The 9 Key Marketing Metrics Your CMO Actually Cares About

Whether you’re just starting out or need to revamp your current marketing strategy, defining the metrics that actually matter is the foundation for successful campaigns. After all, how can you pinpoint a proper strategy without understanding the goals you’re trying to accomplish? Effective marketing is a science, not intuition—and that means you need to be tracking numbers, analyzing data, and measuring results. Too many marketing organizations rely on basic metrics like lead volume and website traffic to measure their effectiveness. And while it's important to cover these essentials, failing to dive deeper means you’re missing out on key insights into your marketing performance, and valuable opportunities for improvement. Use these 9 advanced marketing metrics to strengthen your campaigns, convert more customers, and reap a greater marketing ROI.

1. Lead Volume —> Lead to Customer Conversion Rate

Obviously, it's important to measure how many leads your marketing efforts are generating. But if you stop there, you're missing a crucial piece of the puzzle: how many leads actually turn into customers. Knowing this figure can tell you whether your sales team needs a higher volume of leads, higher quality leads, or additional supporting content to help close deals.

How to measure it: The benchmark for conversion rates will vary by industry, but a few minutes of Googling should give you a solid understanding of the number you should be aiming to outperform.

According to Capterra, B2B software website conversion rates sit at an average of 7%, for example, while hardware is at 5% and retail is 3%. It’s also important to consider conversion rates at each stage of the funnel, as your middle and bottom of the funnel rates should theoretically be higher than your top of funnel numbers. 

2. Point of Conversion —> Multi-Touch Attribution

Very few people research and buy during the same web browsing session. Most people will start their search for a product or stumble across a piece of content, click through to your website and poke around your blog. Then days or weeks later, search for your company name, click on a paid ad, and purchase. 

By only crediting the point of conversion, you’re not getting a full picture of the customer journey, and you’re undervaluing key aspects of your marketing efforts.

How to measure it: There are many types of attribution models you can use, depending on what you want to learn and how your marketing organization works.

The W-Shaped Attribution Model is one way to give credit to each stage of the funnel, from first touch to lead conversion to opportunity creation, and gain a deeper understanding of the customer journey.

In this attribution model, 30% of the credit goes to the first click, 30% of the credit goes to the click that created the lead conversion, and 30% goes to the click that created the opportunity. 10% of the credit is given to all other touches. 

Image Source: Bizible

3. Blog Visitors —> Engaged Time Spent 

It's not enough to just measure time spent on page, because you don’t know if it’s active time or if your content is just sitting open in an idle tab. Tracking engaged time lets you know how long users are actively paying attention to your content, and therefore how valuable that content is to your target audience. Are they even seeing your CTA? What can you leave out that people aren’t paying attention to, and what do you need to rework?

How to measure it: Content analytics software like Chartbeat or even WordPress plugins like Riveted can track user activity, including scrolling, clicking, using the keyboard, and page visibility, to determine whether the reader is actively engaging with your content or in an idle state. 

4. Number of Inbound Links —> Quality of Inbound Links

High quality websites are judged by search engines as trustworthy and reputable resources. Low-quality websites can even penalize your website rankings, which is why it’s much more important to have fewer high-quality links than dozens of low-quality ones. 

Instead of tracking the number of inbound links you're getting, focus instead on these questions: How have certain inbound links helped you rank for certain keywords? Is your organic traffic increasing? 

How to measure it: To determine quality links, check whether the site is: 

  • Relevant to your site
  • Authoritative/trustworthy
  • Attracting a human audience, or solely designed for web crawlers
  • Linking to other spammy sites, like online gambling, payday loans, etc.
  • Selling links

5. Social Media Reach —> Social Media Engagement

While it’s good to have a large number of followers across your social media platforms, it doesn’t help your business if they’re simply ignoring you. How many people are actually clicking on and interacting with your posts? And who are they? Answering these questions will help ensure you’re delivering the right content to the right people in the right place.

How to measure it: Engagement types vary depending on the social media platform. Keep an eye on Facebook's engagement score and number of clicks, likes, shares, and comments; Twitter retweets, replies, or favorites, Pinterest likes, comments, or repins, Google+ likes, comments, or shares, etc.

"We've got a specific structure that we've set up in Wrike so we can look at our campaigns and releases, and compare quarter over quarter what we're doing. We're constantly wanting to make sure we're remaining stable or getting faster at what we do." — Kate Chalmers, Director of Marketing Operations at Hootsuite 

6. Email Unsubscribes —> Unengaged Subscribers

Some people who subscribe to your list won't stay engaged with your emails, which is why so many marketers keep an eye on how many recipients unsubscribe. But not everyone will go through the process of unsubscribing, especially when it takes fewer clicks to just trash emails that aren’t of interest. 

But for the health of your subscriber list, it's important to track unengaged subscribers. As Lindsay Kolowich at HubSpot points out, email clients can flag low engagement rates and deliver these "graymail" messages straight to the junk folder, which means your emails are being delivered, but not seen. 

How to measure it: Decide on your marketing organization's definition of unengaged. Is it someone who hasn't clicked on an email in three months? A year? Then, consider implementing an automatic unsubscribe that will remove these recipients from your list, and send an email notifying them that they've been unsubscribed. 

7. Website Traffic —> Website Conversion Rate

A lot of your marketing efforts go into driving traffic to your website, and of course you want to keep an eye on how many people you're successfully attracting to your site and where they're coming from. But if you just focus on visits without putting equal emphasis on conversion, you’re wasting your time and money. 

Plus, putting in a little effort on bumping up conversion rates can have a big impact on your business: imagine the difference that even a 1 or 2% boost in new customers could do for your bottom line. 

How to measure it: First, define what qualifies as a conversion. Is it a purchase? Booking a consultation or requesting additional information? Signing up for a free trial? Once you’ve figured out exactly what you want to measure, set up a landing page that visitors will only see after they’ve converted. Just make sure traffic can’t be sent to that LP in any other way, or else you’ll get skewed figures. 

8. Number of MQLs —> MQL to SQL Ratio

MQLs, or Marketing Qualified Leads, are generally defined as bottom-of-the-funnel prospects who have indicated they’re ready to purchase, or at least talk to a sales person, by downloading buying guides, requesting a demo, or signing up for a free trial. Sales Qualified Leads are those potential customers that sales determines are ready for a direct follow up. 

Looking at the percentage of MQLs that are accepted as SQLs is a good indicator of the health of your pipeline and your marketing team’s ability to qualify and screen leads. It’s also a great indication of how well your marketing and sales team are aligned and communicating with each other, since a low ratio raises a red flag that there’s a disconnect between marketing and sales. 

How to measure it: Divide the number of SQLs by the number of MQLs to calculate your MQL to SQL Conversion Rate. 

What’s a good benchmark? After analyzing hundreds of companies, Implicit found that the average conversion rate was 13%, and took an average of 84 days to convert. But keep in mind: that number varies greatly depending on the source of the lead. For example, website leads converted at an average of 31.3%; referrals at 24.7%, and webinars at 17.8%. Email campaigns convert at just 0.9%, lead lists at 2.5%, and events at 4.2%. 

9. External Metrics —> Internal Metrics

Obviously, it’s important to keep an eye on external metrics like lead quantity, quality, and conversion. But if (when) any of these numbers start to slip, how will you know what you need to fix if you don’t pay attention to how the work gets done in the first place? 

When it comes to getting the most out of your internal resources, don’t just trust your gut. Keep your marketing team running effectively by tracking the number of hours wasted in status meetings, on repeatable work that could be automated, dealing with unnecessary interruptions, and the efficiency of your review and approvals process. 

How to measure it: Hold frequent check-ins with your team to identify roadblocks and gather feedback about how processes can be improved. Premier Sotheby's Realty uses Wrike to track and improve their work management, and quickly report on the team's productivity in real numbers.

"The biggest benefit of Wrike is that when you're working with 900 individual personalities and independent contractors, being able to prove your value is crucial," says Christina Anstett, Direct Marketing Specialist at Sotheby's. "Pulling a report and showing them how many jobs were completed on their behalf during a certain time frame is very, very powerful for us."

Use the Right Marketing Metrics to Grow Your Business

What advanced metrics are you using to improve your marketing efforts? Leave a comment below and tell us the metrics you think we should add to our list.


Comments 0

Oops! This content can only be shown if you consent to cookies.

Find out more