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Under the Hood: Here are the Marketing Metrics We Track and Why

We’ve shared many different example dashboards and just recently discussed a variety of marketing dashboard templates. A lot of people seem to want to know what marketing metrics other companies are tracking. Of course, your metrics will depend on your company goals, but it can be helpful to look at other businesses in your industry for inspiration. With that, we thought it would be helpful to share the dashboard and metrics our marketing team uses on a daily basis and some of the logic behind it all.

geckoboard-marketing-dashboard-example This dashboard has dummy data for example purposes. View the live dashboard here.

Starting with our primary objective

Before we even think about what metrics to put on our dashboard, we have to know the overall company objective (what’s the main thing we’re trying to accomplish?), the one metric that matters for our company - and then work backwards to see how our marketing team can help achieve both of those (how does our team contribute towards accomplishing the company objective?).

Our mission and approach in a nutshell: At Geckoboard, we exist to help you build goal-oriented teams that drive growth. We achieve this by making it easy to communicate, monitor, and optimize the key metrics that will focus teams around their goals. Geckoboard offers an easy-to-set-up TV dashboard software for online businesses to monitor live metrics and hit their goals.

As a SaaS (software as a service) company, the one metric that matters for us right now is increasing monthly recurring revenue (MRR) month over month. Our marketing team contributes to this one metric primarily by driving trial signups.

This translates into two main metrics for our marketing team: the number of website sessions vs goal and the number of trial signups vs goal. You’ll notice these two marketing metrics are the largest and most prominent numbers on our dashboard since they’re the most important.

Leading vs lagging indicators

How do we know if we’re on track to achieve our objective? Cue leading indicators. Think of leading indicators as the input - the activities that lead to the outcome you want.

Based on data over the past several months, we know it generally takes X web sessions to generate Y trial signups. The web sessions (leading indicator) aren’t the goal, but they help us track our progress.

A lagging indicator is the result - the output of our efforts. Number of trial signups and our monthly recurring revenue (MRR) are both lagging indicators. In general, you’ll want a mix of both leading and lagging indicators to drive growth and identify challenges early on.

Seeing the full picture

Just like buying a house is all about location, displaying metrics is all about context. If you don’t have context for your metrics, they’re worthless. Using SMART goals is a good framework for ensuring the context of every metric is clearly defined.

In our dashboard, we use comparative indicators (% change over the previous 30 days), goals (% of progress toward goal), sparklines, and gauges to provide valuable context for our metrics. With a quick glance, we can determine if we’re falling behind, on track, or ahead of our target.

In addition to having context for each metric, it’s helpful to have supporting metrics for our two most important KPIs (monthly trial signups and monthly web sessions). Here’s a rundown of the supporting metrics we’re tracking and how they’re useful.

  • Sessions vs prev 30 days: Since one of our company objectives is to grow website sessions month over month, we want to make sure we’re always on track towards improving over last month, even if we don’t hit our MRR growth target.
  • Session to trial conversion rate: If we suddenly see a dip in trial signups, the conversion rate (with change percentage compared to yesterday) is the first metric we want to check. From there, we can investigate further to see if something is broken on our website or if there’s another issue.
  • Current trialists with sparkline: This allows us to keep an eye on our pipeline and catch any significant changes before it impacts our revenue.
  • Trial to customer conversion rate: Tracking the trial-to-customer conversion rate (and the daily change percentage) is another way to monitor potential pipeline issues.
  • New customers today: It’s fun and inspiring to watch the number of new customers tick up throughout the day.
  • Churn rate: Although this is generally considered a customer success metric, the churn rate helps us stay aware of changes that impact our monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and indirectly impacts the number of trial signups that are necessary to hit our company target.

Understanding trends

A great deal of problem solving comes from watching trends and identifying patterns. The trial signup trendline and the web session trendline allow us to quickly spot irregularities and better understand when our audience is most likely to engage. You can see that most of our traffic and signups occur during the week, thus the dip every weekend.

Filling in the details

Within our marketing team, we have several people working in different ways to contribute to our overall objective of driving trial signups. So on our marketing dashboard we have a few more detailed metrics that reflect their efforts and help the whole team better understand how to optimize different channels.

  • Organic search trial signups vs goal: The majority of our website visitors and trial signups come from organic search, so we always want to track our progress toward our goal in this channel. This metric also tells us what kind of impact our content marketing efforts are having on our overall marketing goal.
  • Direct trial signups vs goal: Sometimes visitors will read blog posts or perhaps even be subscribed to our newsletter, but when they decide to actually sign up for a trial, they just type our URL directly in their web browser. This metric captures those ‘uncategorized’ trial signups.
  • Referral trial signups vs goal: Referrals include visitors who come from any inbound links on other sites, various forums (Reddit, Inbound.org, Product Hunt, etc.), and social media channels.
  • Current visitors on website: This is a fun metric to watch since we have a global audience. It’s also insightful to monitor when we send out our newsletter, launch a new feature, or get mentioned in the press.
  • Book-a-demo leads created vs goal: In addition to trial signups, we also have a target for generating a certain number of demo requests (book-a-demo leads). This gauge tracks our progress and provides a target benchmark and a stretch goal (maximum on the gauge).
  • Email course signups vs goal: After discovering that return website visitors are significantly more likely to sign up for a trial than first time visitors, we created an email course on building a goal-oriented team to drive more return visits to our website and blog (which by the way is packed full of useful tips and tricks and is totally free. Sign up to receive the course here!).

Iterating, always iterating

These are the metrics we’re tracking right now, but selecting and tracking metrics is an iterative process. As Geckoboard grows, some of our marketing metrics may change as we keep learning and trying new things to drive growth.

Driving growth

Want to drive growth at your company by tracking your metrics with a live dashboard? Get started today with a free Geckoboard trial - no credit card required.

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