Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Business Requirement Document: What It Is and How to Write It [+5 Templates]

A business requirement document (BRD) is a starting point for any software project or business solution. This document aligns team members on what to build, why to build it, and how to get it done.

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This article explores the basics of business requirement documents. That includes why you need one, how to write one effectively, and more. We’ve also included the 5 coolest BRD examples from big-name companies.

Keep reading for the complete guide.

Table of Contents

What is a Business Requirement Document
Why is It Important to Document Business Requirements
How to Write a Business Requirement Document in 9 Easy Steps
Examples of Business Requirement Documents


BRDs capture every step of product development, from an executive summary to expected outcomes. Business requirement documents often include:

  • Current pain points and project objectives.
  • What resources a company needs.
  • The delivery stages and milestones of a project.
  • The functional requirements of a new solution (technical and non-technical).
  • Project constraints (everything that may slow down or hinder the progress of a project).
  • Stakeholders.
  • Risks.
  • Expected ROI.

The structure of business requirement documents may vary depending on the project type. For instance, you’ll cut off technical functional requirements if the solution you aim to build isn’t software.

We’ll explain how to write a BRD in full. You can see a sample template below.

what is a business requirement documentImage Source

Why are Business Requirement Documents Important?

BRDs paint a complete picture of a potential project. These documents bring together all the teams involved in a project launch and ensure successful project delivery.

In fact, the Project Management Institute discovered that teams without prior planning fail projects two times more frequently than prepared teams. PMI also revealed that planning helps teams meet 77% of their goals, versus 56% for those with low project management maturity.

BRDs also allow your team to:

  • Monitor the overall project's health.
  • Bring stakeholders and team members together to create consensus and collaboration.
  • Hedge the risk of unexpected project changes.
  • Understand your budget and anticipated ROI.
  • Understand your project constraints and find an optimal solution to address them.
  • Foster accountability among your team by setting clear, transparent goals.

How to Write a Business Requirement Document

Here, you’ll learn what to write in every section of a business requirement document. To make the process easy to understand, we’ll explain every step in an example.

So to start, imagine that your company wants to create a content management system for TikTok specialists. What you have now is a mess of Google Sheets and notes on paper. Your goal is to plan, manage, and measure TikTok performance in one place.

With that in mind, let’s start outlining our business requirements.

1. Start with your executive summary.

Executive summaries describe a project concisely for your execs or other parties involved (e.g., business partners). This section offers a high-level statement of project purposes. An executive summary should capture the following:

  • Current pain points and how they affect the business.
  • What you offer as a solution.
  • Relevant data, like expected ROI.
  • A deadline for the project.

Your executive summary should be easy to understand. Your readers should learn why the project is important and worth investing in just by reading this section.

For our TikTok CMS project, the executive summary would read as follows:

Our organization is seeking a TikTok content management system to measure the TikTok team’s performance. We aim to analyze campaigns, ad spending, and ROI to scale the most beneficial campaigns.

We expect the product to be built by the end of the third quarter.

2. Communicate business objectives.

List the business objectives you hope to achieve with the project. HubSpot’s SMART system offers a simple goal-setting method. Your objectives should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-Bound.

Let’s set objectives for our TikTok CMS:

  • Increase the ROI of TikTok ads by 10% in November.
  • Speed up post creation to publish 2 posts daily.
  • Build an analytical report to access and analyze TikTok metrics in one place.
  • Define TikTok’s best-performing campaigns to scale them.

If you cannot specify the numbers or it’s hard to predict them, detail specific results that you hope to achieve from the full implementation of the project.

3. Explain the project’s background and why it’s needed.

Name a few urgent issues you aim to solve with the project. Provide data and research to support your statement. For instance, you can compare current and expected spending. Be sure to include a summary of past experiments or projects in this section.

Here’s the background for our TikTok example:

Our team has no detailed record of our TikTok ROI. A TikTok CMS will help to cut the costs of TikTok campaigns and increase ROI. We will also determine the best-performing campaigns in terms of ROI.

4. Set your scope of work.

This is the most important part of your BRD. This section should include:

  • A detailed overview of project objectives.
  • Milestones.
  • Project deliverables.
  • Acceptance criteria.

Your scope of work identifies what needs to be done within a specific period. Be sure to clearly communicate the project requirements for every step of development. This fosters clear communication between stakeholders and team members who will be working on the project. You’ll also mitigate the risk of the project veering off course.

5. Define the project’s functionality requirements.

List all the features and necessary functionality of the product. This section includes what needs to be built and any features your new project requires. You can also describe this section under the Scope of Work.

For our TikTok CMS, we’ll need:

  • A calendar task view for content management.
  • Reporting features.
  • Monthly performance analytics for a stand-alone post and a group of posts.
  • Filtering by different campaigns.

6. Identify your key stakeholders.

This section of your BRD lists key stakeholders for your project. Take the time to outline each person’s roles and responsibilities. Make sure to include both internal and external parties.

Let’s dive into our example.

  • Chief Marketing Officer: Approve TikTok CMS creation.
  • Project managers: Responsible for decomposing the project, assigning team members, and ensuring the project is completed on schedule.
  • TikTok team lead: Responsible for making content and gathering performance metrics.

7. Communicate project constraints.

It’s essential to specify the existing boundaries that affect project development. Your constraints can be anything from your budget, current toolkit, technical limitations, team availability, or dependencies.

Here’s a great example of project boundaries for a technical product:

how to write a business requirement document, listing constraints Image Source

8. Set a schedule.

Work hand in hand with your project managers to specify deadlines for each phase of your initiatives. BRDs for external clients should include final deadlines and estimated delivery dates around milestones.

For our TikTok CMS, here is our schedule.

  • Phase 1. Complete X by December 2022
  • Phase 2. Develop and conduct quality assurance of X feature by March 2023

9. Summarize your cost-benefit analysis.

A cost-benefit analysis determines whether the project's benefits outweigh its costs. Create a spreadsheet that outlines current expenses and budget lost by inefficiencies. Forecast the amount of money and other benefits a company will gain.

Your goal is to convince executives that a new project is worth the investment. Bolster your case by presenting facts and figures.

business requirement document, cost-benefit analysisImage Source

5 Outstanding Business Requirement Document Examples

We’ve gathered a collection of 5 business requirement document templates. Look through each and choose one that fits best with your project. Be sure to adjust each template to meet your project requirements.

PandaDoc BRD Template

This is a fantastic template if you want to prepare a BRD for product development. PandaDoc provides straightforward examples of what text you should put in each section. You’ll also find best practices for every entity mentioned in the template.

business requirement document, pandadoc templateImage Source

TechWhirl BRD Template

This template is designed specifically for new technology solutions. TechWhirl includes 17 sections that detail the project summary, scope, business process overview, business requirements, and more. You can even include data in charts and graphs.

Best for: Explaining complex business processes and dependencies.

techwhirl business requirement template, BRD templateImage Source

Asana BRD Template

Asana provides a free BRD template that you can edit in real-time. This compact template includes only necessary fields, and each section has tips on what to write. This template is best for getting buy-in from internal stakeholders.

Asana’s business requirement templateImage Source

Smartsheet BRD Template

Smartsheet offers a one-size-fits-all BRD template. You can use it for small internal projects and for complex, expensive projects for external vendors. Every section is complemented by a short description or example of what should be written.

Want to see more templates? Here are 10 free BRD templates from Smartheet (all follow the same pattern).

business-requirement-document-smartsheetImage Source

ClickUp BRD Template

Looking for a simple BRD to guide your projects? Try this template from ClickUp. There are only basic sections (with sheets) that you can easily fill out online. Marketing and sales teams can use this template to get buy-in for CRM tweaks, API connectors development, etc.

Best for: Small inner projects with few requirements and deliverables.

clickup business requirement document templateImage Source

Writing Your Business Requirement Document

No matter the scope of your project, a business requirement document can help you keep the process tidy. With this document, you’ll have a clear plan to guide your project. Plus, you’ll have a compact summary of the business case fueling your initiative.

If you’re looking to pitch your business as a whole, explore HubSpot’s free business proposal template. We’ll walk through how to summarize your solutions, share pricing, and set timelines.

business proposal


3 Tips for Creating Powerful Ads, According to Meta's Director of Ads

Facebook is an undeniably powerful platform for advertisers.

In fact, HubSpot Blog Research found Facebook is the most popular social media network for advertising in 2022, with 62% of companies currently leveraging it.

Additionally, Facebook has proven to be the social media platform that generates the biggest ROI. 

But getting started on Facebook advertising can be intimidating — particularly with a limited budget. You don't want to waste all your ad spend before you've identified a strong, effective long-term advertising strategy.

Here, I sat down with Tarcisio Ribeiro, Meta's Director of Ads, to discuss his three tips for getting the most out of your Facebook ad strategy. Let's dive in.

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Tips for Creating Powerful Facebook Ads, According to Meta's Director of Ads

1. Keep it simple.

When you're first getting started with Facebook ads, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of options available. For instance, you can create a boosted ad, a video ad, a poll ad, or a carousel ad (to name a few).

Ribeiro advises against getting too complex when you're first starting out. As he puts it, "One challenge I've seen with new Facebook Ads users is that they see the numerous capabilities we have in our Ads Manager, and without fulling understanding how everything works, they try to play with everything. As a result, they end up wasting money because they're either not being targeted enough, or they're using the wrong capabilities."

In other words: Don't try to do too much, too quickly.

tarcisio quote on facebook ad mistakes

Start by identifying your objective — awareness, traffic, engagement, leads, app promotion, or sales. And, rather than creating a more complex video or carousel, start with a boosted post, which is an easy opportunity to start discovering your target audience. (More on that, next.)

From there, consider taking the time to explore the resources that can help you create an optimized ad. Ribeiro suggests that new Facebook Ads users take the time to take the Meta Blueprint trainings.

2. Know your audience — including the details.

Ribeiro told me it's imperative you understand the audience you're going to target — in other words, who is most likely to become a consumer.

And, equally importantly, you need to be willing to iterate over time to ensure your target audience becomes more refined.

"For instance," Ribeiro says, "Perhaps you sell baby strollers. But beyond that, you have certain characteristics that pertain to your target audience — maybe it's a higher-income market, or parents who are very mobile and need a lightweight stroller to take on trips. In the beginning, you may have a cohort of ten different kinds of profiles who might buy your stroller. But, over time, you're going to see that 20% of those audiences are the ones who are most likely to purchase your product."

Facebook ads can help you identify a more specific and niche audience to target. If we use the example mentioned above, perhaps you'd expected parents in the suburban areas surrounding Boston to purchase your strollers, but you find in your Ads analytics that most of your consumers are metro-based. As you begin to discover who your true consumer is, you can refine your ads strategy accordingly.  optimize facebook ads tips from meta

Once you've identified your target audience, you can also leverage Facebook's Lookalike feature to ensure your ads are capturing the attention of people who match the same characteristics as your current buyers.

Already a Meta customer? Click here to get 20% off HubSpot products. 

3. Pay attention to the creative.

"One of the first things users notice and react on is going to be your creative," Ribeiro told me, "so it's important you pay attention to how you're designing your ad."

For context, an ad creative is the visual attributes of the advertisement, whether it be an image, video, or another format.

Consider, for instance, the fun, lighthearted, and bright designs in the Blue Bunny Ice Cream creative, shown below:

The ad itself needs to grab the attention of your users. If you're unsure what type of creative will resonate best with your audience, try A/B testing different styles to identify what works best.

Additionally, the type of ad you create is equally important to consider. Ribeiro says, "Video always performs best because it's the most engaging. But you don't need a big budget or sophisticated equipment for video. If you're a small business and you only have pictures, you can actually convert those pictures into a video in our Ads Manager through our partnership with Vimeo."

Whether you're ready to get started with Facebook Ads or take your ads strategy to the next level, hopefully these three tips have enabled you to focus in on what matters most.

The power of Facebook Ads is in the large variety of tools and features it offers businesses — but it's imperative, for your own purposes, that you start simple; take the time to identify your correct target audience; and design a creative that will compel your audience to take action.

Free Resource: How to Reach & Engage Your Audience on Facebook


How to Create a YouTube Channel Step-by-Step

Video content accounts for over 82% of all online traffic — and YouTube is the most popular video platform with more than two billion active users.

Because video is an essential channel for marketers, it's important to know how to leverage YouTube for your own business.

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This article will cover everything you need to know about creating a YouTube channel so you can start uploading your own videos and growing your audience today.

Can't create a new channel?

If you're seeing a "This action isn't allowed" message when you try to create your channel, you may be using an outdated version of the YouTube app.

Here are your options to move forward:

  1. Update the YouTube app on your device.
  2. Create your YouTube channel using a browser on your computer (following the steps outlined in more detail below).

How to Create a YouTube Channel

Creating a well-managed YouTube channel with consistent content can help businesses grow better, but doing it right is just as important. Here's how to do it step-by-step.

1. Sign in to your Google account.

You'll need a Google account to watch, share, create, and comment on YouTube content. Go to and click "Sign In" in the upper right-hand corner. From there, you'll be taken to a Google sign-in page.

  1. If you have a Google account, you'll be prompted to sign in.
  2. If you have multiple Google accounts, be sure to select the one you want to be associated with the YouTube channel.
  3. If you do not have a Google account, click "Create Account" and follow the prompts to register for one.

How to create a YouTube channel step one: sign into Google2. Create a new YouTube channel using your Google account.

Once you're set up with and signed into your Google account, it's time to create a channel. Click your user icon in the upper right-hand corner. This represents both your Google account and your YouTube account (as YouTube is owned by Google). You'll see a drop-down menu, where you'll want to click "Settings."

How to create a YouTube channel step two: navigate to YouTube settingsFrom there, you'll be taken to your account overview. Click "Create a new channel" under "Your channel."

How to create a YouTube channel step three: click "create a new channel"

The first step is to create your new channel name. It can be whatever you want, and doesn't have to be the same name that you used to create your Google account — but we do recommend that it reflects the brand the YouTube Channel will represent.

Create your channel name on YouTubeAfter you enter the channel name, you might be asked to verify the account via text message or voice call. If that happens, enter the code you receive from the option you choose.

Once you've verified your account, you'll be taken to the dashboard for your channel. Now, it's time to start customizing it.

3. Navigate to the Customize Channel page.

We'll start with the fundamental details about your channel. From your channel dashboard, click "Customize channel."

How to customize basic info on YouTube channelFrom there, you'll be taken to the channel customization page.

You'll notice three tabs: "Layout," "Branding," and "Basic info." These three tabs will help you optimize your channel for viewers.

4. Add Basic Info to your channel for discoverability.

Start by clicking "Basic info."

basic-infoHere's where you'll enter some basic information about your channel, like the language your videos are in, as well as a description that helps people discover your channel when they enter search terms that describe what videos they're looking for. These keywords can include what your channel is about, the problems it helps solve, the people and products featured, your industry, and more.

You'll also be able to add links to sites you want to share with your viewers. These links will be displayed over your banner image (more on this later) like so:

YouTube banner image link5. Upload branding elements to your channel.

In addition to the descriptive details you've added, there's another element of customization for a new YouTube channel: The visuals.

How to customize branding on YouTube channelUnder the "Branding" tab, you'll be able to add your profile picture, banner image, and video watermark.

Profile Picture

Profile pictures help YouTube users identify the creator of a video when browsing video content. You'll see this image appear beneath YouTube videos on the play page, as shown below. YouTube recommends using a picture with dimensions of at least 98 x 98 pixels.

YouTube profile picture shown under YouTube videoBanner Image

The banner image is a large banner displayed at the top of your channel page, and it's a big opportunity to convey your brand to your viewers. YouTube recommends using an image that's at least 2048 x 1152 px and 6MB or less. Banner image on YouTube profile

Video Watermark

The video watermark is displayed at the bottom right of every video you post (see below). You'll want to choose a logo that best represents you sized at 150 x 150 px.

Branded watermark on YouTube video6. Customize your more advanced layout options.

Click the "Layout" tab.

How to customize layout on YouTube channel

From here, you'll be able to specify certain details about how you want your content presented on your channel's page. You'll have the option to designate a video spotlight and organize your channel page with featured sections.

7. Add videos and optimize them for search.

To upload your first video to YouTube, click the "Create" button in the top-right corner and follow the prompts.

How to upload and create videos on YouTube channel

Optimizing your channel for discoverability is just the beginning. Once you start adding videos, you'll want to optimize them for search, which in turn helps users discover your video.

But this goes beyond giving your videos accurate, clear, and concise titles — though that is important. Below, we describe some of the most important things to optimize on YouTube.


When we search for videos, one of the first things that our eyes are drawn to is the title. That's often what determines whether or not the viewer will click to watch your video, so the title should not only be compelling but also clear and concise.


This should be limited to 1,000 characters — and remember that your viewer came here to watch a video, not to read a lot of text. Plus, YouTube only displays the first two or three lines of text, which comes to about 100 characters, so front-load the description with the most important information.


Using tags doesn't just let viewers know what your video is about — they also help YouTube understand your video's content and context. That way, YouTube can associate your video with similar videos, broadening your content's reach. But approach with caution: just as with your title, don't use misleading tags because they might get you more views. In fact, Google might penalize you for that.


Choosing a category is another way to group your video with similar content on YouTube — but that might not be as simple as it sounds. YouTube's Creator Academy suggests that marketers "think about what is working well for each category" you're considering by answering questions like:

  • Who are the top creators within the category? What are they known for, and what do they do well?
  • Are there any patterns between the audiences of similar channels within a given category?
  • Do the videos within a similar category share qualities like production value, length, or format?

That's it — you've officially not only created a YouTube channel but now also know how to optimize its content for discoverability. For more information on how to best leverage YouTube for marketing, check our entire collection of resources.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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What is a KPI? How To Choose the Best KPIs for Your Business

The question "what is a KPI?" comes up at many meetings. If you want to scale your company, you might be wondering about KPIs and how they can help your business grow.

Reviewing performance through key performance indicators (KPIs), tells your team when you've met the mark or fallen short. But how do you pick the right KPIs for your business?

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In this post, we'll walk you through what a KPI is, which KPIs you should focus on, and how you can hone in on the metrics that matter most for your business.

Keep reading, or jump to the section you’re looking for:

  • What is a KPI?
  • Why are KPIs important?
  • Types of Key Performance Indicators
  • KPIs vs. Metrics
  • OKR vs. KPI
  • How To Determine KPIs
  • KPI Examples
  • How To Measure KPIs

What is a KPI and what is not a KPI graphic

Whether a KPI is for a one-off campaign or a long-term initiative, it can help teams track their progress, improve results, and stay on track.

Businesses use KPIs to figure out whether they are reaching their top goals. These KPIs usually track the overall health and performance of the organization.

Departments use KPIs to show the value of their efforts to the business. These performance indicators help teams work toward set outcomes and solve issues that stand in the way of those goals.

And employees use KPIs to understand how their individual efforts contribute to project, team, and organizational goals.

KPIs can also help track the effectiveness of:

  • Projects
  • Processes
  • Campaigns
  • Strategic changes

A KPI is also useful for cross-departmental collaboration, as it makes it simple to see what other teams are working toward at a glance. KPIs tell companies if their hunches are right and if what they are doing is working.

Important note: KPIs should measure your most essential indicators.

For instance, your social media team may have a ton of data points that can serve as KPIs. However, they should only choose the ones that align with the broader business goals. Let's say it's brand awareness. In this case, follower count, post reach, and impressions will likely be the social media KPI metrics to measure.

With that in mind, having KPIs means narrowing your focus to a few vital metrics that will influence your business the most.

Why are KPIs important?

People around the world generated and consumed 64.2 zettabytes in 2020. And according to Statista, that number should reach 181 zettabytes by 2025.

How much is a zettabyte? One billion terabytes. And how much is a terabyte? About one trillion bytes. That's a lot of information. That means that your business is processing more information than ever before.

As you process that ever-growing mass of data, it can start to feel overwhelming. For example, this post on sales metrics outlines over 140 metrics that one sales manager might track in a month. These are valuable metrics that can help salespeople excel. But add in weekly metrics, and it's no surprise that 80% of workers are suffering from information overload.

Why are KPIs important graphic

Enter the KPI. When you select a KPI for your business or team, it narrows the focus of your efforts. This one strategy can help your team rally around what's most meaningful. It can push teams to get results faster, be more productive, and make useful changes when they're needed.

A KPI is more than a number. It's a message, a story that quickly shows your team whether you are moving toward the goals you've set together. Key performance indicators can help:

  • Keep high-level goals top of mind
  • Convert abstract ideas into manageable targets
  • Cut down on data overload

Strong KPIs can help your business save time, get critical insights, guide management, and keep your business on a long-term path of growth.

Because KPIs are so critical, it's essential to set the right KPIs for your business. The wrong KPI can disrupt even the strongest team.

For example, say your marketing team is selecting a KPI for its growth goals. Ranking in search engine results is important for a blog, so the amount of #1 keyword rankings could seem like a good KPI.

But what if your blog's top-ranking keywords don't relate to your business goals? What if those keywords have low traffic volume or don't connect to qualified leads? In this situation, organic traffic is probably a better KPI.

Choosing the right KPI might take some extra research, so let's talk about the different types of KPIs.

Types of Key Performance Indicators

While there are many different indicators of performance that a business can measure, most fall under two categories:

Quantitative KPIs

A quantitative KPI uses numbers to measure progress toward a goal. The majority of KPIs are quantitative, like the number of closed sales, customer service tickets, or annual revenue.

Quantitative KPI example

Image Source

Qualitative KPIs

A qualitative KPI tracks non-numerical data, like customer comments or employee engagement. While there are ways to get quantitative data from qualitative research, these KPIs focus on non-numerical data.

For example, say a company just released a new product online. As soon as the product listing goes live they'll track quantitative metrics like:

  • Product sales
  • Abandoned carts
  • Product page views

At the same time, the company would also track qualitative data like product reviews and customer surveys. This can help the team figure out how people are responding to the product and how to keep improving it.

Qualitative KPI example

Image Source

Most businesses use more than one KPI to track performance and may combine KPIs to reach a set goal.

There are other measures that companies use to hone in on their business goals.

Other Key Performance Indicators

Leading KPIs: This is quantitative data that helps a business measure potential responses to a change. For example, if a SaaS business plans to launch a new feature, leading indicators can help it project future results.

Lagging KPIs: These measure results after a change to track whether that change is meeting expectations. These are sometimes also called output indicators. For example, after the SaaS business launch above, lagging indicators will show the actual outcomes of the release.

Leading and lagging KPIs can help teams make corrections early. This can save the business time, effort, and investment over time.

Input KPIs: These track the resources a business needs for a campaign, project, or process.

Process KPIs: Process KPIs track how well a new process is working and help target potential changes. For example, a common process KPI is the time it takes to close a support ticket.

Practical KPIs: These track current internal company processes and how they impact other parts of the business.

Directional KPIs: These KPIs look at overall company performance. They may focus on trends within the company or in comparison to competitors.

Actionable KPIs: Indicators like this track how well a company commits to and carries out internal business changes. Examples include KPIs that track culture changes, employee sentiment, or DEI initiatives. These often measure progress within a set period of time.

KPIs vs. Metrics

When you were in school, you might have learned that a square can be a parallelogram, but not every parallelogram is a square. The same is true of KPIs and metrics.

What are KPI metrics graphic

While a KPI can be a metric, not every metric is a KPI. This is because KPIs track progress toward a specific goal. A KPI is a significant measure of performance.

When your team selects a KPI, they commit to a specific metric and how meeting that goal can lead to business growth. KPIs also narrow the scope of information to data that everyone needs to know — from interns to stakeholders.

This doesn't mean that metrics aren't impactful. As your team solves specific problems and creates processes, there are many metrics you will track. In turn, these metrics can help your team meet your KPIs.

KPI Metrics Example

Here's an example. Say that your team is creating a blog for your sales team to generate more qualified leads. The KPIs for this project are:

  • Traffic
  • New users
  • Leads

Those are the key performance indicators that your team believes will show that the time and effort of launching a new blog is worth it to the business.

At the same time, if you've ever started a blog, you know that there are many other metrics to track like:

  • Engagement time
  • Bounce rate
  • Views per user
  • Backlinks
  • Domain authority

KPI Metrics example: Bounce rate, HubSpot

These metrics will help your team solve problems, choose the right blog topics, and make changes that improve the user experience.

Metrics are essential to the team that works on the blog so they can make it better. At the same time, metrics are often too much detail for every stakeholder. In this example, your blog team needs other metrics to help meet its KPIs.


Objectives and Key Results (OKR) and KPIs are often used interchangeably because both terms refer to goals that are tracked and measured. However, they differ in intention.

Put simply, KPIs show whether your business is hitting its targets. They are often called health metrics as they tell you how the company is doing to meet an objective that's already set.

OKRs, on the other hand, are broad objectives for your business with the key results that will signify achievement in meeting those objectives. They are aggressive and ambitious goals that speak to the business's big-picture vision.

For instance, let's say a technology company has the objective of becoming one of the top 10 providers in their industry in 2021. Their key results could be:

  • Acquire 1,000 new customers by Q3.
  • Generate 3,000 leads every month.
  • Increase annual membership sales by 30%.

While KPIs are ideal for scaling, OKRs are designed for dramatic growth. They're more ambitious and push teams to stretch their capabilities.

It's also important to note that while KPIs can be the key results in your OKR, the opposite is generally not true.

For example, your marketing team could have a KPI of 3,000 leads as mentioned in the example above. However, it's unlikely that any department would list the "Top 10" goal as their KPI as that speaks to a broader vision and has a more flexible timeline.

Before you can measure your KPIs, you'll need to determine which metrics to track. This will greatly depend on your goals and your team.

Once you narrow that down, set your targets. They're usually based on a combination of factors, including historical performance and industry standards.

You'll also have to answer the who, when, and why. Who is responsible for this KPI? Identify the person on your team who is managing this KPI, so they can be the go-to when addressing roadblocks that may affect performance. They will also be responsible for reporting on progress.

As for the "when," you'll need to know the timeline to reach these targets. Many businesses set them on a monthly or quarterly basis, but your timeline can be shorter or longer depending on your team.

Lastly: the why. It's the most important thing to keep in mind when measuring your KPIs. Having your goals clearly identified can help motivate your team and make sure everyone is aligned on the direction you're going in.

Let’s go over a few steps that can help make this process more simple.

1. Choose KPIs directly related to your business goals.

KPIs are quantifiable measurements or data points used to gauge your company's performance relative to a goal. For instance, a KPI could be related to your goal of increasing sales, improving the return on investment of your marketing efforts, or improving customer service.

What are your company goals? Have you identified any major areas for improvement or optimization? What are the biggest priorities for your management team?

Answering these questions will bring you one step closer to identifying the right KPIs for your brand.

2. Consider your company's stage of growth.

Depending on the stage of your company – startup vs. enterprise – certain metrics will be more critical than others.

Early-stage companies typically focus on data related to business model validation while more established organizations focus on metrics like cost per acquisition and customer lifetime value.

Here are a few examples of potential key performance indicators for companies in various stages of growth:

KPI examples: KPIs for different stages of business growth

3. Identify both lagging and leading performance indicators.

The difference between lagging and leading indicators is essentially knowing how you did, versus how you are doing. Leading indicators aren't necessarily better than lagging indicators, or vice versa. You should just be aware of the differences between the two.

Lagging indicators measure the output of something that has already happened. Total sales last month, or the number of new customers or hours of professional services delivered, are examples of lagging indicators. These types of metrics are good for purely measuring results, as they focus on outputs.

On the other hand, leading indicators measure your likelihood of achieving a goal in the future. These serve as predictors of what's to come. Conversion rates, sales opportunity age, and sales rep activity are just a few examples of leading indicators.

Traditionally most organizations have solely focused on lagging indicators. One of the main reasons for this is they tend to be easy to measure since the events have already happened. For instance, it’s easy to pull a report of the number of customers acquired last quarter.

But measuring what happened in the past can only be so helpful.

You can think of leading indicators as business drivers because they come before trends emerge, which can help you identify whether or not you are on track to reaching your goals. If you can identify which leading indicators will impact your future performance you will have a much better shot at success.

With every business, growth is the goal. KPIs help you track your progress and scale progressively to grow in whichever way that matters to your company.

4. Focus on a few key metrics, rather than a slew of data.

As you begin to identify KPIs for your business, less is worth more. Rather than choosing dozens of metrics to measure and report on you should focus on just a few key ones.

If you track too many KPIs, you might become overwhelmed with the data and lose focus.

As you can imagine, every company, industry, and business model is different so it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number for the amount of KPIs you should have. However, a good number to aim for is somewhere between two to four KPIs per goal. Enough to get a good sense of where you stand but not too many where there's no priority.

KPI Examples

Your organization's business model and the industry in which you operate will influence the KPIs you choose.

For example, a B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) company might choose to focus on customer acquisition and churn, whereas a brick-and-mortar retail company might focus on sales per square foot or average customer spend.

Here are a few examples of some industry-standard KPIs:

KPI examples: Industry-standard KPIs for SaaS, professional service, retail, and online publishing

While some KPIs are simple, KPIs that can help your business target specific goals can be tougher to create. These examples of key performance indicators for businesses can inspire the right KPI for your business.

Marketing KPIs

KPIs for marketing can help you track the effectiveness of marketing efforts. It can help you figure out the value of specific campaigns and initiatives, and assess different media channels.

For example, this video outlines how to set KPIs for social media:

These are some of the top marketing KPIs:

  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV)
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  • Conversion Rate

For more KPI ideas, check out these resources:

Sales KPIs

Sales is a numbers-driven activity and this makes KPI selection even more important. Sales KPIs can measure individual, team, departmental, or organizational efforts. They can also help sales teams make shifts and respond to goal and priority changes.

These are some common sales KPIs:

  • Monthly sales growth
  • Monthly calls (or emails) per rep
  • Opportunity to deal ratio
  • Average purchase value

KPI examples: Sales KPI, Opportunity to deal ratio

For more KPI ideas, check out these resources:

Service KPIs

Customer service KPIs can track the performance of support teams. They also help service managers understand, analyze and optimize the customer experience.

Here are some of the top service KPIs:

  • Number of resolved tickets
  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
  • First response time
  • Net promoter score (NPS)

For more KPI ideas, check out these resources:

Website KPIs

A website KPI can connect the performance of your website to marketing, sales, and service goals. Website data can help businesses understand how to connect siloed departments and fix gaps in the buyer journey. This type of KPI is especially useful for ecommerce sites.

Here are some common website KPIs:

  • Traffic
  • Traffic sources
  • Number of sessions
  • Number of transactions

This post also has some great suggestions for website engagement metrics.

Now that you know what a KPI is and how to choose the right KPIs for your business, it's time to act. Measuring a KPI can be simple or complex depending on your KPIs, your tech stack, and the way your team works.

Some companies end up tracking the wrong KPI because it’s the easiest data to track. This isn't a satisfying solution, and it can lead to bigger business challenges long term.

Let's walk through the best practices for measuring your KPIs.

1. Identify the tools or software you need to measure your KPIs.

KPI measurement starts with your data sources and the tools your business uses to track data. There are a few things you'll want to look for in the right software.


According to 2021 research from Productiv, the average company uses over 200 apps. This means that you'll need a software solution that connects to a range of tools to pull together accurate data.


Dashboards are also useful for tracking KPIs because they make it easy to visualize insights. Visualization can make complicated information simpler and quicker to understand and act on.

Custom and standard reports

It's also helpful to use KPI software with both standard and custom reporting. While some KPIs are effective alone, others may need supporting metrics to clarify the story of the data. For example, say your KPI is social media engagement. You may also want to present data on every social media tool your team is using.

How to measure KPIs example: Sales metrics dashboard, HubSpot

Read here if you're looking for the right data tracking software.

2. Narrow down your final list of KPIs.

Focus is the top reason to limit the number of KPIs you track. If KPIs are the most critical measure of business success, you want to track just two or three KPIs, not 10-20.

First, make sure there is a clear separation of KPIs from metrics. Next, revisit your goals to make sure that the KPIs you've selected show clear progress toward that goal.

As you research software you might notice that some KPIs are easier to track than others.

For example, tracking customer lifetime value by marketing channel is easy if your revenue and marketing systems connect. But what if these are two different systems? Maybe your marketing platform shows that most of your leads come from the blog. At the same time, your customer platform analytics show that most of your leads come from a landing page.

This kind of issue leads to a lot of manual work, and a KPI your team can't trust. Until you can unify your systems, you may want to choose a KPI that you can measure accurately.

Be sure to watch your KPIs in the first few months and take note of how often you check each KPI. Sometimes you'll need real data to figure out if that performance indicator is useful.

For example, say at the beginning of a co-marketing partnership, you and your partner set a KPI for shared leads. But in the first two months, the only shared leads come from a webinar that your companies host together. At the same time, you both notice increased lead volumes from referral links.

If you want your KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your partnership, you may want to change this KPI.

3. Create standard reports and timing for reporting.

One way to help stakeholders invest in KPIs is to create a consistent reporting schedule and format. You can measure and report on KPIs each week, month, quarter, or year depending on your business needs.

For example, if you have a monthly lead goal, it's a good idea to track your KPIs weekly. If performance tracks with expectations, you can gather insights into what your team is doing well. If not, you have a chance to ask for resources, troubleshoot, and make changes.

A standard report has the same structure every time. You can often automate these reports and they usually don't need much manual data analysis. Depending on your industry and KPIs you may want to customize your standard reports. This can help you make sure that your reports clearly show the most useful information.

4. Design visualizations in your dashboard for your most important KPIs.

Scanning numbers is satisfying for some. But most people process and retain visuals best. So, you'll want to make the most of your data with a visual dashboard that makes your KPIs easier for stakeholders to understand and remember.

As you build your dashboards, there are a few helpful things to think about. First, try to group your KPIs to create audience-specific dashboards. For example, you might want to build one KPI dashboard for C-suite presentations and another for meetings with your team.

Next, keep your visuals simple. Choose the best chart for the information you're presenting and don't add small text or extra graphics that could distract from your data.

5. Share KPIs reports with other teams for quality checks.

It may take some time before your KPIs are a reliable source of information. There is a lot that you can do with digital tools, but don't forget another crucial resource for making sure your KPIs are accurate — your team.

Whether you check in with your friends in Accounting every other day or hold weekly check-ins with people in your department, it's smart to reach out. Even small issues can lead to big errors over time.

For example, do you want to base your KPI on the average daily call volume of customer service seven days a week or just Monday through Friday? If you don't talk to your CS team about their structure and schedule, you might pull the wrong data. This can lead to skewed numbers, poor strategic decisions, and more.

The more your business can trust your KPIs, the more benefits they'll get from them.

6. Choose a reporting cadence for stakeholders.

Most decision-makers in business organize reporting around the business calendar. But you'll still want to think about the right reporting cadence for your specific KPIs.

For example, a monthly cadence might not be frequent enough to troubleshoot problems. At the same time, a weekly cadence might create information overload. Too frequent meetings can also lead to conversations about metrics instead. This takes the focus away from your key performance indicators.

If you are new to this process, it may make sense to meet more frequently in the beginning, then create more space between meetings later.

You want to build a culture and structure around support for your KPIs. Remember that it's about the business using this tool to reach your goals.

7. Set new goals and KPIs based on your results.

Some KPIs are forever, but you'll want to continue to review and update your KPIs based on results. So, schedule time at least once a year to review your KPIs.

As you make updates, organize your data in a way that makes it easy to compare useful KPIs with indicators that aren't helping.

Next, make some time to plan and research the changes you might want to make. Changing KPIs can sometimes create unintended issues. For example, a slack KPI can show consistent strong results, even if performance isn't in line with growth goals.

As you make adjustments, keep in mind that KPIs should come from business goals, not the other way around.

Use Your KPIs to Fuel Growth

With every business, growth is the goal. KPIs help you track your progress and scale progressively to grow in whichever way that matters to your company.

Powerful KPI creation and tracking can give you and your business a strategic advantage. They can help you prioritize, focus, and scale processes toward your goals.

Some KPIs are easy. But if you want to push to the next level, you may need to take some extra time to find the exact KPIs that your company needs.

This post was originally published in March 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Creator Economy: Everything Marketers Need to Know

The media landscape has changed significantly over the years thanks to the rise of the internet and social media. With platforms like YouTube and TikTok, anyone can go online, create content, and find their niche audience. As a result, media has become more decentralized than ever, and millions of content creators have created a new space in the entertainment industry — the creator economy.

But what exactly is the creator economy, and why should marketers care? Here's everything marketers need to know:

What is the creator economy?

Social Media's Role in the Creator Economy

Platforms with Content Creator Funds and Programs

How Brands Should Use the Creator Economy

Download Now: 150+ Content Creation Templates [Free Kit]

What is the creator economy?

The creator economy is an online-facilitated economy comprised of millions of content creators, such as social media influencers, videographers, bloggers, and other digital creatives. The creator economy also includes software and tools designed to help these creators grow and profit from their content.

The creator economy is a relatively new addition to the media and entertainment industry, and it's something that anyone from any generation can be a part of. Whether you're a millennial with a true crime podcast or a Gen Z fashionista with a style blog — you can be a part of the creator economy in whatever niche you choose.

Think about it — if a TikTok account rating bathroom sinks around New York City can go viral, then there really is no limit to what's possible in the content creation business.

Social Media's Role in the Creator Economy

The rise of social media has fueled growth in the creator economy. According to Forbes, there are about 50 million content creators across multiple platforms, including YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch. That's about 50 million people participating in the creator economy.

The creator economy saw significant growth during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, many people found themselves working from home or looking for new income streams due to budget cuts and layoffs. This resulted in more people having more time or incentives to create content on platforms like TikTok, Twitch, and YouTube.

In fact, TikTok saw a significant increase in users during the height of the pandemic, which directly contributed to a boom in the content creator economy. According to Statista, TikTok experienced a growth of 180% among users ages 15-25 after the pandemic broke out in the U.S. in 2020.

Graph showing how TikTok experienced a large boom in users at the start of the COVID-19 pandemicImage source

Aside from financial opportunities (and an escape from boredom), social media provides a digital space for almost anyone to post their content, promote their work, and build a loyal fanbase. In the creator economy, you can be a creator without investing in expensive equipment or getting the backing of major studios.

For example, Kyle Prue rose to fame on TikTok with videos showcasing his dry humor. All his videos are shot from his apartment using his iPhone and the mic on his Apple headphones. Despite his simple setup, Prue has over 1 million followers on TikTok and 32.5 million likes.

@kyleprue Reply to they expelled me on the ides of March actually #fyp #friendship #polyamory #genevaconvention ♬ original sound - Kyle Prue

He also wrote and starred in his dark comedy-drama web series, "The Rabbit," which he posted to YouTube for viewers to watch for free. Prue put the series together with his own money and without the help of any major studios or production companies. Each episode has between 20,000 to 71,000 views.

Platforms with Content Creator Funds and Programs

As I mentioned, many people turned to the creator economy to earn money — especially at the start of the pandemic when companies were experiencing hiring freezes and layoffs. Many digital platforms contribute to this economy via their creator funds and programs, including:


For years, content creators on YouTube have made money via ad revenue from video advertisements. YouTube also has the YouTube Partner Programs, which gives creators access to exclusive features and various monetization opportunities. To compete with TikTok, YouTube also launched the YouTube Shorts Fund, dedicating a total of $100 million to creators from 2021 to 2022.


To keep up with the growing creator economy, Instagram has rolled out many new opportunities for creators to earn money off their posts to the app. One opportunity is the Instagram Live Badges, which allows users to send monetary tips to their favorite creators during live streams. Another opportunity is the Instagram Reels Play Bonus Program, where creators earn money based on the performance of their Reel.

Other monetary opportunities include:

  • Branded content
  • Shops for creators to sell directly to their followers
  • In-stream video ads
  • Affiliate programs


TikTok's Creator Next Program includes its $200 million creator fund, tipping and gifting opportunities, and a creator marketplace to connect creators with brands. The creator fund is accessible to many creators, including those with only 10,000 followers — so long as they have at least 100,000 video views within 30 days.


Streaming platform Twitch has its Twitch Partner Program, where creators can earn income in multiple ways. One way is through channel subscriptions. With channel subscriptions, streamers earn revenue when their viewers subscribe via the following options: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, or Prime.

Bits is another feature of the program, allowing viewers to purchase virtual goods to "cheer" on streamers. Streamers get a percentage of the revenue Twitch receives from these purchases. And finally, Twitch streams can earn money via ad revenue from ads run during their streams.

Other Ways Content Creators Make Money

Though many social media platforms provide creators opportunities to make money through creator funds and programs, content creator earnings typically aren't very high.

According to a survey by NeoReach and Influencer Marketing Hub, only 1.4% of the 2,000 content creators surveyed earn over $1.4 million annually. Only a little over 20% make a livable wage of $50K or more a year. To combat this issue, content creators will often supplement their income by other means, such as:

  • Brand deals and partnerships
  • Sponsored content
  • Paid subscriptions
  • VIP meet-ups
  • Event hosting
  • Merchandise
  • Live and virtual events

Some content creators may also use their online presence as a stepping stone toward more lucrative ventures. For instance, Tabitha Brown is a social media personality and actress who became famous on TikTok for her calming videos of affirmations and recipes.

Her fame on social media led her to being cast in popular television shows like Showtime's "The Chi." Brown also has her own show, "All Love," on Ellen DeGeneres' digital platform EllenTube as well as a bestselling cookbook and an ongoing partnership with Target.

How Brands Should Use the Creator Economy

Viewers tend to care more about people and personalities than brands in the creator economy. As a result, many major brands have struggled to find their footing on platforms like TikTok or Twitch. However, there is still a way brands should tap into the creator economy to grow their audience and gain revenue — influencer marketing.

Brands should reach out to influencers with a loyal social media following to spread the word about their products or services. A great example of influencer marketing would be the work of TikTok personality Drew Afualo. Afualo is famous on TikTok for creating videos that poke fun at misogynists and uplift women.

Since gaining millions of followers on the app, Afualo has been tapped to promote films like "The Lost City," starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum.

@drewafualo #ad Make sure you check out The Lost City out 3/25 😎 Sandra Bullock is the baddest period @Paramount Pictures #fyp #xyzbca #girls #men #funny #college #embarrassing #OscarsAtHome #WomenOwnedBusiness ♬ Joy (30 seconds) - TimTaj

Online fashion retailer Shein has also worked with Afualo to promote the company's SheinX collection.

@drewafualo Lmk which outfit is your fave 🤓 Shop the #SHEINX Collection & use my code "DREW" to save 15% off the entire @SHEIN US site! #SHEINpartner #fyp #xyzbca #girls #men #funny #college ♬ original sound - Drew Afualo

There are many ways to leverage Influencer marketing. Popular tactics include social media takeovers in which an influencer "takes over" a brand's social media account for a day. Some brands like Genius will host live Q&As with influencers or celebrities on platforms like Instagram Live or Twitter Spaces. Additionally, paid partnerships, product placement, and sponsorships are considered tried and true methods.

Just remember — if you're leveraging influencer marketing, you'll need to ensure the influencer's content and image align with that of your brand. After all, you should always practice discernment with who or what is associated with your brand or organization.

The creator economy is how influencers and creatives earn income by creating content that is unique to them and taps into their niche audience. However, it's also an excellent avenue for brands to generate awareness and remain relevant in an ever-changing media landscape. Now that you know about this growing economy, you can find new and innovative ways to incorporate it into your marketing strategy.

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