7 Key Digital Marketing Metrics for Marketing Managers
Many years ago I did a short stint at a very small marketing agency as an intern-turned-content-strategist. I've learned a lot about marketing since then and recently came to realize that short stint taught me the most about what not to do as a marketing manager.
Our plan then was this:
- Discovery meeting with a client
- Brainstorm possible content pieces to launch toward the "goal"
- Design beautiful pieces of content
- Wait for the leads to come in
If you're new to marketing, let me be clear: this strategy didn't work. In fact, it wasn't even a strategy. It was barely a plan. That's what we now kindly refer to as, "throwing sh** at the wall and seeing what sticks." This might work once, maybe twice, but it doesn't work in the long term. Good businesses are built on a process.
To be successful in your marketing efforts (or any effort), you need a process. One of our core values at Malartu is to "be systematic." Once you understand the ins-and-outs of your systems you can use digital marketing metrics to measure results. From there, you analyze, iterate, and repeat until your experiment matures into a well-oiled machine.
Measuring your Digital Marketing Efforts
If you incorporate the following digital marketing metrics into your own system and stick with them, I can assure you will grow, or at least learn where you need the most improvement. In an attempt to be more helpful than the typically ambiguous marketing read, I'll break each metric down by how we use it in our system at Malartu. Here we go:
Even if you've only been selling/marketing your product or service for a month, you need to understand this ratio. Obsess over it and monitor its change each month. Before I go any further, let's define LTV and CAC:
LTV stands for Lifetime Value
CAC stands for Customer Acquisition Cost
They are calculated like so:
LTV = (Customer Revenue in a Period of Time x Purchase Frequency x Gross Margin) x (1/Churn)
CAC= Total spent to acquire a customer
So, the LTV:CAC ratio is essentially an estimate of the total value your company receives from each client in comparison to what you spent to acquire that client. The ratio allows you to easily define your Return on Investment (ROI) and develop a more educated growth strategy.
As a SaaS company, our goal LTV:CAC ratio is 3:1. For other business models you may have a different goal. Retail, for example, can not easily estimate the purchase frequency of a customer and therefore may have a lower estimate LTV.
An LTV:CAC that’s too high often means that while your current customers are delivering great ROI, your new customer acquisition initiatives are suffering – reducing the speed of your business growth. You should use this metric as a benchmark against your general business growth goals.
It's also important to note that both LTV and CAC consist of other very important metrics. Calculations for each can also vary based on your business model or vary based on other components. To improve either, you'll need to understand how to improve their components. LTV, for example, has variables like Revenue, purchase frequency, and gross margin incorporated in its calculation. Each of these can be improved independently to improve your LTV.
Click Through Rate
LTV:CAC gives you a broad understanding of your headroom in your marketing budget. Click Through Rate (CTR) will give you a specific understanding of your advertising material. Specifically, CTR is a ratio showing how often people who see your ad end up clicking it. CTR can be used to gauge how well your keywords and ads are performing.
CTR = (The number of clicks that your ad receives) / (the number of times your ad is shown)
CTR = Clicks ÷ Impressions
For example, if you had 5 clicks and 1000 impressions, then your CTR would be 0.5%.
Generally across advertising channels, each of your ads and keywords have their own CTRs. A high CTR is a good indication that users find your ads helpful and relevant. A good CTR is relative to what you're advertising and on which networks - some networks may get massive number of impressions, so you can afford a lower CTR and achieve your goal. The opposite is true for smaller networks.
You can use CTR to gauge which ads and keywords are successful for you and which need to be improved. The more your ads relate to what the user is looking for, the more likely a user is to click on your ad, resulting in a higher CTR.
As for the Malartu process, CTR is essential to our marketing team so that we can optimize the very top of our inbound funnel. These clicks translate to visits.
I know you're probably thinking, "we're only 2 metrics in and this is getting overwhelming." Keep reading to the end and I'll tell you how we make this easy.
Once someone clicks through our ad or link, they will land on one of our pages. This could be a landing page specific to that ad or our homepage. Either way, that person counts as a Visit. A visit is anytime a visitor reaches your site from somewhere outside of your website domain.
Measuring the number of visits to your site will directly affect how your marketing team supports your sales team. In order to reach your goals for the week/month/quarter, you'll need to measure Visits and understand how they move through the funnel. Visits convert to Leads, which convert to Prospects, which convert to Customers, which converts to you getting promoted :)
Simply put, a lead is someone who might buy your stuff. Unfortunately for you, there are many definitions of a lead, and there are even more definitions of a “good lead”. In our own sales cycle, a lead is “a person that is starting to exhibit buying behavior”. The problem is not everyone always agrees on what "buying behavior" looks like. For this reason, it's important to nail down qualifications for leads with your team.
A prospect is a lead which has been qualified as fitting buying criteria like: fitting the target market, having buying authority, and being a key decision maker, among other things. Like Leads, this qualifications will need to be agreed upon by your team.
Once qualification criteria is met, the lead is then converted into a "prospect" (a potential customer).
Prospects are not Leads.
A Prospect is often confused as a sales Lead. A sales lead is unqualified and raw contact information. Most sales leads come from form submissions, referrals, or lists. However, leads can be found anywhere -- social media, purchased lists or even people you meet walking down the street. It is usually the sales department's responsibility to reach out to leads and whittle the list down to prospects, whose qualifying criteria has been set by your whole team.
Now that we know the Visits, Leads and Prospects, we need to thoroughly understand the rate that each converts to the other. The Conversion Rate is the percentage of people who take a desired action. There are a few conversion rates to really understand:
Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate
Pretty self-explanatory, but with this conversation rate we are looking a the number of visitors that are converting to leads. Again, this is different for different team, but an example could be the number of visitors that sign up with you as a user (if you define user's as leads) in a freemium model. We calculate this at Malartu as those who signup as a user. At a basic level, our marketing team qualifies a lead as a prospect if the lead then trials the product.
Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate or Prospect-to-Customer Conversion Rate
For sake of brevity I've merged these, the concept is the same. Here we are measuring how marketing and sales are qualifying and closing leads and prospects.
Conversion Rate is huge for two reasons:
1) Sales Efficiency: Many people think more visits = more customers. This may be true (all things equal) but optimizing your funnel through new designs or closing processes might be a better investment sometimes. Maybe your marketing team changes the language of your content to get less frequent but more motivated visits. That will earn you more money. Maybe your sales team spends more effort on higher-scored leads and closes more, faster. That will earn you more money.
2) Goal Setting: For example, let's say your goal is $10,000 in new accounts this month. Each account represents $1,000. That means your sales team needs to close 10 new accounts. Your prospect-to-customer conversion rate is 12%. That means you need to qualify 84 prospects (10 divided by .12). Your Lead-to-prospect converstion rate is 40%. That means you need 210 new leads. Your Visitor-to-lead conversion rate is 5%. That means your marketing team needs to get to 4,200 new visits this month. As marketing manager, you can now devise a plan to do just that, or increase your conversion rates. Or both, rockstar.
For the same reason it's important to understand conversion rates, it's important to understand how long it takes to close a customer from first contact to sale (Sales Cycle). The goal-setting example above does not take into account sales cycle, which could affect how your team approaches SMART goal setting.
Average Deal Size
To my point earlier, average deal size affects LTV. Average Deal Size measures the value of a contract over a 12-month period. A few questions to ask about ACV:
What is the size? Are you getting a few hundred dollars per month from your customers, or are you able to close large deals? Of course, this depends both on your sales team and on the market you are targeting (SMB vs. mid-market vs. enterprise). Do your revenue goals require larger customers? This should greatly affect the content you generate.
Is it growing (and especially not shrinking)? If it’s growing, it means customers are paying you more on average for your product over time - maybe your upselling material is taking hold? maybe it's your sales team doing a great job cross-selling? Maybe your product is fundamentally doing more (adding features and capabilities)? or you're delivering so much value, customers are willing to pay more for it. Remember, price is one of the 4 P's of marketing :)
Net Promoter Score
This one may be heavily focused on product, but it also reflects the brand you and your team have created. To Calculate your Net Promoter Score, use the answer to a single question:
"How likely is it that you would recommend [your brand] to a friend or colleague?"
Customers or users rate from 0-10.
Respondents are grouped as follows:
- Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
- Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
- Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.
Subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter). A score of 50 to 80 is typically considered “good.” Your score should be a direct reflection of both the product and marketing teams, and should predict how tough of a sell your product or service will be for your sales team.
Measure Your Whole System with One Tool
We believe that all divisions of our business should integrate with each other in some way. Marketing qualifies leads for Sales > Sales closes leads and gives feedback to Engineering > Engineering improves product and gives feedback to Marketing for new content. It's all a system and it all needs to be measured in order to improve.
Measuring everything in your business is tough. Managing communication between these departments is tough.