Today’s business landscape is more competitive than ever and getting your company to stand out among the crowd is truly a never-ending battle. Measuring marketing results is vital to drive future success. But with so many tools and so many metrics, how can you make sense of it all and use technology to get results?
In the May CMA group chat, we learned a lot from these three marketing mavens:
Amanda Sherry, Director of Marketing, Professional Services Industry, HSO Mike Reid, Marketing Manager/Demand Generation, Encore Business Solutions Sheyna Webster, Senior Demand Generation Manager, SourceDay
Read on to find out what’s been proven successful and how you can apply it in your next campaign.
Why Tracking Marketing Analytics is so Important
Every dollar devoted to marketing is spent in the hopes of a return on the investment – hopefully a large one. That’s where marketing analytics come in. There are a host of benefits that come from tracking them, as our panelists revealed.
Mike centers his view on two aspects: experimentation and inspiration.
Tracking marketing analytics gives you the firm basis from which to experiment – to try that crazy, never-before-been-done idea you have. When pitching the project to stakeholders, you’re able to show that you can track the value your idea will bring. If it works well, you can scale it up! And if it doesn’t, it can be scaled back or canceled.
The hard numbers can also give credibility to your efforts, showing proof that your content is working. That can inspire and motivate leaders, teammates, and subject-matter experts to pitch in and collaborate on your marketing projects.
Amanda notes there are both personal and professional benefits. You can show proof of ROI on your marketing campaigns, but more importantly, you can see whether your efforts are reaching your target demographic – those who will hopefully buy your product or service. Instead of doing the same thing over and over, you can adjust, refine, and hone in on what brings you the best results.
Being able to prove the value of your efforts helps to solidify the value you bring to your company, which allows you to advocate for the budget you need and aids you in advancing your career.
“Marketing analytics are important to me for two big reasons: experimentation and inspiration. When you track, you can trust your gut to try something crazy and new. It may not work -- just experiment, measure, and then decide. Numbers also inspire the leaders, teammates, or subject matter experts that I need to help me with content creation.” – Mike Reid
Important Web Metrics
Sheyna recommends getting your website set up on Google Analytics as the very first step in measuring marketing performance. This allows you to see how many people are visiting your site, how long they’re staying, and how many pages they’re visiting (or if visitors are primarily going to your homepage and then leaving.)
For example, 2 years ago, people were spending an average of 30 seconds on SourceDay’s website. Now that’s increased to 2 minutes. What does that tell you? The website is now capturing the attention of visitors – their potential clients.
Using marketing automation tools, your CRM, and others, you can dig deeper into the statistics related to form fills and lead generation tracking. And if you’re an e-commerce company, you can dive into the metrics related to purchases.
Not to be missed are SEO and keyword stats, making sure you’re being found when people search for what you’re selling.
Amanda notes that the metrics depend on where your campaign aligns within your overall marketing funnel. Are you focused on generating awareness? Or are you looking to drive conversions and pipeline revenue? In the latter case, once again Google Analytics can provide a wealth of information, helping you to see what content on the site is driving the most conversions so that you can optimize around it.
Exit pages are often overlooked. With this metric, you can see where people are leaving your site. It can help you see if people finish filling out forms before leaving, or if they never made it to the form. That way, you can optimize the content and layout to get people to take action before they leave.
A handy third-party tool for aggregating your analytics data is Cyfe, which includes integration with Google Analytics to make it easier to parse the information. However, it’s not a replacement for a thorough knowledge of the GA system. Version 4 is soon to be released, and all serious marketers would do well to invest the time in Google Analytics 4 certification as soon as possible.
A low-cost, high-value tool for learning how your users interact with your site is Hotjar. It helps you easily identify how users behave on your site, what they need, and how they feel. It can also show you where people click that perhaps isn’t hyperlinked (like if your designer forgot to make the company logo link to the home page, for example.) You can see where they’re scrolling, where they’re clicking, heat maps, and more. This allows you to make your site more intuitive to the way users interact with it.
A similar tool, Crazy Egg, has worked for Mike. He uses it to gather statistics on pages that he plans to change in a few months, or in newly-launched ones, to see what parts of the page generate the most interest. Then he can move those parts closer to the top and decide what other content might need to be changed out.
Mike added another perspective: Look for the parts of your site that generate the most revenue, not simply the most traffic. Focus on the higher quality leads.
He shared a good experience about impression shares that can affect how much you should spend on a search engine campaign. Running two ad campaigns, one was providing quality leads while the other one was generating many, but of poor quality. At first, you would think that going all-in on the better campaign would be a good move. But after finding out that the impression share on that ad group was already high at 70% to 80% (meaning the ad was already reaching almost everyone, all the time), it became clear that spending more on the campaign wouldn’t yield greater results. So the poorly performing campaign was dropped and its budget redirected to other efforts.
“Sometimes it can be difficult to break out of that mindset that big number equals good number. You are not looking for marketing analytics that just make you feel good, you have to really push yourself to see the bottom line. That's what makes a good marketer is the person who's hungry to figure it out and knows it isn't okay to just know that a thousand people came to your website. You have to ask why that matters.” Sheyna Webster
Important Social Metrics
Engagement and clicks are useful data for organic posts – to a point. There are limits to the analytics APIs, especially for organic posts. Paid posts deliver more data. Look for conversions (calls per click.) On the other hand, a video ad should be analyzed from a different perspective; look at the number of video plays, and more importantly, video play through. Knowing what the platform average is for such statistics can help you determine whether your performance is in line, or even above average, helping you feel better about the metrics you’re producing.
Do research! Google the appropriate information pertaining to your demographic and social networks for the best days and times to post. Sprout Social provides a great State of Social Media report every year, as does Twitter, among others. Reach out to fellow marketers for ideas.
LinkedIn ads have a host of options to fit your budget – but it’s important to understand how each type of ad works and what kind of traffic it brings. It also seems that LinkedIn is currently in a transformational stage with marketing metrics, and you might not get all the data you need.
Work around these challenges with UTM codes. This will help you see where the leads come from, along with the quality of the lead, so you’re not passing fluff to Sales.
Mike offered up a handy tool to help you generate and track those UTM codes in this spreadsheet, which helps you stay on top of it all as your efforts scale.
How Much Does a Linkedin Ad Cost?
It’s a complex question – it depends on whether it’s a text, video, or event ad – or Sponsored Content. However, there are tools to help manage your ad spending which can keep it under control. A campaign doesn’t have to be a big spend to be successful – it just has to be targeted correctly. A good starting point is $10 to $15 daily spend; then you track the results to see what response you’re getting so you can adjust accordingly.
The Value of Working with Your LinkedIn Account Manager
LinkedIn Account Managers can be a huge help and a wealth of good ideas. For example, it was a LinkedIn Account Manager that suggested to Mike that the “recommended bid” that LinkedIn presents you by default can often be too high. You can set a lower spend and watch the analytics to see if you get the impressions and clicks you’re hoping for, and scale it up from there.
Another great tip shared by an Account Manager is the benefit of text ads. He called it “the free impression generator” because they were so cheap and many thousands of people see those text ads but don't click (and so it doesn’t cost you.) Even if they don’t click through, you still get brand recognition over and over again.
Calculating the Real Cost of Conversion
The cost doesn’t stop with the price of an ad on social. It’s not just media placement, but in many cases there could be a management fee from a third-party company that does the work for you. Of course, there are also internal costs – the time your team spends on the project. All of these factors must be included to get a true cost for each conversion.
Important Email Metrics
Email opens and clicks are important metrics to track. However, it’s important to understand that bot activity and traffic can skew the numbers if not filtered out. Many automated systems scan email content for various purposes, and your marketing automation software needs to be smart enough to tell the difference. Amanda shared some great details on how you can tell.
Clicks can come from anywhere, so it’s important to focus on what your call-to-action is for the email campaign, and measure accordingly – webinar registrations, form fills, video plays, blog traffic, and the like. Take advantage of UTMs, or if not possible, then source codes, to help you track the effectiveness of these campaigns.
It’s also good to track whether the emails continue to be opened after subscribing. Perhaps you find there’s a sharp drop-off after email #3 or #4, indicating that something is turning your readers off and the content needs to be adjusted. You want readers to be loyal and develop a habit.
Unsubscribes are another important metric; don’t be alarmed if that number seems high. After all, you’re in the B2B market; you’re bound to have a good number of people who realize the information doesn’t apply to them. Their leaving is a good thing; it keeps your email list focused on those who need your product.
Important Event Metrics
So here’s a divided topic: Do you mean an in-person, or virtual event? Your tracking will be significantly different for each one.
Virtual events and webinars have exploded in popularity since 2020. But they have a different set of benefits. One metric that many track is the number of registrations. At first, you might be discouraged to see only 20 or 25 registrations and wonder if you need to reschedule or revamp the content. Here’s where the opportunity lies: the recording. People are busy, but if they can’t make the date, they can watch it later. It’s your best and richest evergreen content; leverage it! Social, email, YouTube, your website – you name it.
Another important statistic – and this one applies both to in-person and virtual events – is the opportunities, or leads generated. At an in-person event, you may have a lead scanner in the booth. Resist the temptation to scan everyone that comes by for swag. Have a real conversation with people, and once you’ve determined that this person is interested – even better, fits your Ideal Customer Profile – then scan them. Lead quality over lead quantity is best.
Virtual events and webinars create opportunities too. They’re often at the top of the funnel, and also contribute greatly to drip campaigns and lead nurturing.
Know the Benchmarks so You Can Get an Accurate Picture
It’s a rare moment (read: never!) when someone in management asks you “how many opens and clicks were generated for your last campaign?”. However, you do need to have data to back up your campaign success, and the numbers matter most to you, the one who will keep refining the process to drive more leads.
Many metrics, such as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL), Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), opportunities created, and bookings, are used for an overview of your marketing efforts. Even more depth is given when you combine CRM data with Google Analytics and marketing automation data. Amanda’s group has aggregated all that data, visualized it with Power BI, and has had far-reaching effects in optimizing both campaigns and budgets. Sheyna notes the benefits of regular meetings and data sharing, both within the marketing group and with sales, to foster communication and keep goals aligned.
How Much Time Should You Spend On Measuring Analytics?
Leveraging modern marketing tools can cut down greatly on the effort needed. If your organization has the budget, pulling data from your CRM and using a marketing automation platform can go a long way. Data aggregation tools such as the earlier-mentioned Cyfe and Power BI can also play a major role.
For some, it’s a more manual process, even taking days to complete a quarterly marketing report. While some of that data is necessary to share with other departments, Sheyna recommends keeping it high-level for best effect. Never hand someone a spreadsheet; rather, give them basic numbers or even a chart to visualize trends. Keeping it focused can save time.
How Has Measuring Analytics Helped You Personally?
Sheyna had her start in content creation and graphic design. That helped her to get in the door early on and gave her the ability to elevate the company’s image. But mentoring under a marketing expert and learning Marketo and Salesforce, brought a whole new dimension to her skill set – the ability to prove her efforts are working (and to adjust them when they’re not.) It’s a great feeling to be able to start at the top of the funnel and manage your strategy all the way through to revenue.
Amanda feels that metrics have made her a smarter and more effective marketer. They have helped her to understand her audience better and really hit home with campaigns. They help to align her efforts with the company’s goals so that everyone is working together. And metrics have helped her to advance in her career, providing abundant opportunities to show nay-sayer management that marketing indeed has great value.
“As a marketer, you can work smarter if you are tracking your metrics. You can figure out where your success is coming from and do more of what works and less of everything else.” Amanda Sherry
Another great group chat filled with marketing gold! Special thanks to Amanda, Mike, and Sheyna for all they shared with us.
Here’s a listing of the tools mentioned throughout the article, for easy reference:
Be sure to register for our next chat at https://www.channelmktgacademy.com/chat
By Matthew Alexander, CMA Staff Writer, www.channelmktgacademy.com