FAQ Friday: What I Need To Know About Inbound Marketing

Posted by Sunday Ely Apr 21, 2017

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Already have metrics, but are wondering how to interpret the data? Have content, but are wondering how often to post to actually see returns? Are you also ready to advertise on social media, but want to know how it helps lead capture?

Get your questions answered in this week's gem-filled FAQ Friday.

What are the Key Marketing Metrics for SaaS Companies?

Before we jump into what metrics you should pay attention to, let’s breakdown what SaaS companies are and what we mean by the term "metrics".

Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) are all internet based business models that service the current “on-demand” market. Typically, SaaS is paid for by subscription (weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly), which allows access to the service.

Metrics are the raw numbers of your digital activity. These numbers are critical to identifying opportunities and give insight into the health and effectiveness of any marketing campaigns.

It is important to note that not all metrics are important to all SaaS, or all campaigns. Therefore, be intentional and select important metrics that help you track your business.

Pro Tip Intently select the key metrics you will use to measure the success of your business.

9 Key Marketing Metrics for Your Company:

  1. Number of Unique Visitors

    Keeping tabs on the total number of viewers that are visiting your website on a daily/weekly basis, may seem like a vanity metric but in fact can be useful data. This data could accurately provide information on the user friendliness, value, functionality and/or accessibility of your website. A high bounce rate on your homepage could point to the need for an upgrade or homepage revamp. Raw data on your unique visitors can be useful in helping you identify your visiting versus retention rate and where your website visitors are mainly congregating on your website. This data can identify any potential trouble areas your site could encounter.

  2. Leads and Qualified Leads

    Leads are prospects that have interacted with content but are still near the top of the funnel. Being knowledgeable of your overall lead numbers is helpful for the marketing team to know what content to produce, refresh or recycle, to further leads through the inbound cycle.

    Qualified leads are prospects towards the middle of the funnel (or inbound cycle). These are your website visitors that have requested product demos, free trials or arranged for a virtual, telephone or in-person meeting. These leads want to see how the program works.

    Armed with these numbers you can see where prospects are interacting with your inbound content. It can inform your content strategy. It can also impact your sales team method and social selling.

  3. New Customers

    Arm your team with data on how you’re closing. What are your new customer conversion numbers?

    This performance check can help both your marketing and sales teams identify what is working and what is not. In what way could your company pivot their approach to further your inbound methodology? Knowing how many visitors from the start of your inbound marketing campaign are converting to new customers can really inform you and your team on how efficient your methodology is working.

    Now, it is important to remember that your new customer conversion numbers are not the core of your business. Your business backbone is covered in the section below.

  4. Revenue

    Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) is, in fact the backbone of your business. This is the beauty of SaaS platforms as they allow for the optimization of monthly/annual business conversions by way of automation. You must know this data, as MRR or ARR is how you function as a business.

    A great example of a SaaS with strong MRR is:

    Apple Music
    macos-itunes12-5-ios10-apple-music-student-membership-hero.jpg

    Source

  5. Churn

    How many conversions are you losing over time? In other words, what is your churn rate? Where are there gaps within your business conversion process? Do you happen to be selling your product to people who don’t need it?

    How to calculate your churn rate:

    1. Number of customers in this month

    2. Divide number of customers by the # number of qualified leads that did not convert

    3. Your answer is your churn rate.

    Example:

    500 customers (# of customers this month)

    50 lost SQL (# of leads that did not convert)

    = 10% (churn rate)

    Understanding your churn rate is extremely important as it shows you how much business you are losing over time. Tackle your churn rate by strategizing methods to deliver value to those customers who chose not to convert. The inbound methodology teaches us that conversion happens when the customer is ready—at the right time. If some of your SQLs are not converting, think of ways to nurture those prospects. Move away from hard sales pitches of informing the prospect on “why you need our businesses”. Build-up that relationship through social media, social selling or an appreciation email. Let the prospect authentically feel important to you and your brand and when they are ready they will think of you.

  6. Customer Lifetime Value

    Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) refers to the amount of money your average customer pays over the course of their relationship with your company.

    To calculate CLTV, you must first calculate your average customer lifetime.

    To do so, use this formula:

    1/customer churn rate (expressed in months or years)

    For example, if 10% is your monthly churn rate, calculate as follows:

    1/.10 = 10 months Average Customer Lifetime (ACLTV)

    Secondly, once you know your average customer lifetime, multiply by your average revenue per account (ARPA) over a given time period.

    Use this formula:

    Total revenue/total number of customers

    For example, say your business made $5,000,000 in revenue last month from 5,000 customers.

    $5,000,000/5,000 = $1,000 in Average Revenue Per Account (ARPA).

    Finally, to determine customer lifetime value, multiply average customer lifetime (ACLTV) by your average revenue per account (ARPA).

    Continuing with the sample above, that would be 10 months (multiplied by) $1,000 = $10,000

    10,000 = Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)

  7. Customer Acquisition Cost

    Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) divides your total sales and marketing spending by the number of new customers you add in a given period.

    Example: you spent $250,000 in sales and marketing expenditures last month and added 250 customers. Your customer acquisition cost (CAC) would be $1,000.

    For medium, to smaller companies, CAC calculations should include “personnel-related” expenses—the salaries and benefits of your sales and marketing teams (both salaries and benefits).

    As you expand and spend more capital on marketing expenses not particularly correlated with customer acquisition (i.e. Public Relations), you may want to remove some “personal expenses” out of your CAC calculation.

  8. CLTV: CAC Ratio

    The dance between the Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) and Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) is, in fact, the metric that most accurately gauges the health and growth potential of your inbound marketing.

    A general rule of thumb is that your company must have a CLTV three times greater than your CAC in order to be a “healthy” business.—Geoff Roberts

    A ratio greater than 3:1, is a good sign that your acquisition methods are solid, and you most likely can afford to spend more in the areas of sales and marketing.

  9. Gross Margin

    Now, I know what you’re thinking — "I thought this was an article about inbound marketing..."? Yes, it is and I do understand, typically gross margin is something your financial department concerns itself with—not your marketing department. However, I would submit to you that this is an interesting metric your marketing team should be privy to.

    Your marketing team should play (if they do not already) a role in pricing your products and services. This has a profound effect on your gross margin.

    Gross margin looks at the percentage of sales your company retains after it subtracts the costs associated with production (such as delivering their products and services).

    Here is a breakdown of the formula:

    Gross Margin (%) = Revenue - Cost of Goods Sold/Revenue.

    Example:

    Your company made $1,000,000 in revenue and it cost them $200,000 deliver their products and services, then the company’s gross margin would be ($1,000,000-$200,000)/$1,000,000 = .80 or 80%.

What Time Should You Schedule Your Blog Posts?

Use website data to determine the high traffic time slots on your website. Typically, scheduling a post to run in the morning works well for many businesses including for us here at Direct Images Interactive. As prospects visit your website every day or every couple of days, you want to have fresh content for them to interact with. Having that content available first thing in the morning seems to add a “new” feeling for most brands.

The key takeaway here is that you want to be blogging often as it’s a staple in the attract phase of the inbound methodology. When you schedule your post, it should make sense for both your buyer persona profiles and your business.

I am thinking about using the inbound marketing methodology? Where should I start?

The inbound methodology consists of the following core cycles:

Attract

  • Personalized content (aka content with context). Copywriting, design, animation and video are examples of content that can be utilized to attract new prospects.

Convert

  • Provide call-to-actions throughout all of your digital content. Use gated content (aka content only accessible by signing-up or entering information)such as white papers and ebooks as opportunities for conversion.

Close

  • Nurturing your sales qualified leads through marketing automation and some personal touch will assist you in closing a sale. SQLs will close into customers at the right place, at the right time.

Delight

  • Deliver excellent customer service throughout the buyer’s journey. From the moment a prospect interacts with your business to the moment they close, excellent service should be provided. After a sale you can send an automated personalized thank you note. Think of ways you can deliver value every step of the way.
ATTRACT
CONVERT
CLOSE
DELIGHT
 
CREATE
 
 
CUSTOMIZE
 
 
OPTIMIZE
 
 
DISTRIBUTE
 
 
CONVERT
 
 
ANALYZE
 
Copywriting
Design
Animation
Video
Personas
Smart Content
Keywords
Responsive Design
Blog
Social Media
CTAs
Landing Pages
Email
Page Analytics
Video Analytics
In 2017, your brand needs to be much more than a logo and business card. Developing a brand identity includes your name, logo design, online presence, brand strategy, your brand and the value you deliver to your customers through a good user experience and excellent customer service.

Before stepping into carrying out the four stages of the inbound methodology be sure to define your S.M.A.R.T goals.

S (specific)
M (measurable)
A (attainable)
R (realistic)
T (timely)

Example: Our company will focus on the attract phase of the inbound methodology over the next 3 months. We aim to see an increase of website visits by 30% and conversion rates by 10% by focusing on producing 3 blogs a week, social selling and persona centered call-to-actions.

Here is a checklist of items that will kick start your inbound marketing game plan:

  • Develop buyer personas (revisit quarterly)
  • Identify each step of the buyer’s journey
  • Establish your strategy for content
  • Identify your content context
  • Verify that your website is responsive (including mobile friendly)
  • Review your user experience (surveys or polls can help you gather information)
  • Produce content
  • Publish content
  • Deliver customer delight (ex: automated thank you notes or additional discounts codes post-purchase)

How often do I need to reevaluate my inbound marketing game plan?

The short answer here is that it depends. If your business seems to be running like a well oiled machine, then perhaps an annual review makes sense. But for most functioning businesses large and small, reviews take place quarterly.

You should be launching new campaigns, strategizing your editorial campaigns, organizing your social media strategy, relooking at your buyer personas (identifying any areas that may have shifted), re-organizing your social selling strategy and reviewing areas of growth potential. Doing comprehensive reviews quarterly is healthy and allows you to catch things and pivot before major damage could occur. If your business doesn’t have many changes, is pretty constant and works well, you could be satisfied with just an annual marketing evaluation, though I would recommend something more frequent.

Do I need a social strategy for my blog?

Yes, it would be wise to have a strategy. Set your intentions and build a social media strategy with purpose. Start by developing an editorial calendar. What is an editorial calendar? It can be created through a spreadsheet program such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word and can be placed in a shared folder where all needed parties can access the document. Take a look at the sample of an editorial calendar below from HubSpot:

hs-calendar.png

Source

The above image reflects a sample of blog forecasting. However, you can take a similar approach in organizing your social media content. A calendar helps you and your team know where you’ve been and where you are going.

In addition to a calendar, you want to know what social media platforms your buyers are using? You may really like YouTube, but if that platform does not resonate with your persona it might not make sense for you to be on YouTube. Go where your prospects are already.

Next, you need to have content to publish on social media. Connect with your marketing team to resolve this. Lastly, you want to establish context. What does your buyer want to hear? Think like your persona here, you don’t want to force your product, service or brand on prospects that are not yet ready. You will risk losing that connection. Instead, you want to use context to know who needs to see what and when is the optimal time for engagement.

Should I pay for social media advertising?

A mix of paid advertising traffic and organic traffic generated through inbound marketing can both be extremely helpful in gaining visibility, new prospects and ultimately new customers. However, it would be wise to keep in mind that the impact of these efforts can only be truly seen over time. The same goes for inbound marketing. Both inbound marketing and social media advertising can go hand in hand helping your business attract more leads, however, it is only the duration and foundational practices of those efforts that allow for you to truly see an impact over time.

Think of social media advertising like a palm tree in California. 

There are lots of palm trees in California (like there may be several businesses similar to your own). Social media advertising basically dresses your palm tree in Christmas lights. As people come across your tree they will certainly look, comment, like, visit and ask questions about your tree. But what are you prepared to do, offer or provide prospects once they engage with your business? You need a way to capture those leads, encourage them to visit frequently and pull them along the sales funnel.

The key here is to have a solid foundation rooted in inbound marketing then look to further your visibility through social media advertising. It can certainly help you get in front of the right kind of people that are looking for your products and services.

If you have questions you would like to see featured in our weekly FAQ Friday, please submit them in the comments below, mention us @DirectImages on Twitter, or submit your questions HERE. Until next FAQ Friday, keep your communication lines open. Don’t know the answer—just ASK.

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Suggested Links

Getting Started with Inbound Marketing

Thought Hive: What You Need to Know About Inbound Marketing

FAQ Friday: Social Selling with an Inbound Approach

A Holistic Approach to Developing Your Brand with Inbound Methodology

Thought Hive: Inbound Marketing Tools for Success


Topics: Inbound Marketing, FAQ

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