CMOs (and CEOs) are focused on the big picture, while the rest of us lower down the totem pole get our hands dirty. (Well, except for Kelly, who loves getting her hands dirty. Figuratively speaking.) The big picture does emerge out of the small details, and that gorgeous Monet is, if you stand close enough, made up of blobs of paint.
But when you're more focused on managing your people and putting together your marketing strategy, it can be easy to lose sight of the details. Here are some details that it pays to never lose sight of, because they paint a very real picture (that's my last metaphor, I promise!) of your marketing performance.
1. Visits to Your Sites/Profiles
I don't mean you should write down last week's number of website visits on your cuff, but you should know whether the number is closer to 1,000 or 20,000, and whether it's growing or otherwise. You should also roughly know the number of relevant visits. For example, we get a lot of visitors from India because we have an office here, but we don't offer our services in India, so for my purposes, the relevant number is the number of visitors from North America.
2. Most Popular Content
One easy way to know if you're attracting the right kind of visitors (the ever-elusive prospects) is to see what content is popular. Is your "jobs" page more popular than the page that lists your services?
The other thing your popular content is telling you is what your visitors are looking for. Are they ignoring your PDF downloads and just viewing the videos? Are the views on that well-researched, thoughtful exposition of the industry languishing and your quick, tongue-in-cheek response to a competitor unexpectedly proving popular? This tells you what kind of content you should spend your team's time and your marketing dollars on. With a caveat, which comes next.
3. Search Terms
This is another way to find out what visitors are looking for. Knowing that your post on widgets is popular doesn't give you the true picture unless you also know that most visitors get to the post by searching [blue widget picture] or some combination thereof. Search terms also tell you what your customers want ([free face wash samples] or [anna dress in 18)] and sometimes, what they think about you ([yourcompany sucks] or [yourcompany testimonials]).
4. Who's Linking to You
If you know nothing about SEO, you should know this: links from good sites help. If you haven't seen an increase in good links lately, ask your team why. Look at websites who link to you and make sure those are links you want. Then tell your team what kind of links you should be having more of.
How many followers (blog and newsletter subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, LinkedIn followers etc.) do you have and how are they changing month-to-month? If a number suddenly changes dramatically, you need to know why. As with web visits, look into the kind of followers: demographics, industry, engagement (are they silent or do they comment? Do they click on emails or respond to calls-to-action? What times of day and days of week are they most active?) etc.
6. Who's Talking Trash About You
Ask your team to send you reports on a regular basis, and do regular searches yourself. You need to know of a) dissatisfied customers, b) disgruntled employees or ex-employees causing trouble, and c) competitors spreading tales about you. There may or may not be something you can do, especially in the cases of b and c, but you should definitely be aware of the problem.
(What can you do in case of b and c? The most effective way to counteract false claims or trolling is to have lots of positive mentions. If your social media marketing team is doing their job, your detractors should be hard to find among the sea of happy customers. Which brings us to…)
7. Who Are Your Biggest Fans
Who regularly engages with you on Twitter and recommends you to their fans? Who comments regularly and positively on your blog and on Facebook? Which customers write to you saying they can't do without your product or service? Thank those people, appreciate them, and reward them. These are your evangelists.
Especially keep an eye out for fans with big fan bases: the popular blogger, the Twitter celebrity, the conference speaker. Keep them happy. Don't do anything to rouse their ire, and if you do, fix it quickly.
And when you plan a new product or improvement, these are the people you can turn to for help, for testing and feedback.
The flip side of #7. Keep an eye on the number of complaints you get and find out what's happening if you see it increase. Also see who is complaining, as above, and appease the ones with the biggest influence. (I'm not advocating ignoring the rest, but you absolutely cannot afford to make a mistake with this lot.) Don't forget to look at the content of the complaints: if more people are suddenly complaining about late deliveries, that might be worth looking into.
This is both arguably the most important and the most basic, and if you know nothing else on this list you should know this. How many leads do you get each month, and has that been increasing over time? Where do the leads come from (e.g., internet search, word-of-mouth, ads etc.)? What is the cost of each leads and the average cost of leads by source?
10. Best and Worst Performing Channels/Activities
Do you know how well each channel is doing? You can define "channel" as you want: if you have fewer activities, Facebook and Twitter might be separate channels, and if you have more, you can club all social media together. Do this in a way that makes sense to you. Now, you need three numbers:
- The number of leads from each channel
- The revenue from each lead
- The cost of the channel
This gives you both the cost of each lead (3/1) as well as the return on each channel [(1*2)-3]. Compare them, and find out which channels are your most efficient. If there is a lot of difference between your best and your worst performing channels, consider killing the latter and using the budget on the former.
(Of course, there are better and more sophisticated ways of calculating ROI, and if you're doing that already, good for you!)
This is all very basic, and most CMOs would be aware of this already. If you're not, start now.