By Elizabeth Harr, Hinge
At my firm, we place a great deal of focus on high growth firms — specifically on which marketing techniques average growth firms can use to become high growth firms. For our purposes, we consider high growth firms as those that have experienced 20 percent or greater compound annual growth in revenue over a three-year period.
In for this post, I’d like to focus on what happens after you’ve chosen the marketing techniques you plan to use to grow. In particular, I’m talking about how you use metrics to assess the impact of your marketing activities. Our research has found that, on average, high growth firms track 33 percent more metrics than their average growth counterparts. This makes sense, especially when you consider metrics are all about making your strategies accountable, as well as testing and continually improving them.
The Toughest Decisions About Metrics
It’s fairly easy to understand the “how” around metrics because there are countless marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) tools you can use (which can range from free to expensive). But when we talk with firms, their biggest sources of confusion are generally around the “why” and the “what” — so let’s focus on those two questions.
When I work with firms, I like to help them see metrics as focusing on one of three categories: visibility, expertise, and what I call impact.
Visibility metrics are those that give you a clear indication of how visible you are within your marketplace. In general, there are three types of visibility metrics that provide the greatest insight:
- Website traffic — this metric can be very helpful … but don’t stop at just measuring website traffic in the aggregate. You should also look at the different types of traffic, including direct, organic, referral, and social media traffic, to name just a few.
- Social media followers, by platform — this is a powerful metric to track because our research shows how important social media is in terms of driving visibility to you and your firm.
- Email list size — for those firms whose marketing plans include an email component, continually measuring the size of your list gives you a very good indication of how visible you are.
It’s also worth considering a second bucket of metrics we call expertise metrics. Unlike visibility metrics, these metrics provide insight into whether you are the expert you say you are. There are four types of expertise metrics you can consider tracking.
- The content you produce — if you are tracking metrics at all, it’s likely they have some relation to content marketing. As a result, tracking such metrics as numbers of downloads of your premium content, white papers, and guides, as well as your blog traffic, are all very important in terms of understanding how convincing you are in your claim of being an expert.
- Public relations — this refers to much more than just press releases about a new office, or the hiring of a new partner. Instead, we’re talking about PR that takes the form of guest blogging or earned media coverage.
- Online endorsements — This metric tracks how frequently your thought leadership gets shared through different social media channels, as well as inbound links that mention you and your thought leadership.
- Speaking engagements — This measurement is pretty straightforward and tracks how often your subject matter experts are invited to participate as the keynote speaker at particular conferences and trade shows that are important in your industry.
A third and final bucket includes what we call impact metrics, which track how much impact the marketing strategies you’ve put in place have on your firm’s bottom line. There are several types you can track.
- Inbound leads — this measures how many leads are coming in from form fills, emails and phone calls. Your CRM can provide insights into the number of opportunities coming in weekly and monthly, and from which sources.
- Proposals — you can track proposals by the sheer number you produce, their cumulative value, where they’re coming from, and their type.
- Wins — similar to the metrics you can gather about proposals, you can track how many wins come from new versus existing clients.
- Firm growth and profitability — you already track these metrics, but by combining them with the other impact metrics mentioned above you can get a more complete picture of the impact of your marketing on your firm’s success.
Because every professional services firm has its own story, growth trajectory, clients, and prospects, the specific metrics that make most sense to track often differ from firm to firm. But if you think about your metrics in terms of the three buckets discussed above, you’ll be well on the way to measuring successfully.
Choosing Your Metrics
I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice: There are four rules of thumb to use when deciding which specific metrics to track.
- First and foremost, the metric you choose should be continuously available. Tracking them isn’t something that you want to do “on and off.”
- Second, each metric you choose should have a low element of subjectivity. You want to be as objective as possible, so that you and your team aren’t tempted to start second-guessing the data.
- Third, you want metrics that your team accepts as relevant. This means that if email marketing isn’t a big focus of your overall marketing strategy, you probably shouldn’t spend a lot of time tracking such metrics as open rates.
- Last, any metric you choose should be easy to monitor. If a certain metric requires a lot of energy to locate, measure and interpret, you probably won’t track it regularly.
I hope you will incorporate metrics in your 2019 marketing strategy. Doing so is far and above the best way to hold your strategy accountable.
About The Author
Elizabeth Harr, Partner at Hinge, is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive with a background in strategic planning, branding and growth for professional services. Elizabeth cofounded a Microsoft solutions provider company and grew it into a thriving organization that became known for its expertise in Microsoft customer relationship management.