I have something slightly embarrassing to admit: I really like the movie Pacific Rim. I know, it’s over-the-top, loud, unbelievable and slightly stupid. But counterpoint: it also has enormous robots punching gigantic, grotesque monsters. I guess I’m easy to please. But what does this have to do with marketing? Well, one of the characters in Pacific Rim has an excellent quote that’s relevant to today’s topic: “Numbers do not lie. Politics and poetry; promises; these are lies. Numbers are as close as we get to the handwriting of God.”
Yes, today we’re talking about numbers, and as the quote says, they don’t lie. Marketing often involves a lot of buzzwords like “engagement” and “lead generation,” which can be hard to explain, let alone quantify. But the numbers are indisputable: they’re either going up, staying stagnant or trending down; they’re good, mediocre or dismal. There’s no discussion or spin, just cold, hard facts.
So what are the numbers you should concern yourself with when evaluating your inbound marketing campaigns? Here’s a brief, step-by-step guide:
Site traffic used to be the end-all, be-all number when it came to websites, but that’s not exactly the case anymore. Still, your traffic should always be trending up, always growing. If your traffic is stagnant or decreasing, that’s a major red flag. So what kind of traffic metrics should you be looking at? Visits, unique visits, and the source of the traffic (i.e. what path brought them to your site? An email? Google?). Unique visits might be the most valuable traffic stat you have: the more unique visitors, the more people you have a chance to turn into leads.
It’s difficult to suggest ideal benchmark numbers for traffic, because it can vary wildly based on how long you’ve been in business, your competition, your products, and your industry. But as long as the number is always increasing, you’re on the right track.
This is a metric we are checking constantly here at Rhino. As we’ve discussed in other blog articles, you should have identified important keywords that are used often in searches related to your field/market/products/services, and use those keywords regularly in your content. Understanding where your site ranks when it comes to searches using those keywords is valuable, because it shows you how well you’re implementing the keywords and how relevant your content is.
Some keywords and keyword combinations are tough to rank highly in, especially if they’re common search terms crossing multiple fields and markets. But your keyword rankings should always be improving. If they’re not, you’re not using them enough in your content, or you’re not using them in content that’s sufficiently popular or valuable. And the more unique or specific your keywords are, the higher you should be ranking with them.
This is probably the most important metric you need to evaluate, because it’s the one that can lead directly to revenue. The whole reason we spend any time with inbound marketing is so that we can generate leads. You shouldn’t expect an enormous amount of leads, because that’s just the nature of the beast: on average, no more than 5 percent of your site visitors are going to become leads, and even less will advance from leads to sales. But if your visitor-to-lead rate is hovering around 1-2 percent, you’re failing. Your content offers either aren’t good enough to entice visitors, or you need to reevaluate the quality and/or pricing of your products/services.
In terms of lead generation, expect this number to be even smaller. The average conversion rate is 2.35 percent, so if you’re in that ballpark, you’re doing OK. But don’t be content with average! Aim higher. Even if your lead conversion rate increases to a meager 4-5 percent, you’re still beating the vast majority of other businesses.