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12 Essential Marketing Metrics Every Business Should Track

Marketers are continually seeking ways to measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. According to Salesforce’s 8th State of Marketing report, 78% of marketing organizations have adjusted their metrics in recent years. Despite these changes, the core goals of marketing remain consistent: raising awareness, acquiring new customers, and maintaining engagement with existing ones.

While metrics like revenue, funnel performance, and customer satisfaction remain popular, metrics focused on customer referrals, acquisition costs, and content engagement are gaining traction. Tools like Google Analytics provide valuable insights into website performance and the effectiveness of marketing initiatives, enabling marketers to refine their strategies based on data.

Today, marketing metrics must align with broader company goals. Seventy percent of CMOs align their KPIs with those of their CEOs. Advanced marketing tools are improving the efficiency and precision of marketers’ approaches. This article explores the importance of marketing metrics, provides steps to set critical metrics, and highlights 12 essential marketing metrics every business should track.

What are marketing metrics?

Marketing metrics are values that marketers monitor to evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing and growth campaigns. These metrics indicate how well marketing efforts drive audience actions that create value. Tracking marketing metrics helps uncover detailed insights into your marketing campaign’s engagement and revenue, enabling more precise adjustments and improvements.

Why should businesses track marketing metrics?

According to Google, 89% of leading marketers use strategic metrics such as gross revenue, market share, and customer lifetime value (CLV) to assess campaign effectiveness. Metrics are essential in data-driven marketing—they guide businesses toward success.

Marketing metrics help measure campaign success and provide insights for future adjustments. They enable marketers to understand how campaigns contribute to business goals and inform decisions about optimizing strategies and channels.

These insights help marketing teams evaluate their success in reaching new customers, driving awareness, brand positioning, engagement, sales, lead generation, and more. Digital analytics also serve as an early warning system, allowing real-time adjustments when campaigns underperform. This information is vital for informing annual budgets and headcounts.

How to set your key marketing metrics

Setting key marketing metrics involves several steps to ensure they align with your business goals and provide actionable insights. Here’s how to do it:

1. Define business goals

Ensure your marketing goals align with the broader business objectives. Examples include increasing brand awareness, driving sales, or boosting customer loyalty.

Use the SMART criteria to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. Clearly defined goals provide the foundation for selecting relevant KPIs.

2. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs)

The marketing funnel visualizes the customer journey, from initial awareness to conversion. By tying each stage of the funnel to specific key performance indicators (KPIs), businesses can effectively measure and optimize their marketing efforts.

Each stage has its unique metrics:

  • Top of the funnel (awareness): Track website traffic, impressions, social media reach, and brand mentions to understand how effectively you capture attention.

  • Middle of the funnel (engagement): Measure click-through rates (CTRs), website engagement (time spent on site, page views), and lead generation (form submissions, downloads) to gauge audience interest and lead qualification.

  • Bottom of the funnel (conversion): Conversion rates (purchases, sign-ups), customer acquisition cost (CAC), and return on investment (ROI) become crucial metrics to assess your success in converting leads into paying customers.

3. Prioritize and focus via data collection and integration

Tracking every marketing metric is tempting, but information overload can be counterproductive. Choose a handful of OKRs that directly relate to your business goals. Implement tracking codes, pixels, and other data collection mechanisms on your website and marketing channels. Ensure all your tools and platforms are integrated for seamless data flow. This might involve using APIs or third-party integration services. Prioritize actionable and measurable metrics, allowing you to track progress and adjust as needed.

4. Leverage analytics tools

Most marketing platforms and websites offer built-in analytics tools. According to a report, 87% of marketers identify data as the most underutilized asset at their companies. Use these tools to track your chosen metrics and gain valuable insights into your marketing investment and campaign performance.

  • Analytics tools: Google Analytics, HubSpot, and other marketing automation tools provide comprehensive data tracking and analysis.

  • CRM systems: Salesforce, Zoho, or similar CRM tools help manage customer relationships and track sales metrics.

  • Social media analytics: Use native analytics tools on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, and third-party social media management tools like Hootsuite or Buffer.

5. Benchmark and set targets

Setting effective marketing metrics requires benchmarking and target setting, which involves two critical steps:

  • Analyze historical data: Review past performance to set realistic benchmarks. This analysis helps identify trends, successes, and areas for improvement, providing a foundation for achievable targets.

  • Consider industry standards: Compare your metrics with industry benchmarks to understand your position relative to competitors. This helps in setting competitive targets that drive strategic growth.

6. Monitor, analyze, and adapt

Metrics are only valuable if you use them. Regularly monitor your chosen metrics, analyze trends, and identify areas for improvement. Create regular reports (weekly, monthly, quarterly) to monitor your metrics. Use dashboards for real-time tracking and visualization of key metrics.

Conduct A/B testing experiments to understand how different strategies work and optimize your marketing efforts based on data. Continuously refine your metrics and strategy based on ongoing analysis and feedback.

7. Communicate results

The insights from your KPIs are valuable for you and stakeholders across the organization. Communicate your marketing performance by creating regular reports with visualizations and actionable recommendations. Share these reports with leadership, sales teams, and other relevant departments to foster collaboration and ensure everyone is aligned on marketing objectives.

12 essential marketing metrics every business should track

During a 2022 survey among marketing managers, directors, vice presidents (VPs), and chief marketing officers (CMOs) across 35 countries, 88 percent of respondents tracked revenue as a KPI of their businesses. Customer satisfaction metrics and web/mobile analytics tied in second, each mentioned by 87 percent of the interviewees.

Listed below are 12 essential metrics every marketing team should track, categorized by critical marketing funnel stages:

Acquisition

From search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to organic social media marketing and email campaigns, acquisition includes various approaches to drive traffic and generate leads. Track these marketing for valuable feedback on your customer acquisition efforts:

1. Cost per acquisition (CPA)

CPA quantifies the average expenditure incurred to acquire a single new customer. When evaluated against the customer’s lifetime value (CLV), it is a critical efficiency indicator. Your CPA should remain lower than the customer’s revenue contribution over a defined period, ensuring a positive ROI for your marketing activities.

Calculating CPA:

CPA = Total Marketing Spend​ / Number of Acquisitions during the corresponding timeframe

Evaluating CPA:

  • Suppose the CPA is lower than the revenue generated by a customer over a certain period (i.e., the CLV). In that case, your marketing efforts are successful and sustainable.

  • Monitoring CPA helps assess your marketing campaigns’ profitability and guides decision-making regarding budget allocations.

Benefits of tracking CPA:

  • Budget allocation: By analyzing CPA across different marketing channels, you can identify cost-effective avenues for customer acquisition. This allows you to optimize your marketing budget and allocate resources toward channels with the lowest CPA and highest ROI.

  • Campaign evaluation: Campaigns with a high CPA might require adjustments or even termination if the customer’s lifetime value doesn’t justify the acquisition cost.

2. Lead-to-customer conversion rate

While conversion rates can vary significantly by industry, some benchmarks can provide a general reference point. In the first quarter of 2023, B2C ecommerce businesses averaged a 2% conversion rate across all sectors, while the average conversion rate for the B2B sector ranged from slightly over 1% for SaaS companies to over 7% for legal services. However, it’s important to seek out and remember that these are averages. Your specific goals and audience will influence your cost per lead (CPL) and campaign conversion rate expectations.

How to calculate lead-to-customer conversion rate:

Lead-to-customer conversion rate = Number of qualified leads that resulted in sales/ Total number of qualified leads x 100

Tips to optimize conversion rates:

  • Use targeted content: Ensure your website and marketing messages are relevant and resonate with your target audience. This increases the likelihood of visitors taking the desired action across your landing pages and marketing touchpoints.

  • Analyze traffic sources: Measure where your visitors come from. This includes analyzing traffic from digital marketing channels such as social media, email campaigns, and organic search. Understanding your traffic source can help you allocate resources more effectively and improve your marketing strategy.

  • Track across channels: Monitor website and/or app metrics across different marketing channels. This includes traditional channels such as print and TV ads and digital channels. Analyzing various marketing metrics across these channels provides a comprehensive view of your website or app’s impact on overall marketing success.

Engagement

Beyond attracting new customers, creating meaningful interactions with your target audience is crucial for long-term brand success. Here are two key metrics that provide valuable insights into customer engagement:

3. Social media engagement

Social media platforms offer a powerful avenue for building brand awareness, fostering two-way communication, and cultivating more profound connections with your target audience. To truly measure success, analyze how these followers interact with your content. Here’s a breakdown of some key social media metrics:

  • Engagement metrics: Likes, comments, new follows, shares/reshares, tags, etc., all signal active user engagement with your content.

  • Reach: This metric indicates the number of times your content is displayed, effectively expanding your reach and increasing brand visibility.

  • Impressions: Refers to the total number of times your content is shown to your audience, regardless of whether they interact with it.

  • Follower growth rate: To measure audience growth, track the percentage increase in your follower base over a specific period.

  • Brand mentions: Tracking where and how often your brand is mentioned across social media can indicate your brand’s visibility and influence. Additionally, monitoring mentions of competitor brands can reveal new opportunities for your brand.

4. Email marketing metrics

Despite the rise of new marketing channels, email marketing remains a highly effective way to connect and engage with your audience. To assess the performance of your email marketing campaigns, consider tracking the following key marketing metrics:

  • Open rate: This metric calculates the percentage of recipients who open your emails. A high open rate signifies successful email deliverability and compelling subject lines that pique reader interest.

  • Bounce rates: This metric measures the number of undelivered emails. It’s crucial to differentiate between “hard bounces” (typically caused by invalid or inactive email addresses) and “soft bounces” (temporary delivery issues) to refine your subscriber list and ensure optimal email delivery rates.

  • Click-Through Rates (CTRs): A high CTR signifies the effectiveness of your email content, design, and CTAs. It indicates that your email encouraged recipients to take action, such as visiting your website or making a purchase.

  • Unsubscribe rates: While a rising unsubscribe rate might seem alarming, it can be viewed positively. When unengaged subscribers unsubscribe, your email list becomes more targeted towards individuals genuinely interested in your brand. Analyzing unsubscribe rates can also reveal valuable insights about your ideal customer profile.

  • New subscribers: Understanding subscriber acquisition patterns can help you identify what triggers audience interest in your brand. This metric aligns closely with content marketing strategies, as effective content can increase email signups.

  • Unengaged subscribers: Unengaged subscribers within your email list offer little value for your marketing initiatives. They can even skew your engagement metrics and create a false sense of success. Implement strategies to identify and remove inactive subscribers from your list periodically. Automated unsubscribing after a set period of inactivity can help maintain a healthy and engaged email list.

Performance and efficiency

Measuring marketing performance and efficiency is crucial for optimizing product strategies and maximizing return on investment (ROI). Here are two key metrics that contribute to this goal:

5. Marketing ROI (Return on Investment)

Marketing ROI measures the effectiveness of marketing investments. It calculates the net profit generated for every dollar spent on marketing activities. According to Gitnux, 40% of marketers are pressured to deliver revenue growth. Given the current competitive environment, the pressure on marketing teams will only increase. Budgets are getting tighter, acquisition costs are growing, and channels are more competitive.

How to calculate Marketing ROI:

Marketing ROI = (Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) - Customer Acquisition Cost (CPA)) / CPA)

Interpretation:

  • A positive ROI indicates that your marketing efforts generate returns exceeding your acquisition costs.

  • A negative ROI suggests that you’re spending more on acquiring customers than the revenue they generate over time.

Improving marketing ROI:

  • Optimize campaigns: Adjust your marketing campaigns to target more profitable customer segments.

  • Boost customer retention: Implement strategies to increase customer loyalty and repeat purchases, boosting CLV.

  • Reduce acquisition costs: Streamline marketing processes and focus on high-impact channels to lower CPA.

6. Multi-touch attribution

Traditional attribution models often assign credit for a conversion (e.g., sale, lead) to a single touchpoint, such as the first click or the last interaction before conversion. However, the customer journey is rarely linear. Multi-touch attribution addresses this by distributing credit across all the touchpoints a customer interacts with before converting. This provides a more holistic understanding of marketing channels and interactions influencing conversions.

Touchpoints: These are interactions that potential customers have with your brand, such as viewing an ad, reading a blog post, receiving an email, or attending a webinar.

Attribution Models: Various models exist to distribute credit across touchpoints. Common models include:

  • Linear attribution: Distributes equal credit to all touchpoints.

  • Time decay attribution: This gives more credit to touchpoints closer to the conversion event.

  • U-shaped attribution: This attribute credits the first and last touchpoints with the most, with the remainder distributed among the middle touchpoints.

Benefits of multi-touch attribution:

  • Provides a clearer picture of the customer journey: By considering all touchpoints, you gain insights into how different channels work together to influence conversions.

  • Optimizes marketing budget allocation: By identifying the most impactful channels, you can allocate your budget more effectively.

  • Improves campaign performance: By understanding how touchpoints interact, you can refine your campaigns to create a more seamless customer journey.

Implementing multi-touch attribution:

  • Data integration: Collect and integrate data from all marketing channels to get a complete view of customer interactions.

  • Attribution tool: Use advanced attribution tools and software to analyze the data and apply the chosen attribution model.

  • Continuous optimization: Regularly review and optimize your attribution model to ensure it reflects current marketing dynamics and customer behavior.

Content and channels

Paired with strategic distribution channels, content marketing has the power to captivate audiences, drive traffic, and enable lasting connections with consumers. Here are marketing metrics that measure the effectiveness of content and its distribution:

7. Website conversion rate

This metric measures the percentage of visitors who take a desired action on your website, such as purchasing, subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading an ebook. A high conversion rate signifies an effective website that resonates with your target audience.

How to calculate website conversion rate:

Website conversion rate = Number of conversions / Total number of visitors x 100

Beyond the introductory conversion rate, consider these granular metrics for a more nuanced picture:

  • Micro-conversions: These minor actions precede the primary conversion, like adding an item to a cart, initiating a live chat, or watching a product demo video. Tracking micro-conversions helps identify areas for improvement in the conversion funnel.

  • Conversion rates by source: Segment your conversion rates by traffic source (e.g., organic search, social media, email marketing) to see which channels deliver the most qualified leads.

  • Conversion rates by landing page: Analyze conversion rates for different landing pages to understand which content resonates best with specific audiences or marketing campaigns.

  • Time to conversion: Track the average time it takes visitors to convert after arriving on your website. This can reveal potential friction points that delay conversions.

Inbound or backlinks are crucial for improving your website’s search engine ranking and authority. However, the quality of these links is more important than the quantity. High-quality inbound links come from authoritative and relevant websites and significantly impact your website’s credibility and visibility.

  • Authority and relevance: Evaluate the authority of the websites linking back to you. Links from reputable and high-authority sites (such as industry leaders, respected publications, and high-traffic blogs) carry more weight and positively influence your site’s search engine rankings.

  • Link context: Assess the context in which your link is placed. Links embedded in relevant, high-quality content are more valuable than those in unrelated or low-quality articles. Contextual relevance ensures that the link provides value to the reader and signals to search engines that your content is credible.

  • Diversity of link sources: Aim for diverse backlinks from different domains. A varied backlink profile indicates a broad interest in your content and reduces the risk of being penalized by search engines for manipulative linking practices.

Granular metrics for quality of inbound links

  • Domain Authority (DA): A score (developed by Moz) that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). Higher DA scores indicate more significant potential for ranking.

  • Page Authority (PA): Similar to DA, but focuses on predicting the ranking strength of a single page rather than an entire website.

  • Spam score: A metric that indicates the likelihood of a website being penalized by search engines for spammy practices. Lower spam scores are preferable.

  • Anchor text relevance: The text used in the hyperlink to your site. Relevant anchor text helps search engines understand the linked page’s content and can improve SEO.

  • Referral traffic: The amount of traffic your site receives from inbound links. This metric helps measure the direct impact of backlinks on your website’s traffic.

Sales

Sales metrics are crucial for understanding the effectiveness of your marketing efforts in driving revenue and customer growth. These metrics provide insights into how well your business attracts, converts, and retains customers:

9. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) estimates the total revenue a customer will generate for your company throughout their relationship with your business. Depending on your offerings and pricing model, this includes license renewals, product plan, upgrades (upsells), and purchases of other products (cross-sells).

How to calculate CLV:

Customer lifetime value = (customer value x average customer lifespan)

Importance of CLV:

  • Quality over quantity: CLV highlights the value of retaining high-quality customers who contribute significantly to your revenue rather than focusing solely on acquiring many new customers.

  • Revenue maximization: To maximize revenue, allocate some marketing campaigns specifically to engage and retain existing customers. This can increase their spending and loyalty.

Strategies to raise CLV:

  • Track customer churn: Monitor the rate customers stop buying from you or cancel subscriptions. High churn rates can significantly impact CLV, especially for subscription-based models.

  • Measure revenue growth rate of existing customers: Track how much your existing customers spend over time. An increase indicates successful engagement strategies, while a decline requires investigation and remedial actions.

  • Survey customers about their Net Promoter Score (NPS): This metric measures customer satisfaction and loyalty by asking customers how likely they are to recommend your products or services to others. Scores range from -100 to +100, providing insights into customer sentiment and loyalty.

10. MQL to SQL ratio

The MQL to SQL ratio measures the efficiency of converting Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). This ratio is essential for understanding how well your marketing efforts are aligned with sales objectives.

MQLs: These leads have shown interest in your product or service and have the potential to become customers. A marketing-qualified lead might have engaged with your content, signed up for a newsletter, or attended a webinar.

SQLs: The sales team has vetted and deemed these leads ready for direct contact. A sales-qualified lead intends to purchase and meets predefined criteria, indicating a higher likelihood of conversion.

How to calculate MQL to SQL ratio:

MQL:SQL = Number of SQLs / Number of MQLs x 100

Optimizing the MQL to SQL conversion: Before passing leads to the sales team, carry out the lead qualification process. This involves:

  • Checking the accuracy of the information provided.

  • Discarding fake email addresses.

  • Verifying LinkedIn profiles.

  • Making business email addresses mandatory for B2B leads.

  • Requesting additional information to understand lead intent and readiness better.

Importance of the MQL to SQL ratio:

  • Sales and marketing alignment: A good MQL to SQL ratio indicates strong alignment between sales and marketing teams. It reflects a healthy pipeline and shows that marketing efforts effectively generate leads that are likely to convert.

  • Pipeline health: This ratio helps assess the quality of leads being generated and the efficiency of the lead qualification process. A high conversion rate from MQL to SQL signifies that your marketing strategies successfully attract and identify potential customers.

Traffic

Understanding and effectively managing traffic is critical for businesses striving to succeed in the highly competitive online landscape. Here are metrics to gauge the quantity and value of your traffic:

11. Website engagement metrics

Website engagement metrics help you understand how users interact with your website. These metrics offer insights into user behavior, the effectiveness of your content, and the overall user experience.

Key website engagement metrics include:

  • Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate may indicate that the content is not engaging or that the user experience needs improvement.

  • Average session duration: This metric measures users’ average time on your site during a single visit. Longer session durations often indicate more engaging content.

  • Pages per session: This metric shows the average number of pages a user views. More pages per session suggest that users find your content valuable and will explore more.

  • Exit rate: The percentage of visitors who leave your website from a specific page. High exit rates on critical pages may indicate the need for content or design improvements.

12. MoM growth

Month-over-month (MoM) growth measures a business’s progress by comparing specific metrics from one month to the next. It is a valuable tool for tracking short-term performance and making timely adjustments to business strategies. MoM growth can apply to various aspects such as revenue, user acquisition, and website traffic.

How to Calculate MoM growth:

MoM Growth = (Metric in Latest Month − Metric in Previous Month / Metric in Previous Month ) × 100

MoM growth offers immediate feedback, allowing businesses to adapt their strategies quickly based on recent data. However, shorter month lengths (February) and longer month lengths (March) and frequent monitoring can sometimes lead to skewed results or misleading interpretations. Over-reliance on MoM growth without considering broader trends (e.g. December holidays) might give an inaccurate picture of business health.

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