Online marketing disciplines and their KPIs

In our increasingly digitalised world, companies are choosing to build an online presence. Online marketing offers many different ways to promote this presence. For this purpose, there are certain performance indicators, so-called KPIs or Key Performance Indicators, which allow performance to be measured. In addition, they can tell you to what extent the set goals, increase in brand awareness, new customer acquisition or the number of hits on the website have been achieved.

But as fast as our world is evolving, online marketing is also adapting. Therefore, more and more disciplines and sub-areas are emerging via, for example, new media such as podcast marketing, so it is not so easy to keep track of them.

In the following, we will summarise the most important online marketing disciplines and list the essential KPIs. Leads, transactions and sales are relevant for all disciplines and areas.

Search Engine Advertising (SEA)

Search engine advertising refers to the placement of ads via search engines such as Google. You pay for your ads to be displayed on the search results pages for certain products or services. Advertising via search engines is particularly attractive because companies only incur costs if users actually click on your ad and are thus redirected to your website. In addition, this discipline also allows you to reach users who are already actively searching for what you are offering.

However, search engine advertising needs to be well practiced, otherwise you may incur unnecessarily high costs. While Google is making an effort to make Google Ads as easy as possible for non-online marketing experts with more and more automated features, until now advertising with Google Ads requires a certain expertise and above all: constant optimisation.

Important performance metrics for your ads on search engines are:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

On the search engine results page, you will find the organic results directly below the ads. You don’t have to pay to appear here, but you still incur indirect costs due to working time and optimisation measures. In the organic search results, everything revolves around a good ranking, i.e. appearing as high up as possible in order to achieve good visibility. For this, Google uses its algorithm and ranking factors to determine which result is most relevant. The user should be given the best answer and a very good experience on the website.

SEO includes factors from two main areas – onsite and offsite optimisations. Onsite optimisations consider content and technical aspects, as well as optimisation for mobile devices. Offsite optimisations include backlink management as well as local and social SEO.

Through the individual factors, the ranking in the search engines is influenced positively or negatively. Targeted and sensible SEO optimisation is best carried out by SEO experts, as they understand the interrelationships very well, have in-depth knowledge and often years of experience, and have the appropriate tools at their disposal.

Key performance indicators for SEO are, among others:

Content Marketing

Content marketing is about reaching the target group with valuable and relevant content, retaining them and winning them as customers. This is made possible by the trust that is built up here more than in any other discipline. Because obvious advertising is now often perceived as annoying and not necessarily trust-inspiring, indirect advertising in the form of useful content focuses on offering users added value. Many users are looking for information before they are ready to make a purchase. This information can be packaged into stories, for example, with the help of storytelling. Content marketing also gives your company the opportunity to position itself as an expert in your industry.

Content marketing can be used in the form of search engine optimisation, affiliate marketing, podcast marketing, newsletter marketing, social media marketing, etc.

The essential KPIs differ depending on the discipline.

E-mail Marketing

Email marketing comprises one of the oldest online marketing disciplines. E-mails are mainly sent as a form of direct marketing. Email marketing should not be underestimated, as it is an important tool for customer retention. With e-mails regarding discount promotions or newsletters, existing customers as well as interested parties can be informed about new products and possibly be enticed to make a (repeat) purchase.

In email marketing, the following key performance indicators are particularly important:

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing works on the principle of sales and network partners. The partner, also known as an affiliate, promotes products or services of commercial providers on its platform or website through links. The affiliate receives a previously defined commission depending on the commission model selected, based on clicks, leads or sales, for example. The advantage of affiliate marketing is that partners can advertise products and services not only via their own website, but also via other partner websites.

Depending on the commission model, other KPIs are important here:

Display Advertising

Display advertising or banner advertising uses graphic advertising media such as banners, buttons, videos, animations or images. Online banners are available in various sizes and formats, which can be placed at different locations on a website. Website operators provide various advertising spaces that can be used for display ads. For this purpose, there are various platforms that bring together providers, advertisers, and supply and demand. The banners are provided with a link that leads to a specific landing page. Display advertising is primarily used to increase awareness, sales and branding.

Useful KPIs in display advertising are:

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing deals with the use of and advertising on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. The goal is to gain more awareness, get in touch with your target group directly and build a community. The networks can be used both organically (via content marketing) and with paid ads, which allow you to address your target group in an even more targeted manner.

Important key figures for your social media performance vary depending on the platform; the most common ones are listed below:



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Would you like to know more about online marketing? We would be happy to advise you individually for your company – also in the form of seminars. Please feel free to contact us for this!


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