As any manufacturer knows, if you don’t measure it you can’t manage it. A well-run production line requires that you track various key performance indicators (KPIs): you measure production rate to know if the plant will meet production quota; you measure quality by taking samples off the line to inspect; and you measure uptime to determine if you should be replacing consumable parts at more frequent intervals.
Why should your marketing be any different? What you do to measure and improve your production line can be applied directly to your marketing efforts:
- Instead of producing physical parts, you produce content (blog posts, eBooks, and other advanced content). You need to have a constant pipeline of content in the works, but if your writers are overwhelmed it’s going to cause a bottleneck and you’ll have to make adjustments to reach your quota
- To measure quality, instead of taking samples off a production line you measure based on how many qualified leads your content is attracting
- Instead of measuring equipment uptime, you can measure your website with SEO tools such as Google Search Console, MOZ, and SEMrush. They tell you when a link is broken, a page is uncrawlable, or when content is missing key on-page SEO elements, like in the example below:
With the right tools, all of these marketing and sales metrics can be measured. However, there is only so much time in a day, so knowing which KPIs are most important to your business growth goals and which metrics are “leading indicators” for those KPIs is the key to generating the kind of results your organization is looking for.
Track KPIs Throughout the Year
Generally speaking, there are three critical marketing KPIs to measure at all times: marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs), and opportunities. You’re probably already setting goals for these KPIs on an annual basis to ensure your pipeline aligns with your annual business revenue goals. But have you considered getting more granular? Tracking these KPIs and the right metrics that trickle up to them on a monthly and quarterly basis ensures you aren’t falling into “set it and forget it” mode, and have an eye on ways to boost metrics throughout the year — not just once a year.
With this in mind, let’s take a quick look at tools for tracking these KPIs and metrics before diving into which metrics you should be tracking on a monthly and quarterly basis.
Tools for Tracking Marketing Metrics
Along with identifying which marketing metrics you should be tracking, you need to address how to best track them. At Weidert Group, a few tools we use include our HubSpot Marketing and Sales dashboards, Google Analytics, and Databox, a business analytics platform. Databox allows you to create dashboards that aggregate metrics from various sources on one easy-to-read databoard, like this example:
Whether you’re using Databox or another business analytics platform, being able to easily track progress will save you time collecting data and allow you to spend that time getting meaningful insights from it by looking deeper into why KPIs and metrics are falling short of or exceeding goal. Be sure the dashboard is updated in real-time, so you can make real-time adjustments based on the data.
There are any number of monthly metrics that are leading indicators of whether you’re on track to meet KPI goals. Let’s look at two of the primary inbound marketing KPIs specifically: MQLs and SQLs.
For MQLs, some leading indicators are:
- Website sessions — A group of user interactions with your website within a given time frame (e.g., 30 minutes)
- Returning users — The number of leads returning to your website for at least the second time
- New contacts — Contacts who fill out a form on your site for the first time
If you’re seeing growth in these areas, it’s a healthy indication that MQL numbers should see an increase as well.
Moving to SQLs, some leading indicators include:
- # of form submissions from MQLs on your site
- Views and conversions on key landing pages by MQLs
- Views of specific blog posts, website pages and emails that indicate sales readiness
Once you’ve identified the leading indicator metrics and have the right tools in place for tracking them, measuring your progress can be as simple as getting a dashboard emailed to you or checking a live dashboard once a week. Using this data, you’ll be able to capitalize on what’s working and pivot in the areas you’re falling short.
Using the Flywheel to Identify Metrics That Matter
So, we’ve talked about how quarterly roadmaps help break your annual marketing plan/goals into manageable periods by identifying key focus areas. You’ve also heard us talk about how the flywheel has begun to replace the traditional marketing funnel because it’s a more powerful approach to Attract, Engage, and Delight prospects and customers.
The flywheel is also a tool to help you identify focus areas for your quarterly roadmaps where you can best reduce friction and increase force in your marketing, sales and service teams. Here are some metrics to track as you focus on each stage of the flywheel — all of which will trickle up to have an impact on your KPIs.
- SEO KPIs (e.g., page load speed, 404 errors, domain authority, inbound links)
- Organic search traffic
- Traffic to your blog
- Traffic to your website from social media
- Paid traffic (e.g., Google Ads)
- % of leads from blog and organic search
- % of website visitors originating from organic search
- Total landing page and other form submissions
- Landing page conversion rate
- Conversions on free trials, webinar sign-ups etc.
- Nurturing email engagement (e.g., open rate, click rate, # of contacts lost)
- Live chat engagement (e.g., number of click throughs, resulting conversions)
- Session-to-new-contacts rate
- Voice of the Customer (VOC) feedback and Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer referrals (e.g., to different divisions within the same company)
- Customer reviews
- Service tickets from existing customers
- Knowledge Base views
The flywheel provides the framework for identifying areas of force and those causing friction. That’s why having quarterly roadmap focus areas and tracking metrics related to these areas is so important — you identify the good (areas of force or positive metrics), the bad (areas of friction or poor performing metrics), and begin thinking of ways to put the force to work and reduce that friction to grow your business better.
Metrics are just as important to marketing as they are to plant operation. Annual KPIs are a good start, but breaking down metrics on a quarterly and monthly basis keeps you informed on progress related to the KPIs and where real-time changes should be made to generate results for your business. Learn more about Inbound Marketing KPIs by clicking the button below!