An important, yet all-too-often overlooked aspect of marketing is the need to properly measure results. What you do as marketers should be moving the needle; if you cannot prove that, then you have failed to justify your existence.With traditional, outbound marketing methods, it was often quite difficult to show exactly how different campaigns impacted the bottom line, or to hold marketing accountable for results. With inbound marketing and the power of closed-loop reporting, though, it is possible to measure results quite specifically. By reporting on such results and using the lessons they provide to continually improve your marketing campaigns, it becomes much easier to justify the cost of inbound marketing to your boss.
What inbound marketing metrics should you measure? Though there are many, many different numbers you can track, some are more useful and relevant than others. Below are seven top inbound marketing metrics you can use to show growth.
- Engagement. Which is more useful: 100 random citizens who know you exist, or 10 people who actively care about your company and tell others about it? Without a doubt, most business owners would choose the 10 engaged customers. In the world of social media, the most-reported metrics involve the total number of “followers,” or potential impressions, or reach. But engagement—people interacting with your content, taking some action because of it and sharing it with their own networks—is much more valuable.
- Organic traffic. Your website can attract traffic through paid ads, or through existing customers directly typing in the URL address. But with inbound marketing, you are really aiming to have people find you organically, when they go searching for the products or services you provide. This organic traffic is relatively easy to track, and by looking at the growth in organic traffic over time, you can judge how successful your SEO efforts have been.
- Lead attribution. You can easily measure how many new leads you acquire in a given month. But where, exactly, did those leads come from? Were they the result of an online advertising campaign, a social media link or an organic Google search? Lead attribution answers those questions, and allows you to determine which aspects of your marketing mix are producing the best results.
- Cost per lead. Once you have attributed each lead to its source, you can calculate how much money you have spent to acquire that lead. So, even if that PPC campaign is producing the most leads, it may not be the best place to allocate your marketing dollars if the cost per lead is much higher than your other channels.
- Conversion rate. Leads are good, but customers are better. Not all leads are equally likely to convert into customers, and not all lead sources produce the same quality of leads. By tracking the conversion rate of leads from each inbound source, you get a much clearer picture of how each channel contributes to the bottom line.
- Cost per customer acquisition. If you take the total cost per lead and divide it by the conversion rate, you get a cost per customer acquisition. Compare that value to your expected customer lifetime value, and you get the clearest picture yet of how valuable each inbound marketing activity truly is in the long run.
- Marketing ROI. This, of course, is the overarching big-picture metric which defines your true success as a marketer. By closing the loop between marketing and sales and tracking the progress of each lead and customer, you can calculate the return on investment both for your marketing department as a whole, and for each marketing campaign or channel. By showing growth in your marketing ROI, you can prove the worth of your inbound marketing program.
There are other inbound marketing metrics which can also be useful, but these are some of the most important and relevant ways to track growth. By measuring and managing these numbers, you can maximize your success as a marketer.
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