Category: Analytics


Four Ways Google Analytics 4 Will Improve Your Data

In many ways, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a paradigm shift for the beloved and ubiquitous web analytics platform. Its event model is changing entirely, and there are a lot of technical details and jargon surrounding that move. But analytics and marketers want to know one thing:

What does it take to upgrade, and is upgrading worth the effort?

The short answer: Yes, it’s worth making the jump. We’ll walk you through doing that now before we give you the long answer (which is still yes, but with more details).

How Do You Set up GA4?

It’s really simple. Start by doing the following:

  1. Go to the Admin section in your Google Analytics account.
  2. Under Property, choose the “GA4 Setup Assistant.”

Next, you’ll want to set up a new GA4 property.

Note: Google recommends that folks keep their existing Universal Analytics (GA3) property running for the next year while the new setup accumulates data.


When you’re done, the assistant will issue you a property name and ID and you can continue the rest of the setup process.


Once you’ve completed the assistant, go into “Data Streams” to start getting data into GA4.


Look up your Web data stream that was created when you established the new GA4 property and do two things:

  1. Copy your Measurement ID (you’ll need it in Tag Manager later).
  2. Make sure the Enhanced Measurement toggle is on (this establishes the automated event tracking mentioned later in this post).


Next, you’ll want to open up your Google Tag Manager container and do this:

  1. Choose Tags from the left navigation.
  2. Select New.


The tag type you’re looking for will be “GA4 Configuration.” Paste in the Measurement ID that you copied earlier in this tutorial and choose the All Pages trigger. Click Save when you’re done.


Then publish the changes in your container and head back to Google Analytics. If you’ve done everything correctly, you should be able to visit the website and see yourself in the Realtime overview report!


Congrats! You now have a working GA4 setup.

So what was our long answer about which GA4 features make this whole exercise worthwhile? We’ll take a look at it now in four respects.

1. Automated Event Tracking

Event Tracking was arguably one of the most attractive features of GA4’s predecessors, but there was always a barrier to entry. Either you had to have a web developer install hard-coded event tracking scripts for you, or you had to know enough about Google Tag Manager to implement triggers.

Now, all you have to do is get the main GA4 data feed set up, and it automatically detects common events like button clicks, downloads, scroll depth, and video plays!

With those things magically handled just by installing GA4 on your site, you’re free to collect the learnings and derive insights immediately.

2. One-Click Goal Creation

Once you’ve got all these beautiful automated events firing in, GA4 makes it deliciously easy to turn them into goals. You go to All events and just toggle Mark as conversion on any important user actions (in this case, file downloads.)


Why create goals? For a few reasons:

  1. If they’re meaningful user actions, Goals will allow you to calculate the conversion rate of your website.
  2. Goals facilitate the creation of conversion funnels.
  3. Goals also unlock special attribution reports in GA, giving you visibility into the multi-touch scenarios that lead to conversion activities.

3. Easy Audience Generation

Another can’t-do-without feature in previous iterations of GA was Segments. GA4 handles this functionality a little bit differently, referring to them as Audiences.

Thankfully, they’ve made the process of defining a new Audience very basic (even easier than building Segments, if you ask me):

  1. Go to Audiences in the left navigation.
  2. Click the New audience button.


From there, it allows you to select from some pre-configured audience templates or Create a custom audience.


Here you can select any dimension or metric and formulate criteria for your audience, and set a lookback window for audience membership (this comes in handy later when you want to import these audiences into Google Ads).


4. Cheap GA Data Warehousing

The last major advantage to having GA4 is being able to warehouse your Google Analytics data in a cost-effective way using BigQuery. Previously, this functionality was only available to GA360 subscribers. And at a price tag of $150K/year, it priced out small and mid-sized businesses being able to store their data effectively in a SQL-style environment.

Now, it’s only a couple of clicks away for all organizations with GA4 properties:

  1. Under property, select BigQuery Linking.
  2. Then click Link.


Note: This next part requires you to set up a free Sandbox account in BigQuery. New users get $300 free in cloud credits, which should last the average business a long time unless your site gets millions of users per month. Do that before you proceed to the next step.

Establishing the link between GA and BigQuery has you choose a couple steps:

  1. The location of the server you want to house your data in.
  2. The frequency of the data transfer (i.e., Daily, Intra-daily, or both).


Once you’re done, data will begin streaming into BigQuery within 24 hours. From there, you can query your data just like a SQL database, giving you incredible analytical flexibility and providing event-level historical data logs regardless of what Google decides to change about GA going forward.


The Evolution We’ve Been Waiting For

Any one of the four features we mentioned is worth the price of admission to GA4, but combine them, and you’ve got something really special for analysts and marketers alike. We’re excited to see where Google takes this version of their flagship analytics tool, and we hope you are too!

The post Four Ways Google Analytics 4 Will Improve Your Data appeared first on Portent.


How to Effectively Measure Marketing ROI With Google Analytics…

Your team works incredibly hard producing content that should produce positive results for your company, one of them being growth for your bottom line.

What good is all that work when you can’t prove that what you’re doing is actually having an effect on your ROI?

According to, 37% of chief marketing officers feel confident they can prove their short-term ROI. That number drops to 31% when they’re asked if they could prove-long term ROI.

What’s the solution?

A marketing ROI formula that helps your team track costs and revenue generated from your projects and find a final ROI total.

When you read this chapter, you’ll learn how to:

  • Find the costs for your team to create a piece of content or campaign.
  • Use Google Analytics to calculate the amount of profit that your content or campaign makes.
  • Track and calculate your marketing costs versus profits with an Excel spreadsheet template to find your marketing ROI (MROI).


It’s time to get started.

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What is Marketing ROI?

The measurable revenue generated as a result of marketing activity.

Definition of marketing ROI

A Few Quick Assumptions Before You Start

Marketing ROI can be difficult to discuss in generalities because each marketing strategy is different and, therefore, requires an adjustment in recording strategy.

For the sake of this blog post, here are the assumptions you need to know:

  • Every customer conversion produces the same amount of revenue.
  • You’re publishing digital content, and you’ll measure your conversions through this content with Google Analytics Goals and Custom Reports.
  • If you’re publishing printed content, it drives back to an online medium from which you can measure your success.
  • This is the marketing ROI formula you’ll learn throughout this blog post: MROI = Revenue Generated From Content – Cost to Produce Content

If your team is operating outside these assumptions, you may need to adjust the formula in this post to fit your strategy specifically.

Find How Much Revenue a Page or Project Has Generated

The next step in finding your marketing ROI involves finding the amount of revenue your content generates.

This is a three-step process that helps your team track the content that is generating revenue. To find this out, open your Google Analytics account.

To start tracking your generated revenue, you first need to set up a goal in your Google Analytics account, as well as a custom report. Check out the following video for ways to get started.

In the video, you’ll notice the goal that was set up was a destination goal — meaning that when that web page is visited, Google counts it as a conversion.

Since it is assigned a value of $50, every time that URL surfaces, Google will add another $50 to your total revenue earned from the piece viewed immediately before the conversion.

In order to see that final total, you need to set up a Custom Report. This video shows you how to set one up.

The total that appears in the report is the total number of conversions and money that your content created. Depending on how long you want to track your conversions, you’ll need to adjust the date at the top of the report.

It’s important to note that you need to give each piece of content a fair chance to contribute to your team’s total MROI. That means that there needs to be a trial period where your team tracks the total amount of revenue that a piece of content generates in one time frame.

This could be anything from a week to 30 days to 6 months. Once your team selects a trial period, it needs to apply to every piece of content.

In your marketing ROI template, enter in the total made and how long you tracked the number of conversions your content made.

Determine How Much Each Project Will Cost Your Company to Create

The first step in your MROI process is finding how much your intended project is going to cost your company.

Why is this important?

In order to track your MROI accurately, you need to know the upfront costs first.

[Tweet “In order to track your MROI accurately, you need to know the upfront costs first.”]

How can you determine those costs?

First, pick your project and decide what your team needs to do in order to complete it. For example, let’s say your team is publishing an e-book. Begin by making a list of everything that needs to be completed by the team in order to publish it. That list would look like:

Project steps for creating an ebook

  • E-book
  • Write
  • Edit
  • Design
  • Landing page
  • Write
  • Edit
  • Wireframe
  • Design
  • Code
  • Social campaign
  • Write
  • Edit
  • Design
  • Schedule
  • Advertising
  • Write
  • Edit
  • Design
  • Stage
  • Google Analytics set-up

Each of these steps involves a member of your team whose time is worth a certain amount of money. First, you need to determine who on your team is filling each role. For this example, you will need:

  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Designer
  • Design editor
  • Developer
  • Social media specialist
  • Ad specialist

Then, divide their yearly salary by 52. Divide that result by 40.

Price per hour = (Yearly salary/52 weeks)/40 hours per week.

Now you have the price per hour for each of your team members. The next thing you need to do is ask your team to estimate how long it will take them to complete their assigned tasks and record those hours.

For the example, let’s say your team gave the following answers:

  • Writer: four hours
  • Editor: two hours
  • Designer: four hours
  • Design editor: two hours
  • Developer: three hours
  • Social specialist: two hours
  • Ad specialist: two hours

Each hourly salary can then be added on to get your final cost total:

  • Writer: four hours at $15 per hour
  • Editor: two hours at $16 per hour
  • Designer: four hours at $16 dollars per hour
  • Design editor: two hours at $17 per hour
  • Development: three hours at $16 per hour
  • Social Specialist: two hours at $15 per hour
  • Ad Specialist: two hours at $15 per hour
  • Grand Total: $250

In the template you downloaded earlier, enter in each position that will contribute to your overall project, how many hours they spent working, and how much it costs per hour.

Calculating project cost

Calculate Your Marketing ROI

The final step of calculating your MROI is to use the following formula:

Total Revenue Generated From Content – Total Cost To Produce Content = MROI

For the example, your formula would look like:

$1,000 (Total Profit) – $250 (Total Cost) = MROI of $750

Your final MROI total can be entered into the last column of your MROI template.

Seems simple enough right? Some things that your team will need to think about or subtract from your final total:

  • Marketing tool cost
  • Overhead costs
    • Cost for customer service representatives
    • Costs to produce each product sold

It would make sense to think that if you avoid things, like tools, you wouldn’t have to take as much away from your total ROI, right?

However, if your tools end up saving your team more time and allow them to get their work done faster, your initial team cost lowers dramatically.

The post How to Effectively Measure Marketing ROI With Google Analytics and a Simple Formula appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.


Study: The Readability of Your Website is Affecting Your…

We know that content on your website is important. It should communicate value to your visitors, adhere to Google’s standards so that it can be crawled, and rank well in the SERP. Your content is the main driving force of conversions and ultimately affects your company’s bottom line.

Is it possible that the readability of your website can impact your conversion rates? I approached one of our conversion rate optimization strategists, Whitney Norton, with this question to see what she thought.

Our hypothesis was yes, but we didn’t know to what extent. To test our theory, we used anonymized client data to evaluate the “readability” of client websites and correlated them against conversion rates. In this post, we’ll share what we found. If you’d like to nerd-out with us over stats and analysis, read on! If you’d just like actionable next steps, feel free to jump to our “Final Thoughts” at the end.


For this study, we measured and compared two factors: a website’s readability and its conversion rate. We had a sample size of 33 client websites.


Using a website readability analyzer, we crawled individual websites to get a readability metric called the “Flesch Reading Ease” score. Scores are calculated based on an equation that measures the total number of words, the total number of sentences, and the total number of syllables. This score is determined on a scale of 0 to 100, where lower scores are more difficult to read, and higher scores are easier to read. More importantly, this means your content uses plain English. Ideally, a website score would rank between 60 and 90, which equates to a grade level between 6th and 8th grades.

Here is a breakdown of scores and how they associate with grade levels:

Flesch Reading Score Table courtesy of Wikipedia

You’ll also notice here that as grade levels go UP, Scores go DOWN. While they aim to measure a similar phenomenon, the score and school level have an inverse relationship. For example, here is the Portent website Flesch reading score:

An analysis of shows a Flesch reading ease score of 27.62.

(But wait, that score looks low – isn’t the goal between 60-90? More on this later.)

Conversion Rate

We pulled an annual average for either the primary conversion rate percentage or the e-commerce conversion rate percentage, depending on the client. For e-commerce clients, it was a purchase. For B2B clients, it was often a form submission to contact a sales team. These conversion metrics represent the main, highest-impact activity on a website. To account for the impacts of the Coronavirus on some clients, we looked at the average rate between March 2019 and March 2020 for them.

Our Process

Using the anonymized client data, we plotted the conversion rate against the Flesch Reading Ease score in a scatterplot.

We included data from domains where the entire site could be measured for both the conversion rate and the reading score, and excluded websites that were fewer than five pages where the primary intention was to be a set of landing pages for paid search ads.

The Results

When we plotted conversion rate (our dependent variable) against readability score (our independent variable), there was a positive correlation between them. However, it was not strong enough to indicate readability as a singular determining factor of whether users converted or not.

For all sites, our R² score, or “coefficient of determination,” was 0.114. This means that approximately 11% of the conversion rate is dependent on the readability score. So while it is not a majority factor based on our data, it is still a correlated factor.


E-commerce Findings

When filtering for e-commerce clients only, there was a slightly stronger correlation with an R² score of 0.131. This means that for B2C clients, around 13% of the conversion rate is dependent on the site’s readability score.


Why would these conversion rates experience a higher correlation to the reading score?

We believe it is because e-commerce purchases have faster sales cycles, and likely need to spend less time establishing and communicating expertise with their content. For example, buying clothing or booking an auto service is a lower barrier than purchasing an enterprise-level software solution.

Consumer products are also usually less costly than enterprise-level B2B products and solutions. With direct-to-consumer products at lower price points, less content needs to be written to communicate product or service value, since these are often lower-stakes purchases.

Faster decisions, lower barriers to entry, and lower-stakes purchases likely mean that users give these pages more cursory reads than their B2B counterparts. With less attention paid, readability had a greater impact on conversion rate.

B2B Findings

For B2B sites, we see a very different story with readability and conversion rates. While the overall data and e-commerce results specifically show a positive correlation between the two variables, B2B delivered an insignificant relationship between readability and conversion rates. In fact, it looks like they aren’t correlated at all:


We see a wide range of average reading scores (most fell somewhere between 20-60), and conversion rates are anywhere between <1% – 3%. I’ll also point out again here that our sample size is low. With a larger sample size, we may see a stronger correlation one way or another.

Important to note is that B2B readability scores are lower than e-commerce sites. On average, this may not be a problem. It speaks to a different side of user behavior, and the way B2B websites are used to communicate value. Typically, B2B products and services have longer lead times and are more costly. As a result, these companies need to create content that continues to communicate value and justify a more expensive purchase. Depending on the product or service, the concepts may be very sophisticated and require a higher level of comprehension to communicate that value.

As we saw earlier, the website has an average readability score of approximately 28. As a B2B business, this may not be a nail in the coffin.

Communicating expertise and highly technical resources are likely associated with longer sentence structures and more keywords per sentence, resulting in a lower reading score, and a higher grade level score.

As a B2B business, it’s important to communicate your value at a readability score that matches the level of your audience.

Other Findings

We also found that the distribution of reading scores by page was not always a normal distribution. For example, the Portent website distribution of reading score by page looked like this:

Portent’s website histogram of readability scores by page

Based on this chart, we can see that a large number of pages fall into the 0-10 category, but the remaining pages on the website follow more of a “normal” distribution. Portent’s site features some highly technical resources, but the rest of the site features more readable content.

Here are some additional examples of readability score distributions by page:

This histogram shows the majority of site readability falling between 10 and 30
An example of a relatively normal distribution of reading scores
This histogram shows the majority of site readability falling between 0 and 180
An example of the majority of a site’s pages having low readability scores
This histogram shows a trending increase resembling a staircase as the number of pages with higher reading scores increases scores
Example of a staircase (non-mathematical term) histogram

These variations indicate that it’s okay for the readability score to change from page to page, depending on the purpose of the page. What may matter more are your entry and conversion pages, and the readability of those.

If We Could Do This Study Again, What Would We Do Differently?

Larger sample size. This was one of our biggest limitations of the study. With our sample size limited based on client data availability, we can make broad assumptions, but not concrete proclamations about the effect of readability and conversion rates. We are confident in the variety of clients and industries we evaluated to know that our data is not pigeon-holed into too narrow of a focus, but ideally, we would be able to evaluate a larger number of websites.

Final Thoughts

Is readability the primary factor in your conversion rates? No. Should you still pay attention to it? Yes. Even in our limited study, it accounted for as much as 13% of conversion, and that’s no small thing.

How to Get Started

When evaluating your own website’s readability, we recommend starting with a tool like Datayze to get an understanding of your site overall. If your site’s average score falls below 60, you have some work to do. To maximize your impact, start with your site’s entry points (like your home and landing pages) and conversion pages. Whenever possible, reserve highly-technical content for resource pages.

For best practices on writing more readable content, check out the tips that Brittney Urich, now a UX Designer at Amazon, gave at one of our favorite Seattle Interactive Conference sessions last month. Most importantly, she says to write for your audience and to use plain language. Her favorite resource is the Federal Guide for Using Plain Language.

Of course, if you need help, we’d love to hear from you. After all, we’re a team of nerds who spent considerable time conducting a study of how readability relates to conversion rate. We love this stuff.

The post Study: The Readability of Your Website is Affecting Your Conversion Rates appeared first on Portent.


Getting Started with Google Data Studio

So you’re in the market for a free visualization tool, and you’ve decided on Google Data Studio. We love GDS, and use it regularly at Portent when reporting on performance to our clients.

Here are some things to know and general tips about Google’s answer to Tableau before you go headlong into creating dashboards for your whole organization.

Educational Resources

If you consider yourself a beginner, first you’ll want to get up to speed on the 101-level stuff. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel when Google has its own walkthroughs on Analytics Academy. Bookmark this post, go there and complete their Introduction to Data Studio course, and come back when you’re done.

Continued Learning

Beyond the basics, there are several companies and folks on Twitter that are great follows on Data Studio. A couple of my favorites:

  • Lee Hirst from Helpfullee has a bunch of dashboard templates
  • Bounteous is an agency that offers more hands-on training beyond Google’s Analytics Academy


Data Studio works by bringing data together through “connectors.” Some are free and native to GDS, and others are paid, non-native community connectors created by third-parties. Getting your data into the tool gracefully will make or break any dashboarding initiatives you undertake with it.

Native Connectors

Google has a variety of connectors to its own properties, including Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Search Console, BigQuery, and even Google Sheets. Those are plug-and-play with any accounts, projects, or files you have set up there.

Community Connectors

For any non-Google properties—Facebook and Microsoft Ads, for instance—you’ll need to employ “community connectors,” which often come at a cost. But compared to what you’d spend writing your own API connectors and paying for database storage, paying for a suite of connectors from Supermetrics (which runs $39/month) will seem like a steal.



Once you have the data sources configured, the Explore section of GDS allows you to effectively stage visualizations and test different styles, dimensions, and metrics before incorporating them into a permanent dashboard.


Some visualizations I would start with are:

Time Series Chart

Nothing beats demonstrating progress on your metrics over a stretch of time. Data Studio gives you a lot of flexibility around breakdown dimensions and even adding a reference line to show if you’ve exceeded a goal.


Geo Map

If you’re visualizing a lot of localized data points, Data Studio’s integration with Google Maps can give you incredible latitude (see what I did there?) in how to surface those metrics to end-users.


Tables With Heatmaps

Sometimes all the fancy charts and graphs in the world can’t replace the easy-to-use table. GDS has recently added functionality to highlight cells in the table when they meet certain conditions.


Style Guides

After you have a few core visualizations you want to build a dashboard around, it’s important to set global styles for colors, typography, and white space so that you create reports for your organization that are on-brand and consistent in look-and-feel. A poor visual design can distract from the data and insights you hope to derive from the dashboards.

For additional tips, check out this blog post on creating an impactful marketing dashboard.



Users of your Data Studio reports might have questions about what the dimensions and metrics mean. So it’s important to keep those definitions built into the report and easily accessible.

Two great resources for Google Analytics terms and definitions are the Google Analytics Help Center and the LovesData Ultimate Google Analytics Glossary.

Sharing Reports

Since GDS is built on the Google Docs backbone, it allows you to share reports easily with folks in your immediate organization and stakeholders on the outside as well. You can also make certain pieces of it publicly available for things like published studies or reports.

Next Steps

Google Data Studio’s product team is one of the fastest iterating teams at Google, for my money. So if you feel like it’s missing functionality you need today, check back in a few months and it’ll probably be added. And if you really want to get obsessive about how your reports are being adopted in your organization, you can even add Google Analytics tracking to your reporting templates! There are so many ways you can evolve your dashboards in GDS once you have them built out.

The post Getting Started with Google Data Studio appeared first on Portent.


How to Cultivate a Data-Driven Marketing Team

Data: You can’t live with it, and you can’t live without it. At least, that’s how a lot of marketers feel. In fact, the affair between marketers and their data is often somewhat of a love-hate relationship.

Data can help you be a much more successful, analytical marketer who makes decisions based on facts rather than hunches. But wrangling together all that data — and then properly analyzing it ? It can give you quite a headache, and frankly, it can get pretty overwhelming at times.

But even though data can come with its challenges, successful marketers understand that it’s a necessary evil, and most even learn to love data because it makes them better marketers.

When I first started working at HubSpot, I’ll admit I wasn’t the most analytically-minded person. But boy, has that changed.

So be empowered, marketers! Learning how to be truly data-driven can be extremely rewarding, helping you be more effective and achieve much better marketing results. 

11 Tips to Help You Cultivate a Data-Driven Marketing Team

1. Put the right analytics in place.

It’s no wonder data can be such a headache — you need to have the right tools in place to collect it! And for many marketers, their analytics live in silos, making it difficult to compare data and metrics across channels.

For example, you might have analytics for your email marketing over here, social media marketing analytics over there, there … and there, and blog analytics hanging out in an entirely different place. Furthermore, if you don’t have this data connected to your customer relationship management (CRM) system, you’re also missing out on some extremely valuable closed-loop analytics that can truly report on the ROI of each individual marketing channel — and your marketing strategy as a whole. You can imagine how all of this disconnected and incomplete data can make things awfully difficult to handle.

So if you’re not happy with your current marketing analytics solution and its ability to integrate all your marketing data, searching for a new solution is a great place to start. We wrote a blog post to guide you through the process of selecting the perfect marketing analytics solution for your needs. It highlights important questions you should ask potential analytics providers (including HubSpot!) before making a purchase.

2. Assign specific metrics to individual marketers. 

Now that you have a reliable, integrated, and all-encompassing analytics tool in place, use it to its fullest potential. Measure everything you can possibly measure. Believe us, as a data-driven marketing team, we know there really is no shortage of metrics you can track — just check out this introductory marketing analytics ebook for some great ideas to get you started.

The best way to divvy up the measurement work is to hold individual members (or teams, if your marketing department is on the larger side) accountable for specific metrics. Identify the most important metrics you’ll use to measure the success of each particular marketing channel and prioritize them by importance.

Then assign the tracking and managing of these metrics to individual team members. For example, you might assign your social media manager/team with the task of monitoring high-priority metrics such as customers, leads, and visits generated from social media overall, as well as those same metrics segmented by individual social network, plus even more granular metrics like engagement per social network (think “likes,” comments, shares, etc.).

Not only will this ensure you have all your important metrics covered, but it will also hold your teams accountable for regularly keeping track of and reporting them.

3. Establish data benchmarks.

What are your company’s typical email click-through rates? How many “likes” do you generally get on an individual Facebook post? What is your average landing page conversion rate? Setting benchmarks helps you not only understand what your business’ marketing “norms” are, but it also gives you a standard that you can work toward meeting — and exceeding — incrementally. That being said, setting benchmarks is easier said than done. How are you supposed to know what “good” is to begin with?

There are a couple of ways to approach this:

  • First, you could do some research to see if there are any established industry marketing benchmarks out there to compare yourself to. This can give you a general sense of how others in the industry are faring, and how you stack up in comparison.
  • More likely, however, you’ll probably want to establish benchmarks that are specific to your own business and industry. This is where your analytics come into play.
  • Once you’ve had some time (say, a few months) for your analytics to marinate, you can start to notice and record general patterns in the performance of your individual marketing metrics.

Use those as your initial benchmarks, and make it a priority to improve those benchmarks over time.

4. Set metrics-driven goals.

Now that you’ve some set benchmarks for your business’ marketing, you can establish metrics-driven goals. Each marketer (or team) in your marketing department should not only be responsible for tracking and reporting on their key metrics, but they should also be assigned specific goals to achieve. How else will you know if your marketing is successful if you don’t know what “success” is? In other words, setting goals helps you define success for your marketing.

The goals you set for your marketers will depend on a number of factors, but should mainly be based on the overarching goals of your business. This will likely involve meeting with your company’s management team to determine your business’ growth projections so you can understand how Marketing fits into this bigger picture.

For example, if your company is looking to grow by 5% in revenue in the following quarter, you’ll need to figure out how many leads you’ll need to generate in order to close 5% more customers or revenue. Based on this overall goal, you can then start to assign individual team goals based on those marketing channels’ benchmarks. In other words, if you know that your email marketing typically contributes 20% of your business’ overall new leads and your blog contributes 10%, you’d logically assign a larger overall leads goal for your email marketing team than you would your blogging team.

To help you with your goal-setting, download our free calculator for determining your monthly traffic and leads goals.

5. Regularly report on progress made towards goals.

Don’t just set and forget your goals. Make it a priority for individual marketers to base their strategies and tactics on the monthly goals they’re required to meet by reporting on their progress regularly. Do you hold weekly and monthly marketing meetings?

At HubSpot, we report on the progress of our most important marketing metrics (such as traffic, leads, and the status of our marketing SLA) at our weekly team meetings. And tracking traffic and leads is easy to do in HubSpot’s software, where all you have to do is input your lead generation goal to easily track the number of leads you generate each day, week, month, or year.

We also have longer monthly meetings during which each individual team reports on their month over month progress and more niche metrics like email unsubscribe rate, social media reach, or blog subscriber growth.

In addition to reporting on these metrics within your marketing team, share a monthly marketing report that highlights the results of individual teams — and the marketing department as a whole — with the rest of your company. Not only will this keep your team more accountable for being data-driven (you want those metrics to look good, right?), but it will also prove to the rest of the company that Marketing does way more than the stereotypical party planning and arts and crafts all day.

6. Back up marketing decisions with data.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you refer back to the chart at the beginning of this post, it’s a little less surprising. You’re collecting all this marketing data, sure, but you need to actually do something with it. In other words, to really be a data-driven marketer, you can’t just collect and report on the data. You need to actually use that data to drive your marketing decisions. This requires you to hone your analytical skills. It requires some critical thinking and problem solving.

For example, let’s say you’ve been doing social media marketing for several months because that’s what you’ve thought you needed to do. But now that you’re actually tracking the success of your social media marketing with your marketing analytics tool, you realize that there are certain social media channels that just aren’t performing for you. Maybe you’ve been spending equal amounts of time on Facebook and Pinterest, yet your analytics are telling you that Facebook has 5X the ROI of Pinterest. Wouldn’t it make sense for you to reallocate some (or all) of the time you’re investing in Pinterest to Facebook? By using data to back up your marketing decisions, you’ll not only make smarter decisions, but you’ll also improve your marketing results!

Learn how to think more analytically by checking out this post about nine terrific ways to make your marketing analytics actionable .

7. Find ways to measure “unmeasurable” things.

Truly data-driven marketers find ways to measure seemingly “unmeasurable” things. For example, one of the teams in HubSpot’s marketing department is the Editorial team, which is responsible for HubSpot’s branding. And you can imagine how measuring something like branding isn’t really as cut and dry as measuring something like leads generated from social media, or the clickthrough rate of email marketing, right? But that doesn’t mean our Editorial team is exempt from being analytical. So they measure things such as direct traffic to the HubSpot website and branded search term volume.

Furthermore, one of the challenges our Product Marketing team has is making sure people realize that HubSpot sells software. In other words, they need to figure out people’s perception of what HubSpot. Not exactly an easy feat. As you can imagine, measuring their progress toward achieving this goal isn’t something you can just take a look at a dashboard to gauge. So they administer brief, multiple choice surveys of our audience placed on various thank-you pages for our non-software related marketing offers such as educational ebooks and webinars. This survey simply asks respondents to select what HubSpot does. Their goal is to increase the number of people who select “software” vs. other things like “services” or “marketing content.”

8. Reward record-setting achievements.

One of the best ways to get your marketing team on board with a data-driven culture is to incentivize them. Consider giving out a monthly award for the member of your marketing team that achieves the most impressive record-crushing results based on their specific metrics-driven goals. On HubSpot’s marketing team, for example, we identify a marketing “champion” every month, who gets to attend a Champions Dinner hosted by one of HubSpot’s executives and attended by other “champions” from other departments.

And don’t stop at just incentivizing those record-setting achievements with tangible rewards. Recognize them publicly in front of the entire company, too. Sometimes the most rewarding incentive for your employees is public recognition of their hard work. You should also keep track of employees’ individual metrics-driven achievements and incorporate them into your annual review process.

9. Use data in content creation.

The benefits of data in marketing don’t have to be limited to your marketing analytics or making better marketing decisions. Data can also be used in a number of other ways in your marketing, such as improving your marketing content, including blog posts, ebooks, and other written collateral. In fact, incorporating a little data can go a long way, making your content much more high-quality, credible, authoritative, and interesting. Just be sure you’re selecting trustworthy data and properly attributing it to the original sources .

There are quite a few ways you can go about spicing up your marketing content with data. Some techniques include demonstrating change/consistency over time, providing benchmarks, showing connection/correlation, proving a point, emphasizing why readers should care, backing up opinions, showing discrepancies, including social proof, showing success, offering clarity, showing scale, highlighting original data, and portraying data visually. To learn more about how to use any of these above techniques, read our comprehensive post on using data in your marketing content .

10. Leverage A/B testing.

The savviest data-driven marketers are always looking to get better data and to improve how the analytics look for the metrics they’re responsible for. And what’s one of the best ways to improve the looks of your data? Optimize your marketing with A/B testing, that’s what!

A/B testing enables you to experiment with how different variables affect things like traffic, click-through rates, and conversion rates, and allows you to optimize your marketing efforts using the variables that contribute to the best results. Luckily, there’s no shortage of variables you can test in your marketing , and you can also conduct A/B tests in practically every one of your marketing assets. Check out our complete ebook on A/B testing to get started.

11. Share data-driven research with the rest of your team and company.

If you’re doing all that A/B testing we recommended in our last tip, chances are you’re going to come away from those tests with a bunch of great takeaways about what works — and what doesn’t — for your particular business and its audience. Don’t hoard that data … share it!

At the very least, the rest of the members of your marketing team could probably really benefit from those lessons learned. It will make them better marketers, and it will also probably teach them a thing or two about how your prospects respond to different marketing tactics. Encourage members of your marketing team to present lessons learned from specific A/B test they’ve run during your weekly marketing meetings so everyone can benefit.

Chances are, the rest of your business — even departments outside of Marketing — might appreciate this insight into your marketing lessons, too.

At HubSpot, we have a popular internal wiki, which the marketing team often uses to share the results and lessons from its A/B tests with the rest of the company. Marketing members also regularly present at meetings in other departments to share valuable marketing insights.

Not only is sharing these results educational to them, but it also shows them that the marketing department doesn’t just sit on our butts and act on hunches! Marketing regularly tests its tactics and acts on proven data to make its decisions.

This is sure to boost the R-E-S-P-E-C-T of your marketing team, and it will probably even contribute to more marketing buy-in. And who doesn’t want that?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2012 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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