How to Measure Your Inbound Marketing Success

By Scott Anderson Miller

Success in your inbound marketing plan isn’t defined by how much you report or even how many hours you worked. So, how do you measure success? The first question you need to answer is whether or not you achieved the business milestones set forth in your plan. Seek insight as to why you achieved success and solutions for the areas that underperformed.

Thick reports filled with detailed minutiae and graphs too complicated to digest encourage confusion rather than clarity. Be very clear as to what the important contributing metrics are and seek agreement up front on those metrics with all involved. Then build custom dashboards or use marketing automation software that report those KPIs.

Sharing your analytics

When sharing your analytics, do everyone involved a favor. Build your metrics dashboard based on what everyone collectively agrees are the important contributing factors to achieving success. Include the Customer Conversion Chain metrics. Don’t simply report by reading back the numbers that everyone in the room can clearly see.

Be prepared to provide a more detailed analysis by doing your homework before the meeting as to the make-up of the dashboard numbers you’re reporting. In other words, report what happened through the dashboard metrics, but be prepared to answer why the numbers appear as they are.

When you uncover inconsistencies, or your inbound efforts are not measuring up to your hypothesis, be prepared to state openly what you’ve discovered as the likely or possible cause. Remember not to act evasive or defensive. Next, provide one to three thoughtful solutions to improve.

Lastly, when someone asks you to report on a metric other than the predefined contributing inputs, be prepared to ask how that metric contributes to successfully attaining your objective. Sometimes this leads to an insightful breakthrough. Most times, it is just noise. Stay focused on the inputs that matter; however, remain open to additional inputs that had not been previously considered.

Communicating your activity

You are responsible for how you allocate your marketing resources and should be willing to be held accountable. More importantly, the true value you bring to the table as a marketer is in streamlining activities so that you achieve your inbound goals and objectives efficiently, with as few resources as it takes to achieve success.

You also create value when you overachieve milestones within acceptable costs of your company’s time and money. You’re most valuable when those streamlined activities are scalable because you can now replicate and communicate activity that has a more predictable outcome.

Activity alone doesn’t equal success. Just because you and your team are busy doesn’t mean you’re working on activities that contribute efficiently to the end goal. Don’t let your ad agency masquerade their “doing” as productivity, either. Instead, focus on the value your activities bring to achieving stated objectives. The marketing activities you and your team perform must be meaningful. In other words, there should be a measurable correlation between your inbound marketing activities and the end result.

Reporting your results

In an optimized inbound marketing program, the marketing and sales departments share goals and objectives up-front. Each department works together to achieve the end sales result. These goals should be shared with management and approved up-front. It follows that the marketing and sales departments are each held accountable for achieving their respective metrics and milestones and then report back on a regular basis.

The process of sharing and reporting objectives aligns your internal and external team towards achieving the overall business goals, clearly outlining expectations and accountability for both parties to achieve said goals.

Reporting your results based on a previously outlined timeline provides regular feedback, allowing you time to make any necessary adjustments to your inbound marketing plans.

Tweaking links in your Customer Conversion Chain

The reason for accountability between marketing and sales isn’t so they each play the blame game. You’re trying to solve business problems here, not find who is at fault. So, when things aren’t quite going to plan, the aim is to fix the broken parts. The best method of discovering this is by evaluating the Customer Conversion Chain links.

By analyzing each conversion point in the customer purchase path and comparing your resulting metrics with the hypothesis that marketing and sales formed together before execution of tactics, you report and act on facts rather than blame and emotion.

So if the sales staff says the leads are weak, don’t get defensive. Review your company’s definition of a marketing qualified lead, check your lead scoring to see if there are some incorrect assumptions as to what constitutes a qualified lead, and model your premium customers in order to attract and convert.