A marketer who is skilled at using data -- whether you're entry-level or a CMO -- is a powerful force. Having data at your side will help you make smart decisions, suggest fast changes when necessary, and find opportunities for different marketing channels and teams to work together. Who doesn't want that?
Quite often, however, even good marketers are in the business of only monitoring the basics: traffic and leads. But there's a substantial world beyond those important yet simple measurements. In fact, you can go much deeper into your data to see how certain marketing components are working together, learn what improvements can be made to better your marketing, and avoid some serious pitfalls before they happen. All you need is to have your marketing metrics list ready, and the tools to get started.
So to help you get started, here are some of the key marketing metrics and reports you should be analyzing if you're looking to advance your marketing game. It'll help you strengthen your analytical tool belt, and run marketing programs that work smarter -- not harder -- for your business. You ready? Let's go.
Goal Setting and Progress Tracking
The first few sets of metrics and measuring methods are to help you (you fearless marketer, you), stay ahead of your lead generation goals so you can have a solid month.
1) Leads Waterfall
Wouldn't it be great if you knew at the start of every day if you were on track to meet your leads goals for the month? Well that's exactly what a leads waterfall graph is for! This chart helps you guide your progress by visualizing what you need to achieve on a day by day basis. As your month progresses, plot what you actually achieve each day to compare your results to your goal. Now you can catch yourself when you're falling behind the first day it happens, so you can react quickly to pick up the pace. If you're a HubSpot customer (in fact, with closed-loop marketing software all of the metrics recommended in this post will be much simpler to get), you can simply input your numbers into the software to get a graph like this that automatically updates:
If you're not using HubSpot software, you can still keep track of this number using Excel. We've written a blog post that tells you how, which you can read here.
2) Traffic Waterfall
The same concept as above can be used for traffic, which is important if you hope to achieve a particular leads goal. Use a waterfall to monitor your traffic growth closely. Again, if you fall behind, you can act quickly, perhaps by creating content that will draw more readers in at a faster rate.
3) Average Lead Close Rate
Do you know the average rate at which your leads close? You should track this often, I recommend on a monthly basis. Why is this number helpful? It will help you monitor the quality of your leads at any given time. If it's high, you're attracting high-quality potential business. If that close rate drops, you might not be attracting the right people.
4) Average Leads Per Business Day Month Over Month Growth
Lots of marketers track month over month growth, but fewer track lead per business day month over month growth. So how is that different, and why might that be important? Well, not every month is the same length! In other words, this metric helps you measure growth more fairly by drilling down to how much you can produce in a single business day.
For example, if you generated 300 leads in January, and your boss tells you to maintain that same about of lead generation in February, could you relax that month? Unfortunately no -- that actually requires 15% growth in average leads per business day in order to maintain 300 leads. In other words, you need to achieve the same results in 19 days as you did with 22.
This next section is to help us ensure we're closely monitoring how well each specific channel is performing. A channel in this case (no, not ESPN) is a lead source. So "social media," for example, is a channel just like "SEO" is a channel. By separating these channels individually, you can get some really interesting insights into which are working best for your business, so you know if you're investing in the right sources.
5) Month-to-Date (MTD) Goal Per Channel
How closely are you measuring the growth and progress of each of channel? For example, are you on a mission to scale social media as a lead generation channel? Or maybe email marketing? Let's say you set a goal to generate 100 leads via social media in March. By using your handy dandy leads per business day metric, you can set daily goals to help you there. This is a numerical-only version of the waterfall chart above, but it could also easily be graphed to help you have a visual representation.
This metric is also a great tool to incentivize, say, your blog team to hit a lead goal for their own channel. Now it's easier for them to do it, because they can actively track their daily progress.
6) Close Rate Per Channel
Every marketer should understand what channels work best for their business from a customer acquisition standpoint. Maybe SEO is your best volume-producing lead generation channel for your business, and social media is one of your smallest. Well, regardless of lead volume, it's possible that social is driving more customers for your business! How, you might wonder? Perhaps the close rate of leads generated via social media is significantly higher than leads generated via SEO ... so much so that SEO's volume isn't enough to make up the difference. That high close rate is also a very strong indicator of the quality of those leads coming from that channel. In other words, do more on that channel! It's your sweet spot.
7) Paid vs. Organic Lead Percentage
Lots of marketers group their channel analysis into larger buckets -- for example, "paid" and "organic" might be separated for analysis. The paid bucket is any marketing that you spend money on (aside from employee time), like social advertising, sponsored newsletters, etc. Organic is the opposite; it's all leads that you generate without cost other than your team's time. Blogging, SEO, social media, and email marketing fall into that bucket.
So if you're a marketing director using both of these "types" of lead generation, you probably want to keep a close watch on how much of your leads are coming from one bucket over the other. You might also set a goal to decrease paid channels as a lead source over time. Measure what percentage of your leads come from each bucket to get a sense for how your organic efforts are working for you, and if you are scaling to reduce your dependency on advertising.
How do you measure the impact of a blog post? Or an ebook? How do you know if the effort and time you put into that piece of content ... well ... paid off? Measuring the impact of content is a tricky, tricky skill, but it can absolutely be done. Below are a handful of wonderful metrics to let you know if the stuff you're making is paying off.
8) Leads Generated Per Offer
One great use of content, particularly premium or long-form content, is to gate it behind a landing page to encourage your visitors to fill out a form. That content is often called an offer, because it's what you are offering on that landing page. But how do you know if that offer was worth creating? Simple! By tracking how many people filled out that particular form on the offer's landing page. Now that you have that number, how does that lead volume compare to other offers of yours? Knowing that will help you determine how effective different types of offer content are to your marketing efforts.
9) Landing Page New Contacts Rate
So we're all comfortable with landing page submission rate, or the rate at which landing page visitors fill out your landing page form. But how can you differentiate your repeat form-fillers from your newcomers? Well, new contacts rate is a great place to start! This metric is a wonderful tool to let you know the percentage of new people you're attracting to your business. In other words, what is the rate at which new contacts only are filling out your form? This is a much better gauge of whether your content is helping you attract a new audience that you can do business with.
10) Call-to-Action Clickthrough Rate
Let's step back for a moment ... how do potential leads get to your landing pages again? Ah yes! Calls-to-action (CTAs)! You know, those little mini "ads" for your best content on your website that guide people to the content on your landing pages. By monitoring your call-to-action clickthrough rate, or the rate at which people visit a page and then click on the page's CTA, you'll be able to understand how valuable that offer is to incoming traffic.
It's also important to note that sometimes, a CTA's performance can be optimized simply by updating the CTA itself. So it's wise to test CTA variations like color, text, and position before you decide to change your entire content strategy.
11) Traffic-Driving Keywords
Here's a hat-tip to the marketers who love SEO. Another way to evaluate if your content creation is impacting your business is by tracking how well relevant keywords related to your business are performing in search.
But wait -- we don't necessarily care about rank. This metric evaluates keyword performance based on the traffic that's coming to your content via those keywords. Now what should you do with this information? If you have many traffic-producing keywords, you've done a great job creating a piece of content that has received significant links and shares, helping it perform better in search engines. Create similar and even stronger content to help your goals.
Marketing Qualified Leads
Say what now? For those of you who are not measuring qualified leads (MQLs), or have not defined what a marketing qualified lead is for your business, here's the short answer: a marketing qualified lead is a lead that is ready to be rotated to Sales. There could be many ways to determine which leads are MQLs. Your company might decide a lead is marketing qualified after it takes a certain combination of actions -- like filling out a form, visiting your website five times, and visiting your product page. Or you might decide that a lead is an MQL once it requests a demo. It's up to you. The purpose is to know what leads are the most sales-ready so you are passing on the hottest ones to your sales team. Now let's measure them.
12) Total MQLs Per Month
Now that we understand what MQLs are, this is easy! How many of these MQLs are you generating month over month? Is it increasing? (That'd be nice.) This is a good metric to know if you're helping your leads get to the "marketing qualified" stage via nurturing and more sales-driven content. You could also look at this metric more closely by evaluating average MQLs per business day.
13) MQLs Per Channel
It would also be great to know if a particular channel is a strong source of MQLs for your business. How many MQLs do you get from your blog versus email marketing? Maybe you'll learn that one channel is a better source for generating newer leads who are still getting to know your business, but another is great for nurturing to the MQL stage. This metric would help you determine that.
14) Percent Leads That Are MQLs
Are more leads being nurtured into MQLs over time? Or is your business struggling to nurture your leads into MQLS? By monitoring what percentage of your leads are MQLs over any given time, you'll be able to understand how well MQL generation is working compared to lead generation. This is another great metric to track month over month. Ideally, the MQL percentage would grow over time while overall lead volume is increasing. That's the dream, baby!
15) MQL Conversion Rate Per Offer
This metric is your tool to measure both MQL conversion and content effectiveness. Say what? Let's back up. Ideally, after someone converts on an offer's landing page, you'd then guide that person through the steps that would (hopefully) turn them into an MQL. So in the event that anyone who requests, say, a free demo is an MQL for your business, you'd want to guide your new lead to a form that lets them request a free demo.
Now that we understand that, let's dig into this "MQL conversion rate per offer" metric. This metric tells you at what rate a person becomes an MQL, per offer. So if 20% of leads became an MQL after attending your webinar, but 10% of leads became an MQL after downloading your ebook, you would say the webinar has a higher MQL conversion rate. How is this helpful? Over time, you can learn what content is the best tee-up for a strong MQL opportunity.
Metrics make the marketing world go round, and there are more excellent ones to look at outside of the ones presented on this list. So share what metrics you measure in the comments, and keep sharpening your analytical chops so you can make the smartest decisions possible for your business.
Love marketing analytics yourself? What are your favorite marketing metrics to follow?
Image credit: Blue Diamond Photography
Originally published Feb 15, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017