By Mike Wolfe
It’s the end of the month again, and every marketer knows what that means: end-of-month reporting. It feels like just yesterday we were knee-deep in numbers and charts and graphs trying to sort through the data and make sense of it all. Why is inbound marketing reporting so important, anyway? Why do we spend so much time analyzing? Because it connects the dots between our marketing activities and the goals we set out to accomplish. It can help us draw conclusions from our tests, learn from our mistakes, and spot opportunities to replicate success. Inbound marketing reporting can also help us prove the ROI of inbound marketing efforts and eliminate wasteful activity.
Simply put: Proper inbound marketing reporting gives us a blueprint for success when it comes to growing business through inbound marketing activity. But you don’t have to wait until the end of the month to start. Here are some ideas for breaking your reporting down into daily, weekly, and monthly analysis to help you keep better tabs on your inbound marketing activity.
For more information on the inbound methodology, how to apply it toward growing your business, and how to track your success, download The Growth Hacking Cheat Sheet: Plan, Execute, See Results.
In the meantime, here’s what you can be reporting on daily, weekly, and monthly to grow your business:
What to Report on Daily
While you shouldn’t get yourself tied up in too much reporting on a daily basis, it’s good to get in the habit of checking in on a few activities to make sure things are going smoothly. Set a few minutes aside every day to take a quick glance at the following items:
Website Traffic (Daily)
Website traffic is the lifeblood of inbound marketing for obvious reasons—you must attract your audience to your website before converting them into leads. Taking a glance at website traffic using a tool like HubSpot or Google Analytics on a daily basis can help you monitor sudden spikes or drops in traffic.
Social Media Engagement
Posting and interacting on your social media channels regularly will help you expand your marketing reach and attract visitors to your website. Research reveals that links shared on Facebook and Twitter have a shelf life of about three hours. So, generally speaking, when you post a link on social media, you’ll be able to determine how engaging that post was and how much traffic it sent to your website within 24 hours. Make checking up on your recent social media posts a morning or afternoon ritual. You can learn a lot from successful and unsuccessful posts.
What to Report on Weekly
Monitoring activity on a weekly basis will help ensure there are no breakdowns in performance that will affect month-over-month progress. Here are a few things to report on each week:
Website Traffic (Weekly)
Glancing at website traffic on a daily basis will help you identify trends that you can circle back to weekly. Check back in to see if sudden drops in traffic have been resolved. Consider the week’s marketing activity and try to identify whether or not tactics are working like you planned. Which days performed better than others? It shouldn’t be surprising to see a bump in traffic on days when you post a blog article or send an email, but if that bump is higher than typical, make a note to yourself for monthly review.
Studies show that within one week of posting, a blog article’s traffic drops, on average, by 90 percent. When a blog article is optimized for SEO, it can build significant organic traffic over time, but check back on recent blog posts each week in the meantime to see how they performed. For articles that didn’t generate much traffic, consider the topic of the article and the audience that read the article. Does the topic speak to and help your desired audience? From the promotion strategies you used, were you able to reach the right audience?
Leads should be monitored frequently for the same reasons as traffic: to catch any drops in performance before they affect monthly goals. As your campaigns are running, check in on the number of leads you’re generating. When lead performance drops, consider your CTAs, emails, and landing pages.
What to Report on Monthly
Monthly performance reports help ensure that you’re hitting your goals month over month and that your marketing activities are paying off—resulting in steady growth over time. They can also inform you where to shift focus in order to get better performance from your inbound marketing efforts. Here are a few things to take a look at monthly:
Website Traffic (Monthly)
Track overall website visits each month and expect to see an increase in month-over-month traffic. Track website traffic by channel to identify the activities that are working when it comes to attracting visitors. Here’s a breakdown of traffic to consider:
- Organic Traffic – Organic visits from unpaid search results
- Referral Traffic – Visits from another website that isn’t a search engine
- Social Media Traffic – Visits from social media channels
- Email Traffic – Visits from the emails that you send out
- Direct Traffic – Visits from offline sources such as print advertisements or brand recognition
- Paid Traffic – Visits that come from paid advertising
If month-over-month traffic happens to decrease from one month to another, you’ll be able to pinpoint the reason why by identifying channels that also decreased.
Take a look at your best and worst performing pages, including landing pages and blog articles. You’ll want to identify the pages that are not only getting the most views, but the ones that are converting well too. Make sure that the most viewed pages provide a next step for visitors to take, whether that step is to read or subscribe to the blog, download premium content, or to fill out a bottom-funnel form. Consider using prominent, action-oriented CTAs at or near the top of the page. Pinpointing traffic sources and successful CTAs for each of these pages can help you lay out a strategy to increase traffic and repeat success.
As you build out and execute marketing campaigns, don’t forget to check in monthly to see how they performed and what takeaways you can learn from. First, consider the number of campaign views, new contacts and new customers generated. Are these increasing or decreasing month-over-month? Break that performance down by channel to determine which activities had the biggest impact on recent campaign performance. This insight can help you decide where to spend most of your efforts and your budget.
Increases in website traffic month over month indicate that you’re attracting an audience. Increases in leads month over month indicate that you’re attracting the right audience and that they’re converting on your offers. Track your overall leads each month and, again, expect to see a steady increase over time.
Visitor-to-Lead Conversion (VTL)
This is the total number of visitors divided by the total number of leads. Keeping an eye on your VTL conversion rate helps you determine how effective your landing pages and offers are in converting visitors into contacts. When your VTL rate is low for the month, consider whether or not you’re bringing in the right audience to your website. Then consider how well your offers are resonating with them. A/B-test some variations to find out.
Cost per Lead
This is the total spend on marketing activities divided by the number of leads gained. Track cost per lead by channel (organic, referral, social media, email, direct, and paid) to determine which efforts are the most cost-effective and which ones could be scrapped altogether. Keep in mind that inbound marketing strategies require an investment of time and hard work before you start to see results, so measure monthly, but give it time to come to fruition.
Your inbound marketing efforts don’t truly pay off until you’ve turned your leads into customers for your business. So obviously you want to track your customers every month and (once again) which channels they’re coming from (organic, referral, social media, email, direct, and paid).
This is the total number of customers for the month divided by the total number of leads (multiplied by 100 to get the percentage). This tells you how well your leads are converting into sales. When the lead-to-customer rate is low, consider ways to nurture leads a little longer before handing off to sales.
While this breakdown of reporting is sufficient for some, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. How do you break down your daily, weekly, and monthly inbound marketing reporting?