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7 KPIs and analytics to track in your inbound marketing
Analytics should be used as a monitoring and performance measurement tool for your marketing activity, helping you determine how your efforts are working and aligning them closely with your customer behaviour. However, even when we know we need to monitor our results, it’s often easier said than done.
It’s common to make assumptions about our audience based on how we think they feel and act. But it’s essential to understand if those assumptions are based in reality – especially if you’re not getting the results you expected. By doing so, you can refine your approach and focus on tactics that will work.
In your bid to understand the impact of marketing, it’s critical to use KPIs and analytics. KPIs (key performance indicators) are the benchmarks you use to help you track your progress against the goals of your marketing activity, while analytics refers to the host of data you can access to find out more about how your audience interacts with you, allowing you to draw logical conclusions and make predictions. By reviewing both, you can gain critical insight into both your performance and your customer behaviour.
Monitoring KPIs and analytics is vital in the inbound marketing methodology. The goal of inbound is to create valuable customer experiences that lead them to purchase with you. By using data to help you understand your customers’ behaviour and informational wants and needs through their journey, you can tailor your approach and ensure you target them in the right way.
In this guide, we explore seven of the most significant KPIs and analytics to track in your inbound marketing strategy.
Why tracking analytics matters
Insight and data are at the beating heart of the inbound methodology and indeed all business activity. It provides a strong platform to kickstart your efforts, and then with continuous monitoring, it allows you to track your performance over time and respond quickly to change as required. The longer you track your analytics, the more accurate your insights will become and the more proactive your business can be.
When starting an inbound campaign you need to invest time into profiling your target customer. It really is helpful for your marketing team to have a shared and concise understanding of their purchasing behaviour, such as what platforms they use, the terms and topics that they search on, the brands they interact with, as well as the more straightforward demographical information.
Such data will empower your team to strategise and plan campaigns more accurately and create a tailored and engaging customer experience.
And whilst investing time in insight is crucial from the outset, it’s also essential to continue to use insight for the whole duration of your campaign – which is where analytics and KPIs come in. As your live data and insight build over time, you will be able to make more qualified assumptions and predictions – further optimising your approach and engaging customers and prospects with even more valuable interactions.
Another need for analytics is when you are experimenting with new activity or content. When you’re trying something new, it can be hard to determine how it might resonate with your customers. Fortunately, analytics can allow you to audit the consequences. It can also help in A/B testing situations where you want to try out different content variations to find the one that aligns most with your audience. Once you’ve identified the best options, you can embed them into your strategy.
Finally, tracking performance is crucial in updating stakeholders about your progress. If you have evidence that a particular campaign or tactic is doing well, you can prove its worth to other people in your business. Over time, this can generate useful customer insight that benefits all departments, as well as show you where you should be focusing your budget and efforts in the future. Quite simply, it empowers your business to make good decisions that will benefit your customers and ultimately your bottom line.
The analytics to track
Below, we’ve listed seven KPIs and pieces of analytical data that can offer you helpful insight into your inbound strategy.
The KPIs listed below are by no means a definitive list. There’s more data than ever out there for businesses to use, so you will need to find metrics that align with your business goals and priorities.
The ones we’ve chosen in this blog will provide valuable insight into how your customers behave when they interact with your brand, helping you learn more about their needs and preferences. With your findings, you can optimise your activity, so it exceeds their expectations every time.
Traffic and user journey
Website traffic is a standard metric for businesses to track – it tells you the volume of people coming to your site each month, and you will want as much traffic as possible. Google Analytics (GA) can also tell you whether the visitors coming to your site are new or returning, which can indicate customer loyalty.
However, beyond the number of visitors coming to your site, your traffic can help you determine how people find you and what their user journey may look like while on your website.
Under the ‘acquisition’ section of GA, you can very easily see which type of channel your audiences are coming from. This includes social (social networks such as Facebook, Twitter etc), email (user clicked on a link from an email campaign), direct (user has typed your URL into the browser directly), organic search (traffic sent to your website from search engine results), paid search (traffic from paid search ads and sponsored links) or referrals (user came from another website by clicking a link – also called a backlink).
You can see what channels your visitors are using with most and where your business is best engaging people. You can even find out the specific sites they are coming to you from, which can help you determine what platforms work best for you.
With this, you can either improve engagement on the platforms that aren’t performing well or focus your efforts on those that have been proven to perform.
If you have a great deal of traffic coming directly to your website, it could show your brand presence. This will be built through your marketing channels: even if users aren’t explicitly clicking a link to your website, they are still becoming more aware of your brand through your content.
GA will also enable you to see what pages your website users enter and exit on. On top of this, you can track ‘events’ and ‘behaviour flow’ – the actions that people take during their visit to your website and how they move between the pages. This is particularly useful to help determine how effective your on-page ‘Calls to action’ are and whether they are being used or missed! You can even review what searches are made.
By auditing this data, you can establish the journeys visitors take through your website and any emerging patterns. With this, you can optimise these journeys by ensuring users can find the content they want and navigate easily.
Search intent describes the goal or answer that the user is looking for when they type in their search query to the search engine. Key to any successful website is the ability to offer content that answers those very questions.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is often mentioned as a tool to help drive traffic to your website. However, having floods of visitors will do little for your bottom line if they bounce, or you simply can’t convert them into customers. By tracking and monitoring the search intent of the keywords you are targeting and using, you can make sure your content accurately answers user queries, thereby offering real value.
Understanding search intent and offering increased value will also boost your SEO rankings and plays into the inbound methodology.
During your keyword research, check the search engine result pages (SERPs) for the terms you want to target and review the content that ranks highly. From this, you can determine the sort of answers searchers are looking for and make sure your content aligns. It’s also worth checking out related search terms and topics to see how you can create more added value.
Another metric that’s handy to track is how users interact with you when they come to your website through search. If they leave quickly (as shown by a high bounce rate), it could suggest you’re not giving them the experience they want, so they’re heading elsewhere. Alternatively, if they’re spending time on the page and visiting your other pages after, it could suggest they’re getting the information they need.
A crucial part of the inbound method is the use of engaging emails that serve to place support directly into customer inboxes. However, the average person receives up to 126 emails a day – so you need to make sure yours stands out above the rest and gets opened.
After sending an email campaign, you should review the open rate after enough time has passed to give your receivers a chance to read it. If it’s low (the average open rate is 21.33%, according to Mailchimp), you need to experiment with different tactics to improve engagement.
Email optimisation could include writing attractive subject lines that show readers the value they could gain from the email and utilising your preview text well. A/B testing can enable you to send different variants of subject lines and preview text so you can compare open rates and determine what works best.
In the same way as you would with any blog or web page, you should ensure that the email’s content meets the expectations of your user, and is of the same consistent high quality as your other content, as this will make them more likely to read your future emails.
By tracking and optimising open rates, you can make sure the effort you put into crafting emails pays off and encourages receivers to take the action you want after reading.
A click-through rate (CTR) shows whether the people seeing your content click your desired action: a download, link to another page, contact button, or other ‘clickable’ call to action. It can apply in many scenarios, including clicking on something in an email, a social media post, a blog or webpage, or even going to your result when it appears on a SERP.
When judging the success of your various marketing channels, CTR is a great way to compare how effective your different pieces of content are. For example, suppose a particular type of social post (like video) has proven to have a higher CTR than your non-video posts. In this instance, you might choose to incorporate more video content in your future social media plans.
If you’re suffering from a low CTR, it suggests that you aren’t engaging users enough or that it’s unclear to your user as to what action they need to take next. Consider creating more interesting content that fulfils their needs, along with more effective CTAs that very clearly guide the user to the next step in their journey.
By optimising your CTRs across platforms and content, you will be able to guide customers along their journey until they purchase from you.
Bounce rate and time on page
We’ve already briefly touched upon the bounce rate and its importance in relation to monitoring user engagement. According to Google, a bounce is a single-page session on your website – i.e somebody lands on your web page and then exits without triggering any further action or visiting any other page.
This can be a good or bad thing depending on what the specific page is meant to achieve. If for example, the success of your website or campaign is measured by a user having more than one interaction with your site (such as clicking on other pages or completing and submitting a form) then in this circumstance, the bounce would be deemed as being negative. The user may have either not found the content engaging, or it simply wasn’t what the user was expecting and therefore they left.
If on the other hand, the purpose of the page is a single read, such is the case with some blogs, then the single bounce might reflect this accurately. For example, the user reads the blog and there was no further action to take. It’s important to consider this context when analysing this type of data metric.
Alongside bounce rate, you also have time on page (in the latest version of analytics, GA4, this has been turned into ‘average engagement time’). This shows how long people are spending on each page of your website, which should indicate if they’re actually reading and getting value from your content.
Both the bounce rate and time on page metrics, when considered together, can give you a solid view of just how engaging your content is (or not, as the case may be). As mentioned before, it is important to remember that a high bounce rate or low time on page result isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just make sure that when you review the data that you align it against the page’s specific purpose so that you can easily distinguish between a negative and positive bounce.
If you are unfortunate enough that your metrics highlight a lack of engagement, then it’s likely the user isn’t having their needs met. You need to reconsider both your content and its structure, to keep readers interested and persuade them to follow that page’s CTA.
It’s also worth noting that bounce rate is one of Google’s ranking factors, so having a better rate could improve your chances of securing high results in the SERPs.
A conversion is a particularly important and clear-cut metric, and shows you that a user has completed a certain action on your website, such as a purchase. In this instance, someone must make this conversion in order to transition from a prospect to a customer. Your conversion rate shows how many people are doing so.
Conversion rate is one of the most significant KPIs to track. While it’s great to have lots of traffic and engagement, it means little for your bottom line if they aren’t becoming customers.
You need to track conversion rates across the user journey from being a stranger, to prospect, to customer. It’s possible that a user might convert at one stage (for example, clicking a Facebook ad that takes them to a landing page) but fail at another (such as choosing not to purchase when they reach your landing page). And it’s extremely important to understand why this might have happened so that you can make further improvements. Ultimately, you want your conversion rates to be as high as possible to give you a better chance of securing the sale.
A low conversion rate suggests a disconnection between what you think your customers want and what your customers actually want. Or you might simply be uncompetitive. Either way, by tracking conversion as a KPI, you are now empowered to take constructive action.
Social media engagement
Social media engagement covers many factors, including followers, likes, comments, shares and messages. It is essential to understand all of these to determine the scope of your audience on social channels and how effective your content is in capturing your followers’ attention.
The likelihood is that you share a mixture of content on social media, which makes tracking analytics even more useful when determining which channels and what content works best to engage your audience. If you get the balance right, you’ll enjoy higher CTRs and traffic.
Another way to use social media in your analytics is to monitor sentiment and customer queries. Many people use social media as a space to ask questions, vent about experiences or make recommendations. These comments can have a huge impact on how other users perceive your brand and if not monitored carefully, they can have a detrimental effect. Look at what people say about your brand, how they respond to your posts, what they share with others, and also the direct messages they send to your business. This will enable you to keep tabs on any recurring issues or queries that emerge in a proactive and timely manner.
From there, you can focus on improving your offering to enhance the customer experience (which will help you to convert more leads). You might even gain helpful insight to utilise in your social media strategies to improve your results moving forward.
Monitoring KPIs and analytics can seem like a big undertaking, given the masses of data now available, but regularly reviewing your metrics is critical to determine what’s working (or indeed what isn’t). Through this process, you will undoubtedly gain invaluable insight and can use it to focus on aligning with your customer more effectively – a proactive way of managing your marketing.
With this system in place, you will enjoy boosted results and campaigns that reward your hard work. You’ll also have happier customers who share memorable experiences with your business and become loyal brand ambassadors – which is exactly what everyone wants from an inbound marketing strategy.
If you need help implementing an inbound plan that considers your KPIs and is proven to work in line with customer insight and analytics, we can help.