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June 8, 2016

How to Build a Business Dashboard for Your Inbound Marketing Agency

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Most of us running marketing agencies come from any background other than traditional business. Some of you are creative types, others have technical backgrounds, and if you’re like me, I’m 100% marketing. So when it comes to business, we’re all learning how to help our companies run smoothly and make money. If we can’t make money, then there’s no point in doing what we do.

I think this is particularly challenging for inbound marketing agency owners because we don’t have many models to use for comparison. We don’t look like traditional web firms, we don’t look like ad agencies, and we don’t look like PR firms. So how do we know how our agencies are doing? How do we make sure we’re making solid business decisions if there is no guide to follow?

I’m going to attempt to share one person’s perspective on what your inbound marketing agency dashboard might look like. Some of the numbers are financial; others are operational. Some of this is based on my experience running a fast-growing mid-sized inbound agency for the past 13 years, and other numbers are based on my experience practicing some business management methodologies inspired by Traction and Rockefeller Habits.

Here are the metrics I check daily, weekly, and monthly to measure the health and stability of Square 2 Marketing:

Health of the Pipeline: Sales and Marketing Metrics

If people aren’t reaching out to you asking you for help with their business’s marketing, your business is in trouble. Success starts with new business. This dashboard helps me to manage our future capacity and identify sales issues before they become problems. 

  • Website visitors
  • Site-wide conversion rate
  • Leads
  • Sales qualified leads
  • Sales opportunities
  • Agreements to prospects
  • New clients
  • New revenue

In addition to these, I also look at a few inbound marketing metrics to help us understand the health of our lead generation and marketing efforts.

  • Organic search visitors
  • Referral visitors
  • Social media visitors
  • Rankings for selected keywords (three to five very important ones)
  • Blog subscribers
  • Blog views
  • Top viewed blog articles (and the views) during the past 30 days
  • Top downloaded content (and the number of downloads) during the past 30 days
  • Net new contacts
  • Total increases in social reach (across all social sites)

Health of the Operation: Client Services Metrics

No amount of new clients is going to help if you can’t keep your current clients happy, increase the size of their accounts, and win account renewals. This dashboard helps me to understand if we have the right clients, how we’re doing with our clients, and how likely they are to renew at the end of their current engagement. 

  • Average monthly retainer per client
  • Revenue per team vs. target
  • Revenue per consultant vs. target
  • Revenue realization rate
  • Billable percentage for the company, teams, and individuals
  • Profitability by team, by client, and by project type
  • Client budget percentage or how much of the client’s monthly budget did we use
  • Renewals projected for the next 90 days
  • Net promoter score (NPS)

Health of the Business: Financial Metrics

Even if marketing and client services metrics are green across the board, if you spend more than you make, you won’t be in business long. This dashboard alerts me to any financial health issues that I need to solve for.

  • Revenue per employee
  • Net profit
  • Gross profit
  • Cash on hand
  • Monthly budget for expenses
  • Monthly expected revenue
  • Cash flow projection

In addition to these numbers, we get a daily flash report from finance. This includes what money was received, what new invoices were processed, a tally of revenue versus our budget and projected numbers, and a few other key metrics such as the balances in our checking account, saving account, and payroll accounts. This keeps us on top of the company’s financial situation daily. For me, I’ve always had issues getting access to financial metrics, so the daily flash report gives me what I need in a format I can digest and act on if necessary. 

All of these metrics mentioned above should be measured weekly and against the pre-determined goals you’ve established for each metric. I’d also suggest you compare them to last month and to the same month last year. By comparing the numbers to last month, you can insure there is improvement month over month. By comparing the numbers to the same time last year, you can see progress over the course of the year and factor in any seasonality. For instance, August and December are historically slow months for us, so comparing August to July might look like there are issues, but by comparing this August to last August, I can see how we’ve improved.

Please don’t view these metrics as the only or all the numbers you'll need for a business dashboard. Every business is different and everyone approaches management and service delivery different. I'd love to hear what metrics you track to run a successful inbound agency in the comments below. The goal is to make every inbound agency better by sharing best practices and advice on how maintain a profitable, growth-oriented company. 

If you’re looking for even more information on how to measure the success of your inbound marketing agency, click here to download the ebook 13 Steps You Need to Take Today to Grow Your Agency Tomorrow.

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Topics: Leadership & Management

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