Digital marketing metrics: What you need to know now
Director of Content @ Tray.io
Learn the digital marketing metrics you need to know now, including which reports indicate how traffic arrived at a website and how to measure success for different types of digital marketing by using automation to drive more marketing success, faster.
This post is part of a series on how to harness the power of marketing metrics and analytics automation to better monitor and react to campaign performance. Check out these follow-up posts for more ideas:
How do you measure success with digital marketing metrics?
In this blog, we’ll discuss exactly how to use digital marketing metrics to measure marketing success for your digital campaigns using three distinct classes of metrics: Awareness, engagement, and performance.
Articulating marketing goals as specific, measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) and measuring campaign performance against those KPIs helps marketers get a clearer picture of how their digital campaigns are doing over time, and ultimately, whether they make sense in the grand scheme of things.
Digital marketing metrics are essential for at least three key reasons:
Insights - Most obviously, digital marketing metrics are a measure of success. By understanding how well or how poorly a campaign or channel is performing, marketing teams can make better business decisions and optimize their budgets. They can spend more on what’s working (“Let’s run more webinars featuring award-winning actors”) and less on what isn’t (“Let’s stop sending 50,000-page eBooks to C-level executives who are too busy to read them”).
Strategy - Digital marketing metrics also help marketers ensure, in a broader sense, that what they’re doing fits in with their overall goals, such as a focus on driving more first-touch leads at the top of their funnel, driving more conversions, or some other target.
Alignment - The insights from digital marketing metrics can help marketing teams stay aligned with other departments, such as sales, growth, and support in the context of their company’s larger goals for revenue, sales, and even customer retention and account expansion.
The 3 types of digital marketing metrics
There are many different types of digital marketing metrics, so to keep track, we’ll group them into three categories:
Awareness - These marketing metrics measure what happens the first time you come in contact with a lead, typically via a visit to your website through a specific channel, such as a paid ad, a field event, or through organic search results.
Engagement - These metrics represent what happens after that first touch. After leads become aware of your company and product, engagement metrics measure how frequently and quickly top-funnel leads convert into qualified leads and eventually into sales opportunities.
Performance - These metrics measure the actual dollars and cents of marketing success. Performance metrics track return on investment (ROI) of marketing campaigns, comparing costs to results.
Digital marketing metrics track performance-based channels like Google AdWords.
Digital marketing metrics for awareness:
Website traffic - Your company’s website is typically the first point of contact between your business and any prospective customers. All things being equal, website traffic is a metric that marketers always want to increase across whichever channels they use, including unpaid organic sources such as from search engines augmented by search engine optimization (SEO) or from social channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) along with paid sources such as paid search advertising and paid social ads. It’s also worth noting that many digital marketers not only segment traffic by channel, but also by new visits vs. returning visitors.
New visitor sessions - New visitor sessions show a growing awareness of your company’s brand to net-new audiences and ideally signal potential for growth of your company’s revenue funnel. With a healthy influx of net-new visitors, it then falls to the marketing team to convert those new visitors to qualified leads, after which they’ll hopefully convert to sales opportunities and closed-won deals.
Returning visitor sessions - Returning visitor sessions show how frequently previous visitors to your website return. It’s crucial to virtually any business with either a business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) to track and understand user behavior on the company website and how return visits figure into the customer buying journey.
Returning traffic is especially vital for B2B firms since more than 60% of B2B buyers develop selection criteria and a vendor list online before even contacting sales. Returning traffic is also an important metric to follow for retargeting campaigns - programmatic ad campaigns that marketers use to “follow” leads who have visited their website across other websites via cookies with relevant ads to keep their brands top-of-mind.
- Keyword ranking - Because so many buyers perform research online before even considering a purchase, your company’s placement on search engine results pages (SERP) is more important than ever, particularly for keywords that are specific to your business. Example: A company that sells a sales analytics platform will want its website to appear on SERP whenever anyone runs an internet search for the term “sales analytics platform” or any related keywords.
A high keyword ranking means your company’s website appears at or near position #1 on the first page of SERP. Also, marketing teams want an optimal position distribution to ensure your website is ranking at or near the top for all the keywords that are most relevant to your business.
- SERP impressions - In addition to ranking #1 on SERP, it’s also helpful to drive high SERP impressions - the number of times searchers view the excerpt of your website that appears on SERP. Improving SERP impressions will make your site more distinctive and compelling on SERP even if you aren’t in position #1, and can potentially drive more clicks to your website as well.
Digital marketing metrics for engagement:
- Clickthrough Rate (CTR) - CTR is one of the most commonly-measured digital marketing metrics for engagement and with good reason. It measures how often people click on where they see you, either from an outside location (organic SERP, ad, video) to your website or from a top-level page on your website to deeper-funnel offer- or sales-focused page.
With every click, your visitors advance themselves one step deeper into your funnel. All things being equal, CTR is something that marketers are always looking to increase.
- Bounce rate - Bounce rate measures the percentage of instances that visitors leave after viewing a single page. In the most general sense, marketers want to see a relatively high number of page views per visit as visitors click through multiple pages across their company’s website, accompanied by a low bounce rate. The first instinct of most marketers is to view a high bounce rate on a web page to mean that the page is problematic, and its content isn’t compelling enough to draw in your prospects. High bounce rates also tend to be a cause for alarm since they can incur SEO penalties from search engines.
Marketers frequently combine bounce rate with the time-on-site metric, which measures how long an average viewer stays on your website before leaving. At a glance, most marketers consider it a poor sign when pages on your website have both a high bounce rate and a low time-on-site. High bounce rates can be the result of a disconnect between your lead-in pages and your landing pages - your online ads, for instance, may look and feel too different from their landing page offer, causing leads to click away. However, given the higher amount of online research that buyers perform before ever contacting sales, it’s possible that high bounce rates aren’t always a sign of trouble. Your prospects may be clicking away because they’re in early research stages and looking for quick answers as they formulate a list of potential vendors.
- Social engagement - These are the reactions (including “likes”), shares, and comments you receive on your company’s posts to social media channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and elsewhere, including “views” and “listens” on alternate media channels such as video on YouTube and audio via podcast.
Different types of businesses tend to focus on different channels - direct-to-consumer brands, for instance, may find consumer-focused social networks such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram to be mission-critical channels to build a brand following. B2B firms may find themselves using channels like LinkedIn to promote offers to drive website visits that kick off sales conversations.
Your company may need to track performance metrics on paid social channels like LinkedIn.
Digital marketing metrics for performance:
- Conversion rate (CR/CVR) - Conversion rate measures the frequency with which leads move from one funnel stage to the next - such as an early-stage lead converting to a sales-qualified opportunity. Different marketers use wildly differing criteria to define what a conversion means to them. “Conversion rate” can encompass leads from web forms, leads from phone calls, leads from live chats, leads from ads or organic channels, and engagement with marketing offers such as webinars and eBooks.
Regardless of how they define it, CR itself is one of marketers’ most significant day-to-day metrics and is something marketers are always looking to increase. A higher CR means more leads can become sales opportunities, and more opportunities can become closed-won deals. A higher CR also means a more-efficient marketing funnel that costs for new user acquisition.
- Cost per acquisition (CPA) - Cost per acquisition measures the total cost of acquiring a new customer, though marketers frequently break this metric down into more-granular metrics based on funnel stage, such as cost per lead.
In a perfect world, CPA would be as low as possible as your company magically signs on new, paying customers for next-to-nothing. In the real world, acquiring new customers is a costly, time-consuming process that requires marketers to build awareness, capture the attention of leads, and convert them to opportunities that [hopefully] become closed-won deals.
Return on investment (ROI) - ROI is typically a metric that marketers use to measure performance both for aggregate marketing spend as well as for individual channels. (For instance, performance marketers frequently track their return on ad spend, or ROAS.) While marketers will use ROI to compare their spend against a variety of goals (such as leads generated, opportunities generated, or dollar amount of sales pipeline introduced), ROI is a figure that marketers are always trying to increase.
Lifetime Value (LTV) - LTV isn’t always exclusively a marketing metric. Growth, sales, and finance teams also use this metric to project the total revenue value of an individual user (or a B2B account) for as long as that person or account remains a customer. Companies use LTV for longer-term forecasting, so it frequently touches budgets across many departments in a company, not just marketing.
Next steps: Collecting and sharing digital marketing metrics
OK - so we know more about how to measure success for our digital campaigns. Once you have your metrics in place, you’d be able to take action on them to optimize your marketing campaigns and drive better results. Here’s the catch - compiling and centralizing your digital marketing metrics is easier said than done, as is keeping them updated and shareable in real-time. However, it’s possible to automate marketing analytics to have them on hand whenever you need using API integrations. You can also utilize automation to use metrics-driven insights to take direct action.
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