As any manufacturer knows, if you don’t measure it you can’t manage it. A well-run production line requires that you track several 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 see; 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 funnel:
- Instead of producing parts, you produce content (blog posts, ebooks, and other 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 the amount of traffic your content is attracting.
- Instead of measuring equipment uptime, you can measure your website with SEO crawlers 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 SEO elements.
- In addition to the production line metrics, there are also funnel metrics that will let you know if you’re going to meet your sales quotas.
With the right tools, all of these metrics can be measured. However, there is only so much time in a day, so knowing what metrics are the most important is the key to generating the kind of results your organization is looking for.
Annual and 90-day Metrics
To understand what metrics you should be measuring, you start with your company’s annual goals. Before you measure anything you first need a baseline. What is your monthly website traffic? Are you measuring Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), and if so how many are you producing on a monthly basis? How many opportunities have you opened last month, and what’s your closing rate? If you don’t know where you are, you won’t know how to get to where you want to be.
Once you have your baseline, it’s time to determine how you want your company to perform over the next year. What kind of growth are you looking for? How many sales do you need to close to achieve your revenue goals? How much should revenue increase this year? Based on your past results are those goals attainable? Do they fall into the SMART guidelines?
You can break down your annual goals into immediate objectives with a 90-day roadmap. These are actionable items your company can focus on, like launching a new section of your website, or hosting a conference. These activities need to have metrics attached to them to understand whether or not they’re successful. Examples of these metrics include “generate 10 SQLs from our manufacturing conference,” or “increase MQLs from our website by 10% this quarter”.
After those 90-days are up, you will want to revisit your quarterly roadmap and review if you hit the goals you set out to achieve. Whether you reached them or not, you’ll probably end up doing some adjustments – and the beauty of using KPIs with a 90-day roadmap is that you can adjust faster and set expectations accordingly.
Now that you have your goals and key performance indicators, it's time to measure them on an ongoing basis. Take the KPIs from your roadmap and determine what your monthly metrics are. For an MQL goal, leading indicators usually are website traffic, returning users, and new contacts. For sales related to a specific product, leading indicators could be existing customers or SQLs viewing related content on your website.
As you’re reviewing your monthly metrics it will be easy to determine if you’re on track to meet your quarter roadmap goals, and allow you to pivot if you’re below or exceeding them.
As you can tell, the number of metrics you might want to measure can grow considerably depending on what your overall goal is and the KPIs you’re using to measure your success. Although many goals and KPIs have their place, it’s important to focus on the most impactful ones; this way you won’t have hundreds of metrics to monitor every month. There are also helpful tools, like Databox, you can use to create dashboards that aggregate your metrics in an easy-to-find location.
Once you have these tools in place, measuring your progress can be as simple as getting a dashboard emailed to you or checking a live dashboard once a week.
As you can see, metrics are just as important to marketing as they are to plant operation. By having the correct metrics in place you can build a steady and growing marketing funnel that will get your customers (stakeholders) the product they want.
Topics: Key Performance Indicators
An engineer by training, Jon focuses on the technical delivery of an effective inbound marketing program. He builds client website plans that solve for conversion potential and utilize smart user experiences. He is also responsible for analyzing and monitoring the success of inbound projects. Jon fits the definition of being a "whole brain marketer" because he is both a strong writer-designer and a deeply analytical thinker.