All talk and no action.
This phrase is the all-too-common theme when it comes to your marketing metrics. Whether you are pulling numbers weekly, monthly, or quarterly, they are frequently compiled into organized spreadsheets or beautifully branded PowerPoints, and that's where they go to die.
Yes, we all want to move the needle and push our marketing initiatives toward success, yet it seems that we seldom take the time to sit down, analyze the data, and take a defined action.
When looking at a large report, it can sometimes seem daunting to know the next steps to take. In order to help, I have defined some of the most common metrics that marketers track and everyday actions you can take to improve them.
Before we discuss any metrics, the first step is to establish your goals. As a marketing team, you need to ask yourself what are you trying to achieve. For some organizations, this answer could be brand awareness and establishing yourself as a thought leader, yet for other organizations it could all boil down to the number of SQLs. Because of this, everyone’s mix of metrics and actions could be different.
Additionally, part of goal setting is prioritizing. Whether you are a one-person marketing department or a large global team, you simply can’t take action on everything. Some actions require a logical order where you need to improve one metric before moving on to the next. Other actions simply require more effort and time to show results, while others might produce an instant impact. Beware that testing too many items at the same time can lead to unfocused efforts and muddied results.
Your particular report or dashboard should tell your performance story, so you likely don’t need to track all of the metrics I’m sharing here. If any of your numbers are low, take a dip or just need improving overall, without further ado, here are some everyday actions you can test to start improving metrics and reach your goals.
- Organic Traffic: The first two actions to take with this is to run an SEO report, see what onsite optimization is needed, and then write quality content to begin optimizing your particular keywords.
- Direct Traffic: This is all about awareness. If these numbers are low, try creating a retargeting campaign to increase return visitors or a branded campaign to make new visitors aware of who you are.
- Referral Traffic: Encourage your team to explore guest blogging opportunities to get this number back up, as well as share your point of view to a new audience. Also, if you have a happy customer or client, don’t forget to ask them to write a review for you online at an appropriate site.
- Total Page Views: Map out the visitor journey on your website to make sure you are using links on each page to push the visitor further into the site and tell your complete story.
- Time On Site: This metric really boils down to how engaging is your content. First, and this may sound simple, but is your site readable? This is a design question often about color, font style and font size. Then look at your content. If it’s not engaged, consider a processed rewrite. Video is another great way to get attention and keep visitors on your site longer.
- Bounce Rate: This points to a problem on your entrance page. If you have a pop-up, test how that could be impacting your bounce rate. Examine if your content is answering the questions that are being searched to get to that particular page.
- Exit Page: This is where I would suggest testing a pop-up. Give your visitor a truly compelling offer to a piece of relevant content as a way to keep them from saying adieu.
- Open Rate: This is all about the subject line. A/B testing is the most important action to take for this. Even if it is a one-time send, you want to test a change that can be duplicated and utilized for future sends (example: does putting the content type, such as webinar or infographic, in the subject line increase the open rate?)
- Click Rate: Is your offer compelling? If click rates are low, you are either not relevant or not compelling. Test a variety of CTAs (hyperlinks, buttons, images, CTA placement, etc.) and see what attracts the most clicks.
- Hard Bounces: If you’re seeing hard bounces above 1 percent, you need to take a strong look at your list health. If you are creeping up to a 5 percent or above bounce rate, you are really tip toeing into no-send territory. This number should be as close to 0 percent as possible. If this is of concern, either create a manual internal review process to update emails, or for larger lists, engage an email verification service.
- Unsubscribe Rate: This again goes to relevancy. Unsubscribes are a natural part of email, but just like hard bounces, anything over 1 percent becomes troubling. The first question is do you have permission to send to these recipients? If not, that is your problem. If you have solicited permission and you still see increased rates, try testing these areas: personalization, segmentation, and email frequency.
- Spam Complaints: This is the unsubscribe rate on steroids. Every single spam complaint should be examined and an action built around it. What we most often see is the sender likely did not get permission to email the recipient. As a best practice for new emails, create an opt-in process before adding them to your marketing lists.
- Forward Rate: This is one of those seldom-tracked email metrics, but this is how you can generate new leads from email. Track this for trends and then implement findings into your regular email plans, especially if you see certain types of content most often get forwarded.
Social Media Metrics
- Followers: This is one of those items that quickly can become a vanity number. You need followers, but you also want to make sure it is the right audience. Natural growth should occur based on posting quality content at a regular cadence. If your follower growth is slow or actually dropping off, experiment with new types of content that will drive conversations and not always be promotion. You should also invest time in following the right thought leaders and interacting to propel your growth.
- Impressions: This is all about the number of eyes on your content. A simple step to boost impressions is to post it beyond your company page. For example, each time you post a blog, craft a few social posts that you can share with your team and have them post it on their personal pages as well.
- Engagement Rate: For this, I’m going to lump likes, shares, and clicks all into the same bucket here. This speaks directly to the content that you are pushing out on your social channels. If your numbers are low, it is likely because the content is not resonating with your social audience. Remember, this audience may have different needs than the leads that are already in your database. Take time to make sure you are testing out various types of content and even presenting a single piece of content in various ways. For example, how would a tweet about “download our new whitepaper for more info” perform when compared to a tweet with a compelling stat and a link to your white paper?
- Impressions: If your overall impressions are down, the first action to look at is the volume of searches for the keywords in your campaign. If your keywords are too limited, your ads will suffer. A simple action to take after you have examined your keywords is to adjust the match type. Try broad match or phrase match instead of exact. However, make sure you are monitoring it closely to see that you aren’t spending on irrelevant traffic.
- Cost Per Click: Cost per click has a direct connection to your overall quality score. When you are trying to improve this metric, focus first on your copy. Is the ad copy compelling enough to make someone click? And once they do, is your landing page copy and offer aligned with the ad? At all stages, have you been clear about the benefits of your offer or even what that offer is?
- Conversions: A compelling ad is not enough. You need someone to take that next step to fill out the form and convert into a lead. If your ad copy, landing page copy, and offer are all spot on and your numbers are still low, test out design to improve conversions. Test the number of fields in your form as well as form placement on the page.
- Traffic Sources: Are you tracking where visitors are coming into your website from and then converting? PPC, social, email, and paid ads all should be tracked with a UTM where you can dig into the traffic sources further to understand your best channels, as well as ones that may not be producing the quality leads you are hoping to gain. Make sure a UTM and campaign named is attached to all incoming links to give you this insight.
- New Leads: This is all about hitting the audience that isn’t already in your database, attracting them to your site, and offering something that is compelling enough for them to give you their information. When focusing on this metric, think top of the funnel content. How can you educate and engage a potential new client? This is a metric that will need to tie into other campaigns such as social or PPC.
- Return Visitors: You have their information and now you need to create something that makes them want to keep coming back for more. Regular updates to your website, including fresh blogs, is a great way to have visitors return. Promote your blog through a subscription or newly created resources to help increase this number.
- CTAs: The calls to action on your website should be more than “request a demo.” If you see that visitors are not following the journey to a more in-depth resource on your website, try creating and testing new CTAs. Test language (use action words), design, and placement on the page.
- MQLs: You have an email address. This is a lead that you want to qualify. It’s now time to start using your scoring matrix to judge their engagement. If you don’t have scoring in place, that should be your first action. If your number of email addresses converting into MQLs are low and slow, test out the frequency of touch points you are providing (such as nurture emails) to make sure you are giving them a chance to move through the funnel on a regular basis.
- SQLs: You have their attention and have educated them on your services, but they just haven’t moved over that hump to SQL. Now is the time to focus on bottom of the funnel offers. All too often, companies depend on “contact us” or “request a demo.” Brainstorm with your team for three to five offers that you could provide that aren’t typical. Discuss common objections that the sales team might face and figure out how you can help resolve them with your offer.
Getting Beyond Vanity
On a final note, as marketers, we track a lot of numbers. Just like any other marketer, when I see an uptick on a campaign that works, I want my high five. But sometimes a great metric is just that … a metric. Remember, whatever you track and whatever actions you take should all contribute to your overall goal. Be strategic in every step. Vanity metrics are all too often the norm for our reporting, but as we all well know, that leads right back to where we started with all talk and no action.
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