B2B Marketing Consulting Agency Blog

B2B Marketing KPI Guide: Leading vs. Lagging Indicators

- October 31, 2023 11:17 am

B2B marketing KPI

All businesses want more leads and sales, which are critical key performance indicators (KPIs), but they can’t tell you much about where your marketing efforts are falling short. They are lagging indicators.

To generate leads and sales, a lot of other things have to happen first. What are they and how can we measure them? These are the leading indicators that preview the lead generation and sales to follow.

Here is an overview of some of the most useful leading indicators:

Keyword Rankings

Once you’ve conducted comprehensive keyword research using the Google Ads Keywords Tool, you need to track keyword rankings. Neither Google Analytics nor Google Search Console will share this information with you. You’ll need to use third-party software like Moz and SEMRush.

To boost keyword rankings, you have to focus on inbound marketing (content development + onsite search engine optimization-SEO) and outbound marketing (link building, PR and other means to get links from high Google PageRank third-party sites).

Organic Search Traffic

Once your keyword rankings start to climb, you’ll start to pull in people actively searching—”organic traffic”—for solutions related to the content on your website. You should track this year-over-year as there can be significant fluctuations and seasonality for month-to-month comparisons, though trending over the year can also provide some useful insights.

Within this organic search traffic, it’s important to understand if the content is resonating with them – here are three metrics you can use to diagnose the quality and value of your content:

Average Pages per Visit

  • This is the average number of pages that visitors view on your website within each session
  • Google Analytics calculates this number by dividing the total number of pages viewed by the total number of visits
  • Target average pages per visit: 2+ pages

Average Session Duration

  • This is the average amount of time visitors spend on your website
  • Google Analytics calculates this number by dividing the total duration of all sessions (in seconds) by the number of sessions
  • Sessions are timed out when there is no activity from the user for 30 minutes
  • Target average session duration: 2+ minutes

Pages Indexed

  • Pages that have been visited by the Google crawler, analyzed for content and meaning, and stored in the Google index (pages that show up in Google searches)

Bounce Rate

  • This is the percentage of visitors who leave your web pages without taking an action, such as clicking on a link, filling out a form, or making a purchase (a single-page session)
  • Bounce rate is only relevant for pages that have a significant amount of entrances (i.e. the first page that website visitors see)
  • Google Analytics calculates this number by dividing single-page sessions by all sessions
  • Target bounce rate: <50% for your site overall as well as each individual web page

Pay Per Click Campaigns

If you’re running Google Ads (or Microsoft Ads) campaigns, here’s how you can understand how effective they are:


  • How often your ad shows within the top 10+ pages – your ad will only appear on the first page if you keep your manual bidding high enough (Google will helpfully tell you if your bid is too low for any keyword) or choose “maximize conversions”


  • How often someone clicks on your ads – you only pay for clicks

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

  • The percentage of people visiting a web page who access a specific link, call to action (CTA), or ad
  • Google Analytics calculates this number by dividing the number of clicks that the link receives by the number of times the link is shown (impressions)
  • Keywords target CTR: +3%
  • Branded (containing company name) keywords target CTR: +10%
  • Google Ads target CTR: +4%

Cost per Click (CPC)

  • The price paid for each click in pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns

Paid Search Traffic (Google Analytics)

  • Website visits that come from paid search ads which appear in the search results of Google or other search networks

Display Traffic (Google Analytics)

  • Website visits coming from clicks on your PPC ads

Email Campaigns

If you’re running email campaigns, here’s how you can gauge how effective they are:


  • How often your email is loaded into recipient browsers, typically when they click on it but emails also load into your email browser window when you are scrolling through them
  • Some organizations, typically larger, use software that automatically opens all emails received and click on each link within them to determine if it is spam or part of a phishing attack


  • How often recipients click on a link in your email
  • Some organizations, typically larger, use software that automatically opens all emails received and click on each link within them to determine if it is spam or part of a phishing attack

Email Traffic (Google Analytics)

  • Website visits coming from clicks on links in email campaigns

Other Traffic

Referral Traffic (Google Analytics)

  • Website visits coming from backlinks on other websites

Social Traffic (Google Analytics)

  • Website visits coming from associated social media accounts (ex. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)

What Are Your Leading Indicators Trying to Tell You?

While lagging indicators are critically important, leading indicators are a source of real-time insight into the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and what your lagging indicators will be in the future.

Leading indicators have a way of generating important questions that don’t get asked if you spend all your time focused on lagging indicators like leads and sales:

  • Are the right people coming to your website?
  • Are your prospects finding information they need?
  • Are you spending more than you should for the traffic you’re getting?
  • Does your website provide genuine thought leadership that your prospects can’t find elsewhere?
  • What content is generating the greatest interest and why?
  • What content is being overlooked or dismissed?

Innovaxis can help you draw insights from the digital signposts that serve as leading indicators of B2B marketing effectiveness.

If you’re not getting the information you need to assess and improve your B2B marketing efforts, consider putting your strategies to the test with an marketing audit.

Solid marketing strategies are built on close scrutiny of leading indicators. To learn more about how to use them to your advantage, get started with a marketing audit today.