Ask an MSP Expert

Q: We are investing more money in our MSP marketing, but we’re looking for ways to track our success. What marketing metrics should we measure?

First of all, congratulations! Measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns is a great way to know if your marketing is on the right track. Good marketing metrics can help you tweak your approach to get better results, or abandon a campaign before it costs you too much time, money, and effort with little or no return.

To help your marketing team get on the right track, we spoke to Richard Delahaye, the senior director of marketing at Barracuda MSP. He shared his advice on how MSPs can make the most of marketing metrics and benchmarks to achieve the results that they’re looking for.

Marketing metrics to track

It can be helpful to look at your marketing in two parts, marketing to prospective customers versus marketing to current customers, because you’re aiming for different results in each group. With a prospective customer, the goal is for them to turn into a customer. For a paying customer, often the goal is to keep them happy and hopefully to get them to buy more.

Prospective customers

A few metrics that you might want to track for prospective customers are how fast your database is growing or your website conversion rate. How many people who visit your web site fill out a form or call you? If a metric like this is under performing against a benchmark, you can dig around to find out why. It could be a broken link, a broken form, confusing navigation or something else you may have missed. Metrics can be helpful in identifying problems that you might be having with your current Marketing assets and methods.

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You can also use metrics to plan and track events such as webinars or meet-and-greets. Understanding typical benchmarks for email opens, click-throughs, registrations, and attendance can help you estimate the number of people you can expect at future events just from the list size of invitees. By understanding what your results should look like, you can identify what is working well and what’s not and hopefully prevent future under-performance.

Often, people refer to marketing as a funnel. A funnel is an easy way to visualize how you expect marketing activities to perform as well as track metrics of actual performance.  A typical marketing funnel shows leads at the top and sales at the bottom You can consider the funnel as something that applies to all of marketing, or even draw separate funnels from campaign to campaign. 

For example, if you were to look at it from a campaign perspective, at the top of the funnel you may have started with sending an email to 1,000 people. X amount of people opened that email, Y people responded, Z sales conversations happened and hopefully, a handful of actual sales at the bottom. Each stage of the funnel could be a good metric to track for that campaign.

 

Current customers

For current customers, you could track how many additional services you’re adding to existing accounts. This is usually a combined effort from sales and marketing but tracking this closely can help identify what’s working and what isn’t.

Another thing that’s important to measure on the customer front is engagement. For example, how many people are subscribed to your blog? How many people are unsubscribing from your emails? You want to make sure your engagement metrics are going in the right direction, because that can help you determine  how well your marketing is being perceived by your customers.

Metrics musts

As with any business, your MSP needs to be sure you are tracking metrics that matter. There is no point in tracking metrics that no one cares about. It’s important to focus on the details, but you want to make sure the metrics you’re reporting matter to your boss and that the business  as a whole understands what the numbers mean and don’t mean. For example, if one of your metrics is how many leads you’re generating, what counts as a lead? Does it mean a new name in the database or someone who has contacted the company for a quote?

Lastly, understand that good metrics don’t always come cheap. You need to invest time and money to produce metrics you can rely on. Often metrics can be built into your CRM or other marketing tools, but sometimes you need to do some preparation to make sure your data will be accurate while also needing to track certain metrics by hand if necessary.

What to do if things seem way off

When marketing metrics and benchmarks are telling you something is wrong, take a critical look at what you are doing. For example, if your website isn’t capturing leads — don’t abandon it — try to find a way to fix it! However, if your metrics are set up correctly, nothing is broken and  the campaign is just not producing results, abandon this activity and start another. You only have so many hours in the day and so many campaign dollars, so you should put them good use doing an activity that produces results.

In summary, a good way to think about metrics is to think less is more. A small set of good metrics, measured accurately, is better than a broad set that is error-prone or poorly understood.

Finally, a former mentor of mine always talked about “Analysis-paralysis.” In other words, if you spend too much time trying to measure what’s going on, you aren’t spending enough time doing good marketing. Having no metrics is a bad thing, but too many can really slow you down when you could be planning and executing your next campaign. Find out what matters to your business, track those results and use the data you collect to learn from your mistakes and constantly improve.

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Photo:  NicoElNino / Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is an Editorial Associate at Barracuda MSP. In this position, she creates and develops content that helps managed service providers grow their business. She also regularly writes The MSP’s Bookshelf and our Ask an MSP Expert column.

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