“What the hell should I be measuring?”

Marketing metrics are one of the most common pain points clients and readers ask about.

There’s so much data available for analysis that sometimes it’s hard to keep from getting bogged down in the details. It comes from everywhere—website clicks, social media shares, search engine referrals, and newsletter performance to name a few. So how do you know what measurements provide a valuable snapshot of your marketing effectiveness?

Here are a few to help you feel confident in what works, catch what doesn’t before it wastes time and money, and sharpen your strategy into a most effective tool.

Sales Growth and Acceleration

Regularly filling your customer pipeline with leads, and accelerating them through your sales funnel is a critical component of your business. If your marketing efforts aren’t bringing in leads, or your sales process creates a bottleneck which breaks down your customer service, you need to know. Your website will offer plenty of insight to your customers’ level of engagement—bounce rate, unique visitors, page views, etc—and you can see if and where they’re peeling off. If you find they get 3/4ths of the way through the purchasing process and then abandon their cart, perhaps it’s a requirement of the sale they’re not willing to accept: needing to create a user account to checkout as opposed to being a guest user, or an exorbitant shipping fee.

Ultimately, quality of product and/or service will determine success, too.

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Conversion Rates

Are your customers buying?

Are they even seeing the marketing?

If not, then perhaps your platform choice needs to be considered.

You can measure conversions a couple of different ways. Maybe you want to gauge the effectiveness of a single campaign, such as a limited time discount, or a newsletter promotion. Are you bringing in more physical sales than digital sales? Maybe your web content could use updating. By analyzing data from multiple channels, you can determine the more effective efforts and eliminate the ones that drag. Data from the sales process is important, too. Like the above example of abandoned shopping carts, knowing where to streamline the transaction eases the effort of your customers, so they finish the sale more often than not.

How many sales are attributable to your content writer’s efforts versus the cost of that billboard on the nearest Interstate exit? How do you know if your discount through the newsletter is better than that online code applied at checkout?

Cost Per Lead

It takes money to make money, and in marketing, speculating to accumulate is the name of the game. But sometimes, the cost of even effective campaigns can be high.

Maybe it’s worth it, but asking the question of whether the current method you’re using is the most cost-efficient is important.

Perhaps there’s another way of executing the same strategy with less expense. But monitoring where the money goes, even with successful techniques, is always a good idea. Keep in mind, it’s not just about cost savings. Maybe it’s timing of investment. One method costs more up front but results in a higher number of leads, where the other spreads the cost out over time but the success is slower. Depending on where you are in your business plan, maybe the higher cost option is more promising, or for your current cash flow, the spread out plan is a better fit. But how will you know if you’re not measuring cost per lead?

Marketing Contribution

It must be said, investing in marketing that simply isn’t working isn’t good business. Every strategy you or your team implement should spur an action that directly benefits the company, even if it’s a long-term benefit.

Testing different techniques to determine their effectiveness is part of the overall process, but you must know which implementations work and which don’t. If you’re blowing your budget on ineffective marketing, it’ll frustrate you and your colleagues and drag down your business. So while not all marketing ideas will result in success, if your overall strategy is still moving in the right direction, you know it. If it’s not, knowing faster so you can right the ship is key.

Brand Awareness

Of all the metrics you can analyze, this one is the most elusive, but perhaps has the biggest long-term payoff.

Consumers do more research for future purchases than ever before. If your brand doesn’t cross their awareness, there’s a missed sale opportunity. So you have to get your brand out there.

The first thing a customer will do when in the market for your products is search online. If you’re not on the first page of links, you might as well be on the last.

Prove, over and over again, that your product or service handles your customers’ needs and surpasses expectations. This will manifest in positive reviews, social posts by satisfied customers, and an overall positive impact on your brand. Yeah, it takes years to build, but find your voice, and you’ll be singing your best tune. People will notice and come to rely on you.

The North Star Metric

You might have heard the term, the North Star Metric, or maybe the One Metric that Matters.

The unit of measure depends on the industry, such as number of downloads for an ebook retailer, or amount of time spent listening to Spotify. But it’s supposedly the Holy Grail of metrics. The truth is, there is no one metric that will be a decent measure of overall business. Even total revenue, or total units sold don’t give you a thorough understanding of the marketing successes and failures that make up those numbers. How many sales are attributable to your content writer’s efforts versus the cost of that billboard on the nearest Interstate exit? How do you know if your discount through the newsletter is better than that online code applied at checkout?

You don’t. Not without looking at smaller metrics that feed into an overall larger metric. Flying blind like that defeats the entire purpose of marketing metrics. So by carefully considering which metrics give you the best information, you can put together a really compelling picture of strategies that work and those that don’t. Doing so will sharpen your focus to put your brand and products out there, and you can be confident. It’s in the numbers.

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