The What, How and Who of Marketing Metrics These Teams Track

Built In Staff
August 12, 2020
Updated: October 5, 2020
Built In Staff
August 12, 2020
Updated: October 5, 2020

“No two companies in the same space can or should be tracking the exact same metrics.”

So says Ali Haeri — VP of Marketing at adtech company SteelHouse and a digital analytics instructor at UCLA Extension — who recently shared an idea with Built In: There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for determining marketing metrics. A business’s needs should be determined based on what that organization is, and marketing metrics should be a means to reaching whatever business ends stakeholders prioritize. 

Haeri, and marketing experts at communications strategy company MediaCom and virtual reality company Talespin, agreed that a significant part of determining their metrics was based on working backward from major business goals. 

With a plan and feedback systems in place, marketers can get their campaigns underway.

Marketing pros from four companies shared the roles that measurements like video completion rates, brand mentions and return on ad spend (ROAS) played in gauging and leveraging success for their company. However, they said they made efforts to connect — not silo — all the data they collected. No matter the metric, every measurement plays a part in making the big-picture goals of the marketing infrastructure work. 

Key Marketing Metrics

  • Total number of unique accounts and individual contacts engaged
  • Conversion from engagement to the next steps of our sales and marketing funnel
  • Average number of interactions and engaged people required to achieve the conversion goals
  • Site conversion rates
  • Search term visibility
  • Brand mentions
  • Organic traffic growth
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Average time on site
  • Marketing qualified leads

 

SteelHouse

Ali Haeri

VP OF MARKETING

Ali Haeri

What are the most important marketing metrics your team tracks?

Before we identified what we wanted to track and what metrics mattered most to us, we first identified why we exist as a marketing organization. It came down to three things: coordinated digital marketing (what we call Marketing 360), brand marketing and sales enablement.

We then identified corresponding metrics for each category that would help us grade our work. For Marketing 360, we wanted to measure our ability to coordinate content marketing with digital marketing, so we track things like asset downloads, site conversion rate and search term visibility. We count how many content marketing assets we created for lead generation campaigns. For brand marketing, we measure things like quantity of PR placements, TV appearances, brand mentions and organic traffic growth. For sales enablement, we track familiar B2B digital marketing metrics such as ROAS, leads generated, inbound sales cycle velocity and qualified lead ratio.

 

HAERI’S PHILOSOPHY ON MARKETING:

“Some marketers get a bit carried away with metrics. Many marketers copy the data collection and analysis practices of other marketing orgs without considering that these other teams implemented a system that made the most sense for the type of marketing they’re doing the most. Teams can’t simply replicate the metrics system of a company that looks and feels like their own.”

 

How did you determine which metrics would be most impactful for guiding your marketing strategy?

There are seemingly an infinite amount of web metrics that can measure digital marketing performance. Once we considered our actual marketing approach — where we would be advertising and for what objectives — the metrics that would be most useful became a lot clearer.

We worked closely with sales to determine sales enablement metrics that would help them succeed. We had to make sure any sales-related metrics were pulled from the same source of truth so efforts weren’t duplicated. The goal was to avoid conflict and confusion where two departments have different metrics about marketing impact. 
 

"We optimized our advertising targeting criteria and content based on feedback from sales.”

 

How have your metrics informed your marketing strategy and the business overall?

When building a lead generation program, I always obsess over lead quality rather than quantity. I tell my team that there’s a ratio of qualified and unqualified leads, and we should endeavor to always be on the right side of that equation.

This approach was especially helpful in the early days of building a lead generation program. We used to closely monitor all qualified leads driven to the sales team and optimized based on feedback from those that were disqualified. Eventually, we found ourselves on the wrong side of that optimal ratio, driving more unqualified leads than qualified. Then we optimized our advertising targeting criteria and content based on feedback from sales. We were able to get on the right side of that ratio in a matter of weeks and haven’t been underwater since. 

 

More About MetricsWhat are Vanity Metrics? How Can You Make Sure Your Company Isn't Using Them?

 

MediaCom

Jaclyn Griffin

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR ANALYTICS

Jaclyn Griffin

What are the most important marketing metrics your team tracks? 

Looking specifically at our agency’s e-commerce brands, at Mediacom, we lean heavily on ROAS to determine how our media campaigns are performing. This metric is a leading performance indicator based on user site action. Other key metrics based on website action include cost per visit, average time on site or average order value. 

While these metrics indicate user behavior after ad interaction, it is also important to leverage ad attention performance indicators, such as ad viewability rate, cost per ad engagement and video completion rate. 

 

Why are these numbers so important to what you do?

When pairing these two types of media metrics, we gain real-time visibility into media performance. That visibility allows our investment teams to be optimization-focused and objective-oriented. It also allows us the ability to measure media influence and effectiveness day to day.

But it’s also key to develop a framework that considers the mid- and long-term impact of our media. Multi-touch attribution metrics grant us insight into the various ad interactions a single consumer may experience. They help us understand the value of each touchpoint based on their propensity to drive a consumer to buy. Lastly, to asses long-term media effectiveness, we look at the share of revenue contribution across our holistic media portfolio using mixed media modeling.

Rather than relying on a single performance measurement methodology, each of these metrics plays an invaluable role in addressing specific media performance questions. Leveraging both short- and long-term metrics allows for a more connected measurement framework. It breaks down data silos and provides a 360-degree view of media performance.
 

"Each touchpoint or channel has a specific role within the larger ecosystem.”

 

How did you determine which metrics would be most impactful for guiding your marketing strategy?

Our strategists dive into the human element of why and how people may want a product or service. Often, knowledge is constructed using a decision journey that helps our clients understand a product’s role in someone’s life. Then we look at the entire ecosystem of potential ways people might come in contact with a product. Finally, we architect these touchpoints to deliver specific data-driven results.

Each touchpoint or channel has a specific role within the larger ecosystem. Roles are measured against specific performance indicators that ladder up to the larger marketing and business objectives. Our analysts create the measurement framework, which keeps us and our clients focused on measuring the right results at the right time.

 

How have your metrics informed your marketing strategy and the business overall?

Our connected measurement approach allows us to optimize in-flight media campaigns with leading indicators of campaign goals. They also provide macro-level learnings across campaigns, business units and markets that ultimately guide our strategic approach.

Media metrics guided our strategic approach in a recent performance review for one of our larger e-commerce clients. We reviewed performance across their digital media portfolio and determined how we could improve our full-funnel strategy and measurement alignment to drive their incremental revenue. Our data-driven analysis validated the need for brand awareness driving upper-funnel tactics. We also determined the media channels and partners that would deliver the best brand reach. These insights generated purchase action downstream with most the efficient return on investment. Ultimately, we refined our cross-division and channel media mix to drive an overall increase in rate of return.

 

Talespin

Justin McLaughlin

VP OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS

Justin McLaughlin

What are the most important marketing metrics your team tracks?

I’m sure at some point in their career every marketer has tried to explain the value of a metric like social media engagement and received a response along the lines of, “Yeah, but did we sell anything?” That’s why marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are one of the best measurable metrics from a marketing perspective. They enable teams to attribute tangible revenue to their strategies. MQLs put things like brand awareness into a context where you can prove they deliver leads and correlate directly to revenue. 

 

MCLAUGHLIN’S MARKETING PHILOSOPHY:

“There can be a lot of noise around marketing metrics considering the volume of measurable data at a marketer’s disposal. The key is determining what matters most for a strategy. For a B2B company like Talespin, brand awareness is a critical element. But supporting sales — and driving conversions — is where the rubber meets the road for B2B marketing.”

 

How did you determine which metrics would be most impactful for guiding your marketing strategy?

Marketing metrics will be heavily influenced by organizational goals. For example, at Talespin we invested heavily in brand building in 2018. Marketing, sales and leadership were in agreement: the essential next step was prioritizing top-of-funnel awareness for our company and our new products. Metrics like quarterly media coverage, social media growth, web traffic and inbound leads were the priority during that time span.

As our product offering matured, we shifted the focus to target mid-funnel activities to more directly support sales. This strategic shift was intended to convert top-of-funnel traction into customer relationships, and metrics like MQLs and a healthy sales pipeline became the top priority. A blended strategy that feeds top-of-funnel awareness, and also directly supports sales through product marketing and sales enablement is key. This balance is something that will always be shifting based on organizational priorities. 
 

"Marketing metrics will be heavily influenced by organizational goals.”

 

How have your metrics informed your marketing strategy and the business overall?

A fun example of a small tweak in our strategy was when we A/B tested preview image posts versus uploading the same image as an actual photo during the same campaign. Despite the same image, copy, call-to-action link and publishing strategy, the image posts outperformed preview link posts for engagement on LinkedIn. It’s that kind of iteration and research that is not only interesting but also has a real impact on the ROI for marketing efforts. 

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Healthgrades

Virginia Howland

DIRECTOR, PRODUCT MARKETING

Virginia Howland

How did you determine which metrics would be most impactful for guiding your marketing strategy? What other stakeholders were involved? 

Healthgrades' marketing strategy starts with a full picture of the business. Year-over-year growth, and the sales and revenue goals to achieve that are most important. Our key marketing metrics are those that support the top-level business goals. It’s crucial that they are communicated to key stakeholders, including marketing, sales and executive leadership.
 
Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. In any industry, metrics must evolve over time. In the beginning, marketing departments might start off just tracking leads, then understanding how those leads converted to sales opportunities, into a more account-based understanding of engagement. As the data becomes more robust, it will help our team make more informed decisions about marketing spend, and increasingly strengthen support for overall business goals. 
 
It is also very important that marketing and sales leadership are completely aligned. It takes time and trust, but when they focus on the same metrics and work in sync to meet the same business goals, then both entities can achieve those goals more effectively.

 
What are the most important marketing metrics your team tracks, and why are these numbers so important to what you do? 

Healthgrades’ B2B marketing team uses metrics for pipeline creation as well as account engagement. These metrics help quantify marketing’s influence on key audiences, such as the number of opportunities created, changes in pipeline and sales velocity. However, we also track other indicators to stay on track and identify potential shortfalls in time to make meaningful, real-time adjustments. 

 

What’s an example of how the metrics you track have informed your marketing strategy in either big or small ways. What impact did this have on the business? 

Since the onset of COVID-19, face-to-face engagement has decreased significantly, with live events, trade shows and meetings postponed or cancelled. Because these events give our teams a unique setting to engage with clients, we replaced them with virtual engagement activities in our marketing mix. We launched a town hall series to support our hospital and health system partners, featuring key speakers and clients discussing their current challenges. Every session has been successful in driving engagement, providing a forum for peer-to-peer sharing, and sometimes introducing solutions we offer that help solve our customers’ most pressing business problems. These town hall sessions were originally meant to fill a gap in client engagement, but they have also become a very effective demand generation tool. Using our key learnings from this series, we’ve adapted our webinar schedule to continue building on those results for the rest of the year.

 

Smartly.io

Brian Shin

GROWTH MARKETING MANAGER

Brian Shin

What are the most important marketing metrics your team tracks, and why are these numbers so important to what you do?

At Smartly.io, our metrics are always tied back in some way to our larger goal of helping sales. These metrics can be broken out into two main categories: quality and volume.

For quality, we measure conversion rates across the funnel. For volume, we track the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) as well as the number of marketing influenced opportunities. 

Defining the right marketing metrics is a little like defining the “Point B” or the “end destination” on a GPS — if you get this right, you’ll find yourself closer to your destination. In that way, our quarterly benchmarks are designed to be ambitious, realistic and precise. We recognize the fact that balance between quality and volume is a recurring challenge in business, but we are intentional about honing in on quality before we swing the gates wide open on volume.
 

Defining the right marketing metrics is a little like defining the ‘Point B’ or the ‘end destination’ on a GPS — if you get this right, you’ll find yourself closer to your destination.”


How did you determine which metrics would be most impactful for guiding your marketing strategy? What other stakeholders were involved?

There are two steps to determining metrics. Step one is to accurately identify business gaps and prioritize accordingly. Beyond the board and leadership, the teams that understand these gaps most deeply are the ones that are closest to prospects, customers or the database. The first will be the sales team, the second is our CSMs and thirdly, we have the sales ops and growth marketing team, who works most closely with our CRM.

Step two is to carve out the marketing metrics that are best designed to fill those gaps. Lately, we’re thinking more critically about innovative approaches that are not so conventional in B2B marketing. For instance, companies like Drift focus on “conversations started” as one of their main KPIs. By untangling the roles marketing and sales play and paying attention to behavior that marketing can more directly influence — such as initiating conversations — we can see a greater impact that will trickle up to our high-level goals. However, that’s not to say we like to create silos between the two teams.

 

Share an example of how the metrics you track have informed your marketing strategy in either big or small ways. What impact did this have on the business?

Recently we’ve been heavying-up our marketing efforts on the regional level. There was a point in time when the company had a slightly more ‘global’ approach with our goals. As soon as we saw that each regional market or vertical is not apples to apples, we adapted to pay closer attention to the details. We established concrete goals unique to each region, and now we’ve also moved toward goals that are more vertical-specific. As a result, we’re seeing regional efficiency trickle up to the global level.

In the spirit of always improving, we’ve learned that there are limitations to only tracking leads.  At the end of the day, B2B marketing is about selling to organizations, not individual leads.  That’s why we’re now gearing toward tracking performance holistically on the account — the golden standard of B2B marketing.

 

Home Chef marketing metrics

Home Chef

For Home Chef, marketing success comes down to two key metrics: the cost per individual conversion and the overall value of the average converted customer. Tracking performance against these two metrics has helped the company identify and double down on successful channels. As VP of Paid Media Shane Smith explained, striking a balance between the two has helped the team find success in the increasingly competitive meal kit delivery market.

 

What are the most important marketing metrics your team tracks, and why are these numbers so important to what you do?

Cost per action and lifetime value are of paramount importance for us. As a subscription business, we are willing to invest dollars to acquire new customers, but we want to ensure those customers pay back over time and that, ultimately, our investment to acquire them was profitable. We also track various engagement metrics across teams to ensure our advertising and communication is resonating with customers. These include standard marketing metrics like click rate, conversion rate and CPM of media buys, among others.

 

We fundamentally understand there are certain advertising channels that can deliver customers at a very low CPA.”

 

How did you determine which metrics would be most impactful for guiding your marketing strategy? What other stakeholders were involved?

In partnership with our colleagues in finance and data analytics, we agreed early on that we needed to invest our marketing dollars responsibly, and CPA and LTV were established as the guiding lights of this strategy. As a startup, we also worked with early investors to incorporate metrics that gave them clarity on our performance and our ability to scale the business.

 

Share an example of how the metrics you track have informed your marketing strategy in either big or small ways. What impact did this have on the business?

We fundamentally understand there are certain advertising channels that can deliver customers at a very low CPA. However, had we not tracked the LTV of those customers we would have missed the fact that they weren't very loyal customers. Conversely, there are channels where the cost to acquire the customer is high but the customers gained have high lifetime value. Understanding and tracking the balance between the two metrics has allowed us to develop an advertising and communications plan that optimizes for quality customers and profitability.

 

buildout marketing team
BUILDOUT

Buildout Inc.

As the pandemic moved everything from all-hands meetings to team happy hours onto videoconferencing software, companies across industries have turned to webinars as a viable marketing strategy. For Buildout Director of Marketing Ewa Baska, early data from the company’s own webinars convinced her to shift more resources into this channel, while identifying audience segments most likely to convert through the online seminar format. Meanwhile, the commercial real estate marketing firm typically employs a more targeted account-based approach to larger prospects. 

 

What are the most important marketing metrics your team tracks, and why are these numbers so important to what you do?

As an in-house team, we balance new revenue, customer retention, brand building and more — so it’s always important to understand the impact of each project we work on. We look at lead metrics from sales-qualified leads through realized revenue, and focus on Salesforce campaigns to understand the direct marketing attribution to those wins. Once we see which campaigns were effective, we hold them up against operational data like time and resources spent to see if those efforts were valuable enough to pursue something similar again.

 

As a marketing team, data drives everything we do.”

 

How did you determine which metrics would be most impactful for guiding your marketing strategy? What other stakeholders were involved?

We’ve implemented a monthly business review program for our company where we collect comprehensive metrics across everything our team touches, then analyze and review them with our executive vice president of operations. The metrics include lead tracking from prospect all the way to revenue, website traffic, email marketing metrics, operational team metrics and Salesforce campaign tracking.

As a marketing team, data drives everything we do. It’s helpful to take a step back each month and make sure we’re listening to the right data and making appropriate strategic decisions based on that. We’ve shifted priorities a number of times since implementing this process, from doubling down on specific segments that were performing better in campaigns and generating more leads to influencing email marketing and social media resource allocation. We’ve learned that the smaller segments of our target audience respond well to typical lead generation strategies like email marketing and webinars, where our bigger, more complex accounts need a more targeted ABM strategy. Analyzing metrics has given us the power to make these strategic decisions.

 

Share an example of how the metrics you track have informed your marketing strategy in either big or small ways. What impact did this have on the business?

When COVID-19 hit, we had to shift a lot of our strategies — as did many other companies. One of the new channels we tried was hosting live webinars. Because we’re able to report on the leads we get from these webinars via our Salesforce campaigns, we were able to see that some audience segments were converting better than others. Utilizing this data helped us reallocate our team’s time toward the segments that were performing best and achieve our goals faster. We’ve successfully shifted many of our resources, projects and campaigns to this segment, resulting in more leads and higher conversion rates.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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