As a marketer and business development consultant, I often help clients determine the value and impact of marketing initiatives. This often boils down to understanding numbers. And I don’t mean numbers in the sense that data scientists or accountants look at numbers.
In business almost everything comes down to this- customers and selling. And selling products can be easily measured. Your marketing initiatives ultimately needs to create sales. To be able to measure the impact of online marketing on sales there are 5 basic metrics that you would need to master.
1) Web traffic
2) Customer acquisition cost
3) Social media engagement
4) Landing page conversion
5) Email marketing effectiveness

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One thing that you want to stay away from when looking at numbers is what I call Vanity Metrics. These are numbers that may look good but don’t have much value.  These numbers may look data driven but in reality they are not.

Examples of vanity metrics:

  • Raw numbers of traffic
  • Numbers of downloads for products or marketing materials
  • Number of email subscribers
  • Number of email open rates
  • Number of followers

I’m not saying these metrics are not good. But rather they don’t provide a whole lot of value in your data-driven marketing. They are numbers that show basic information but you can’t build strategy on them. The beauty of the 5 metrics is that they can be applied to a lot of businesses in many industries.

As a marketer when it comes to tracking metrics and data, the questions you want to ask is: What metrics should I focus on?

Here is a strategy:

  • Your sales and the revenue is the most important metric
  • Work backwards and figure out what is the next most important metric that determines sales
  • Keep working backward and figure out the next most important metric

You get the idea.

By working backwards from the sale you are intentionally focusing on what matters. So even though we are looking at 5 metrics for online marketing, there are other relevant metrics that you can be monitoring that are not related to online marketing. But that’s a different topic for a different blog post.

For example if you are in a B2B niche and write proposals to customers, then one of your KPIs is the number of bids you send out each month.

Is there a relationship between the number of bids you send and the overall effectiveness of your online marketing? I would say most definitely yes.

Tracking these metrics, and acting on the information that they contain is what can supercharge your business.

1. Traffic

Your website traffic is one of he most fundamental metrics of your digital marketing program. It’s kind of like business 101 in college. It’s the foundation for everything else relating to your website. If you don’t have traffic then all bets are off. Unless you are new in business and are working on building your traffic.

But website traffic is a broad term, it is a vanity metric. You need to drill down and get into the details of your traffic and identify a few important dimensions of your web traffic that is important.

If you want to be able to develop effective digital marketing campaigns, you have to track your web traffic so that you can understand what’s working and what’s not.

Unless you are tracking and understanding your web traffic you won’t truly be able to make an impactful increase in your business. Neil Patel has some great insight into increasing your web traffic.

For example, by tracking your web traffic from social media sites, you may find that certain platforms like Instagram and Twitter perform better than Facebook. You can then adjust your marketing budget accordingly to get higher ROI.

Tracking web traffic is straightforward.

By using Google Analytics, you can track the number of sessions and page views you get each day as well as the details such as bounce rate, demographics, and source.

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2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

This is where the rubber meets the road. How much does it cost to get your customers? That’s what the boss needs to know. And if you’re the boss that’s what you need to know.

Depending on your business this can be easy or tough. If you’re a small shop, an entrepreneur, or consultant, this can be simple. If you are mid size or fortune 500, then it’s complex because you have lots of people doing all kinds of marketing.

But let’s say you are a small business. Your marketer needs to be able to show you how much he spent and how many deals were closed. CAC can be a simple spreadsheet made up of your marketing costs and sales made. For example this spreadsheet from StartupEntrepreneur shows how you can setup the spreadsheet if you are using Google AdWords.

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But sometimes it’s not that simple and direct. Marketing can have an indirect positive impact on your business as in helping your brand to be top of mind. No matter how much we try to become more “data driven” marketing is till about figuring customer needs, behaviors, and helping sell.

Data is not the goal of marketing, sales is.  And the only reason we need data is to better understand our customer’s needs leading to more sales.

Depending on the extent of your marketing program you can have a separate spreadsheet for each initiatives. But the main idea is that you want to know how much you’re spending and your ROI.

When you start tracking customer acquisition cost after a while you can get pretty good estimate of how much each lead costs. If you are in B2B and have direct sales teams it is not unusual for each lead to cost thousands of dollars. Heck a trade show at a major convention alone can cost $100K and that’s for a mid size booth! But if you are selling a complex machine that costs $1 million and you can sell 1 more machine, that can be a great ROI.

If you’re using several marketing channels, each channel has a different cost.

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The more touch points you need to sell your products, the higher is your cost. Here is a good example of a graphic that show CAC versus touch points in the sales process.image10

3. Social media reach

Social media is a great platform for building your following and selling. Yes that’s right there are many businesses that sell through social media. Just take a look at Instagram and you’ll see hundreds of small and large businesses engaging customers, and fans to sell.

There are plenty of metrics that you can use to measure the effectiveness of your marketing initiative. For each social media platform start using their engagement tools and correlate it with your KPIs. Some of the questions you want to consider are:

  • Number of sales from social media
  • Number of clicks leading to landing page
  • Number of comments and questions
  • Follower count as related to engagement

You can literally reach millions of potential customers through social media. This platform alone can be a huge source of your business especially if you are in he B2C market.

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How do you do this on Facebook?

  • Go to your company Facebook page.
  • Click on “Insights” at the top of the page.

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Facebook Insights provides you with data to help you fully understand what your audience is doing, how it’s interacting, and how it’s impacting your business.

When you know this data, you can develop a rock-solid social media strategy to maximize your reach and revenue.

4. Landing page conversion rates

Landing pages are where you can generate a lot of your direct web leads. Let’s say you are in a B2B niche business in a mature industry. Your landing page can be a brochure, a case study, a report or something that you consider valuable to your customers. Something that they need to know or want but they need to provide some basic information about themselves.

To maximize your landing page conversion rates requires you to do a good job in these 6 areas:

  • Know Your Target Audience
  • Define Your Unique Selling Proposition
  • Create A Powerful Headline
  • Mobile First
  • Use An Obvious Call To Action
  • Always Be Testing

You can read about landing page optimization in more detail here.

To maximize landing page ROI you would need to know 4 metrics:

  • Bounce rate
  • Exit rate
  • Click-through-rate
  • Conversion rate

You can track these metrics through a number of tools including Google Analytics. If you want to use GA and you are new to it be prepared for a steep learning curve. For an entrepreneur or solopreneur I recommend getting outside help to setup your Google Analytics and dashboards. The benefit of dashboards is that they can quickly give you the most important metrics you need.

The other thing that you need to be aware of is what is a “good” conversion rate. And that depends a lot on your industry and niche. Most conversion rates are in the single digit range. For most people a 5% conversion rate is considered people.

Check out this conversion rate chart by WordStream.image12

5. Email marketing metrics

Email Marketing is still one of the easiest ways to reach out to your target customers. But the one thing that is of critical importance in email marketing is how good is your subscriber base. Before you engage in any serious email marketing you need to know the quality of your subscriber base.

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Here is the first thing that you need to ask yourself before you do anything else:

How good is my email list?

The answer to this question determines whether or not you can get good ROI from your email marketing. If you are not sure about the quality of your email database there is a quick and easy test you can do.

Send a fairly simple email to your database and monitor the delivery rate. If you get let’s say a 50% delivery rate that’s a very strong indication that 50% of your list is dead. So you can pretty much kiss those good bye for now.  Quality can mean different things to different people. For me quality often means I have a clean list.

Once you are satisfied with the quality of your list then dive into the metrics we discuss here. If you end up with a small email list, then one of your marketing programs can be to start attracting new subscribers.

Once you determine your objective in email marketing the data that you want to measure comes down to 4 key metrics:

  1. Delivery rate
  2. Open rate
  3. Click rate
  4. Conversion rate

Again depending on you objectives, the most important of the 4 are the last 2. Click rate and conversion rate are what really matters. Of these 4 metrics, the last one can be the hardest to measure for some businesses. All email service providers provide you the first 3 metrics right out of the box.

To get conversion rates you need to do a little more work. If you are measuring conversion rate to a landing page that has a form to download a White paper then your tech team needs to track the conversion through tracking code inserted into landing page and the final “Thank You” page. If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner without skilled resources in house I would advise you to seek help from service providers.

If you want to know what is the industry average for email marketing, Ciceron’s research provides the following metrics:

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What actions do you take from your email marketing metrics? Here’s what I usually look for:

  • Potential leads for my sales team
  • Content that engages customers
  • Prospects that are most engaging with your emails
  • Conversion rates

This information can be used to make all sort of strategic decisions including product line improvements, product launch strategy, influencer marketing, and much more. For more details and analysis of metrics, check out this site.

Conclusion

If you want to maximize your online marketing ROI then you need to master 5 basic metrics. The challenge is developing a habit and methodology to measure and determine a strategy to act on the information the data provides. Once you start measuring on a regular basis then you’ll start seeing the fruits of your hard work.

Just like everything else in life and business mastering these metrics requires resources and skill. If you don’t have a team that can pull this off for you look for outside help to setup your metrics and dashboards.

Focus on the big picture. And that’s getting customers and keeping your costs down so you can show high ROI. If you make this into a habit you’re already on your way to success.

 

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Nick Rakhshani