One of the greatest things about inbound marketing is the ability to track results. Data is available 24/7 for all of your inbound marketing activities: blogging, landing pages, emails, CTAs, website traffic, leads, advertising, and so on. Sound overwhelming?
It can be. With so much available to track and analyze, it's easy to get frozen in analysis paralysis. Which are the key pieces of information you'll want to view after the close of each month?
Marketers who check their metrics three times or more each week are over 20% more likely to achieve positive ROI, according to HubSpot's State of Inbound 2015 report. Here's a look at what you should include in your very own inbound marketing report to track, analyze, and adjust your marketing efforts:
The purpose of setting goals is to direct your efforts to benefit the trajectory of your company. Some examples include:
- Increase sales from inbound marketing by X% to $X
- Increase the number of customers gained from inbound marketing by X per month/year
- Increase the number of leads generated by inbound marketing to X per month
What does your performance to the primary goal(s) look like? If you're not on target, then you should look to established KPIs that will point you in the right direction to improve results.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are metrics that have a direct impact on goal achievement. They help you understand how you are doing against your objectives. The following KPI examples indicate how each layer of the business development funnel for inbound marketing and sales is performing:
- Monthly Visitors
- Monthly Leads
- Monthly MQLs
- Monthly SQLs
- Monthly Opportunities
- Monthly Customers
- Visitor-to-Leads Ratio
- Leads-to-MQL Ratio
- MQL-to-SQL Ratio
- SQL-to-Opportunities Ratio
- Opportunities-to-Customers Ratio
If one of your KPIs is underperforming, it is most likely impacting the other KPIs as well as the overall performance to your primary goal.
Track and analyze your KPIs to identify where you may have a problem, and adjust as needed. For example, if you're not hitting your target for monthly Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), it's unlikely that you'll have the desired number of sales opportunities and new customers, too. To improve the number of SQLS, you may consider looking at your workflows for Monthly Qualified Leads (MQLs). Are your automated activities moving the prospect deeper into the funnel toward sales-readiness?
Monthly Marketing Analytics
While your KPIs can provide insight into how your inbound marketing program is working, at times, you should also dig into marketing analytics that describe how individual marketing actions and tactics are performing.
Dig deeper into these key metrics each month to determine how to improve your performance to the organizational goal:
- Website Traffic & Lead Sources
Where are your visitors and contacts coming from? Make sure you’re taking advantage of outlets most used by your audience.
- Blogs Published & Viewed
Which topics are gaining the most views by your identified targets? Adjust content as necessary to encourage more readership.
- Emails Sent, Opened, & Clicked
Which emails are being opened and clicked on? Is there a particular topic or offer that is producing better results? Is each email template optimized for conversions? Analyze, adjust, and test as necessary.
- Social Media Followers, Reach, Web Visits, & New Contacts
Is your website traffic from social media increasing each month? Followers? Reach? How many new contacts can be attributed to social media? Leverage the social media channels that are generating the most leads.
- Landing Page Views, Unique Submissions, Submission Rate, & New Contacts
Is your content generating conversions? Which landing pages are performing better than others? Is there a particular topic of offer that is producing better results? Optimize your landing pages for the best results and adjust content offers as needed.
- Visits by Page
Is your most important content being seen? If not, make necessary adjustments to make sure your message is reaching the right people.
Use KPIs to Determine Next Steps, Analytics to Fine Tune Activity
Too often marketers become frozen in their attempts to assess performance against their goals. In this article, I've shown how goals are different than KPIs, which are different than marketing analytics. On a monthly basis, it's your responsibility as an inbound marketer to use all of these metrics in the right way to plan better marketing activity.
Goals, themselves, are like general weathervanes; goal achievement tells you which way the wind is blowing but not much else. KPIs—the rates at which you're pushing leads through the marketing and sales funnel and the number of leads in your pipeline—provide more indication as to what exactly is going on. Use KPIs to determine where you're experiencing marketing and sales weaknesses, then target the problems and apply analytics to create nuanced improvements.