be honest, all of us people, we think that we need more information, the more information we have, the better decision we can make, right? But then your dashboard ends up looking like this. And I don’t know about you, I have no clue what to focus on there. I might do one of two things. I might completely ignore it and then go too fast and never fill up my gas tank, because I don’t know where it’s at. Or I might constantly just focus on it. And then, you know, get a ticket for distracted driving because I’m just focusing on my dashboard and what’s all the data? What do I have to do? So that’s really what KPIs are, it’s about picking those key ones that help you understand if you’re going where you want to go, right?

So as a conversion copywriter. You might not like looking at data. But, I mean, I know, I know you’re thinking, who doesn’t like take their big mug of tea and open up Google Analytics and just start looking at that data, right? No, no, that’s not okay? That’s just me then I guess? Whatever. 

Evaluating Email and Web Copy KPI’s [05:10]

But, you know, there are some KPIs that are very helpful for you in evaluating how effective your copy is. So I will be focusing on email and web copy primarily, and I kind of say the top 10 and I do want to give you full disclosure here. My experience has generally been in industries where they’re looking to make money. So that’s kind of the lens that I’m taking when I look at these top 10 KPIs. It doesn’t mean you can’t use them for things like newsletters or blog posts, because a lot of these metrics are – you can easily use them in that, that field as well. But the lens that I take when I look at KPIs is generally how much more money can I make, in all honesty.

What does the Unique Open Rate Measure? [05:51]

Okay, so let’s get started. Let’s start with email KPIs. So the first one, the unique open rate. Okay, so this helps you understand the effectiveness of your subject line. Now I know Joanna, you’ve done some great tutorials on subject line and open rates and I watched a couple of them. And they’re great, highly recommend if those of you who haven’t, go back and watch them. But this is how you measure the effectiveness of your subject line.

I want to also point out that it’s the unique open rate which is different than the open rate the open rate will measure every single time a person opens an email. So if I decide to use that email as my little bookmark. And I go back to it for everything I want and I open it 18 times, my open rate will measure that I opened it 18 times. So you want the unique open rate which is one open per person, right? Not 18. It is the percentage of people who opened the email compared to whom the email was delivered, so the recipients. There’s that little gap between you who have an email list and the people who get it. You don’t have to worry about that little gap that’s marketers’ problem. You just care about somebody’s got it in their inbox and that’s where your job starts.

Unique Open Rate Average Per Industry [07:00]

So now, according to MailChimp, back in October of 2019, the overall industry average for open rates was only 21.33%. Okay, so don’t beat yourself up if you got a 22% open rate, and you think man, that seems low. Industry average is only in the 20s, and because I think data is cool. I went in and I wanted to know, well what industry is the lowest and what industries is the highest? So, vitamin supplements don’t do so hot. They only have a 15% open rate, but this is where I got a bit shocked. Even though it’s double vitamin supplements, government was the highest at 29%, but only 29% of people are opening their emails from the government. I don’t know if people want to do their taxes or something, I don’t know, but I thought that was fun. So, that’s the unique open rates. So that’s step one for you guys that helps you understand our people even engage with that subject line.

What is an Email Click Through Rate? [07:50]

The next one is your Click Through Rate. So once again, percentage of recipients who clicked at least one link in your email. So I’m guessing that, you know, if you want to send out an email you want them to click on something. You want them to go somewhere because you want to convert them. So this is a really good metric for you to understand how effective are your calls to action. Did you make people want to learn more? And this one is measured as once again as I said a percentage of deliveries, not the percentage of opens. Once again MailChimp says the industry average here is only 2.62%. So, if you ever see a number, and this is one thing I will caution you on, you’ll sometimes see numbers out there where our click through rate is you know 15%. They’re actually probably not giving you a click through rate, they’re probably giving you what’s called a click to open rate. They were measuring their clicks off of the number of people who opened.

So once again, yay math! If my open rate is 21.33% as an average, my average is 2.62% for my click through rate, then my average click to open rate is 12.28%. Right, so that’s how you’ll see those numbers getting above 10%. It’s chances are, people are measuring them as a percentage of opens, not as a percentage of delivers – so always question how they’re calculating things.

Joanna Wiebe: Nicole? Yeah., so just a quick question here. And this is amazing. When you say me once again MailChimp says the industry average is 2.62%, Dustin asked what industry are you referring to? What does that mean, industry average?

Nicole Luke: So industry average he’s taken a bunch of different industries. So I think there was about slightly over 20 industries and they averaged all of them. So across all industries.

Joanna Wiebe: Okay, perfect. Thanks.

Calculating Conversion Rate [09:34]

Nicole Luke: Yeah. Thanks for the clarification question. Okay, now we go to conversion rate. So this, this one is your aha moment. Did you get the sale, or the signup, or the share, right? Did your end to end message convince people to buy what you were selling and because at the end of the day, you want to, you want to get that high return on your investment so conversion is usually the main number that people look at. I disagree with that. But that’s because I like numbers, but it is one of the more important numbers. But the trick here is it’s not always calculated in the same way.

So if you want to be nice and consistent, which a lot of tools do, this will also be calculated as – so whatever you’re considering a sale, in this case, and you divide it by once again that delivered emails number. So you’ll see the trend. Open, you need open rate, click through rate, conversion rate, all have the same denominator, which is delivered emails. Right? It gives you a nice consistent way to measure. But sometimes, you’ll find not everybody likes to be consistent, sometimes people like to measure things in different ways. One of the more common ways that I’ve seen is sometimes people will take the data that they get from their email tool and they’ll map it back into their transactional database and they’ll say, if somebody clicked or opened an email, but they bought anytime, from any channel within three to five days of opening, that email or clicking on it. I’m calling that an email sale, so you always should question, how are they calculating that?

Calculating Average Sales Price (ASP) [10:58]

And now this is a different one. So not everybody will consider this a KPI but in my experience, this has been a highly overlooked, but very important metric, which is the average sales price. Calculated as sales or revenue and you divide that by the number of conversions you’ve had. Because at the end of the day, yes, you want people to click and you want people to buy, but the mix is really important too. So, if you are working for a client that sells three levels of product and you find that the average sales price, you’re converting more people you got them lots of dollars, but they’re all they all are buying the lower priced item and not as many you’re buying the higher priced item. Your, your messaging didn’t exactly work the way it was intended because you’re pushing them to a lower price product. And then that’s when the average sales price becomes important.

Okay. The one thing I also want to note on here as we talked about opens and click throughs, and those have industry averages. This one does not because of the fact that they are measured differently. Our sales price is very unique to an organization. So you are competing with yourself here, which in my mind is the best kind of competition because you’re trying to beat your own self. And as a conversion copywriter. It’s the best way to measure because you can have a very solid starting point and then say, Look, I made it better. So it’s a great way to prove yourself as a copywriter because you are measuring against what they’ve done in the past and you can prove that you’ve done stuff better. So that’s why I love those two metrics.

Example of an Effective Email KPI [12:27]

Okay, so now it’s your turn. Which email here is more effective. Here’s the data tell me which email, do you think is more effective? For some reason I can’t see the question. So I’m going to count on Angela or Joanna to help out.

Joanna Wiebe: So everybody feel free to vote on email, pretty consistent. Every single person so far has said one. Oh, we just got a two. We’ve had a lot of ones. Yes.

Nicole Luke: Okay, so they both did 75 conversions, though, right, so that was a little trick that I threw in there. But you’re right. Email one outperforming email two because even though they got the same conversion 75 they have much better open rates. So I should have put sorry. It says unique open rates for some reason that’s gone. I’ll fix that. There the click through rate is better, the conversion rate is better and the ASP is better. So yes, email, when is the winner, even though at the end of the day they sold the same number of units. Okay, here’s another one. What about this one.

Joanna Wiebe: Email two or email four? Just a minute, take a look and then chat over what you think. A lot are going straight to us, and I, I get it because I’d be like, I don’t know, say what if I’m wrong? Okay, basically, everybody’s chatting just to the panelists. Now we’re getting loads of fours, a couple twos, someone said both, and then we’re getting question marks on the end of lots of them. Okay, though. So it’s largely a four is the answer that we’re getting.

Nicole Luke: Okay, so this one is a tricky one. The results as an analyst, if I was given this data, I call it inconclusive. The results are way too close to be statistically different. So, if you look at the emails, email four had a slightly better open rate. So I’d be questioning, what was it about that subject line that hmmm, something did a little bit better on that one? But then email two had a better click through rate. So I’d be like, hmmm what about the calls to action on that one made it perform better? They have roughly the same conversion that is not statistically different. For those of you who love the word statistics. But check out the ASP on email four much, much higher, right? So this is a key example for you where there’s, it’s not about winners and losers. This is about the learning and from a copy perspective, you can gauge what you can learn from open click and conversion using what you did in each of those emails. So in this one here for me. I’d say this is more of a learning opportunity rather than having a winner or loser.

And welcome to the gray area that does happen to be data, it’s, there’s not always clear winners and losers.So this was one of those. It’s an iterative process, and I’m sure you guys already know that. And I wanted you to use data to prove that nothing, very rarely have I ever come out with a nice clear winner like this guy here. This was a clear winner. This is usually the data that I see. There’s no clear winners, but there’s always learning opportunities from that data. And to make your copy better for this, for the next email, or the next client.

Evaluating Web KPI’s [15:35]

Okay, so now we’re going to go to web KPIs. So web KPIs. I’m sure those of you who have Google Analytics have seen a bunch of these ones, so traffic, it’s either sessions or visits and these are, this is a really great number to look at when you have a research intensive product or when you expect a lot of repeat visitors before conversion. Unique Visitors is usually the one that is measured because it only counts a person once. But I want to, I want you to be careful with a unique visitor account because of cookies. Cookies can be your friend, but they can also play tricks on you. So if somebody’s coming in incognito mode. If somebody is clearing their cookies before they come back to your site and cookies also have an expiry date. Usually it’s around 30 days. But if you’re comparing a month to a month that one person who showed up in March will also show up in April if their cookies expired in that, that 30 days. So cookies can make that unique visitors number a little bit tricky, so always take it with a little bit of a grain of salt.

Now it’s always traffic is a great metric to watch when you’ve dropped a new email. You’ve got some display ads you put more money into paid advertising you optimized for SEO. You want to see if that traffic is moving the needle at all. But it’s, it’s also a convoluted metric, because it’s not just copy that impacts traffic, clearly right? You could have done other cool things to your site or, you know, you could have done other cool things before they hit your site. But it is something you want to watch, especially if you know that things are going to be hitting your site because of copy that you’ve done.

What Can the Customer’s Time on Site Rate Tell You? [17:05]

Time on Site or as Google Analytics calls it average session duration. This is an engagement metric. So generally speaking, you want somebody to stay on your site at least two to three minutes. That shows that your copy is resonating with them, that they are engaging with it, that it’s answering some of their questions. And especially if you have a cart process. There’s no way you can get through a cart and less than two minutes. So two to three minutes on site is generally considered pretty decent. 

“If they’re staying less than a minute, you’ve probably got a bit of an engagement issue.”

Pages Per Session Rate [17:35]

The next metric pages or pages per session. This is also an engagement metric. Generally, the higher the pages or pages viewed or pages per session, generally speaking, that means that people are engaging with your content. They’re reading stuff, they’re digging deeper, they’re trying to learn more. But if it doesn’t lead to better conversions, you still have a bit of a challenge.

What Bounce Rate Tells You About Your Website? [17:55]

Okay so bounce rate. This is one that probably tons of people have seen. Generally, they like to simplify the calculation by saying it’s the percentage of visitors who visit only one page before exiting your site. So if you only have a one page site, you’re going to have a high bounce rate, but you expect that. The other thing is, is that this is actually not a simple calculation. They’ve simplified it for, for just for people to be using it more. For those of you who love data, I highly recommend Googling exactly how bounce rate is calculated. It’s actually quite tricky. 

“But if your bounce rate is high and your time on the site is low, you have what we call an indicator of an engagement issue.” [18:28]

Because if they’re leaving before visiting more than one page and they’re not even barely reading it because they’re jumping off really quickly. There you go, that’s an indicator that you’ve got something going on in your site that’s not positive.

Once again, industry averages here a wide. They range anywhere from 25% to 75% so you really can’t use those as good benchmarks, you’re competing with yourself here as well. So once again showcase your talents as a copywriter improves the starting point. 

What Could Be Causing Low Conversion Rates? [18:57]

And then, of course, I threw in conversions and ASP again. These are treated differently on websites compared to email because conversion on a website, it’s still did you get that sale, but sometimes what happens. And I’ve seen this, believe it or not, is your metrics are rocking it, right? You’ve got great traffic, you’ve got a great time on site, you’ve got great bounce rate, everything looks perfect – but then you’re not getting those sales. What’s going on?

First thing you want to do is check out your technical issues because sometimes that add to cart button doesn’t work. It’s not even a content issue. Or what happens is you’ve got a bunch of people coming from a country that the product doesn’t support, so when they go to the checkout, they can’t even check out the product because it doesn’t ship to their country. So that’s when the content is not the problem, that’s when there’s technical issues that are the problem. But if happens to be, yeah no, everything looks like it’s working fine. Then you might want to go back and revisit the hypothesis you made before you made all those changes with your copy.

And then again, average sales price. You want to take a look and make sure that you are not changing the mix to drastically or you’re changing it for the better. Because what happens if your copy is awesome, but it’s making that low priced product look way too good, and more people are buying it than the higher price product. So you want to always make sure that that mix is staying the same, or getting better. Especially when you’re optimizing a page. OK.

Where to View Your KPI Metrics in Google Analytics? [20:20]

OK, I think we’re running out of time here but in Google Analytics, most of these metrics are going to be in your audience overview screen. So that would be right here. So here’s GA, here’s Google, here’s the audience, and here’s the overview and this is what it would look like. The conversion stuff is not here, though. The first place I always look is under acquisition overview, but it’s in a bunch of different places in Google Analytics. So, for those of you who want the slide deck, I’m more than happy to share it out. There’s going to be a link at the end and I’ll give you the answers. It was just a quick question on what would you do if you saw this, the answer is there’s definitely a few metrics here that I would be questioning. So I would probably want to look at optimizing this site.


Top 10 KPI Recap [21:00]

So to recap here are the top 10 KPIs. And yes, I realized I am being tricky here I put conversion and ASP twice. But it’s because they are treated differently, on email and web. There they are looked at in a very different way and they are in the web. They are attributed to all channels and email only to a specific channel, so I thought they were worthy of being there twice because they’re pretty important metrics. And now you might be asking me, okay but I look at these other three metrics, too, aren’t they, important, yes, they probably are. This is a starting point. These are the top 10 ones. You should be looking at these first. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to be drilling down, especially with things like bounce rate. You could say my bounce rate is high then I drill into my channels and really five of my seven channels are doing great on bounce rate, but two are sucking. So then, you know, start looking at those channels. So this is a starting point, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Okay, so just the tip of the iceberg. To get a copy of the presentation. There’s a link, and I believe Joanna and Angela will share that out. I also have a blog. I’m still developing content, as I’m sure you guys can appreciate. So is my blog. You can email me, There’s a website, I have LinkedIn. I have Twitter, feel free to contact me anyway you want. And that love, that for me.

Joanna Wiebe: Yay, I know like when you had the screen up for Google Analytics and you were like, this is a site I would want to optimize, and I’m like, Okay, stop. We need to talk about all the things on your slide. So maybe another time you are able to come back and share some more thoughts with us, but that was fantastic. Thank you so much, Nicole.

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