Even if you don’t know what the term inbound marketing KPIs means, you probably already know what they are. Here in the inbound marketing world, KPI is short for Key Performance Indicators. You might just know them as metrics. Tomato, tomahto.
Just kidding — it doesn’t really matter what you call them, so long as you use them.
Inbound marketing KPIs, or metrics, provide your best estimate of success. They tell you how well your marketing efforts are working and what results they’re producing. They can also tell you where your marketing strategy could use work.
While there are dozens of KPIs to measure depending on what your marketing, sales, and growth goals are, here are a few of the KPIs that every team with an inbound marketing strategy should be keeping track of:
#1 Qualified Leads
You want leads. Who doesn’t?
But, not all leads are created equal. There are leads you’re actually interested in — leads who are a great fit for your product or service. And there are leads you’re not interested in — leads who aren’t a good price fit, don’t really need your product, or who aren’t ready to buy.
The qualified leads KPI tells you exactly how many qualified leads you’re getting. Sounds basic, but qualified leads vs. plain ol’ leads is key.
Even if your campaign is seeing a relatively low number of leads, but all of those leads are highly qualified and likely to close, then you know you’re doing something right.
That’s a much better sign of an effective campaign than one that delivers a ton of leads who never convert into prospects or sales.
#2 Organic Traffic
Inbound marketing is built (loosely) on an “if you build it, they will come” mindset. At its core, the inbound marketing methodology believes that if you are putting out the right, helpful content that speaks to your target audience and that is optimized for the way your consumers search, then you will draw in the right leads.
Organic traffic is one of the best inbound marketing KPIs to measure your website’s success in drawing in the right people.
The organic traffic KPI is an oldie, but a goodie. It’s been around for a while because it’s relatively easy to track, it’s straightforward, and it can tell you a lot. The higher your organic traffic rate, the more your content is resonating with the right people. When you have a high organic traffic number, you know that your content marketing strategy is working to 1) place you ahead of the competition in search rankings, and 2) speak to your ideal audience.
And when you’re drawing in big numbers of organic traffic, it means you’re getting a whole bunch of leads without paying for them. Major win.
#3 Social Media Traffic
Social media traffic is also a great inbound marketing KPI to watch because it can help you figure out which platforms are best to focus your efforts on.
These days, there are tons of social media platforms. They’re all great for engaging new potential clients and keeping your existing clients in your inbound marketing flywheel. But, not every social media channel works for every company or industry.
By monitoring the traffic coming to your website from social media, you can determine:
- Which channels are driving the most traffic and the most leads to your site
- How many conversions you’re seeing through social media channels
- How much website traffic is coming to your website from social media
This inbound marketing KPI helps you determine which channels are delivering the most qualified visitors who stick around and tend to read your content or convert into leads. And when you know that Facebook is the one delivering you 15 new leads every month, while Pinterest has delivered none, you can invest more money in your Facebook strategy, and forget about Pinterest for now. That’s marketing optimization at its finest.
If inbound marketing is your focus, the time-on-site KPI is an important one to keep track of. Again, the point of inbound marketing is to teach and engage new potential clients and qualified leads with content that solves their pain points and answers their questions.
The time-on-site KPI tells you how much engagement your content is getting.
If you have a long average time-on-site, then your visitors are browsing around. They’re reading your content and navigating deeper into your website.
A short time-on-site is a good indication that it’s time to change something up. Consider adding a different image or a different content offer on your front page. Change up your calls-to-action and make sure you’re really working to answer the questions your ideal buyer is asking the most.
Time-on-page is just as important as time-on-site. Though it might sound obvious, the time-on-page metric measures how long a site visitor spends on a particular page of your website.
This is an especially useful metric if you’ve been working to incorporate pillar pages, or are working on developing longer-form content.
The time-on-page inbound marketing KPI can give you insight into which pages are keeping your readers' attention, and which might still need a little work to retain their concentration. Click To Tweet
It’s not easy to get readers in the digital age to stick around for long, so when you start to see pages with lengthy time-on-page metrics, you’ll know your content marketing strategy is working.
#6 Bounce Rate
On the opposite side of the time-on-page coin, you have bounce rate. As an inbound marketing KPI, bounce rate means what percentage of people make it to a page on your site and bounce right off, or navigate away immediately.
The bounce rate metric is useful for everything from a web design standpoint to understanding if your landing pages are working properly.
If you have a high bounce rate, your visitors probably aren’t resonating with the particular page they’re being sent to.
Are they bouncing off of a landing page? Consider taking out some of the required fields on your form. Maybe tighten up the content a little, and take away the navigation bar.
High bounce rate on a piece of content? Your hook might not be strong enough, or your content might not seem like it’s offering enough information. Add in an exciting first paragraph, make sure you have plenty of eye-grabbing, but informational headers, and check to make sure that your content is actually saying something.
High bounce rate on your home page? Maybe you’re not being clear enough about what you do. Consider changing up your headers, adding in new visual elements like images or video, and see if that KPI starts to improve.
#7 Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is one of those KPIs you hear about all. the. time.
That’s because it can tell you quite a lot about your inbound marketing strategy.
Like bounce rate, conversion rate is used in a variety of contexts. It can be used when talking about a landing page, about an ad, or even about how many site visitors convert into leads.
That could be downloading a content offer, clicking over to your site from an ad, or even closing on a sale.
No matter what version of the conversion rate metric we’re talking about, it’s always important to track, because it tells you how effective your campaign is.
If your weekly newsletter has a high number of content offer conversions, for example, that shows that you’re doing a great job of nurturing those email subscribers closer to a sale.
If your landing page has a low conversion rate, that might be a sign that what you’re offering isn’t attractive enough, or that you’re asking too much in return for what you’re offering.
Conversion rates are always important to follow because they tell you more than just how many people are seeing an ad or a page or a content offer. They tell you how many people are actually interacting with that item. And engaged visitors are leads.
#8 Customer Acquisition Cost
Your customer acquisition cost KPI is a measurement of how much it actually costs your company to acquire a new customer. For most companies, it’s more expensive to pick up a new client than it is to retain an old one. But your customer acquisition cost (CAC) can tell you more than that.
It can also tell you if your marketing strategy is effective. If you’re spending thousands of dollars on Facebook and Google Ads, but you’re only bringing in one or two new customers, then you’ve got a pretty high CAC, and it’s probably time to change something up.
For example, if your outbound marketing strategy isn’t converting at the right CAC, you might want to invest more heavily in inbound marketing.
Your CAC can also be used to help calculate the overall ROI of your marketing campaign. We’ll talk more about that later, but read this blog about Calculating Marketing ROI for more info.
#9 Lifetime Value of A Customer
Just as your CAC tells you how much it costs to acquire a customer, the Lifetime Value of a Customer tells you how much you earn from a customer over the term of their engagement with you. To figure out the overall value of a customer, check out the following equation:
(Amount of average sale per customer) x (Average number of times a customer buys per year) x (Average retention time for a typical customer (whether that’s a year, a month, or more))
Typically, the lifetime value of the customer shows you how important it is to keep nurturing leads, even after they’ve closed on a sale. On average, most companies find that it’s more expensive to acquire a new client than it is to retain consistent business with an existing client.
#10 Return on Investment
Return on Investment (ROI) is the KPI that everyone wants to know. We probably don’t have to tell you that you need to be tracking it, because who isn’t?
But, we do have to include it on this list because it truly is one of the most telling inbound marketing KPIs that exists.
This is an important metric if you’re trying to convince your boss that inbound marketing is legit, but it’s equally important after you start using inbound marketing.
The ROI metric tells you when your efforts are paying off, and when you might be spending too much on an effort that’s not performing.
Let’s say, for example, you still take out a Yellow Pages ad. That costs you a few hundred dollars each time you place the ad. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you never get any referrals from that Yellow Pages ad. In this situation, there is virtually no ROI. You’re spending money on a marketing effort that isn’t returning any revenue.
So, you see that your Yellow Pages ad isn’t working out. You decide to take the money you would’ve spent on that ad, and use it to hire a content writer to start your blog. After a few months, you have a ton of leads calling in, and they’re all referencing information they saw on your blog.
When you close on some of those sales, for more than you spent on the content writer, you have a positive ROI.
In the end, if you’ve got a great ROI percentage, then you know your marketing strategy is working. If you’re spending more than you’re making, or if you’re not seeing a great return on your marketing strategy, it’s probably time for a change.
Check out this blog from Impact for more information about calculating your marketing ROI.
Deciding Which Inbound Marketing KPIs to Track
As you probably know, there are way more than just 10 inbound marketing KPIs to track. But, if you’re just getting started with the inbound methodology, these 10 are some of the most important, and the easiest to make sense of.
If you’d like to learn about more inbound marketing KPIs you can track to better optimize your marketing strategy, or if you’re interested in an inbound marketing agency, let us know. We can help you determine which KPIs make the most sense for your goals, and we’d be happy to explain a little bit more about the inbound marketing methodology, too.