Reporting 101: How to Measure Inbound Marketing Activities

Reporting 101: How to Measure Inbound Marketing Activities:

from B2B Marketing and Lead Generation | Optify 


If you’re a digital marketer (in-house or agency), you’re likely involved in numerous inbound activities and programs ranging from managing social media channels to blogging to website optimization and back. You’re all over the place and you play a vital role in marketing your brand’s or your client(s)’ brands. So how do you report on these activities to properly showcase the integrated performance of your campaigns?
There are infinite metrics you can look at it when it comes to digital marketing – but that doesn’t mean you should. That’s also why this post is focusing on only inbound marketing (we’ll get to outbound marketing another time). While a lot of metrics are nice to look at, they don’t necessarily provide actionable data that can help you grow and improve your marketing. And if you’re not going to put the numbers to good use, don’t waste your time pulling them.
I’ve organized this post from an agency perspective because agencies don’t always have access to all of their clients’ measurement tools and marketing platforms. If you’re an in-house marketer, you should have access to all of the below and therefore should be able to report on everything I outline here. These reporting tactics work well for both B2B and B2C.
*Before I get started, I do want to note that these are simply suggestions based on a typical inbound marketing program and my experience running such programs. The metrics you measure can – and will – vary slightly or greatly, depending on your brand’s or your client’s goals and needs.

If you have access to… social channels and Google Analytics

This is about the lowest level of access you should have to your clients’ tools – but just because it’s bare bones doesn’t mean you can’t extract loads of juicy data. If you’ve ever played around with Google Analytics you know you can get lost in there. Again, just because you have access to that data doesn’t mean you need to report on it.

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Metrics you might consider:

  • Organic search traffic – this number shows the sum of visitors your site received organically from search engines. It demonstrates the overall health of your site optimization, content, link building and brand awareness.
  • Unique pageviews on blog posts – this number shows how well your blog content performs and can be broken down by post to show which types of content performs the best (and worst). Measuring unique pageviews vs. total pageviews shows the total number of individual people who read your blog posts – not just how many times your posts were read (someone could have gone to a particular post more than once).
  • Direct and referral traffic – I like to show these on the same graph so you can see how they stack up against one another. Direct traffic shows the number of visits to your site from visitors directly typing your URL into their browsers or clicking through from a non-web source (like an email). Direct traffic is a good indicator of overall brand awareness – the more well-known your brand becomes, the more people come direct to your site. Referral traffic shows the number of visits to your site from other sites (which can help you measure link building, PR activities, influencer outreach programs and more).
  • Social referral traffic – this shows how many visitors come to your site from social channels. If you’re active on social media, this is a good metric to show because it demonstrates how social media works beyond just building brand awareness by actually drawing potential customers to your website. To boost this metric month over month, be sure to share URLs on social that link directly back to your site (like blog posts, free trials or offers, news updates, etc.).
  • Social engagement – beyond number of fans and followers, social engagement gives you a good idea of how well you’re actually interacting with your audience on social media. How many people retweet your Tweets? Click on your LinkedIn links? Comment on your Facebook posts? Share your Google+ posts? Facebook offers fairly decent built-in Insights and you can get some organic insights from Twitter’s ad platform. There are also a slew of free and/or paid tools like Sprout Social (which we use at Optify) that will give you lots of data about engagement on your channels.
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If you have access to… a keyword tool

A keyword tool is something you can actually get for free or purchase yourself and set up to track your client and its competitors without their permission because it’s all public data. If you actively monitor your client’s keyword rankings and deploy programs to try to improve those rankings, you’ll want to show wins and losses over time.


Metrics you might consider:

  • First-page rankings compared to competitors – if you’re not ranking on the first page of results, you might as well not be ranking at all (IMO). So measuring your first-page rankings compared to your competitors is a good way to see how well you stack up for top industry key terms.
  • First-page, above-the-fold rankings – more important than being on the first page is being above the fold (ranks 1-4 or 1-5, depending on your browser and screen size). Studies have shown that click-through rate (CTR) is significantly greater for results appearing above the fold than below the fold.
  • Traffic from referring keywords – you’ll need to plug the keyword tool into Google Analytics OR use an integrated SEO/digital marketing tool to be able to see this data. Traffic from referring keywords tells you which keywords are actually driving visits to your site – which is one better than simply ranking well for key terms.

If you have access to… CRM and/or digital marketing software (like Optify)

Congrats on unlocking Level 3 of your client’s digital marketing tools. If you have access to your client’s Salesforce account or other digital marketing software (like Optify), you can extract the juiciest of juicy data from your campaigns.


At the end of the day, visits, engagement, traffic, etc. only really add up and make an impact if they immediately or eventually convert into sales leads. With access to these tools, you can see just how many leads your programs have generated for your clients, thus proving the real ROI of your efforts.

Metrics you might consider:

  • Leads from inbound – take a look at how many leads all of the above metrics have generated, including:
    • Organic search
    • Direct and referral traffic
    • Social media (all active channels)
    • Blog posts
    • First-page search rankings (possibly broken down by position on page)

How often should I report?

Marketers can easily get caught up in reporting too much and too often, especially when their campaigns are going well. I personally report monthly on the programs I’m responsible for and honestly don’t recommend formally reporting any more frequently than that. Throughout the month, campaigns will change and fluctuate and it’s extremely difficult to extract actionable insights from such frequent reports. You simply won’t have enough time to properly test the success of campaigns if you consistently and dramatically change them up week over week.

What’s the risk of reporting too much?

So, why not just report on all the things? The answer is simple: you want to avoid data analysis paralysis. There will always be something else you can add to your report, but the goal is to sift through the fluffy data points and only include information that’s insightful and actionable. When you start pulling anything and everything, you risk falling out of line with your campaign goals and direction because you start caring about numbers that don’t actually tell you anything significant or help you reach your goals. Stick to focusing on data that directly correlates to the goals you, your boss or your client set with you at the start of the campaign.
Again, these are simply suggestions for metrics you might consider reporting on if you’re stuck with where to start. If you have other ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments!
Check out some of our other reporting posts:

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