As much as marketers talk about the importance of data and metrics, too many companies aren’t using the right KPIs to make crucial decisions. Or if they are using KPIs, they're the wrong ones: useless, vain, or just easy to find and report.
I've rounded up five common KPIs that you don't need, and outlined five metrics you should be tracking instead. If used, these alternatives will actually make an impact on your marketing efforts and revenue numbers—and make your reports to your boss actually mean something.
1. Leads (aka Just Any Lead)
Before you think we’re crazy and click away, hear us out. Finding leads for the sales team is one of the primary responsibilities of every marketing department. Without leads there wouldn’t be anyone to sell to. Without anyone to sell to, there’s no revenue. Without revenue, there is no company. Leads are important. That being said, sometimes focusing on grabbing and counting just any lead can complicate buyer decisions higher up the funnel. There are specific types of leads to track.
What to Track Instead: Lead-to-MQL and Total MQLs
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are people who have “raised their hands” by engaging with your content or event such as filling out a form to get access to a piece of content, attending a webinar, or visiting your event booth. These MQLs are, according to Hubspot:
“More deeply engaged, sales-ready contacts than your usual leads, but who have not yet become fully fledged opportunities.”
Tracking your lead-to-MQL rate lets you know what lead capture activities produce the most qualified leads for sales. Once you know what converts, you can double down on those activities and stop marketing efforts that aren’t getting qualified leads.
It’s flattering when your company Facebook page gets an influx of Likes. But Facebook Likes and Twitter Favorites are vanity metrics. They look good, but they don’t mean much, unless people click through to your website and read an article, share it, or give you more information. Most other social media metrics don’t have much real value. Rachel Sprung of Hubspot says,
“Just because someone Likes your post doesn't mean they're actually clicking through to your website—which, you know, is a top reason why you're on Facebook in the first place.”
What to Measure Instead: Social Referral Traffic
There are reports in Google Analytics that will provide you with engagement metrics and referral traffic numbers for each social network. This way you can see which social media visitors are reading content and then clicking through to your site. This beats a Like or Fave because it’s tracking the people who are taking action that moves them to being a qualified lead.
“When you create your next Facebook post, think about how your post could drive click throughs,” Sprung writes. “Are there certain words or images you could use to inspire people to take action? As great as a Like is to show your content to more followers, it still does not translate into action on your website.”
Here’s another social metric that gets more attention than it should. Of course, more followers and fans means more potential reach. But thousands of followers or fans can’t be the end goal. It’s their actions and engagement with your brand and website that matter. Studies have shown that only 3% to 5% of your Facebook Page fans see the content you post, and even they may never come back to your page or will miss the content in their feed altogether.
What to Track Instead: Social Shares
In a post by Janet Aronica, she suggests that Social Shares is the way to find and track value in your social media strategy:
“Search engines like Bing and Google now consider tweets and Facebook shares in their algorithms,” she writes. “How many individual page viewers are also promoting your content to their social networks is a more accurate signal of long-term SEO benefits from a popular blog post.”
4. Blog Post Pageviews
Today, every company should have a blog. But tracking the success of a blog post or a blogging strategy has to focus on more than total pageviews. Lars Lofgren of Kissmetrics took aim at pageviews in a recent blog post:
“For those of you that are judged on how many pageviews your site gets each month, here’s a quick tip on how to impress your boss. Make your navigation super complicated. Your visitors won’t be able to find what they’re looking for and they’ll click all over your site. You’ll crush your quarterly pageview goals and impress everyone in the office. But is this good business? Absolutely not. So stop tracking page views.”
What to Track Instead: Bounce Rate
Some of the best traffic KPIs for your website will be average session duration, pages per session, and bounce rate. These tell you that your website is engaging enough to keep people there once they have hit the first page, either from search or from an external link or other marketing activity. Specifically, bounce rate is key. This is the percentage of people who visit one page on your site and leave. You want them to explore. Aronica suggests keeping readers' attention with a good call-to-action and links to other content and other parts of your site.
5. Email Open Rate
Of course it’s good to know how many people opened an email. And a good open rate will often be an good indicator that your subject line worked. What it won’t tell you is whether or not your email helped to create more qualified leads.
What to Measure Instead: Email Click-Through Rate (CTR)
What you really want to know is if the email and its content piqued interest enough for the recipient to click from the email to your website. Aronica suggests that the goal be to “focus on one CTA in your email that draws users to your site, and measure your click-throughs on those links.” Then watch the CTR and A/B test. Based on the result, you can make call-to-action, image, or copy changes and watch your CTR increase and the relevant traffic to your website swell.
Tracking the Right Metrics
Metrics can be a double-edged sword. We know we need them. We know they are important. But there are some that just don’t show the growth or improvement needed to make the best decisions for your marketing strategy. We hope you will find more success with your metrics by putting less of an emphasis on these five and tracking the alternatives we’ve laid out here. Happy measuring.
About the Author
Heather has enjoyed playing the game of marketing for the past 15 years, at the agency and corporate level, in both B2C and B2B companies. She's run PR campaigns that took her from the MTV Beach House to NASDAQ and many media outlets and content channels in between. She is currently the Corporate Marketing Director at Workfront.Follow on Twitter More Content by Heather Hurst