What gets measured gets done, but how do you measure the impact of your firm’s inbound marketing efforts?
According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017 report 46% of businesses said that inbound marketing (that’s content marketing, email marketing and even social media promotion) generated more return per $ invested than other marketing activities. This isn’t that surprising when you consider how expensive traditional business development activities are and account for the fact that inbound marketing continues to work even when you’re not.
But what’s really shocking about HubSpot’s findings is that 41% of respondents had absolutely no idea what marketing initiatives generated the greatest return. If you want to achieve results with your business inbound marketing strategy it’s crucial that you establish what success looks like and measure it. Here’s how to go about it.
This doesn’t need to be hard. Put simply, what are you trying to achieve from your inbound marketing? Do you want to bring more traffic to your website? Generate more leads? Make sure you’re top of mind for your clients?
Whatever your objectives or priorities, list them down because they will define what you need to measure.
Identify the metrics that matter
There is a range of different metrics that you can measure, and they differ depending on the activities that you undertake and your objectives. These can be categorised into three areas: acquisition, amplification and engagement. Most marketing objectives will touch on all three of these, although one or two of the areas are usually given priority.
As the name implies, this is all about acquiring an audience. Metrics that may be relevant here include:
- Subscribers and followers – These are the people who have opted in to hear from you regularly. They’re your most engaged audience.
- Returning visitors – Google analytics can show you how many people choose to keep coming back to your website.
- Downloads – This applies to gated content (documents that you offer in exchange for additional information like an email address).
When others appreciate what you’re saying they can choose to share it, it’s the ultimate compliment as it amplifies your message. Metrics that track this include:
- Retweets, shares and likes – The more your content is shared or saved for later the more opportunities it gives others will see it.
- Email forwards – By simply pressing forward your expertise can be shared to a new audience.
When someone chooses to take a deeper look at your content or engage with your brand, they are building a relationship with your firm. Metrics that consider the level of engagement prospective clients have with you include:
- Page views, bounce rates and time spent on page – This looks at what pages people view on your website, how long they spend there and whether they leave straight away or look around a bit.
- Email open rates – This gives you an indication of how many people like to hear from you or find your subject lines interesting.
- Website click-through rates – Whether it’s through social media, emails or other blog posts, getting people to take a deeper look at your content is key to building engagement.
- Comments, replies and mentions – Whether it’s on your blog or social media, when people take the time to chat they’re engaged.
There are many other metrics that you can measure, but these provide a useful starting point.
Tools to capture inbound marketing data
There are several tools that you can use to help you calculate these metrics, these include:
- Google Analytics – This is the best tool available to identify data from your own website, including your blog. It collects information on page views, search terms, returning visitors, time on page, and even where your audience is from. Better yet, it’s free.
- Social media tools – There are many different social media tools that can measure everything from how many people are talking about you to who viewed your page. While all social media platforms provide some metrics, some are better than others. Twitter provides detailed analytics down to tweet level, yet it’s very difficult to track activity on LinkedIn through its free tools. That’s where paying for tools like HootSuite or even HubSpot (for a much more comprehensive platform) can be helpful.
- Email tools – MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing tools for good reason. It’s easy to use and provides analytics on opening rates, clickthroughs and engagement.
By defining your objectives and then tracking a few key metrics you can measure the fruits of your efforts. One last thing to keep in mind; it’s rare for success to happen overnight. When it comes to inbound marketing unless you’re paying for sponsored or advertised opportunities, it’s not unusual for it to take six to twelve months before you start seeing significant results. But once the ball starts gathering momentum it’ll keep picking up speed quickly.
Rakhee graduated from the University of Melbourne with Honours and began her career practising taxation law. While working for blue chip companies like ANZ, Foster’s and General Motors she developed a flair for writing. She’s been featured in The Australian, Forbes and BBC publications, and enjoys creating content that leverages her knowledge of the law and business. Her expertise includes taxation, migration, financial services, corporate and employment law.
Rakhee is based in Melbourne. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on +61 409 418 297.