One of my favorite quotations is often attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Though there’s not really any proof he actually said this, it’s still a great reminder to continually evaluate what you’re doing and the results you're getting you. After all, no one in today’s world is getting any less busy and you want to make sure that, as a B2B marketer, you’re spending time on what matters most. The immediate and broad availability of data, after all, is one of the most powerful advantages of inbound marketing over traditional outbound tactics.
In the past, we’ve written about how to analyze the gap between your current and desired business performance and use that information to fuel your annual marketing plans. We’ve also talked about the power of creating quarterly marketing roadmaps to provide flexibility and focus to your broader annual plans. A marketing plan is the underlying "path forward," and the quarterly roadmaps outline the tools you'll use to get to your goals. So...which do you turn to in order to measure performance against those goals? What "large" areas do you need to monitor, and what more granular measures should you take into account?
High-Level Inbound KPIs Tied to Business Goals
Start by identifying SMART goals — what do you want to achieve in terms of business growth for the year? Then determine how many customers you need to get in order to achieve those goals. With that information you can work backwards and determine how many sales qualified leads, marketing qualified leads, and website sessions you need to generate from inbound marketing to stay on track.
Then set up a dashboard like Databox that integrates with your marketing automation and website CMS platform to get real-time insight into this data. We track these overarching KPIs all year long on a “Quarterly High-Level Overview” dashboard that gives us a quick glance at how our inbound program is performing against our goals.
Quarterly KPIs Based on Roadmap Focus Areas
Each quarter, as we work on our inbound marketing roadmap for the upcoming 90 days, we use the overarching KPIs to identify areas we need to focus on. These could be areas that need improvement in order for us to achieve the goals; areas we’re going to double down on because the data shows something is working really well; or they could simply be time-based components of the annual plan (for instance, if your major trade show falls into a particular quarter, building an inbound campaign around that event will warrant its own focus area for the quarter in order to get the most ROI from the trade show).
Here’s an example of how you could determine quarterly KPIs based on your roadmap focus areas. Let’s say you are getting good volume of website traffic, but only 0.5% of visitors are filling out a form to become a known contact. One of your focus areas for the quarter should be conversion rate optimization for your site. For this, you'd want to track KPIs like:
- Call to action (CTA) views and submissions
- Landing page views, submissions, and conversion rates
- New contacts from landing pages
Use tools like Google Analytics, Hotjar, and Lucky Orange to see where users are falling off and add CTAs to those pages. Then track micro metrics like those above, but for specific pages you’ve optimized.
Repeat this process for each focus area in your roadmap. Here are some additional sample focus areas and KPIs to consider:
- If you’re getting enough new contacts, but not enough Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): Look at your form strategy to determine if you're asking the right questions to be able to qualify leads. Analyze where your MQLs come from and then strategize tactics to double down in those areas — for instance, referral traffic from industry publications tends to be more qualified for complex B2B industries.
- If you’re getting enough MQLs but not enough Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), take a good look at your nurturing workflows and optimize your email campaigns. Then track the performance of those emails and workflows to see if they improve.
- If you’re getting enough SQLs but they’re not converting to Opportunities (not having live conversations with sales), look at your connect attempt sequences, or what bottom-of-the-funnel offers can be developed or optimized to be more compelling. Then track the performance of those offers.
Breaking down the inbound marketing KPIs you track for the whole year into quarterly results will help you know whether you’re on track to hit your annual goals. Use that intel to identify focus areas for your quarterly roadmaps and then track KPIs for each focus area that trickle up to impact your business goals.
Want to learn more about putting together an effective inbound marketing plan that will help grow your complex B2B business? Check out our free guide below.
Kelly Wilhelme currently manages all of Weidert Group's marketing efforts. Through her past experience as an inbound marketing consultant on our client service team and, prior to that in financial services communication, she has a deep understanding of complex businesses and a desire to help them grow. Kelly has a passion for communication strategy, layout and design, as well as writing and content creation.