How to Decide What Marketing Metrics to Track and Report

Yesterday I was at a marketing event and the topic of metrics came up. That's not a huge surprise, as modern marketers continue to be concerned with justifying their activities with the right metrics of success. This was actually a vendor presentation, but it was an intimate enough group that the presenter not only was willing to entertain the question in the middle of his presentation, but he turned to the attendees for responses. The initial question was how do you know what metrics to track.

I jumped at the chance to respond. I didn't literally jump out of my chair, but my hand shot up so I could take a crack at it. As I started answering her question, I almost felt the need to go to the front of the room, or at least stand up, but I kept my seat. Over the course of the presentation there were a few more questions about metrics. Here are some of the things that I said.

The first thing that you have to concern yourself with are what metrics are important to your executives and the rest of the organization. These are the metrics that track to business goals. Marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads and even sales are the most common things to align with. Also consider customer service or customer satisfaction goals. Focus on what is important to your company, and not what some blog post says. We try to provide some best practices and to guide you in your strategic thinking, not presume what will work for your company.

For example, social media metrics like followers, likes, and comments are important to track within the team that is doing it. You need to understand the health of your social media channels through its growth and engagement, but those are not metrics to report up your management chain. The same is true for blog page views and visitors.

This really gets at the distinction between what metrics are worth tracking and what metrics are worth reporting. With more and more data points available to marketers, you really need to focus on the metrics you can control. If you are spending time tracking things that you cannot influence in any way, that is not worth tracking.

Another attendee at the event mentioned that if you send monthly reports around and no one opens them, then you should stop sending them. Again, don't waste your time on something that has no impact. If nobody cares, why should you. Track them in spreadsheet if it is something that helps the day-to-day, but don't waste time on the powerpoint.

And about that powerpoint. If all you are doing is pulling charts and graphs from a marketing tool, you are not doing anyone any good. This is just metrics eye candy. Even if you call it a dashboard, the real value comes from the insights and analysis you apply to the numbers and the trends. How does this impact your business? If you are trying to drive leads, but they are not happening from your blog, try to figure out why that is. 

Is it the topic or the offer itself? Are other channels have success with the offer? Are there things about your audience that are not a good fit with the offer? Do you have a good baseline to understand the difference between good and bad performance?

It really all comes down to understanding your own organization, tracking what helps you do your job, and providing analysis in your reporting about company-wide metrics.

This post originally appeared on the Modern Marketing Blog.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen