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Inbound Strategy: 5 Things You Should Always Be Monitoring

By Meghan SullivanJan 24, 2014

Measure Inbound MarketingThe advent, growth and sophistication of digital marketing has given marketers an overwhelming heap of data just waiting to be sorted, organized, pivot-tabled and analyzed. It’s almost too much sometimes, no?

It’s critical to prioritize and determine which bits of information are the most valuable to your project at hand. Otherwise, it can be hard to keep up. Ultimately, you should track metrics that a) align with your project goals and b) are actionable.

This was a lesson I learned in business school that always stuck with me; recognizing the difference between “good to know” data and “actionable” data. Good to know data is just that—it’s good to know. You can’t really do much with it.

I’ll admit it can be hard to accept when something falls into this category. The number of “likes” a Facebook post receives is, in my opinion, a good example. Say you’re running a promoted post on Facebook and it gets 500 likes. That’s awesome! It’s hard not to get excited, because you know post likes get your content in front of other people on Facebook that don’t like your Page.

But, the truth is, people will like a post without even fully reading it. You can share a blog post and 60 people like it, but you don’t know what percentage of those actually read your post. So, a like is not even a great indicator of whether or not your content is resonating with the intended audience. It’s good to know, but you can’t really do much with that information.

Actionable data, on the other hand, tells you what to do next. Click-through rates on a CTA are a great example of actionable data. If your CTA only gets 1 click out of every 100 views, you know you need to change something. That data guides you toward taking action.

Having said that, here are some of my favorite things to monitor that help take the pulse of my marketing activities:  

Traffic, Leads and Customers by Channel

Knowing overall traffic numbers from week to week is important, but that information becomes even more actionable when you look at traffic by channel, i.e. organic search, paid search, email, social, etc. Email numbers suddenly out of whack? You know exactly where to go digging to find the culprit and make the necessary improvements. In monitoring trends, you can also get a feel for any cyclicalities and plan to compensate for a dip in one channel with growth in another.

Lifecycle Stage Movement

Tracking your new leads every month is an extremely important metric, but it’s also essential to monitor your entire pipeline. It’s normal to see attrition as leads move to marketing qualified lead, then to sales qualified leads as the unqualified/uninterested contacts weed themselves out. But you will also want to ensure leads are indeed moving through the sales funnel, otherwise, you may need to strengthen your mid- and bottom-funnel offerings.

Customer Behavior

Analyze the behavior of those who have become customers. What was their first touch on your website? The last touch before they decided to buy? How many visits did they make to your site? How did they find you? Look for trends in demographics. You want more people like this, right? Optimize accordingly.

Landing Page Conversions

Landing page conversions should be evaluated in context, or based on their purpose, and should include whatever came before it, be it a CTA on your website, an email or a Google AdWords advertisement. For example, consider a lead nurturing email with a call to action that takes the reader to a landing page. If there’s a big disconnect between your email click-throughs and your landing page conversions, you’ve got a problem. Why are people clicking through on your email, but bouncing off of the landing page without converting? It could be any number of things. I would start with the H1 and try testing each component of the page.

Design

How do you measure design? A/B testing, of course! We’re seeing a significant shift in how websites and apps are designed. The skeuomorphic design Apple made popular has been all-but-retired in favor of a simplified, flat look. Flat design is mobile-friendly and supports an overall simplicity in solutions-oriented messaging. If you’re concerned your target audience won’t respond as well to a flat design, you can test it on graphical CTAs, landing page graphics and button design.

How about you, my fellow marketers? How have you survived the Big Data onslaught? What kind of interesting insights are you finding that help you recommend smarter strategies? Comment below!

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