Data is at the basis of digital marketing. It’s what gives it the much craved power of analytics, real-time optimizations and audience insights. But sometimes there seems to be too much data, prompting questions like:
- What are the most important metrics?
- How often should I check them?
- What’s the minimum time frame for that data to be conclusive?
and many, many more.
1. What are the most important metrics?
Let’s talk about that first question first – the marketing metrics that should be top-of-mind on a daily or weekly basis. What we discovered works best for us is using a scoreboard to track our weekly marketing progress (for each customer). A method picked-up from the Small Giants community, having a scoreboard that the whole team can see has proven to be a great way of keeping track of metrics.
On this scoreboard, we’ve written down the critical numbers we use to monitor business progress on a weekly basis – if a critical number moves in the wrong direction we need to quickly figure out why.
For us, the critical numbers vary by customer, depending on their goals and may look something like this:
- Site visits
- Keyword performance
- Social engagement
- Linkedin followers
While numbers vary by client, they are linked to business goals that support a customer’s growth aspirations. They help us align our daily, weekly, and monthly efforts with a customers desired outcome.
For your business, the numbers might be different; you could track:
- Landing page conversion rate
- Website page conversion rate
- No. of subscribers
- No. of free trial signups
- No. of leads registered for a live demo
- Contact requests
The most useful marketing metrics are the goals you’ve set-out to achieve in the beginning of your strategy. They can be an overview or finely-refined detailed goals, but they have to be the ones you’ve built your marketing plan on. It’s this defining property that gives them the power and the usefulness you require.
They become critical from the moment you set out to achieve them and can serve as a daily/weekly pulse of your marketing efforts, prompting you to take action when thing fall below the line.
A friendly piece of advice – These metrics should not be the driving force behind your actions. If you want great results you have to set the next big goal, you have to take risks and test ideas, you have to encourage creative approaches to your marketing tactics in order to attract, convert and delight your audiences.
2. How often should I check them?
I think that also depends on the particular configuration of your marketing team – if you have a smaller, dedicated team with cross functional attributions you’ll probably find it useful to check on these metrics on a daily basis. If your marketing machine is a well-oiled, powerful engine and you require a more strategic overview, going into detail only on a periodical basis, you might benefit from a weekly check.
If you’re a one man show, which is not that uncommon, the burden of daily tasks might prove too much to check on the numbers every single day. You can probably set specific days and a productive periodicity to this exercices, depending on your marketing needs.
3. What’s the minimum time frame for that data to be conclusive?
That may indeed be the most difficult question. Start by defining your buying cycle and tracking conversions through the funnel. You can map your data analysis to these buying cycle stages and time frames.
For content marketing results, the minimum recommended time frame before you can have any conclusive data is 4-6 months.
As the volume of data is growing at an exponential rate, you’ll probably find yourself in need of marketing automation system that can properly track, analyze and segment that that data. These automation software solutions can offer you predictive analytics, audience insights and performance reports that you can check on a weekly or monthly basis. If you insist on a hands-on approach, these marketing analysis techniques might prove to be more useful to you.
A quarterly general performance audit will probably be offer a reasonable time frame in order for that data to be conclusive but, again, it comes down to testing and optimizing what works best for your business.
What are the critical numbers you’re tracking and how do you interpret them?
Image credit: NYC Media Lab