2014 is upon us and that can only mean one thing: end-of-the-year lists. For example — spoiler alert! — critics seem to agree that "Gravity," starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, is the movie of the year. (And why wouldn't it be: Sandra and George, trapped in space? What's not to love?) Let this be a lesson to marketing professionals everywhere: with 2014 around the corner, now is a great time to create your own "best-of" marketing tactic list. What inbound marketing techniques proved to be the most effective? Which ones under-performed? And how can you take these findings to create a 2014 marketing strategy that will give you the most bang for your buck?
So with that in mind, we'd like to highlight some key inputs — modeled on the 4 Pillars of Inbound Marketing — for your annual marketing analysis exercise. (Further, we suggest you compile this data in one spreadsheet, breaking down metrics by quarter so trends become evident.)
Search Engine Optimization
It's the timeless question: how are customers getting to your site? Why, how often, and from where? While you can spend days pouring over highly complex metrics, we suggest a simpler approach by using a Google Analytics account. Here are the core SEO metrics you should report on a quarterly basis in your annual marketing analysis report:
- The number of direct navigation visits "typed in," bookmarked, and e-mail link visits.
- Referral traffic visits from, for example, blog links, e-mail blasts, or social media campaigns.
- Search traffic visits.
Again, these are relatively easy metrics to track within Analytics. And if you want to take the next step, we recommend other webmaster tools from Google, such as "Google Trends," which shows keyword search volume and popularity over time.
Are visitors engaged with your blog? Are they sharing content or following links for conversion purposes? Again, this can all be easily captured via tools like Google Analytics. For example, at your Analytics home page, look under "Standard Reports / Audience / Behavior." Metrics to track include:
- New vs. Returning visitors
- Frequency and recency
- Engagement rate, which tracks visit duration
Other metrics that can be tracked within Analytics include:
- Average pages per visit
- Time on site
- Bounce rate (when someone comes to your site and immediately leaves)
Social Media Engagement
The good news: that photo of Debby from Accounting with Tim Lincecum from July got 72 Likes. The bad news: there's more to measuring Facebook engagement than the number of Likes. The good news (again) is that from a social media engagement perspective, we'll focus solely on Facebook tracking. And the metrics you should track are:
- Fan reach - the number of fans who have seen a post. Keep an eye on this one as it measures the quality and reach of your content. Look at the posts with the highest reaches and ask yourself, "What made these so special?" Use those findings to inform future posts.
- Organic reach - the number of people (fans and non-fans) who saw a post. Unlike the previous metric, this one includes non-fans who accessed your page.
- The number of people who clicked anywhere in your post (also known as the "engagement" metric.) You can then find out which users are most engaged and cater to them, especially during big promotions and other marketing efforts.
- Click-through rate - the number of people who have clicked on a link in your content.
The list goes on, but these four are critical. You can access them by going to your Page Insights interface.
Once again: we've highlighted the handful of high-yield inbound marketing tactics. There may be other tactics at your disposal that align with the 4 Pillars of Inbound Marketing (e.g. optimized landing pages, thank you pages, ebook downloads.) Our reasons for highlighting these aforementioned tactics are four-fold:
- These tactics correspond with the Attract funnel; and while all pillars of marketing are, in theory, created equal, most marketing executives are assessed on their ability to generate new customers.
- These tactics are "high-yield" in that most companies generate the greatest marketing ROI via social media, blogging, and Web search.
- Many companies aren't there yet when it comes to tracking these tactics; the metrics listed above will surely get them on the right track.
- Marketing executives often answer to superiors who love metrics and reporting. These tactics, again, can be easily tracked, thereby making marketing executives' lives much easier.
Finally, we encourage you to make sure that each marketing element is not only incorporated into your annual marketing analysis, but that they also inform your 2014 inbound marketing strategy. And with that in mind...
Need more help in crafting an end-to-end 2014 inbound marketing strategy? Click the link for a complimentary consultation: