Marketing moves at a lightning pace and the metrics we use to measure it seem to evolve just as quickly. It’s easy to fall into the trap and chase the “flavor of the week” acronym based on expert advice – from MQL to CAC and beyond – but you’ll never get a clear picture of your analytics if you don’t build in some consistency. Rather than measuring the “sexy” metrics, focus on the ones that actually matter for your business.
Understand your business goals and objectives
Before you look at a single data point, decide what you want to accomplish with your marketing campaigns and tactics. In this context, gaining social media followers or building your email list don’t count as goals – they are just a means to a bigger end. Are you building awareness for a cause? Generating leads for a product?
Once you’ve clarified the business objectives, you can more easily understand which marketing metrics will help you measure your progress. For example, if your goal is to generate leads for a product, you can measure the conversion rate of an asset on your website related to that product.
Ask questions first, then start tracking
Metrics mean nothing if they don’t inform your decision-making process. So even if you already know which data points you want to measure, you need to understand how these metrics could tell a story about the marketing campaigns you’re focused on. Ask questions about the data before you start collecting it: What does a successful conversion rate look like? How long do you want to measure data before you make changes to optimize your campaign? Setting these baseline expectations ahead of time will prevent the data from becoming arbitrary, because you’ll be able to take action supported by the information gathered.
Agree on definitions at the start
Have you ever collected metrics, only to discover that no one could agree on what they meant? This is all too common among sales and marketing teams, so make sure you agree on definitions from the beginning. Get a consensus on issues like what qualifies as a lead, what action constitutes a conversion, and other triggers that will produce metrics for your campaigns. Plus, it’s a good idea to develop an SLA between sales and marketing so you can measure the effectiveness of each team.
Remember: it’s not just about one metric
Your marketing metrics work together to tell a story about your progress, your prospects, and your product. Create dashboards that account for the bigger picture in addition to individual data points. For example, if your conversion rate is through the roof for an asset on your website – that’s great! But if you look deeper and find your conversion rate for customer acquisition is miserable, it means you have an issue with your lead nurturing process. In this way, your combined metrics can spotlight the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing tactics and campaigns so you can adjust accordingly and improve your ROI.
The art of marketing lies in finding balance – and this is especially true for measurement. If a hot new metric is relevant and applicable to your business, start tracking it! But make sure you understand how it fits in to the bigger picture, and make sure you don’t abandon the other important analytics that help you run your business.