Do or Die: Six Marketing Metrics Every Small Business Marketer Must Monitor

There are 3 things in the world that are certain: death, taxes, and thousands of articles about complicated marketing metrics every small business marketer needs to measure so their business doesn’t collapse.

Yeah, we’re over it too.

The fact is, the last thing a small business CMO needs is analysis by paralysis. Nothing makes the daily firefighting at a startup harder than having to track dozens of ridiculously complicated, highly granular data attribution & KPIs and run complex analysis to come to conclusions.

Read and repeat with me: this isn’t necessary.

We’ve worked with hundreds of small businesses and distilled our knowledge down into the only 6 marketing metrics any small business owner will ever need to monitor.

Throw away your TI-84 and Excel macros, and let’s jump in.

1. Website Traffic

*gasp*

Simple, right? You’d be amazed just how many businesses we see tracking every random metric down to the finest details, while simultaneously not having a clear picture of the simplest business metric in the world – how many people are actually visiting your website?

This doesn’t mean just popping open Google Analytics and looking at the unique users count – that simply doesn’t give you the full picture. For starters, Google Analytics (or any other web analytics tool) is generally quite inaccurate at giving traffic numbers – different devices, ad blockers, viewing patterns, etc. throw off the numbers by a fairly large margin.

The other part of it is having the traffic compartmentalized and broken down – it’s quite useless knowing your volume traffic #s without knowing where they’re coming from. Your attribution sequences should be extremely tight, so you know exactly how many users are visiting your website, and where those users are coming from.

Just nailing this #1 is more important than a hundred “essential” marketing metrics.

2. Leads

How many visitors are you actually converting into leads?

This ties in well with #1 – you need to track every visitor from day 1, and know when they become a lead. At any given point you need to know how many customers you have from each attribution channel, and what proportion of those visitors are qualified leads.

This is doubly true if you’re capturing leads in different ways – email newsletters, live chat, lead magnets, etc. Consider using tools like Zapier and Segment to consolidate these numbers across different channels so you have a clear picture of your lead gen funnel.

3. Lead-to-opportunities Conversion Rate

The next step is figuring out how many of these leads you’re turning into real opportunities. This is one of the more granular steps because “opportunity” can mean many different things for your business – this is an opportunity to tightly define your sales pipeline and make optimizations where necessary.

Note were looking at the conversion rate here and not volume numbers – this will allow you to make changes to your pricing, product assortments, etc. without seeing a misleading dip in your metrics. Your services line might change, but assuming you’re prospecting correctly, your conversion rate shouldn’t dip dramatically.

4. Opportunity Pipeline

This goes hand in hand with the 3rd metric of course, and ultimately relies on quality – how many opportunities are actually in your pipeline at any given point?

If you aren’t tracking your pipeline on a real time basis, you’ll never be able to effectively optimize your sales cycle. Too many opportunities and you’re losing business — too little, and you can’t keep the lights on.

Are you noticing everything tie together now? If you’re tracking your opportunity pipeline – and more importantly, setting opinionated goals against it – you can track that number all the way back to your traffic attribution channels, and optimize your marketing channels to maximize your opportunity pipeline.

Cool, right?

5. Pipeline to Actual Closed Revenue Conversion Rate

What percentage of your opportunities actually end up spending money on you?

It’s a very common fallacy to over optimize for metrics that don’t necessarily reward revenue – there are no shortage of prospects and clients who will over-engage and use up valuable resources, without ever actually putting their money where their mouth is.

This metric is chiefly here to protect against that.

A crucial part of small business marketing success is identifying cohorts that are actually worth the time, and the best way to know that is to look at your pipeline success rate. Take some time to establish some baselines for your industry, and work on improving the success rate – this step is the bottleneck that can restrict the success of the rest of the funnel.

6. Actual Closed Revenue

The beauty of this model we’re describing is that it creates a very flexible funnel that applies to virtually any form of business. You can optimize the funnel by targeting any number of these metrics, and the rest of them will follow suite – improve one, and you improve the rest.

In order to wrap it all up, you need to monitor one, final, and arguably the most important thing: actual revenue.

None of the other optimizations mean diddlysquat if your bottom line doesn’t improve – and this is really where most businesses suffer from over-analysis. They’ll spend quarter after quarter optimizing deeply-granular and specific metrics, without once taking a step back and asking the question: Is this actually bringing in more money?

Ultimately, all of your decisions need to start and end with this number – with the rest being valves to adjust to optimize this guy.

Summary

There you have it – these 6 metrics are the only metrics you’ll ever need until your business is flourishing enough that you can hire a “metrics guy” to tell you how wrong you are. IT forms a dirt simply funnel you can apply to virtually any service model, and gives you ample opportunity to optimize, refine and improve.

We’re firm believers in North Star thinking around these parts – if you follow this framework, every quarter should give you some area of the funnel to stick as your north star and optimize.

Always remember one of the finest adages of ancient human wisdom: keep it simple, stupid