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Earn A Seat At The Executive Table: How To Measure Soft And Hard Metrics Of SEO

I’m a big believer in freedom of information. As such, I want to share some important tips that will help marketers analyze data to help strategically drive performance by tracking metrics and showing what that means for their department. These tips are for in-house SEO managers, small business owners and online marketers who once a week need to prove how organic search marketing efforts relate to customer acquisition and dollar figures.

For years, online marketers have been broadly using web activity data for marketing advancements. This is generally the soft metrics of SEO. However, businesses run on paying customers, not web browsers, which makes customers and lead generation analytics necessary to augment web analytics. Customer conversion data, from the start to the closing stage of the sales funnel is the hard metrics. Analyzing this data from your online campaigns is critical to business growth.

An online marketer manager should be able to scale revenues through customer acquisition, branding with b2c and b2b brands by leveraging mix of direct acquisition (SEO, SEM, display, affiliates, partners, lead gen), and be able to grow emerging channels such as mobile and social. In fact, you should be able to create different media mix models to optimize acquisitions across all channels in b2c and b2b.

Here are the soft and hard SEO metrics for marketing that I define as essential for every SEO to know in order to captures the most value for SEO.  These metrics will give an indication of how your company is growing through SEO and different online marketing initiatives.

Soft Metrics

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Growth In Organic Traffic:
Across all phrases visitors clicked through. Grouping these into categories helps you understand web behavior on the website and puts you in the driver’s seat for link building campaign focus.

Branded Vs Non-Brand Traffic:
Allows businesses to see how clients find them and what the brand perception is. Secure branded terms variations of social profiles and business listings to ensure brand reputation control.

Lead Generation & Prospecting:
Knowing which pieces of your lead nurturing campaign users subscribe to and how you acquired the lead helps later in hard metric conversion data. This also allows for segmented marketing.

Word of Mouth (WOM) & Engagement:
Use social analytics provided by Facebook Insights & third party social analytics providers to classify each social effort published, and properly place these people into the sales funnel.

Bounce Rate:
This is a key metric to understand and measure how your website is converting customers, and will help you radically improve your website. Google algorithm rewards low bounce rate.

Hard Metrics

Depending on the type of business and model, all of these could be applicable, and these metrics matter to your bottom line. Most of these marketing metrics are ideal for SaaS models and the channel includes; SEO, SEM, VAR, Lead Prospecting, Partners, Affiliates, Referrals, Walk In, Upsell & Retargeting.

Customer Acquisitions:
By definition, Customer Acquisition is the technique to acquire new customers, and the single most important metric to determine the growth and the impact it can have on the bottom line.

Cost of Acquiring Customer (CAC):
Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is used to figure out if a customer is profitable and how they should be marketed to. This metric tells you that not all customers are equal.

MRR – Monthly Recurring Revenue:
MRR is the total number of paying customers by the average amount they pay each month over month. This is a critical metric and shows the month over month growth of a company.

Upgrade/Downgrades:
If you are tracking MRR, you should be able to track MRR from Upgrades and the MRR revenue losses from downgrades, commonly referred as churn rate.

CLTV – Customer Lifetime Total Value:
This is an essential metrics for the future value of a customer. The strategy is to actively manage CLTV for all customers, retain/up-sell to drive revenue and growth for your company.

Customer & Revenue Churn Rate:
Churn rate is mostly used as a measure to calculate the loss of revenue by different channels and has a direct effect on CLTV.  This will tell you the top reasons why customers are cancelling.

To get an idea of the health of your business, you can also look at other metrics such as time on site, net promoter score, key events, number of support issues, etc.

If you a start up or don’t have a CFO here are the basic hard metrics that you can track yourself.  Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue, Churn. All of these can be tracked with the use of simple Excel functions.

Once you have identified these metrics properly, your SEO should be able to drive profitability to the company by capturing a greater market share and speak in the same language as the executives. You will be able to quantify your efforts as investment in growth and be seen as an integral part of revenue process.

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