Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Key Metrics to Guide Your Online Marketing Efforts

To grow your business, you already know that you have to engage in marketing. So you spend time building campaigns and running ads across various platforms. You write killer content for your content marketing efforts. You hit your social media platforms with targeted posts and ads.

But how well do all of your efforts perform?

You want to just sit back and relax while your lead and sales metrics climb exponentially like the graph above, right?

Without appropriate tracking and metrics, how can you alter your investments to put more effort where it will have the most impact?

Simply put, you can't. You have to track your marketing efforts to understand which ones move you closer to the goals you have for your campaigns. But what types of data should you track?

Lead Generation

When it comes to lead generation, your goal is volume, volume, volume. Which channels send you the most leads? How much are you spending for them? If you are converting leads at a consistent rate, then increasing your overall quantity of leads increases the bottom line proportionally. Even if you don't maintain exact ratios, more leads still means more sales. So here's what you can measure to make sure you are generating the most you can.

Raw Lead Generation by Channel

How many leads are you getting per channel? The raw volume by channel should provide you the first indicator of how you are doing across the various sources of leads. While you might not be able to discern your top performing channel by such a raw number, you can identify the dogs, those channels that send you virtually no leads.

Cost Per Lead

How much are you paying per channel to acquire leads? While certainly conversion metrics come into play in determining where your money generates the most return, you have to understand the amount of money you are paying per lead to make informed decisions about future investments.

Leads Acquired vs. Impressions or Leads Acquired vs. Traffic

This metric helps you understand how successfully your campaign generates leads in a particular target market. Simply put, you measure how many leads you acquire per number of impressions of a particular advertisement. For your content marketing, how many leads are you generating from the traffic to a particular piece of content measured against the total number of visitors to that page?

Leads Acquired by Keyword

Whether you pay for keyword advertising or rely solely on organic search, you should keep track of how many leads you acquire from potential customers by what they were searching for. Knowing what keywords drive your leads can form the basis of new content marketing initiatives as well as even creating new product offerings based on the interests of your potential customers.

Lead Quality

So, you're generating hundreds (thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of leads a month from all of your different sources, but how good are they?


Receiving the same leads from multiple sources? Duplicate leads can obviously skew your overall lead generation metrics. If you can identify the channels sourcing the duplicates, then you may have opportunity to consolidate your efforts and save time and money.

Leads With Multiple Actions (Lead Engagement)

If you have the ability, track leads who take multiple actions displaying interest in your products or services. If you can track those that downloaded a video demo, signed up for the newsletter, and left a comment on a key piece of content on your blog, you may be able to drive similar behaviors in others with modified calls to action. You may also be able to identify those close to conversions and target them with additional actions that fit the pattern of higher converting prospects.

Marketing Qualified Leads

The definition of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) will vary from company to company, but as you  refine your own definition of what is a "Sales-ready" lead, you need to track the actions that indicate a potential customer has qualified to be passed directly to sales. 

Hubspot has a great article on lead metrics, including a good set of specific metrics tailored to Marketing Qualified Leads, if you are interested in reading more.

Lead Conversion

Ah, at last, the Holy Grail! Conversion metrics! Finally, you can understand how your leads actually create the types of actions that you set up the campaigns for in the first place.

Are your leads turning into sales? Are you growing your email list? Fortunately, you may find the actual collection of conversions easier than some other metrics, as they result in a desired action (sale, form completion, etc.), and you likely know how many of those actions are taking place.

The real trick is knowing what to do with the information once you have it.

Raw Conversion Rate

For starters, you need to know how many conversions you are getting per channel. Fortunately, many of your analytics packages can provide history of the source of a given conversion simply by setting up your action result pages, such as putting some code on the "transaction complete" page of your sale.

Repeat Conversion Rate

Some channels will send you customers that hit on many of your campaigns. Understanding the combination of actions can help you understand the MQLs generated by each channel and can also help you understand interest and behavior of your potential customer base.

Return on Investment

If you are chasing sales as the premier conversion, tying the value of a sale back to the cost of acquisition for a particular lead helps you determine where to adjust your budgets and where you are getting the highest amount of sales for your spent marketing dollars.


Tracking metrics can only tell you part of the story. Piecing the metrics together can help you put together a cohesive view of your potential customers, their behavior, and what methods work best for you to achieve your desired results.

Once you have that knowledge, you can manage your efforts, both for paid and organic lead acquisition across all of your marketing channels.

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