“Marketing Analytics.” When many B2B marketers hear these words, they say “Oh yeah, I've heard of that. I should really be doing that." If this sounds like you... well, you’re not alone: the most recent CMO Survey revealed the vast majority of B2B product and service companies do not evaluate marketing analytics. So, let’s hit the pause button for a moment and take a step back to look at what marketing analytics are, why they’re important and how you can—and should—get started.
What is Marketing Analytics?
For starters, marketing analytics is not the process of mercilessly pulling greasy, grimy gobs of numbers into Excel spreadsheets. A spreadsheet may be involved, but it goes way beyond just that.
Marketing analytics will tell you how individual aspects of your marketing initiatives are performing, but it will also go far beyond data from individual channels you’re using (e.g., web initiatives, social media, etc.), to include the type of investment return those specific efforts produce. By employing good analytical processes in your marketing initiatives, you’ll gain a holistic view of your efforts to help evaluate how your marketing is working (or not working).
Why is it important?
At its core, analyzing your marketing quantitatively takes away the marketing manager’s anecdotal sense of what is working and replaces it with hard data. In fact, a 2013 report in Forbes magazine showed that more than half (60%) of organizations that used analytics a majority of the time reportedly exceeded their goals, while companies that used such data only occasionally reported significantly less success.
Data is important, but it has no value on its own unless you use it to make decisions about how to change and improve your marketing efforts. Your analytics will show customer preferences and trends, what processes or channels need more (or less) attention, where you should not spend additional budget dollars, and what processes you need to fix. For example:
You see the best leads come in through your LinkedIn sharing versus Facebook and you should spend more time and effort with that channel
You discover that leads are taking longer to convert for that piece of manufacturing equipment than anticipated and you need to nurture them longer as a result
Case study content is significantly underperforming more technically-oriented whitepaper content in terms of lead generation
Where do I start?
When you begin to think about the vast nature of marketing analytics, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. So, like how you would eat an elephant, take your marketing analytics efforts one bite at a time. Start with writing down the questions you think you’d like to be able to answer through some solid analytics and then prioritize them. When you develop your list of questions, be sure to include ones that cover:
Prior marketing: Which emails from our automated education campaign received the most views and clicks? Which blog content areas received the most views last year? Which Calls to Action (CTAs) produced the most leads? Did we receive more leads through social media than through our email campaigns?
Current marketing: What types of customers/prospects are interacting with us most on social media? How many views and CTA clicks has blog X received versus blog Y? What does organic search traffic for our new product pages look like?
Upcoming marketing: Is there a market for which we should boost traffic via a paid search campaign? Do we need to re-think how we nurture leads for product Y?
Documenting these questions will also help you with creating future marketing efforts in a way that facilitates objective analysis, helping you determine upfront what success will look like.
Once you have your questions organized, and you decide what your most pressing analytics issues and needs are, you can start the process of tracking down your data. Your initial search and data compilation may take a little more time than you may think it should, but it is all part of the process and will get easier once you have your initial batch of data documented.
To get you started, here is a sampling of some common things to look for in the various channels:
Website Traffic & Activity
|Unique visitors||The total number of visitors to your site over a specific time frame (doesn’t include multiple visits by the same person)|
|New vs. repeat visitors||A comparison of your unique visitors vs. the number of visitors who came back more than once The more repeat visitors you have to your site, the more they are finding relevant content that keeps them coming back|
|Traffic sources||How people get to your site. Direct traffic is from people who have entered your site’s URL into their browser, arrived via a bookmark, or clicked on an untagged link in an email or document|
|Referring URLs||Non-search engine URLs that send traffic to your site|
|Pages with the most/least traffic||Your most heavily trafficked pages show what content visitors find most interesting and can be where you add offers to further engage them|
|Indexed pages||Number of pages that have received at least one visit from organic search, which tells you how many of your pages are being indexed by search engines and are getting found by users|
|Bounce rate||Percentage of new visitors who leave your site almost immediately, with no other interactions. Pages with high bounce rates indicate users aren’t finding what they expected or need|
|Landing page conversion rate||Percentage of visitors who take a desired action, such as submitting a form|
|Click-through rate (CTR)||Percentage of people who viewed your keyword ad and clicked the link. To improve CTR, test different text and landing pages to see which combinations boost your CTR for a given term|
|Conversion rate||Percentage of visitors who completed a desired action after clicking your ad|
|Return on ad spend||This measures the return on your paid ad investment (total ad spend divided by the total revenue generated from paid ad conversions)|
|Engagement||Individual interactions: retweets, mentions, likes, replies, repins and shares|
|Traffic from social media||Social media channels referring traffic to your website|
|Conversion rate from social media||Percentage of visitors from social media that convert into leads or customers|
|Bounce rate||Percentage of emails sent that could not be delivered to the recipient’s inbox, which can reveal problems with an email list|
|Delivery rate||Percentage of emails delivered (total number of emails sent minus hard and soft bounces, divided by total emails sent)|
|Click-through rate||The proportion of recipients who clicked one or more links in an email message, which reveals message relevance and how compelling an offer is to recipients|
|Traffic and referrals||The amount of much traffic going to the blog and the source of that traffic (e.g., social media, direct traffic, organic search, etc.)|
|Individual post views||How many views each blog post receives. You can use this data to identify content trends and look for trends related to headlines, topics and overall length|
|Visitor-to-lead conversion rate||The rate at which your blog posts convert site visitors into leads (see CTA performance below)|
|Call to action (CTA) performance||How effective your blog’s CTAs are at converting blog visitors into leads. Each blog posts should include a CTA for an offer that includes a lead generation form|
To obtain more advanced marketing analytics, you could consider investing in a marketing automation platform, like HubSpot. An automation platform can provide you with virtually all the analytics you could want “under one roof,” as well as enable you to more easily manage your leads from their point of conversion to their point of purchase.
So, what are you waiting for? Take that first step and start compiling and analyzing. Your marketing efforts are bound to improve as a result.
Tim has vast experience executing B2B marketing plans in a number of industries, including manufacturing, health products, and business technologies. He manages the mechanics of our clients' inbound marketing programs, including marketing automation setup, email marketing, and digital content creation.