Reader’s note: This article was originally published Apr 9th 2018 and was last updated on April 23rd 2020.
Today’s leaders expect marketing to not only grow company revenue but also to prove it. Without measuring the right metrics, it’s difficult to know whether or not you’re delivering on those expectations. In this article, we take a look at the most common marketing performance metrics, and show you how we measure and attribute revenue back to our marketing campaigns.
Marketers are artists.
Ok, ok we’re no Van Gogh, but each day we’re responsible for generating creative solutions to help drive revenue, design eye-catching graphics, and craft the perfect CTAs: these are all artistic endeavours.
Although, we must be more than just artists.
We must be both artists and scientists.
We’re responsible not only for creating, but for researching, hypothesizing, and validating.
Digital marketing has forever altered the discipline by making data more accessible than ever. And with data availability, comes the need for proof.
Evidence that our artistic endeavours are delivering business value.
To supply that proof, marketers must find a way to use data to provide clients and leaders with undeniable evidence.
Doing so requires a detailed plan for measuring marketing performance.
Everything you do in marketing now must have some form of measurable ROI.
If you’re unable to show how much revenue you’re driving through marketing, then you face the risk of losing your clients and the confidence of your colleagues.
Editors Note: If you’re one of those marketers that struggle to connect the dots between marketing-generated leads and revenue, or you want to improve your measurement strategy, then the Closed-Loop Framework may be the solution for you.
The Closed-loop marketing framework creates a cycle of data between marketing and sales. This allows marketers to attribute revenue data back to the marketing campaigns that generated it.
Before my time at Ruler Analytics, I worked at a marketing agency.
At around this time, marketing teams and client budgets were beginning to get smaller.
Not only was I expected to demonstrate a good level of knowledge in more than one area of marketing, but I also had to prove to clients which marketing activity was driving the highest ROI.
Shortly after becoming a marketer, I soon realised that no matter how many clicks my Facebook campaigns received, or how many forms a landing page generated, I was always faced with a similar reply from my clients:
“How much revenue is marketing generating for my business?”
Just a short time into my career, I noticed the problem when it came to measuring marketing performance.
Google Analytics is the most popular digital analytics tool when comes to marketing measurement, and with good reason.
It provides you with a wealth of information about new and returning website visitors.
Although that said, Google Analytics only tracks the number of form fills.
Whilst it’s common for people to use enquiry forms, users will go through other mediums such as telephone or live chat. Then, there’s the 90-day lookback limitation. Google Analytics users can’t see channels that led to a conversion if they happened more than 90 days before the conversion.
In addition to all this, leads in Google Analytics are not actual sales.
They could close tomorrow, next year or not at all.
For example, your Google Paid campaign may seem like it’s driving value based on how many goals it’s generated in Google Analytics, but these leads might not be closing into revenue.
I noticed some recent activity in our Ruler Analytics dashboard that supports this exact point.
Below is a keyword report of Google Paid. As you can see, the keyword ‘boiled sweets’ has generated 56 phone calls and form fills. The keyword ‘sour sweets’ has only generated 6 phone calls and form fills.
Ruler Analytics Keyword Report Last-Click Preview
Although, if you look over at the revenue column, you can see that both keywords have generated near enough the same amount of revenue for the business.
So, if you’re optimising your marketing based on goals in Google Analytics only, you have a gap in your analysis that is stopping you from scaling your business.
(Btw, this isn’t me saying you shouldn’t use Google Analytics because that is simply not the case. You should be using Google Analytics to measure the performance of your marketing. Although, when it comes to measuring goals in GA just remember that they aren’t actual sales. Each keyword, source and campaign can generate different revenue amounts and lifetime values.)
I will go into this in more detail later when I show you how we measure the performance of our marketing activity.
Although, for now, we’re going to take a look at the most common marketing performance metrics used by marketers.
Then, I’m going to show you how we measure the performance and attribute revenue back to our marketing.
The 6 Most Common Marketing Performance Metrics
Using data to prove marketing’s value isn’t a new thing. We’ve been tracking metrics for years, supplying leaders with reports on traffic, social shares and followers, and inbound links.
The difference is that these metrics, in isolation, are too shallow.
They’re all still important, but only within the context of larger goals.
Today, the most important marketing performance metrics have shifted to align with six broader company goals.
Brand awareness metrics contextualise your brand’s reach and prove how marketing is helping expand that reach.
Common individual metrics that point to changes in brand awareness include direct traffic or organic for branded terms.
Google Analytics Acquisition Report
Some marketers go as far as tracking social media follower counts, number of inbound links, and the number of online brand mentions.
Lead generation metrics highlight the number of potential customers you’re sending to the sales teams.
Ruler Analytics Source Report
Common individual metrics for measuring the number of leads generated include form completions, demo requests, and inbound phone calls.
Customer acquisition metrics specify the number of conversions that were driven by marketing campaigns.
These are commonly measured with goal completions, but this only really works if all conversions occur online.
Offline conversions are difficult to track without the right analytics program.
You can use a call tracking software to help track offline activity. Call tracking uses dynamic insertion that assigns a unique number to each website visitor. When an individual phones the business, their phone number is then attributed to the source, keyword or landing page that influenced the activity.
Ruler Analytics Call Tracking
With the help of integrations, you can send the call data to Google Analytics and Ads. You can then set up an event in Google Analytics so that phone calls show up as a goal.
Google Analytics Goal Set-up
Engagement measures how engaged your customers and potential customers are with your marketing campaigns and content.
Google Analytics Behaviour Report
Common individual metrics for measuring engagement include time-on-page, returning visitors, and email opens.
Revenue metrics detail the amount of revenue generated by marketing campaigns and initiatives.
Google Analytics Acquisition Report
Historically, marketing-generated revenue has been measured with goal completions, but this method—at best—represents an educated guess rather than an accurate value. And again, it only really works if conversions occur online.
Loyalty metrics measure the amount of repeat business marketing generates. Marketers commonly use Net Promoter Score tools to measure loyalty, though some also track repurchase ratios.
Realistically, the best way to track loyalty metrics by connecting repeat and recurring sales to your marketing activity. I will reveal how we achieve this on later on.
As you can see, the types of metrics marketers have leaned on in the past are still important, but they’re important within the context of how they support larger initiatives. And because of these changes, the old ways of tracking marketing metrics don’t cut it anymore.
How We’re Measuring Marketing Performance
To track the metrics that are important for marketers today, we use visitor level analytics that tracks customer interactions across the entire customer lifecycle—from the first touch to closed revenue.
To see the true value of your marketing, you need a view of not only how prospects and customers are interacting with marketing campaigns and assets, but also how they interact with sales teams down the line.
In the past, this has been difficult at best, downright impossible at worst.
Because sales and marketing teams typically work in separate systems.
Marketing systems track things like traffic, links, form completions, and time-on-site. But sales CRMs track the really important metrics like conversions, revenue, and return/repeat purchases.
To get a full view of marketing performance, you need a tool that synthesizes all of that data to provide a complete picture, and Google Analytics goals just don’t cut it.
(I know the struggle. I shared my experience earlier on in the intro.)
And as the solution didn’t exist, we built one.
Here’s how we measure marketing performance:
1. Track anonymous visitors over multiple sessions and traffic sources
We use our platform to monitor all of our marketing initiatives, allowing us to track traditional metrics like traffic, referrals, and form completions.
Ruler Analytics also tracks this data at a visitor level, both known and anonymous, allowing us to isolate activity down to specific prospects.
Ruler Analytics Visitor Report
2. Send conversion data to the CRM
Whenever a visitor converts via phone call or form fill, we send that conversion data to our CRM. We have integrations that can achieve this, but with Zapier, you can send any marketing data from Ruler Analytics to over 1,000 tools. This populates the sales team’s system with all marketing data, which helps our salespeople learn more about prospects’ interests before reaching out to them.
3. Send sales revenue back to Ruler Analytics
When sales teams convert marketing-generated leads and enter the sales amounts into Pipedrive, it feeds that data back to the Ruler Analytics dashboard.
This gives marketers a complete view of how many conversions they’re generating and exactly how much revenue those conversions brought in. You can see exactly how much revenue different channels and campaigns generate.
Ruler Analytics Source Report
The Aha Moment:
There’s so much opportunity you can get out of this framework.
But let’s say, at the end of the month, you populate a report showing how much revenue you generated and which marketing touchpoints prospects interacted with before converting.
You may see that 90% of your revenue comes from customers who discovered you through organic search by landing on the content you’ve published on your blog.
On the other hand, while you get a lot more traffic from social media than organic search, only 10% of your revenue comes from your social media marketing initiatives.
Because you can now see revenue, you know that your social media campaigns are underperforming.
However, if you could only see traffic referrals, it would look like your social media campaigns were performing much better than your content marketing initiatives.
But now you know that’s not the case.
You decide to double down on content marketing and slow down your social media marketing, and the next month, marketing-generated revenue doubles.
4. Integrate with other web applications
Ruler Analytics also connects to Stripe, our payment processor, allowing us to track loyalty metrics by connecting repeat/recurring sales to our customer marketing campaigns.
Because of this process, we can generate detailed reports that describe exactly how our marketing initiatives are performing: how many leads, conversions, and repeat sales we’ve generated, as well as the lifetime value of our customers and the exact revenue amounts we earned for the company.
As previously mentioned, Ruler Analytics supports integrations with more than 1,000 tools and apps. Meaning, you can connect data from your Ruler Analytics account into your Google Analytics, CRM, and social media monitoring platforms and view all of that data within those applications.
For example, as you can see below, any sales that have been attributed to a Ruler Analytics dynamic number have been sent into Google Analytics. So, not only can the marketing team see how many phone calls a source has generated, but how much revenue it’s produced for the business.
Google Analytics Acquisition Report
Essentially, you can close the loop between online marketing and offline sales: connect real values—actual revenue amounts—back to the marketing campaigns, sources or keywords that generated them.
Measuring Marketing Performance in 2020
With the right marketing performance plan, marketers can be both artists and scientists.
This is particularly important because today’s leaders expect marketing to not only grow company revenue but also to prove it.
And even beyond that, today’s consumers expect marketing campaigns to be personalised.
They want their interactions with brands to feel like they’re one-on-one, not one-to-many.
Without measuring the right metrics, it’s difficult to know whether or not you’re delivering on those expectations.
Connect the art of marketing with the science of data analysis through the right tools, such as Ruler Analytics, and you’ll not only improve the performance of your campaigns, but also the perception of marketing by leadership and the perception of your company by your customers.