We all have dreams. But it takes planning to make them a reality. Want to start a business in the next 6 months? Great, how are you going to do it? Have the hope of making your first million dollars in the coming year? Right on, but you’d better have steps in place to make it happen.
The necessity of a plan is obvious for many pursuits. You’d never purchase a home without researching the area, identifying your budget, and evaluating numerous properties. Likewise, you wouldn’t enroll in a master’s program in school without outlining the course of action that would prepare you for success.
Yet we sometimes jump into marketing willy-nilly. There seems to be a lackadaisical attitude among entrepreneurs, as though pure effort will inevitably yield results. But just because it works that way with darts (you throw it and it’s guaranteed to stick into something), doesn’t mean that marketing shares this same rudimentary causation.
As Jesse Sumrak explains:
Marketing is an often misunderstood profession. Peers often stereotype marketing with massive budgets, loosey-goosey timelines, haphazard tactics, high-profile influencers, and Snapchat filters. In reality, modern marketing plans are more complex and orchestrated than a World Cup-winning German football team. Businesses have big goals to hit and fine margins to walk—and they need realistic, yet imaginative, marketing plans to make it happen. Sure, bigger companies can spend all willy-nilly hiring Taylor Swift for a commercial op and dropping a quarter million on Facebook advertising, but small businesses and startups have to get downright strategic with every dollar they spend.
In order to get strategic with your plans, you need to know what’s working and what isn’t. Otherwise, you’re simply making assumptions. And assumptions rarely get you anywhere worth going.
Marketing Metrics to the Rescue
The best way to track the efficacy of your marketing is with metrics. What are marketing metrics? They’re basically a system or method of measurement. So if you launch a Facebook campaign, metrics enable you to see who it’s connecting with and what actions it’s prompting. If you launch a new initiative on YouTube, you can see who is watching, how long they’re staying, and where they’re going afterward.
There are thousands of various metrics that can be applied to marketing. Each platform has its own set of distinct metrics, while other marketing metrics are more universal. By carefully choosing the metrics you want to devote time and attention to, you’ll be able to accomplish more goals and strengthen your overall marketing efforts.
The experts at Amazon summarize the impact of metrics this way:
These insights help a marketing team understand if it has achieved its goals in terms of reaching new customers, awareness, engagement, sales, lead generation, and more. These analytics also serve as an early warning system if marketing campaigns aren’t performing as expected, and can help with effective decision making to adjust campaigns in real-time. Finally, marketing metrics are the primary way marketers can show the impact that marketing and advertising are making for their company or organization. This can inform annual budgets and headcount, making these insights essential beyond ongoing measurement and campaign planning.
The far-reaching impacts of your marketing certainly deserve to be taken seriously. Watch them closely and they’ll guide you to new heights. Let them wander and your business will follow suit. By using marketing metrics to chart the course, you’re truly setting yourself up for success.
The Right Metrics at the Right Time
With so many marketing metrics to choose from, how do you know which to focus on? It all comes down to what you want to learn and how you want to learn it.
You would take a similar approach with anything else important in your life. Let’s say that you’re a champion-caliber sprinter. Your goal is to reach the Olympics, so you’ve hired a top coach from Jamaica. When the coach arrives at your training facility, she has you run through your event 10 times in a row, with a 20-minute rest between sprints.
The extreme repetition has you absolutely exhausted, but your coach just continues to observe you with a clipboard in her hands.
Afterward, she calls you over and shows you what she was tracking. First, there are notes on your mechanics in the starting blocks. Apparently, your feet aren’t optimally positioned.
Next, she reviewed your method for firing off the blocks. Her notes say that you need to “explode through your hips.”
Finally, she looked at how you performed in the final 4 meters of the race. According to her, this is where you have the best opportunity to enhance your performance.
How did your coach know which metrics to focus on? She watched you run a few times and noticed crucial areas of performance. If she were training one of your teammates, the chosen metrics would probably be different.
You should take a similar approach with your marketing efforts. Don’t worry about trying to track the minutiae of every element. Instead, look for key areas where you can gather data and improve your results. Trust us, it’s better to know a lot about a couple of essential metrics than a little about a dozen metrics.
In choosing your metrics, ask yourself these questions:
- What aspects of this campaign are strongest?
- What aspects of this campaign have the most potential for issues?
- What metrics are unique to the platform and would be most valuable to understand?
- What metrics are more universal and would also be valuable to understand?
- What metrics have I used in the past to good effect?
- What metrics have I wished I had tracked in the past?
- What do I most want to understand about this campaign?
Guided by your answers to these questions, you’ll be able to select marketing metrics that will help you improve your efforts and steer clear of trouble. Yes, you’ll still have campaigns that flop from time to time. But you’ll learn so much from these poor-performing campaigns that they become valuable assets to your business.
That’s right—metrics can make your failures nearly as lucrative as your successes. For example, if you were to find that an email had great open rates, the call to action generated solid clicks, but the landing page didn’t convert, you would never call that a failure.
First, your use of metrics would reveal that you have a potent email on your hands. The subject line, headline, body copy, CTA, and design should be replicated in future emails.
Second, you would learn that your landing page has issues. Maybe there’s a disconnect that users are experiencing as they transition from the email to the page. Perhaps the copy is too long and the call to action is buried. You can use page-specific metrics to identify what’s wrong, but you should be jumping for joy that you are discovering problems that can be avoided on current and future landing pages.
Without metrics, you might have assumed that your email was the source of the problems. Imagine what a waste it would be if you took this erroneous notion and then spent 5 hours rewriting that incredible copy and then dumping more users on your stinker of a landing page.
The right metrics will always be your best friends. And the closer you stick with them, the more they’ll be able to influence your business for good.
8 Marketing Metrics to Consider
Not all of these metrics will be a perfect fit for your business, but that’s to be expected. What matters is that you survey the options and make informed decisions. Because it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to skip this assessment period and then make assumptions about which metrics are best. And, say it again with us, assumptions rarely get you anywhere worth going.
Cost Per Lead (CPL)
There was a time when businesses could be successful by simply placing a daily ad in their local newspaper, but modern businesses must use an array of platforms to attract leads.
Using CPL, you can track the amount of money you’re spending for those various lead pipelines. If you notice that leads cost substantially more from one source versus the rest, you might consider closing it down. But if those leads are top quality, the cost can be justified. Use the next metric to help guide these decisions.
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate
All entrepreneurs love leads, but those giddy feelings won’t pay the bills. You need to know how many of those leads are becoming paying customers.
Be aware that your lead-to-customer conversion rates will range quite a bit between various marketing efforts. For example, a top-of-the-funnel initiative will likely have a low rate but could still be considered successful based on other metrics. And your bottom-of-the-funnel campaign will have much higher conversion rates.
All could potentially be considered successful. You just need to understand the baselines for this metric so you can make those important assessments.
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
In our world of digital marketing, you must know how much money you pay to acquire a new customer. This measuring stick allows you to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns and project your future growth.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
The prior 3 metrics will help you figure out how much is required to bring a customer to your business, but it’s also important to understand what those customers are bringing to you.
Customer lifetime value is a marketing metric that projects how much money your customers will spend on purchases from your business. The calculation focuses on the “lifetime” aspect of the name, meaning you’re looking at everything from their initial purchase to the last thing they buy from you.
This metric helps gauge the quality of your leads, as just a handful of high-spending customers can outweigh hundreds of less-engaged customers who only amble over to your business for the rare purchase. You’re looking for loyal customers who can build the kind of base that will become your business’s lifeline.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Nearly all your digital marketing efforts will involve a click-through rate. This metric reveals how many times your email, ad, or website is clicked by a user when stacked up against the total number of impressions.
When your CTR is high, the copy and design are working together to engage the user and compel action. Lower rates indicate that something isn’t connecting. For example, your headline might be too long, the ad image too obscure, or the link too hard to access.
One of your primary goals is to create content that is relevant and engaging. This marketing metric reveals how many of your customers agree that you’re achieving this objective.
When a user visits your page and then quickly leaves, that’s called a bounce. As you can imagine, bounces aren’t something to be celebrated. Your bounce rate is an important gauge of the effectiveness of your content.
Average Session Duration
What about your site visitors who don’t bounce? This metric looks at the average length of time that users spend before departing. It can help identify your top-performing content and find new strategies to boost engagement.
Page Views Per Session
This final metric shines a light on the user experience of your website. When the page views are high, your site not only has quality content but is also easy to navigate. Lower views per session can potentially expose poor navigation and other issues.
The Metrics of Success
These metrics provide a good starting point for your marketing measurements, but there are many other areas of emphasis. Start with a “critical few” metrics. After familiarizing yourself with those insights, you’ll be more aware of additional blind spots that can be addressed with additional metrics.
Armed with your marketing data, you’ll be ready to begin optimizing your campaigns. You’ll find proven strategies for nearly every platform by visiting our library of free business courses. Whether you want to improve your headlines, get more from your Facebook ads, attract new leads with content marketing, or crush your YouTube goals, the answers are all here and ready to start.