Enterprise inbound marketing is all about data. We are collecting data constantly, from every visit, every lead and every customer. We are tracking everything from blog post subscribers to Facebook likes and working out how to make sense out of the data. What's the point of all of this BIG DATA? We are seeking knowledge of the customer journey from initial awareness through sales closing in order to optimize the path and making it easier for customers to find us and buy from us. We are reporting on key performance indicators (KPIs) to the C-Suite so that they can make informed decisions about marketing budgets and deployments. So what should we be measuring and how?
Digital Marketing KPIs
The first step in the process is deciding what to measure. What types of KPIs should we focus on to gain the insights we want about marketing strategy, resources and budget? Different metrics appeal to different company roles and goals, for example:
- Traffic, leads, conversion rates: appeal to demand generators who want to keep the inbound marketing engine running smoothely and to show sustainable growth
- Channel-based metrics: for marketing managers and executives assessing the viability of different channels for resource and budget planning
- Campaign-based metrics: for demand generators and product managers looking for specific impacts of their inbound and outbound campaigns
- Blog posts, downloads, social posts and other content: appeal to content marketing managers who need to keep publishing fresh, engaging content
- Lifecycle stages (changes from month to month): appeal to sales and marketing managers, keeping an eye on movement through the sales funnel
- Social media reach in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.: appeal to social media managers looking to enhance brand awareness and lead nurturing
- Revenue-based metrics, like cost-per-lead and additions to pipeline by marketing: appeal to executives keeping an eye on budget allocation, reporting and planning
Process to Measure and Analyze KPIs
Traffic, leads, conversion rates - your marketing automation software should allow you to track these primary web metrics by providing tracking code for your website and landing page creation tools to track lead conversions. We compile a month-by-month summary showing the raw data for each metric vs the "plan" or projected goal for each KPI. We then color code each month by whether or not it achieved the goal. We also track the content that was published each month to assure compliance with the plan and associate content marketing with top-funnel trends. This view allows executives and managers to quickly assess progress and seek solutions to get back on track when things go south.
Channel-based metrics - here we plot the primary web-based metrics by channel in order to assess their relative contributions and effectiveness. We can break it down by organic search, direct traffic, referrals (from other websites), email, PPC and social media—our main demand generation channels.
Campaign-based metrics - We also want to evaluate the effectiveness of individual campaigns, for example, a special promotion of a product or service via blogs, email, PPC and social media. In this case we create a spreadsheet showing the raw data (opens, clicks, conversions, rates) for each component in the campaign (including lead nurturing) to compare channels and optimize for continuous improvement.
Lifecycle stages - using smart lists and workflows that move leads from one lifecycle stage to another based on lead behavior and scoring, we create a view that shows the movement of leads through the funnel from month to month. This gives sales and marketing stakeholders a quick snapshot of the effectiveness of the program in optimizing the sales funnel and driving qualified leads to your sales team.
Revenue-based KPIs - we are in the process of developing our revenue-based KPIs and reporting. We are developing methodology to measure cost-per-lead, channel-based revenue, campaign-based revenue and total revenue delivered by marketing to be reported in our month-to-month view with targets and compliance painted in color. This requires tight integration between your marketing automation and CRM system and alignment between sales and marketing to identify KPIs and targets.
All of this OCD on data is crucial for success in enterprise inbound marketing. If you can deliver the numbers month over month, you can prove the effectiveness of marketing and become a profit center for your company. Without the data, how are you going to do that? Without the analysis, how are you going to reach conclusions, explain them and back them up when you report to the C-Suite? Your job is never done. The colors will flip from green to red, because stuff happens. Schedules get delayed. People go on vacation. Executives whig out about the budget. The important thing is to stay on top of the monthly results and make nimble moves to improve next month's results.
In my next post, I'll go into more detail about delivering ROI through Revenue Performance Management.
With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. Connect with John via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus.