As we come out of the Thanksgiving Holiday and hurtle toward the end of the year, many of us will be engaged in marketing planning for 2013. An important part of that process will include explaining the effectiveness of what you did in 2012. How ready will you be to answer the question when it comes?
How do we know what marketing works? The question is probably as old as marketing itself, and one that all marketers – Including Inbound Marketers – should be asking themselves regularly.
Fortunately, the answer is in your analytics.
Analytics, sometimes referred to as metrics, are simply measures that tell us how well the activities we are engaged in are working. They can range from the simple – how many people follow you on social media – to the more complex, such as the ratio of website visitors who convert as leads.
Knowing your analytics and regularly monitoring them will help you in at least four ways when the question of performance comes up:
- Identifying what’s working
- Identifying what’s not working
- Identifying ways to improve
- Implementing more of the tactics that work to improve marketing performance
It’s hard to justify the time and effort spent on Inbound Marketing is working if you don’t use your analytics. Regularly measuring and analyzing the results of your activities takes the guesswork out of determining what you should do next. It gives you insights to make marketing decisions intelligently, rather than floundering with tactics and channels that may not be effective for your business.
There are dozens of data points for measuring your Inbound Marketing sales funnel. Yes, you should analyze them all regularly. Since your website is the hub of our Inbound Marketing activity, this post will focus on 5 metrics about your website performance you should be regularly monitoring.
Basic but critical. If the number of visitors is increasing, then the potential audience for your content is increasing, creating more opportunities to convert leads and win customers. You should also pay attention to whether your visitors are new visitors or repeat visitors. Both are good, though you will want to have a steady stream of new visitors to continually grow your audience.
2. Traffic Source
Traffic source tells you where your visitors are coming from and is a good indicator of how your search engine optimization efforts are performing. There are three primary streams to watch and measure here:
- Direct Traffic comes from people who have typed your website’s URL directly into their browser, visited your web pages via a bookmark, or clicked on an untagged link from an email or document you produced
- Organic Traffic comes from a link found on a search engine results page, a good indicator of your SEO efforts and how easily people are finding your content
- Referral Traffic comes from link on another website that sends visitors to a page on your website. Referral traffic represents inbound links that help boost your sites performance in search engine rankings
3. Indexed Pages
Indexed pages represent the number of pages that search engines have found and catalogued as a component of your website, and that have received at least one organic visit. As your indexed pages grow – a blog is a great way to grow this measure – it will help improve your site’s performance in search results since it’s expanding the net you’re casting online.
4. Landing Page Conversions
Landing page conversions measure the percentage of prospects who take a desired action when they reach your website. This metric tells you how well you are doing with traffic coming to your site. It tells you how well your sales funnel is working, and where it may be under performing. Like website traffic, there are different forms of this metric you will want to track:
- Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate: the percentage of visitors who become leads
- Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: the percentage of leads who become customers
- Visitor-to-Customer Conversion Rate: the percentage of visitors who become customers
5. Inbound Links
Inbound links measure the number of websites that link back to your website. It may be to a landing page, the home page or a blog posting, but these links help increase your sites creditability with search engines. It’s a good measure that not only is your content being found, but its considered valuable by others.
These are some basics that can get you started, and there are similar analytics you should monitor for social media, your blog, etc.
Now that you know what to measure, you need to make sure you have appropriate tools to measure with. There is a universe of analytics packages available, both free and paid. A good starting point is Google Analytics. Also, many content management systems now come with analytics tools.
Of course, we recommend HubSpot, which not only has a complete set of analytics tools, but is an all-in-one solution for Inbound Marketing that includes a CMS, blog, social media management, e-mail, etc.
By regularly monitoring your metrics, you can make your Inbound Marketing more effective, and channel resources into the tactics you know work best. The end results are more leads, more customers and a greater understanding of how you got them.
Considering adopting Inbound Marketing for your 2013 plan? Learn more about it from our FREE download Turn Your Website Into a Sales Magnet, which explains the pillars of Inbound Marketing and how it can help your business reach its goals.