Start by answering these questions:
- Do you have ways to find out how your content affects your engagement, navigation, conversions, and ultimately your ROI?
- Is basic tracking a mystery for the team? Like, maybe a vendor may have set it up, but no one is using it or knows who has access?
- Do you have data coming through but don’t know if it’s accurate or if the right things are being tracked?
- Does your team have a common definition for what a conversion is in your company?
- Can you tell the difference between important things to track and what’s just noise?
- Are you judging your marketing success by website visits?
Of all the things that confound my clients, tracking and analytics are surely at the top. I hear it repeatedly—data is noisy and distracting. But just as you wouldn’t drive your car without checking your speed and the gas gauge, there are numbers you simply must understand and use to your advantage. Let’s start with some basics on tracking measurables: KPIs and metrics. In general, KPIs are key performance indicators that tell us if your strategy is working; metrics basically measure the effectiveness of your tactics.
KPIs – Key Performance Indicators
KPIs are important because they provide a high-level status check on your organization. If these numbers are steady, then the organization is steady. If these numbers start getting wonky, then something is amiss.
Here are some examples of marketing KPIs we generally see in B2B organizations:
- New customers signed in a quarter
- Total customers
- Customer attrition and client retention
- A targeted increase in revenue over a quarter.
Because KPIs measure the big stuff—goals, you want to keep SMART as you measure these big-picture outcomes. Make sure your KPIs are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. A KPI will likely be driven by more than one strategy.
Metrics are measurable data that monitor the effectiveness of your tactics. In general, metrics should be tracked by director-level staff and below. You want your metrics reviewed by people with the expertise to know when and when not to freak out. They should help inform decision-making about what’s working (or not) in your journey to your goals.
Metrics measure the way we get to our outcomes. While a key performance indicator might be new customers, metrics drill down deeper to how we coax in those new customers. Here are examples of marketing metrics we generally see in B2B organizations:
- Email click-rates: A number that tells us how many people clicked on a CTA you sent in an email campaign.
- Leads from referrals
- Cost per acquisition (CPAs)
- Click-through rates
- Bounce rates
Beginning fixes for your tracking and analytics:
Beware of ‘noisy’ metrics that pose as KPIs.
For example, a common noisemaker is the number of website visits. This is an interesting number, but we have a lot of control over the traffic numbers. We could send out one email campaign to get thousands of visits. The number of visits itself is not interesting. Not to mention, sometimes we intentionally want that number to drop. For example, as we optimize our paid advertising efforts, we could see less traffic and a higher conversion rate as we optimize for the highest quality traffic. Do you see how website traffic could be distracting to leadership? Marketing would have to explain in detail why the number fluctuates so much. Beware of such distractions from real company KPIs.
Measure your website traffic by source with conversion rates for each goal.
You want to keep an eye on where conversions/leads are coming from. Are they coming from social media, a Google search, or are they funneled to you from some other website? If you know where your visitors come from, you can make more sense of what content triggered the visit. Doing so means you can do more of what works and reallocate budget items and shut off efforts that aren’t brining in leads.
Make sure you clearly know what a ‘conversion’ truly is.
I recently spoke with a client cheering over a 10% conversion rate that their PPC agency had reported. After exploring what the heck was defined as a ‘conversion,’ we discovered it was basically a page view. So no, that isn’t anything to celebrate. It was tough news for my client to swallow.
Depending upon your goals, your conversions might be anything from submitting a form to actual sales. Maybe you want to measure how many of your blog readers become newsletter subscribers. Or you may wish to know what numbers are registering for your upcoming webinar. Interested in learning more about conversions? Check out 3 Phases of Measurement for a Winning Blog Strategy.
Group your campaign stats.
That way you can analyze individual campaigns enough to make improvements for the next one. Again, set up tracking to find out what does and does not work, so you can do more of what works.
Tracking and analytics can tell us what content grabs your website visitors’ attention.
Tracking and analytics can tell you what content really speaks to your audience. With Google Analytics’ Content Grouping, you’ll be able to tell which content delivers folks to your digital door. You’ll also be able to find out which content keeps their attention, and ultimately, which content gets them to convert.
One way to figure this out is by using the Google Analytics’ Content Grouping feature. I go through this in the November 18, 2020 Databox article by Archita Sharma, “7 Ways to Use Content Groupings in Google Analytics to Better Understand Your Site’s Content.” Figure out if the dollars you spend on long-form content like ebooks, white papers, case studies, and longer blogs are useful, engaging to your audience, and most importantly– convert sales. Whatever way you set up your content grouping, you’ll get a much better read on how to adjust your content for better engagement, navigation, conversions, and returns from your content investments.
Beware of percentages.
If internal reports only show percentages, this could be a red flag. Real, raw numbers give context to any percentage increase. It is far too easy to fool leadership into making rash decisions by not giving appropriate context. A 400% increase in conversions from organic search/SEO efforts sounds impressive, especially if that’s the basis for an SEO budget request. But if that 400% was only an increase of 8 conversions you might rethink that budget.
Make sure your content messages are consistent.
Even if your tracking is in place and you know what your goal numbers are, you need to speak the same language to your target audience across all channels.
Share your vision. Make it into a plan.
‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
-– Through the Looking Glass: And what Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
Having a clear direction gives every department purpose. It builds excitement. Nothing kills morale like having no direction or vision.
I generally encounter founders with amazing visions, but too often those visions stay in their heads. Founders, CEOs, the leadership team–they are all humans with the same fears as the rest of us. The big problem is when that fear keeps the vision from inspiring the rest of the organization. You simply must document and disseminate the vision and direction of the company, for that drives your organization’s entire tone. A clearly communicated vision turns purpose into strategy and tactics; it gets people up in the morning and turns clock punchers into thought leaders and innovators. And when you begin with foundational fixes, everything starts firing on all cylinders. By starting with your vision and working your way down, marketing becomes faster, more efficient, and more successful.
Imagine having everything and everyone aligned and moving in the same direction. No more scattered and unsure tactics. No more content paralysis and campaign failure. And no more interdepartmental fear and mistrust.
Just clear, confident, and effective marketing! Not to mention sleep!
We can help you with tracking and analytics. And more!
Our specialty and passion are guiding organizations through a process that fixes foundational problems. Tracking and analytics are only part of those foundations. Depending on what you need, we can lead you and your teams through
- a process of strategic alignment and direction discovery.
- an examination of your marketing tech stack to find opportunities to better leverage your digital tools, so they reach your target market.
- a process of crafting a doable plan—one that supports your aligned marketing efforts and your digital assets. That roadmap will include a presentation of findings, a detailed and prioritized implementation plan, clear prioritized objectives for each month, and time, budget, and resource allocation estimates. Based upon your specific needs, we’ll also finalize a coaching schedule.
If you think you’re a good fit and are ready to upgrade your marketing operations, schedule a meeting and we’ll see if we’re a fit to work together. Our program isn’t for everyone and not every organization is ready for this kind of system. But if you want to grow, be able to measure that growth with tracking and analytics, and feel like “marketing just shouldn’t be this much of a pain in the ass,” it’s worth a call.