A Complete Guide to Marketing Metrics

Whether you’re just starting out or need to revamp your current strategy, defining the marketing metrics that matter is the foundation for successful campaigns. After all, how can you pinpoint a proper strategy without understanding your goals? Effective marketing is a science, not intuition — and that means tracking numbers, analyzing data, and measuring results. 

Too many marketing operations 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 plan and valuable opportunities for improvement. 

Use these 15 advanced marketing metrics to strengthen your campaigns, convert more customers, and reap a greater marketing ROI.

What are marketing metrics?

Marketing metrics are what marketers use to monitor, record, and measure progress over time. The metrics themselves are varied and can change from platform to platform. Marketers need to hone in on their goals and choose the metrics that will track their successes and failures. Although there are many working metrics you could keep track of, you need to hone in on what actually matters for each campaign. 

Why do marketing metrics matter?

According to a Google study done in partnership with MIT, 89% of leading marketers use strategic metrics, like gross revenue, market share, or CLV, to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. Some of the benefits of using these and other metrics include: 

  • Having data to support informed decision making
  • Knowing which channels provide the highest ROI
  • Justifying marketing spend and overall budget allocations
  • Increasing results across the board
  • Honing in on where and how to maximize lead conversions

CMO Radek Vanis recently took to LinkedIn to explain his thought process around why marketing metrics matter to him. 

“Measuring the ROI of marketing initiatives in B2B [has] become a somewhat controversial topic,” Vanis says. “We know that our sales cycles take quarters, even years, yet we often give in to the temptation of calculating the metric early and locking the measurements in short intervals.”

He goes on to point out “recent research shows that:

So not only do marketing metrics help you and your team improve, but they also communicate the value your department provides to the company as a whole in terms that stakeholders can appreciate. 

Do internet marketing metrics differ from traditional ones?

Most internet marketing metrics can be tracked automatically. Traditional metrics may yield ambiguous results since you’re not always there in person to see the effects. Plus, programs like Wrike make it easy to translate that data into visual reports with actionable insights. 

Another big difference: variety. There are far more digital marketing channels than traditional ones, thanks to an ever-growing number of social media apps, content marketing types, and virtual ad spaces. 

Both matter, though, and you should never run a marketing campaign without tracking your progress along the way.

How to set your key marketing metrics

There are many lists out there that will tell you what you need to track and what you’re missing. But the truth is, preferred marketing metrics are unique to every business and project manager. 

It all boils down to two main ideas: goals and focus. 

  1. Goals
    For example, if your goal is to increase sales by 5% this quarter, tracking the number of likes on your recent Instagram post probably shouldn’t be your top priority. Choose marketing metrics that are directly connected to your desired outcome. 

    Also, don’t forget strategy. When outlining your goals, it’s good to know how you’ll pursue them. Whatever strategy you choose will also determine which marketing metrics are best. 

    In the above example, if you know that BOFU content, such as a blog post on competitor alternatives that heavily features your product, is a big part of your strategy, then you will want to monitor metrics such as CTA link clicks, page views, and average time on page.
  2. Focus
    Sure, there are pie-in-the-sky metrics that marketers get really excited about tracking. After all, we know that knowledge is power, and it’s natural to want to know what’s going on in every facet of your business. But we know from personal experience that it’s often time-consuming and counterproductive to chase after every metric just because you think you should. 

Examples of key marketing metrics

Here are some must-know terms, with definitions and examples you can use to build a high impact portfolio of custom marketing metrics for future campaigns:

1. Cost per acquisition (CPA)  

CPA is how much you spend to get one new customer. This can vary by campaign, channel, and even time of year. 

According to Global Business Strategy Expert Anuj Bhatia, “Regarded as one of the most important metrics in marketing, especially in the digital marketing era, Cost Per Acquisition or CPA as it is commonly referred to, is the aggregate cost incurred to acquire a paying customer. While you can calculate your overall CPA as an indicator of your overall success with your marketing budget, channel level CPA is routinely utilized to optimize the budget allocations to different marketing channels.”

How to measure it: Gather both marketing expense sheets and sales data to measure your CPA.  It is then calculated by dividing your marketing spend (Campaign Cost) by the number of customers acquired (conversion). Here is the calculation:

CPA = Campaign Cost/Number of conversions

As Bhatia goes on to say, “CPA is actually a very useful financial metric that can be used to assess the revenue impact of marketing efforts. When monitored in conjunction with Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) and Average Ticket Size/Order Value, it indicates the present & future profitability and sustainability of the business.”

As far as figuring out what a good CPA is, it varies from industry to industry. Instead, focus on lowering your own business’s CPA over time in a sustainable way. 

2. Cost per lead (CPL) 

Before you can acquire new customers, you have to bring in new leads. Cost per lead measures the dollar amount of each new lead by campaign, channel, or overall spending. This sales and marketing metric helps users create better goals, track ROI, and adjust budgets accordingly. Budgets related to CPL include items such as paid ad placements and social media monitoring platforms. 

How to measure it: The total CPL  equals the total dollar amount spent on marketing divided by the total number of new leads acquired in a given time period. Calculations like these are useful to do every quarter or, if you have the bandwidth, once per month. 

Also, it’s important to have a system in place that allows you to view and record where each individual lead came from. Otherwise, your data might include unrelated sales pipelines that your team didn’t work on. 

3. Customer lifetime value (CLV) 

Customer lifetime value is the total dollar amount a single account or person is projected to spend on your business from their very first purchase all the way to their last. This calculation is based on your pricing model, any potential upsells on the horizon, and important forecasting data, such as historical records for similar customers. In marketing, CLV proves that quality is often better than quantity, so there should be some campaigns aimed at existing customers to retain them long term. 

How to measure it: Hubspot has a great calculator you can use, but if you’re old school, here’s the formula: CLV = Average Customer Value x Average Customer Lifespan. 

4. Click-through rate (CTR) 

Click-through rate is the number of times an ad, link, or website is clicked on compared to the number of impressions. High click-through rates (around 4%) mean the copy displayed is persuasive and well-placed. Once a user has clicked through, however, the rest of their experience has to line up with their expectations for taking the action in the first place. 

How to measure it: Paid ad platforms like Facebook offer this data for free within the platform. However, you can always use a calculator like the one created by WebFX by manually entering your total number of clicks and impressions. 

5. Bounce rate 

Essentially, bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors who look at one page then leave right after. Having a high bounce rate indicates that your content, copy, or offer aren’t keeping people on the site, which also translates to sales pipeline breakdowns. 

Dan Sanchez, host of the B2B Growth podcast, says, “One of the most important metrics you should be tracking on your website is bounce rate. If your bounce rate is high, you may need to fix this one thing on your landing page: your call to action. Either it doesn’t address the audience’s problems, or it doesn’t lead with a strong value proposition.”

He goes on to advise, “you want every site visitor to take a small step towards a purchase. So make sure your CTA is:

  • Relevant 
  • Compelling 
  • And clearly defines what steps the visitor should take next”

How to measure it: Website analytics tools like Google Analytics will automatically calculate bounce rate for you. The trick is to lower the percentage over time. In a perfect world, your bounce rate would be 0%. But in general, a website is considered successful if the bounce rate is 40% or under

6. Goal completions 

Goal completions are also known as conversions and refer to any instance in which a potential customer takes an action you led them to. For example, clicking the CTA button at the bottom of a sales page or adding their email to a form to receive a downloadable piece of content is a goal completion. This marketing metric works well for measuring quantities at any funnel stage. 

How to measure it: The unit of measurement for a goal completion is different for every platform. In general, you can count on adding up the total number of leads who have taken an action you’ve either asked them or persuaded them to do. You can track this manually or by using digital marketing tools available for that specific platform. 

For example, you can use a LinkedIn article with a CTA asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter at the link provided. Every individual who clicks the link and successfully takes that action equals one goal completion. 

7. Lead-to-customer conversion rate

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 for.

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. 

8. 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. 

9. Engaged time 

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 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. 

10. Quality of inbound links

Search engines judge high-quality websites as trustworthy and reputable resources. Low-quality websites can 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

11. 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 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 the number of clicks, likes, shares, and comments, Twitter retweets, replies, or favorites, Pinterest likes, comments, or repins, Google+ likes, comments, or shares, etc.

Speaking about how Wrike helps to monitor engagement rates, Kate Chalmers, Director of Marketing Operations at Hootsuite, said, "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." 

12. 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. 

13. Website conversion rate

A lot of your marketing efforts go into driving traffic to your website, and 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 equal emphasis on conversion, you’re wasting your time and money. 

Putting in a little effort into 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 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. 

14. 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 salesperson, by downloading buying guides, requesting a demo, or signing up for a free trial. Sales Qualified Leads are potential customers that sales determine 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 aligned your marketing and sales team are 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 this 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%. 

15. Internal metrics

It’s important to keep an eye on external metrics like lead quantity, quality, and conversion. But if any of these numbers start to slip, how will you know what 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."

Laser focus your attention to succeed

Although you can measure everything, it’s important to understand what you’re measuring and why. But don’t get too caught up in the time-consuming task of manual data entry. According to corporate transformation expert and TED speaker Yves Morieux, “when businesses focus too much on guidelines, processes, and metrics, they can actually prevent employees from doing their best work.” 

Save time by automating how to capture, manage, and measure marketing data with Wrike. Use our free two-week trial to explore features like detailed tasks and subtask timelines, templates for everything from event marketing to social media campaigns, and centralized data hubs where all your marketing metrics can be seamlessly integrated.

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