Reporting

How to Write a Great Inbound Marketing Report? Tips and Best Practices

It’s time to think strategically about your marketing calendar. Here are our best tips and practices for creating an inbound marketing report.

Djordje Cvijovic Djordje Cvijovic on December 31, 2021 (last modified on December 21, 2021) • 18 minute read

When it comes to growing a business through inbound marketing activities such as content marketing, blogging, SEO, and email marketing, reporting can basically be used as your blueprint for success. But only if done right.

So, where’s the catch? Although data is available 24/7 for all inbound marketing activities and is easy to track, the problem is that the amount of available information easily puts marketers in analysis paralysis.

So, which areas should you focus on? Which metrics should you include in your inbound marketing report? How often should you report on different inbound marketing activities? Here’s everything you need to know.

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What Is an Inbound Marketing Report?

Inbound marketing reporting is vital for understanding how our marketing strategy performs over time. Since there are many moving parts in almost any inbound marketing activity, it can be difficult to track the impact of each separately. But that’s where inbound marketing reporting comes in. Inbound marketing reporting can help us see how all of our marketing activities relate to each other and work together as a system.

What Should Be Included in an Inbound Marketing Report?

Marketing reports include information about marketing efforts, including marketing initiatives, goals, results of those efforts, and recommendations for future actions. These three elements are key to include in your inbound marketing report:

Goals

A successful marketing goal is SMARTSpecific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound:

  • Specific – “I want to increase sales by X% to $X“.
  • Measurable – “I will measure progress by tracking the number of customers gained through inbound marketing per month/year”.
  • Achievable – “I will use the following strategies to reach my goal: (Strategy 1); (Strategy 2); (Strategy 3)”.
  • Relevant – “This goal is aligned with my mission statement and business strategy“.
  • Time-bound – “My goal is to achieve this by YYYY“.

The purpose of goal setting is not to write down some arbitrary number, but rather to focus your efforts in a specific direction. In order to do this, you need metrics that will indicate whether you’re on target or not.

This is where KPIs come into the game.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The right KPIs make it easy to identify where you should focus your efforts. They can tell you if you’re reaching the right people and converting prospects into customers, and whether or not you’re keeping them around long enough to get a return on your investment. KPIs also help you determine the effectiveness of your current marketing campaign to generate new leads, sales, and customers.

The KPIs in this article are primarily related to inbound marketing, including landing page optimization, lead generation, SEO, and social media promotion:

  • Monthly Visitors – How many visitors your site receives each month.
  • Monthly Leads – How many leads you generate from your website each month.
  • Monthly MQLs – How many “MQLs” (marketing-qualified leads) you generate from your website each month.
  • Monthly SQLs – How many “SQLs” (sales-qualified leads) you generate from your website each month.
  • Monthly Opportunities – How many opportunities you have to make a sale from your website each month.
  • Monthly Customers – How many customers you generate from your website each month.
  • Visitor-to-Leads Ratio – The number of visitors that land on your website divided by the number of leads you generate.
  • Leads-to-MQL Ratio – How many leads are needed to get one MQL.
  • MQL-to-SQL Ratio – This statistic shows how many qualified leads are needed to get one SQL.
  • SQL-to-Opportunities Ratio – This shows how many sales qualified leads are needed to get one opportunity.
  • Opportunities-to-Customers Ratio – This metric reflects how many potential customers are produced from each opportunity.

These key performance indicators will allow you to track your marketing programs, campaigns, and tactics so you can continually improve the effectiveness of your inbound marketing strategy.

Monthly Marketing Analytics

Marketing analytics helps you determine if your marketing efforts are working. This can be done by tracking pre-defined goals or by measuring the metrics that most closely relate to goals.

Conversions

Conversion metrics measure how many people you’ve persuaded to do something as a result of your marketing efforts. Increasing conversions is essential if you want to grow sales or traffic. You can do this by A/B testing your website, implementing marketing automation software, and testing out new channels such as social media and PPC.

Increase in organic search visits

Search engine optimization refers to all the on-site and off-site activities that influence organic search rankings. These include building backlinks and optimizing content with keywords for improved rankings on search engines. The higher you rank on Google, the more web traffic you will receive from organic searches.

Related: SEO Analytics and Reporting: Tips, Best Practices and Tools to Get Started

Email opens

This is a measure of how many recipients opened your emails. It’s usually expressed as a percentage, so if you sent out 2,000 emails and 400 were opened, that would be 20%.

Generated leads

A lead is someone who has provided contact information in exchange for something. For example, a visitor entered his contact information into a contact form in order to download a free e-book.

Related: 24 Best B2B Lead Generation Tools for Getting More Targeted Leads

Social media engagement

This is one of the key metrics in measuring the impact of an inbound marketing strategy. It’s why many marketers continue to invest so much time and effort in developing and posting content on various social media channels.

Paid traffic

Paid traffic includes paid search, paid social media, display ads, and any other form of online advertising. A lot of people think that if they can’t measure it, it doesn’t count. But the reality is, the majority of your website’s visitors will come from paid traffic at some point.

Related: Clicks but no Conversions? 19 Tips on How to Convert Paid Traffic into Qualified Leads

Cost per lead

This is the amount you spend to generate a lead. You can calculate this by dividing your total investment on a specific activity by the number of leads generated. However, it’s important to consider other factors such as lifetime value and conversion rate.

Which Metrics Should You Include in an Inbound Marketing Report?

Should you include page views or bounce rate? Perhaps it should be comments or social shares…

The list of possible metrics goes on, which is why it’s so important to determine which metrics you need to include before creating your inbound marketing report. Based on more than 1.000+ analyzed inbound marketing reports, we have singled out these metrics as the most valued.

Top Level Traffic Metrics

If you want to impress your boss, focus on the “top-level metrics” like goals and conversions. Some reports highlight the top five most-viewed blog posts, but that doesn’t mean much without knowing how and why users came to your website. For example, if your website is an e-commerce store, then it’s probably better to pay attention to the number of visitors who have left their phone numbers by analyzing the call tracking feature.

All other things being equal, you can optimize your campaign around calls rather than clicks because it’s a better measure of success. You can even focus your efforts on making sure that people actually click through to your website from the content they’ve read. If you do this consistently, then you’ll soon be able to see which pieces of content are most effective at driving traffic to your site. You can provide a list of best and worst-performing content with links to each piece. This helps you determine whether you should continue to invest in a specific type of content.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is a hot topic in Inbound Marketing, and rightly so. After all, good leads are the fuel that keeps the machine running. But what exactly is a lead? And how does it differ from other metrics you can measure?

The answer to this question could be tricky.

A lead is different from other metrics you can track and report on because it’s not really something specific and concrete. It’s more of a state of mind: a person who has expressed interest in what you can offer them. For example, some companies will only count a lead if they have been contacted by a potential customer or client at least twice. In other cases, a ‘lead’ means the user has given his/her information for future communication. Be sure to clarify with your boss what you should include in your report on leads generated.

HubSpot Lead Generation Flow
Source: HubSpot

It’s important not to just put all your leads into one bucket, because then you can get lost in the data. If you haven’t broken it down into SQLS and MQLs, earlier mentioned, then there’s no way of knowing what stage each lead is at. The danger of which is that you might go to a client and say “We have 150 leads, but only 10 are SQLs”, when in fact 90 of them are MQLs which you never got round to qualifying. So, break it down into those two buckets and then you can really start looking at what works and what doesn’t.

How exactly lead generation works?

The following 3 metric examples will give you a more detailed explanation:

  • New Signups – This is a straightforward metric that will tell you how many people have signed up for your service.
  • Referrals – This metric is similar to New Signups, but instead of looking at how many people signed up for your service, it looks at how many people signed up through a referral link.
  • Reach – This metric is also similar to New Signups and Referrals, however, it gives you a better idea of how many people saw your content. For example, if someone shares your blog post on Facebook, and 50 people liked it and 5 of those people shared it, then the initial person reached 55 people. 55 + 5 = 60.

Social Media Metrics

The problem with including the standard social media metrics in a report for inbound marketing is that they don’t actually mean anything – they’re not actionable. Anyone can find them on social media platforms. One thing that you should be looking at when creating an inbound marketing report is how effective social media has been when used to attract traffic to your website.

Social Reporting
Source: HubSpot

In this screenshot, you see two important metrics: Sessions and Contacts. So, when determining how successful your social media strategy has been, you should look at two things:

  • The number of sessions generated from each piece of social media content.
  • Contacts to your website (how many people sent you any form of request).

If you’re not sure what to include in your reports, start by creating reports that show how your social media efforts are contributing to your overall business goals. Don’t overload your reports with too much data. Instead, include only the most important social media data that are relevant to your specific business goals. This will help you easily identify trends and opportunities for improvement. Then, as you gain more experience with social media, you can create more customized reports that focus on specific goals or campaigns.

Email Performance Metrics

The number of emails in your inbound marketing report will vary based on all sorts of variables. Let’s say that you sent out an email to 2,000 people and 1,000 opened it. That’s a 50% open rate. If you sent out two emails with similar subject lines to the same number of people and one email had a 10% open rate and the other had a 45% open rate, then you have a big difference there. It is also vital you track your email marketing ROI as well as the open rate and CTR. This will help you learn what works and what doesn’t, which you can use to increase your ROI.

Don’t forget to track your bounce rates too – a high bounce rate may mean something is going wrong with your mail provider or email. You can also track how many people click on a link within the email – this is called an action.

As you can see, email metrics provide a gold mine of useful information, so make sure to include them in your inbound marketing report.

What Should You Report on Daily, Weekly, and Monthly?

What metrics should you report on every day, every week, and every month?

Daily Inbound Marketing Reporting

Are you looking at the right metrics every day?

By “right,” we mean metrics that will help you track your progress toward your goals, but still specific enough that they don’t take up much of your time. It’s not enough to look at leads, conversions, visits, and other numbers that fall under the general heading of “inbound marketing.” You need to make sure you’re looking at the right numbers for your business which you can influence on a daily basis.

Start with monitoring these:

  • Website Traffic – An easy place to start is with website traffic. In order to know if your marketing efforts are paying off, you need to know where your leads are coming from and how many of those leads convert into customers. There are a few different ways to measure website traffic:
  1. Unique visitors – this will tell you how many unique visitors have visited your site. You can use this information to generate a heat map for a single month or a year. This can help you see if certain times of the year attract more traffic than others.
  2. Pageviews – pageviews will tell you how many pages have been viewed on your site. You can use this information to show how many pages each visitor has seen on your site and what type of content they’re most interested in viewing.
  3. Site search – this will tell you how many people have used your site search function and can help you analyze if there are certain keywords people are searching for on your site.
  4. Average time on site – shows you how long each visitor spends on your website and gives you an idea as to how engaged they are with the content you’re providing them.
  • Social Media Performance – Get a snapshot of your content’s daily performance based on specific measures. For example, if you want to view how much traffic each Facebook post created by your team is generating directly from Facebook analytics, search for all posts tagged “marketing.” This way you’ll have an accurate idea of how many people are visiting your site directly from social media. Tools like Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics will display your latest post’s reach for quick analysis.

Weekly Inbound Marketing Reporting

The first step is making sure everyone on your team knows what his or her responsibilities are for the week. If there are any new projects or campaigns that need to be started, make sure everyone knows about them and is working on them. The goal is primarily to find out what’s happening with your campaigns and whether or not they’re having the impact you want them to. You’ll also want to see if there are any new campaigns that need to be put into place or existing campaigns that need to be changed or fixed.

These metrics will help you to understand your weekly marketing efforts:

  • Website Traffic – It’s really easy to lose sight of how many people visit your website every day. That’s why it’s important to track this metric weekly too. A weekly review of website traffic helps you track the effectiveness of your marketing activities and identify areas for improvement. Anything with less of an impact — traffic spikes or drops, for example, can probably be tracked weekly.
  • Blog Traffic – A new blog post may generate a large amount of traffic in a short amount of time, but don’t be disappointed if the traffic quickly drops. Instead, look at the number of visitors weekly and pay attention to which keywords led to increased traffic. Each blog post should get at least 150 unique visitors from organic search engines within one month of being published. That is why you should track weekly performance in order to get a sense of whether the content is relevant to your target audience.
  • Leads – As your marketing efforts continue, you want to regularly check in on your leads. A drop in leads can indicate a problem with your CTAs, emails, or landing pages. If you find a problem, assess the impact of the change on your conversion rate and overall performance.

Monthly Inbound Marketing Reporting

What to report on monthly?

The answer may depend on the goals of your company. This is the most complex but also the most comprehensive inbound marketing report. If you’re a B2B company, it’s important to know how many leads you generate, but it’s also important to know which source drove these leads — was it organic search, PPC, social media, content marketing, or something else? Goals and key metrics should be discussed during a meeting, along with the overall strategy for the next month.

  • Website Traffic – This metric may count unique visitors, pageviews, or sessions in the past month alone or across several months (such as 12 months), depending on how it’s calculated and what you want to emphasize. You can also track website traffic by country to determine where your audience is coming from, which can help you tailor your content to appeal to them more effectively.
  • Page Performance – You’ll want to know which pages are performing the best, including landing pages and blog articles. You shouldn’t fous only on pageviews, but primarily on conversions you get from those pages.
  • Campaigns – The first thing any marketer needs to know is how their campaign performed. Was it a success or a total dud? The way you define success depends on your goals but often, you’ll want to know how many new contacts were created and how many customers were acquired as a result of this campaign. Campaign metrics can help you to determine the channels with the biggest impact on recent campaign performance and where to spend more of your efforts and budget.
  • Leads – You want to see steady growth in leads each month so that your client/manager continues to fund your efforts even when you aren’t generating immediate revenue. Every month, pull together a report that details the number of leads generated from each channel.
  • Visitor To Lead Conversion (VTLC) – When it comes to tracking important metrics for inbound marketing success, VTLC one stands above the rest. In fact, according to HubSpot research, companies who track their VTL have a 35 percent higher lead quality compared with those who don’t track their VTL at all. The VTL conversion rate is also useful for benchmarking purposes. You can use this metric to compare your results to other companies’ in your industry, or to competitors’.
  • Cost Per Lead – Very useful metric for determining which inbound marketing activities work best for you. Track your cost per lead by channel (organic search, referral traffic, social media, email marketing, direct traffic, etc.) to determine where most value is coming from and where you should devote more resources.
  • Customers – Because there is a lot of noise in the data, you can’t rely on any single number to tell you what’s going on with your customers. If you have a small business and you have lots of customers, the difference between numbers might not be very important. But if you have a small business and a smaller number of customers, being able to pick up the patterns in your data can give you a huge competitive advantage.
  • Leads to Customer Rate – Inbound marketing is all about the conversion from lead to customer. Inbound marketers want to build relationships with leads and nurture those leads into new customers. For this reason, it’s important to track the number of leads you generate as well as the number of customers you acquire each month. When tracking your lead-to-customer conversion rate, remember to divide the total number of customers for the month by the total number of leads (multiplied by 100). This tells you how well your leads are converting into sales.
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Create Better Inbound Marketing Reports with Databox

Although inbound marketing is still relatively young, there are scores of statistics, tools, and benchmarks to choose from when creating your inbound marketing report. This whole process takes time, but it’s all worth it in the end.

Remember, a well-crafted and comprehensive report can be used as a blueprint for marketing success.

Once you have reporting set up, you can evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts better and make adjustments where necessary. This whole process won’t happen overnight, but if you invest enough time and resources to set up a successful inbound marketing reporting process, you will rarely hit roadblocks into the future.

Want to speed up the whole process? Instead of tracking a bunch of different marketing metrics across a bunch of different tools, visualize all of them in one place with Databox.

It’s free. Just create your free account here, connect your data, and build your first inbound marketing report in minutes.

About the author
Djordje Cvijovic
Djordje Cvijovic Grew up as a Copywriter. Evolved into the Content creator. Somewhere in between, I fell in love with numbers that can portray the world as well as words or pictures. A naive thinker who believes that the creative economy is the most powerful force in the world!
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