Just as important as having a great inbound marketing strategy is knowing what metrics you need to be tracking to tell if it’s effective.

Inbound marketing (i.e., emails, blog content, social media, ads, and everything else you do to attract customers to your brand) is critical to success. However, it’s not enough to just put these tactics in place and hope for the best. You need to use qualitative and quantitative metrics to attach value to each of your efforts and determine whether they’re pulling their weight. From there, you can decide what’s making the most significant impact with your audience and what might be eating up more resources than it’s producing.

Below, we’re looking at the benefits of using qualitative and quantitative metrics for your inbound marketing strategy, including some examples of what you might want to start tracking if you’re not already.

Why Measuring More Than Just ROI is Important for Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

Around the globe, 41 percent of marketers report that inbound marketing produces measurable ROI for their brand.

But is ROI really the only metric that matters?

Well, yes — and no.

Your return on investment is a top concern with any marketing endeavor, but it’s not as easy as just calculating money in versus money out.

ROI can be calculated in both qualitative and quantitative ways. So while you’ll want to know how much a certain tactic upped your profits, you’ll also want to know how it impacted things like web traffic, brand awareness, and integrity, and search visibility — among many others.

By breaking up your metrics into qualitative and quantitative measurements —  instead of just focusing on pure financial ROI — you gain way more insight into the things that matter for running a successful and sustainable business. And since neither on their own is enough to give you the full picture, you’ll want to make sure that you measure both. Doing so is a great way to create the best inbound marketing strategy possible, particularly when it comes to figuring out what’s worth your time and budget and what isn’t.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative: What’s the Difference?

Okay, so you know that you need to be tracking both types of marketing metrics, but do you know what they are?

Qualitative metrics – These are metrics that look at value beyond clear-cut numbers. For that reason, they’re slightly more difficult to measure — but definitely not less critical. Ultimately, these are in the intangibles, the subjective value drivers that sit at the foundation of successful brands but might not be as glamorous or catchy as their quantitative counterparts.

Quantitative metrics – These are the types of metrics you probably focus on the most since they’re direct indicators of growth represented in numerical (and thus easy to understand) figures. Quantitative metrics jump out on the page, but relying on them alone leaves gaps that might cause you to abandon an effort too early — something you might not have done if you were also looking at qualitative value.

What Metrics to Measure

A lot goes into implementing an inbound marketing strategy. You have to create content that applies to each stage of the buyer’s journey, and you have to ensure you’re creating a trail from your earned media and offsite content to your onsite content where new visitors can convert to leads. From there, you have to set up effective nurture campaigns that educate prospects on your business and product so they can start to consider you as a solution and eventually convert to a customer. 

With that said, the metrics you use to measure results from these efforts are somewhat endless. Consider your specific short and long-term goals so you can zero in on the ones that matter for your business. 

That being said, it helps to have a good idea of what metrics are out there so that you can narrow in on the ones that make the most sense for your business. So, here are some of the most common qualitative and quantitative metrics to consider as you define your efforts, as well as examples of metrics that pertain to them.

Examples of Qualitative Metrics:

  • Brand credibility – Are industry peers and influencers are reaching out to you for your input in their articles.
  • Brand awareness – Are you gaining new clients from word of mouth or third-party recommendations?
  • Brand trust – Are customers fully trusting you with their strategies?
  • Sales enablement – Is the content your sales reps use in their conversations leading to more sales?
  • Consumer education – Are new leads coming in with a better understanding of what your company does and offers?
  • Industry influence –  Are industry influencers reaching out to you to speak at their events?
  • Consumer feedback and engagement – Are you receiving positive reviews and feedback from new customers regarding your sales and onboarding process?

Examples of Quantitative Metrics:

  • Revenue generated – Are your inbound marketing efforts, like your drip campaigns or paid ads, effectively leading to new customers converting every month?
  • Number of leads – Are you seeing more people sign up for your emails when they reach your site by way of offsite content?  
  • Web traffic – Are one of your pillar posts effectively bringing in new site visitors each month? 
  • Bounce rates – Are people spending more time on your site, looking at various pages? 
  • Social media followers – Is your social media promo email campaign leading to more followers?
  • Search visibility – When you search a certain keyword or phrase, are you seeing your content climb in search results? 
  • Gated content downloads – Are the email and paid ad promo campaigns for your new white paper leading to more people downloading it? 
  • Email conversation rates – Are your click-through-rates, subscribe and unsubscribe rates, etc., all moving in a positive direction?

After looking at these metrics, it might be more clear why neither qualitative nor quantitative metrics on their own can tell you the whole story about how well you’re performing. Is an increase in social media followers a definite win if the quality of engagement has decreased? Is bringing on more leads a true indicator of long-term success if your industry influence and brand trust are subsequently decreasing? Marketing metrics are most useful when they’re put into context, which means expanding the scope of what you’re looking at and why.

There’s no such thing as set-it-and-forget-it marketing. Always use data to drive your decision-making and next steps, especially when it comes to resource allocation. By putting qualitative and quantitative metrics front and center, you’ll be able to design a strategy that’s completely in tune with your business and your on-the-ground impact.