Do you know which marketing channels made you the most money yesterday(or last week, or last month)? I remember feeling completely disoriented and overwhelmed the first time I openedGoogle Analytics,hoping to answer these questions for my own team. Graphs, panelsandnumbers all pop out,demandingyour attention.
“How do I know ANY of these are the right numbers for me totrack in order to grow my website, attract new leads and sell to future customers?” If your business is like most, you don’t need another tutorialjust aboutanother analytics tool.
Realpower lies in a clear, concrete tracking plan to determine your marketing return-on-investment(ROI).It answers the most valuable questions any marketing team can ask:“Which channels made me the most money—and how can I get more out of them?”
I’m going to lay out five best practices for implementing a solid ROI tracking plan for your business:
Setting multiple goals is a surefire strategy to befuddle your team. When it comes to goal-setting, an overwhelming mountain of systems are competing for your team's attention.
Google started measuringObjectives and Key Results(OKRs)in their first year. SpaceX and Microsoft use a framework called Big Hairy Audacious Goals(BHAGs) coined by authors Jim Collins and Jerry Poras in their bestselling book,“Built to Last.” Andthe listrolls on!
The framework youchooseisn’t critical, but it’s strongly recommendedyour team rallies around one primary number to track aboveothers. Why? It’s confusing and frustrating to spend precious time, money and effort achieving low-priority goals that don’t produce results that truly grow your business. If you’re not careful, your team can waste time chasing“vanity metrics” like page views instead of impactful numbers such as new customers.
Here’s the bottom line:Focus youronline trackingaround one unmistakably clear goal! Faulty communication and misalignment will kill your goals before they ever get off the ground.
More information isn’t necessarily better. In fact, most of your data will distract you. It’s your job toidentifythe signal in the noise.Great ROI tracking starts by settingoneclear objective and gathering accurate data you can trust from the right sources.
So,pick one big goal that will move the needle for your business:
Is it leads?
Pick your number andstick to itabove all others.Your team and future customers don’t stand a chance if you’re not 100% surewhatkey result you’re hoping to gainfrom your online marketing! If you feel yourself starting to drift, simply start with the end in mind. What specific action do you want your future customers to take before they leave your website?
Three incredibly common website goals include:
Generating qualified leads(Example: Filling out a form to schedule a free consultation.)
Generating sales(Example: Purchasing a product from an e-commerce website.)
Providing customer support(Example: Serving up the right help desk article to solve a frustrated customer’s question.)
Since we’re primarily focused on marketing for this post, we’ll assume you’re going with qualified leads. Many of these principles transfer over to different objectives, though!
Face the Facts by Solidifying These Linchpin Numbers
Next, you’ll want to list key numbers to track across your marketing efforts to measure your success. How well is your current activity fulfillingtheprimary objective your team just set? You won’t know until you take a long, hard look at the numbers that matter most. To make things simple, just focus on these three key metrics every week and month for your digital marketing when you’re starting out.
Unique website visitors.Not page views! We care most about how many people we can reach, educateand qualify if they’re a great fit to work with.
New qualified leads.A site visitor can qualify themselves by filling out a form—or preferably,several forms. You can also qualify leads bytheir business attributes(How much revenue? How many employees?), buyer persona(Does this match our CEOpersona or ourmarketing manager?) or engagement with your marketing(Do they like our Facebook posts, open our emails and keep coming back to the site?).
New customers. Track purchases or new customers in your site’s analytics if possible. Otherwise, use a CRM to track each lead’s status as you conduct sales meetings, send emails and touch base with phone calls.
Pairing these three goals side-by-side enables you to clearly see where your digital marketing needs improvement.
Not enough unique visitors?Revisit your strategy to attract new traffic.
Too few qualified leads?Take a closer look at your website’s forms, call-to-actions and landing pages.
Struggling to close leads into customers?Sit down with your sales team to ensure you’re communicating the status of new leads and passing along the right information.
Map Out Your Buyer’s Journey to Identify Gaps and Opportunities
As you’re just starting out, it’s helpful to visualize your future customer’s journeyin purchasingyour product—form the first time they hear your company’s name to the moment they fork over their cold, hard cash. It’s called the buyer’s journey and it quickly brings your most important metrics into focus.For many businesses, the buyer’s journey will shape the metrics youchoose: website visitors, contacts, leads and customers.
A buyer goes through three stages:
Awareness: they are aware they have a problem that needs solving.
Consideration: they are researching how to solve their problem and who can help them.
Decision: they choose how to solve their problem and who they want help from.
The image below represents the inbound methodology. The goal here is to map out a prospective buyer's journey through the entire process, keeing in mind the awareness, consideration, and decision stages:
Mapping out the key actions across the inbound methodology for each stage of your customer’s buying journey makes your life 10x easier.
Stranger:A marketing manager finds one of our blog posts through Google, a Facebook post or word-of-mouth that relates to a problem she experiences.She clicks through to the website. (Awareness)
Visitor:She reads a couple of blog posts that help solve her marketing challenges. Then, sheclicks on a call-to-actionfor a checklist offer to"Launch an Inbound Marketing Campaign." (Consideration)
Lead:Shefills out the formon the landing page with her emailin order todownload the free checklist. Sheviewsher inbox over the nextthreeweeks toopen and click through a series of follow-up emailswhich promote new, helpfulblogs and more advanced resources tohelpweigh the pros and cons of different marketing strategies. Finally, shefills out the landing page formto request afree consultation. (Consideration)
Customer:After a coaching session to review her marketing results, sheexploresmore case studies and resources like“7 Questions You Must Ask an Agency.”She decides working with an inbound marketing agency makes sense for her business—so she requests and signs a contract. Her digital signature automaticallyupdates her contact and deal records in our CRM to“customer”with the appropriate revenue. (Consideration + Decision)
Now, we have a 1,000-foot view of our buyer’s journey through the Inbound methodology. See how our website systematically leads visitorsin takingthe next step? It’s much easier to come up with a specific, testable idea for converting visitors-to-leads or leads-to-customers if you've mapped out where you currently stand. Now, your turn. Try mapping out your buyer's journey. You may reach a step in your buyer’s journey and realize there’s nothing there! Don’t panic—just write it down and keep going until you get to the end of the journey. Once you've done this you’ve either identified the gap(s) or identified that you've got a solid process!
Set Up These Must-Have Analytics Tools to Track Your Key Numbers
Now you know what events you’ll need to measure throughout your buyer’s journey.So, how do you keep track?
It’s best to start simple at first.
No website should skip Google Analytics for measuring visitors and tracking basic goals. Get it installedin every page’s header andset up goalswhen your leads complete key eventslikecompleting a form, if possible.
To easily measure new leads and customers, useHubSpot’s free marketing and CRM tools.It’ll automatically record form submissions across your site and save each contact tothesales CRM where your team can update their status to“customer” down the road.
If you need some heavy-duty analytics for a mobile app or massive website, it’s worth investigating some more advanced analytics tools:
Heap,MixpanelorKissmetrics—These analytics platforms basically solve the same problem: You need more dataonhow each user interacts with your sitein orderto boost conversions and increase customer retention.
HotjarorFullstory—These tools provide a more qualitative peek into your users’ experiences by using heatmaps, recording individual sessions on your sitewhileproviding insights into how different user segments interact on key site pages.
SegmentorGoogle Tag Manager—More tools add more complexity for your team to manage. These tools help you manage all your analytics and tracking codes in one place, rather than jumping between half a dozen different sites.
Without a Single Source of Truth,Your Marketing Team Will Hate You
Peter Drucker wasn’t kidding when he wrote,“What gets measured gets managed.” If you expect a certain result, you must begin by inspecting and communicating that result. I’ve never seen this spring up organically on a marketing team, though. You’ll need a coordinated push to get started. Your solution to cut through confusion and align the team?Create one source of truth to measure your progress toward the one goal and handful of metrics that truly matter.
What do I mean by“source of truth?” Simply put, all the reporting that matters should live inoneplace and stay brief as possible.
If your reporting can’t be boiled down toa singlepowerpoint slide, it’s too much! You have a couple easy options to communicate your reports to the team reliably:
A simple spreadsheet or document
A reporting tool or dashboard
Visibility is key with your goal-setting too.You need to put this in a place where you can reference it easily and communicate progress to others in your organization.
Choose simplicity over complexity.A simple Google sheet is all most individuals will need at first. You can always add new systems as your business grows, but adding extra“features” you don’t need right away can actually slow you down.
Of course, teams and marketing measurement masters can enjoy the benefits of dashboards, automated reports and more complex solutions.
One much-loved choice for dashboards isDatabox. This tool provides a full-screen dashboard of your chosen data sources such as new leads in your CRM or Google Adwords campaign performance. You can display real-time graphs on a spare monitor or TV in your office, but it’ll send you daily and weekly notifications through emails and push notifications if you like. Regular email reporting often provides the safest channel to keep teams in the loop, though. If you’ve installed the free HubSpot marketing tools, you can set up email notifications every time a key form is completed and weekly/monthly dashboard summaries of your marketing efforts.
Need more insights for your social media accounts? I started usingSumAll Premiumto send beautiful, automated overviews of everything from Facebook engagement to Google Analytics every week and month.
It’s an easy way to keep our team in the loop on our social media growth without extra effort.
It’s not a coincidence: world-class marketing and sales teams set measurable goals to clarify their purpose and direction. It aligns their team members into a formidable force.Suddenly, you’ll stop graspingin the dark at every“growth hack” and new platform that drifts your way because you have a battle-tested systemfor measuringyour team’s true effectiveness. Facing the hard facts of your business may not come naturally-but it doesn't matter. You'll be permanently hooked when you realize the compounding effects of a team rallied around goal-based performance.
Get started today and watch your team’s steps towardgrowth fall together like magic. It's just the beginning!