When you’re just starting out as a business owner it’s easy to become wrapped up in the seemingly endless number of metrics you *need* to pay attention to in order to determine the success of your business.
However, the problem with following a lot of metrics is that it can become very easy to not pay close attention to any of them, and isn’t the whole point of following metrics so that you know exactly what’s going on with your startup?
Metrics have the potential to offer a ton of insight into your successes and failures, but only if you know which ones to track without getting overwhelmed.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 10 important marketing metrics that every new start-up owner should master:
1) Web traffic: what kind and where is it coming from?
Image credit and all subsequent image credits: Google Analytics
Web traffic is essentially a blanket category that encompasses the majority of the metrics listed below; making it one of the most important measures that startup owners should be analyzing.
In addition, increased web traffic generally means increased sales and revenue, which is hopefully your goal as a business owner.
But before you can jump for joy at the overwhelming amount of traffic that’s being directed to your site, you need to figure out what types of leads are worth investing in and which ones are paying off so you know how to drive traffic using the most cost effective means available.
Several important aspects of web traffic will be discussed below, but for now think about: how much of your traffic is paid, and what is the return on investment (ROI) on that? How much traffic comes from organic searches? How much traffic comes from social media, and is it due to actions you’re doing (like tweeting) or the actions of others (like shares)? How much traffic is generated through email?
Read below to learn more details about these specific measures, most of which can be analyzed through Google Analytics.
2) Keyword ranking
While the importance of optimized keywords might be old news for seasoned business owners, it’s something that new startups need to grasp, and quickly.
Choosing appropriate keywords is one of the quickest and most valuable ways to get your business ranked high on Google and other top search engines, thus getting the word out that your site contains worthwhile content.
A good way to figure out how well your content is performing is by monitoring the success (or lack thereof) of your keywords. You can do this through Google Analytics by creating a custom search that can tell you how your content responds to different keyword searches.
This article from searchenginewatch.com discuses how to improve your Google ranking signals by focusing on keywords.
3) Social media reach and shares
Social media is still easily one of the best ways to market your small business, startup or not.
Utilizing sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and more gives you the potential to reach over 1.8 billion people worldwide—a pretty big number of potential customers and revenue.
Thus, social media reach and shares is a great metric to monitor so that you can determine if you’re using the platforms to your benefit.
As I said before, when you’re looking at social media you need to figure out what traffic stems from your actions vs. the actions of others, and then capitalize on whatever method works best for your particular business.
Shares in particular are a good way to gauge how valuable others find your content to be; the more shares you receive, the better your content, and the more people will get to view it.
Obviously you want your social reach to extend as far as possible, so try to determine what action words and images engage your audience the most.
4) Cost of leads and lead generation
In addition to social media, another way to determine if your audience finds your website content valuable is by tracking where your leads come from.
Pay attention to where your customers are coming from and what content is engaging them to visit your site, and then determine if the cost you’re spending on leads (assuming you are paying for them) is worth the return on investment.
Furthermore, ROI is directly linked to returning visitors (discussed below). One thing to keep in mind before scrutinizing lead metrics is that you first need to determine one action to analyze at a time, such as email signups or purchases.
Focusing on one desired customer action at a time will prevent your results from becoming skewed.
5) Return on investment
The success or failure of a startup could all come down to ROI. Is the money you’re putting into your business generating enough profit to make your efforts worth it, or are you losing money?
Definitely don’t skip out on ROI metrics or you could be throwing money down the drain without even realizing it.
Unfortunately, while ROI is one of the most important metrics to calculate, it’s also one of the most difficult. Louder Online suggests measuring “the cost per piece of content, the website traffic it produces, the leads generated by a piece of content, and how much each visitor to your site is worth in terms of potential sales.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself!
6) Returning visitors
Along with leads and ROI, the number of returning visitors to your site is directly linked to profits.
Chances are, if visitors continue to return to your website they are more likely to eventually make a purchase, or multiple purchases. That’s why it’s important to track who these return customers are, as well as where they’re coming from (see number 4).
Furthermore, multiple visitors are what cause a new customer to become a loyal one, and one you should incorporate into (and market to) your target audience. If you’re not seeing a large number of return visitors, think about changing the content on your site.
7) Customer acquisition cost
It’s not just returning customers that should be analyzed. Startup owners should also be looking at what it costs to attract new customers. You can’t have a returning customer that wasn’t at one time a new customer, right?
Make sure you’re thinking about the full cost of acquiring new customers, ie: referral fees, discounts, and anything else you used to try to attract a new audience.
Neil Patel believes that the equation to calculate the cost of new customers is relatively simple. Just “divide the marketing department’s monthly budget with the amount of new customers acquired that month, [and] you’ll understand how much you need to spend to convince a visitor to become a paying customer.”
In addition, Kissmetrics goes into more detail on exactly how to determine CaC and why it’s a valuable metric for your business.
8) Email performance and conversion rate
Email is a great way to market for a target audience, just make sure you’re keeping track of how many emails you’re sending out and who you’re sending them to so you can rate their effectiveness.
It’s not a bad idea to include a call-to-action in your email campaign as well, prompting receivers to visit your website and/or make a conversion. If you choose to do this, make sure you note how many people actually click on the link provided in the email (this will be discussed more in number 9), and furthermore how many go on to make a conversion once they’ve done so.
Once again, the article mentioned above suggests dividing the number of recipients by the number of responders to get a rough estimate on how effective your email campaign is.
In addition, you may want to keep track of the unsubscribe rate as well, and definitely don’t make the mistake of including those who have unsubscribed when you calculate your percentage for new web traffic.
9) Click-through rate (CTR)
Your click-through rate stems from how many people choose to click on a link you post via social media or through online advertisements.
It’s important to track this individual metric because it represents the success of your content’s first impression, according to WordStream.
Click through rates are directly linked to your content headlines, images, titles, and anything else that users see immediately. If your rates are high, chances are this part of your content is successful; if your rates are low, consider changing one or more of these aspects to encourage users to click on your content.
Keep in mind, however, that high click through rates aren’t that great if all they’re doing is bringing disinterested people to your website. Definitely track this metric in conjunction with conversion rates so that you can see how many people who click and visit your site actually end up making a purchase.
This article from SEW gives great understanding into more ways you can gain insights from consumers’ click histories, and this one explains how to improve your CTR using the Google Search Console.
10) Pageviews and landing page conversion rate
One last thing you definitely want to monitor (and can, via Google Analytics) is your landing page conversion rates.
Most likely you’re going to have pages that outperform others, and it’s important to know which ones are which so that you can make the necessary improvements. Google Analytics allows you to check both your keyword performance (explained further in number 2) as well as your landing page traffic.
Some pages you might want to keep an eye on include your home page, contact page, about page, blog home, and any blog posts, among others. Again, Google Analytics can provide data on which pages see the most amount of traffic, and you can use this info to determine what content is most popular with your target audience.
You can also analyze your bounce rate (aka the number of people who leave your site immediately after visiting it) and the time users spend on each page together to get a good idea of what type of visitor is attracted to your site and what they’re looking for.
Hopefully now you have a good idea of what type of metrics to get started analyzing for your startup, and you know how to use this valuable data in order to understand your consumers and translate web traffic into conversions.
Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for HigherVisibility, a full service SEO agency, and a contributor to SEW. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn.