AMY PORTERFIELD: “If I didn't know my numbers well and if I wasn't tracking over the last year, let's say, then I wouldn't have gotten to the decision that I think is the best decision we made.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: I want to tell you about a podcast I think you should check out. It's called Marketing Against the Grain. It's hosted by Kipp Bodnar and Kieran Flanagan, and it's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. Because I know you market for your business, if you want to know what's trending, what's ahead, and how you can lead the way, this is the podcast for you. Hosts Kipp and Kieran share their marketing hot takes like nobody does. I love when they talk about things like how to turn problems into opportunities or dive deep into A.I. and marketing. It’s so good. So be sure to check it out. You can listen to Marketing Against the Grain wherever you get your podcasts.
Hey, there. Welcome to another episode of Online Marketing Made Easy.
In today's episode, we're going to dive into one of my very favorite topics, and that is marketing metrics. Yes, my sweet friend, we're going to deep dive into the specific marketing metrics that I track in my business and, more importantly, how I track them and why. And if you know me you know that I am a data nerd. Not only do I find it fascinating to know how my business is performing at all times, but understanding the metrics on a really intimate level, it's always helped me inform some of my bigger decisions. In so many ways, knowing your metrics takes the guesswork out of making decisions that might be difficult otherwise, and it helps you to move forward confidently with your choices. So if you've ever been curious about what metrics you could consider tracking, then you're going to want to take notes on this one because I'm going to take you behind the scenes of my business and share with you the numbers that are most important to me.
Now, please keep in mind that I'm fourteen years into entrepreneurship, and I also have a team of twenty people that support me in doing this. I'm not a new business owner, and I did not track like this in my early years, so I just want you to hear that. I wasn't tracking all of these metrics in the first few years of my business—heck, even in the first ten years. Now, do I wish I were tracking these numbers earlier? I do, and that's why I'm sharing them with you. Whether you're just getting started, you've been at it for a while, or you're totally seasoned, I do believe understanding what I'm tracking could help you to start tracking earlier, because the more you know, the better you do in your business.
But at the same time, you do not need to go overboard in the beginning. I just wish when I was, like, let's say, in my second year of business, I wish that someone had made an episode like this to tell me what would be valuable to track, and then over the next few years, I'd start tracking those, as I had the bandwidth to do so. But I had no idea what to track. So for many, many years I was kind of clueless.
But again, I'm fourteen years in, so please listen when I say that my intention with this episode is not to tell you what you should be tracking; it's to share with you what we track in my business, and then you can make the decision whether tracking that particular metric makes sense for you. Deal?
I'm going to run you through a pretty exhaustive list of the marketing metrics that I pay attention to. And depending on where you're at in your journey, there may be a couple of things that really make sense for you to track, and that's okay. I need to reiterate: I have a team of twenty people. I'm not the only one pulling these numbers and analyzing these numbers. If it was just me, I would not be tracking all of these. It's not possible for me to track all of this. And part of the tracking is actually figuring out how to freaking get these numbers out of whatever system you're using. That's half the battle. So if I was a one-woman show, it wouldn't be this exhaustive, but because I have such a great team, I'm able to do more. Also, keep that in mind.
But it's my hope that by hearing about some of the things that a business of my size is evaluating, it will be helpful for you as you continue to grow. So, please just take what you can from this and by no means think that you need to be tracking all of these things that I'm about to share with you, because we might be in totally different places.
Now, here's how I'm going to break it down in this episode. First, I'm going to tell you why metrics are so important to track and how they can really help you as you continue to grow your business. Next, I'll share the specific platforms that we use to track and record metrics in my business. Then, we're going to get into how we're sharing metrics within my team and how often we're looking at them. I think that's important as well. If you're going to take the effort to pull these numbers, how often are you going to actually look at them? And then from there, I'll talk about the specific metrics that we track and why those numbers are important. And then, finally, we'll get into some ways that you can set goals for your metrics.
I think you'll agree with me that we have a lot to cover in this episode, and because there's so much information I'm about to go over, I'll be sharing a marketing-metrics cheat sheet with you that includes all of the metrics I mentioned. So, hang on till the very end of this episode to hear how to snag it. So, you don't even need to take notes. And if your head is spinning, you just remember, “Amy said I don't need to track all of this. She's just sharing what works for her.” So if you're ready to dive in, let's get to it.
Okay. So the first thing I want to get into is why tracking your metrics is important. And it's because it provides a way for you to measure the performance and success, or lack thereof, of certain aspects of your business. In today's episode, we're focusing on marketing, but there are so many other areas of your business that you can track, too, like your customer service and satisfaction numbers or your overall business growth, things like that.
Not to mention if you have a team like I do, when everyone is aware of how your business is performing, individual team members are more likely to take ownership of their responsibilities and be accountable for the success of that particular metric. So I love when different team members own specific metrics. They're not only pulling those metrics; they're making sure other people have the data, and they're analyzing that data. So again, it's not just, like, me figuring out what numbers do I want to pull, then pulling them, and then analyzing them and making sense of them and communicating to the team. We do that team wide with different people on the team, so they're responsible for specific metrics.
And then, finally, one of the biggest reasons you should track your metrics is that when you track them over time, you can get a high-level overview of the areas where you really need to improve from a strategic standpoint. Knowing this sort of thing can help you figure out, let's say, if you want to add a new product to your line up or redesign your website because you found that you're losing a lot of people when they visit it. We recently used the metrics to figure out that we need to bring a consultant in to figure out a really high-level challenge that we're having. And based on the metrics and knowing that if we were able to dial in this certain area of my business, we would see a lot more profit. And so it justified bringing in a high-level consultant to help us figure it out, because for about a year we've been trying to increase this one metric, and we haven't been able to, and so we thought, “Okay. We've tried it on our own for a long time. Hasn’t worked. It’s time to bring in a consultant.” If I didn't know my numbers well and if I wasn't tracking over the last year, let's say, then I wouldn't have gotten to the decision that I think is the best decision we made, which is bringing in this consultant.
I'll share what the consultant's about, what we're doing, a little bit later once we get it dialed in. I don't like to share things when they're very half baked, because what value would that bring to you? So be patient, little grasshopper. I'll come back with that one.
So like I said, it really helps take some of the guesswork out of these big decisions that you might have on your plate, like spending money on a consultant or whatever it might be. And it has for me, for sure. And I promise, even though it might seem annoying or time consuming or sometimes even confusing to pull the data and then to make sense of it, having this information available to you as a resource is invaluable. So no matter what stage you're in, set aside some time to schedule the act of actually figuring out your metrics—which ones do you want to pull— and then, how you will pull them, and then, how often you will analyze them.
We'll get into all of this a little bit more, but right now I just want to jump into the specific platform we use to track our metrics. We use a platform called Ninety, so just the word Ninety, and you can check it out at ninety.io. But for us, it's been such a lifesaver because when it comes to tracking, it's streamlined, it's all in one place, it's cloud based, so it really does help.
In addition to that, though, we pay for it. So if you don't want to add any extra expenses to your overall expenses, then use a spreadsheet. Because listen, a spreadsheet’s great as well, and if you are strapped for cash, then by all means put it in a spreadsheet. But Ninety has made everything more efficient and easily accessible to a team of twenty people. It's very user friendly. I love how easily I can share data with team members. And what's great about it is that it has super-flexible pricing based on the number of users you have.
So if you are a solopreneur, you can get it for, like, sixteen dollars a month or something like that. Don't quote me on it. You got to look. It probably changes. But when your team is really small, it is inexpensive.
So if you are willing to add a little extra expense to the bottom line, I'd go for Ninety over spreadsheets. But again, spreadsheets work. And really, the whole point is to get into the habit of starting to pull the numbers, track the numbers, analyze the numbers. That, I care more about than the platform you're going to use.
All right, moving on. Now you're probably wondering, “How often should I be checking my metrics?” And like I said, this totally depends on what your goals are, the size of your business, and any specific initiatives you have going on. But in my business, my team gets together once a week to review everything. Different departments get together; we don't do a whole team-wide “Let's review our metrics this week.” So it's department by department.
Now, there are lots of different areas in my business that we track. So for instance, my community team has certain metrics they look at, and my customer-service team has their own metrics. But for marketing metrics, specifically, my marketing team meets once a week, where they take a look at all the data. That's not the only reason why they're meeting. They have a team-wide meeting once a week, and in that meeting they start out by reviewing the metrics. And they compare the metrics. If you use Ninety, it's a really easy way to compare it against your overall goals and, let's say, last week's numbers if you're doing weekly.
So if we see that we're off track from, let's say, our average that we're going for or if we had a slip, let's say, in podcast downloads—that's something I track—if we had a slip from last week, we kind of talk about why that might be, and we brainstorm ideas. But we don't typically change things right away when we see a number change. We're really looking for patterns over time. But that's why you have to check it weekly so you can start identifying the patterns.
In my business, we choose to track and compare data weekly, monthly, quarterly, and then, of course, end-of-year numbers. So once a week we look at certain stats, and then each month we look at some other stats. Like, here's an example. I'll look at weekly downloads on the podcast, but I'll also, once a month, look at overall monthly downloads. So that's just one of the monthly things that we track. Or we'll look at monthly traffic to the website, but we're not looking at weekly traffic to my website. So again, we just make decisions based on what we care about the most. And then, of course, there's very few stats we'll check yearly. One of them would be revenue and profit margin.
But here's the thing: reviewing my metrics once every week makes sense for the place I'm in at my business right now. But if you have a smaller business and you don't have a big team, maybe once a month is perfect for you. In fact, I'd probably start there. Once a month I'd pull my numbers and look at all of them, analyze how I see fit, and move on.
So whatever makes sense for you, make sure to book time in your calendar to gather the data you'll need and the time to review it. Plus, if you have a simple tracking system set up like Ninety, it shouldn't take much time to review.
Okay. So we're moving into the really fun part of this episode, which is all about the specific marketing metrics that we track. And just a reminder that I'll be sharing a really great marketing-metric cheat sheet with you at the end of this episode, where I list all of these out. So don't worry about taking notes. If you're on a treadmill, you're good, my friend. I've got a cheat sheet that you can use later.
So like I said, my team tracks weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual metrics. And I'm going to start by sharing with you the data that we look at on a weekly basis.
The first thing we do is look at our evergreen data. So for me, that's List Builders Society, which is my digital course. So we review the data generated, or the total sales from the previous week, and how many leads we got that week, because it's an evergreen webinar, so we are sending leads to a webinar.
And the reason we track that is that my evergreen is something that consistently brings revenue into our business, and we rely on it. So, of course, we want to make sure that's on track with our goals. So because we have a lot of expenses, an evergreen digital course is such a great idea to bring in consistent revenue to, of course, make money—I want to make a profit—but I also want to make sure that, like, LBS is covering our expenses. It's a funny way to look at it, I know, but, like, mentally in my mind, I always think about it that way.
Again, please listen to this with a grain of salt. Some of you tuning in are very advanced, but I also know some of you are just starting out. So please don't get down on yourself if you don't have an evergreen product just yet. You will. You will, my friend. And don't forget, Digital Course Academy is coming up in September. So if you want to learn how to create a digital course, just go to amyporterfield.com/dca, and you can join my wait list, and I'll let you know when I open the doors. Once a year I open the doors to Digital Course Academy.
All right. So the next thing we look at every week are tools and trade commissions, a.k.a. our affiliate commissions, which represent a big part of how the business makes money. So as you might know by now, I work with a number of different brands as an affiliate partner, where I help promote their products or services in exchange for a commission.
Now, this revenue represents a big piece of my business, and if you haven't listened to it already and are curious about how to earn passive income through affiliate marketing, you should check out my episode called “Affiliate Marketing 101.” So if you go to amyporterfield.com/568, it's really informative. It gives you a great roadmap of how to get started to make some extra money in your business through affiliate marketing. I share kind of what my affiliate-marketing deals look like. So anyway, amyporterfield.com/568. You could be making thousands more dollars in your business a month or a year, whatever it might be, just by adding affiliate marketing.
And I'm talking about, like, ConvertKit and Srchy. And then bigger programs that I promote, like Stu McLaren's, The Membership Experience. All of that is affiliate marketing.
So anyways, we take a look at how much we're making through our affiliate partnerships. And because affiliate marketing is a big part of the business, we make a point to look at this and track it every week. But if you don't have a lot of money coming in through affiliate marketing, maybe this is a monthly or quarterly thing. So that's a good way to kind of decide, do I want to track it monthly, quarterly, weekly, whatever it might be? How quickly are those numbers changing? For us, like, weekly affiliate sales, those numbers look different every single week, so it's important to look at them. But if I'm not doing much of affiliate marketing, maybe it's just a quarterly thing. See what I'm saying there? Okay.
So after that, we dive into my favorite, list-building metrics. The three things that I pay most attention to are the size of my email list, the net subscriber growth, and then, how many people have unsubscribed. So the net subscriber growth, that means that, let's say, if I have—I'm just making these numbers up—a thousand people join my email list this week, but I lose a hundred, the net would be nine hundred. So I like to be really honest with myself about those numbers.
And no matter the size of your business, these three metrics are key. Again, just the overall size of my email list, the net subscriber growth for that week, and then how many people have unsubscribed for that week.
And of course, these numbers will fluctuate, and it's important to associate those fluctuations with what's going on in the business. If I have a big promo happening, I'm going to get more unsubscribes. That's just the name of the game. If I have a big promo happening, I'm also going to get more people on my email list. So I kind of need to know what's going on in the business when I'm looking at the numbers. And then, I use these numbers as clues to make educated decisions.
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Now, there are literally a million metrics that your customer-relationship-management platform is going to offer you, so you'll need to figure out which ones are going to be the most valuable to you.
We also like to keep an eye on the email-open rate and, also, the click-through rate. So we do check those as well, just to make sure that people are still enjoying our emails and that the numbers are showing that. Now, these are super important because your weekly newsletter is, like, your bread-and-butter content, right? So looking at how people are interacting with these emails can really help you figure out the things that are working and the things that are not.
Okay. Moving on to the final metrics that we look at every week, and those are the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast metrics. The podcast is a big driver for our top-of-funnel leads, so we really want to make sure that we're on track with it in all aspects. That means we're looking at things like tracking the month-to-date downloads to make sure we're on track to our monthly goal. And then, the total downloads we have that week for both our Tuesday and Thursday episodes. And then, our Apple Podcasts ranking for the business category. That one, we don't put a lot of emphasis on, the Apple Podcasts ranking for business, because we have no idea why it changes. Some weeks we, like, shoot up the rankings, and we're like, we have no idea why we just did. And then, we might have a great week, and we literally fall ten spots. So it's more of a vanity metric. My ego can't help it; I have to check it. But it's not nearly as important as tracking the month-to-date downloads to make sure we're on track to hit our goal of a million or more downloads every month, that kind of thing.
All right. So there you have it. Those are the metrics that I'm looking at in my marketing department and discussing on a weekly basis. And I won’t lie: that was a lot of information. So if I've lost you, come back to me because we're about to dive into the metrics that my team and I evaluate on a monthly basis, and this list is a whole lot smaller.
From a monthly perspective, the first thing we're looking at is our total podcast downloads. That's been a big initiative for us over the last year and a half. So we like to check in on it to make sure that we're on track and meeting our goals. If we aren’t, we are brainstorming. Like, we just go right into brainstorming.
And I have to tell you, I have to stop for a quick second and tell you a quick story. So for years and years and years—I'm talking, like, four, five years—I was trying to grow my podcast, and I always had this goal of a million downloads a month. And at the time I had the goal, I might have been at, like, four hundred thousand downloads a month. I was very far from a million. We had brought in a consultant to analyze the podcast. We had different team members become responsible for it. I had a lot of different—I had three different people try to grow the podcast that just couldn't make it work. And so we kept looking at numbers that weren't growing.
And what I want to say, the reason I tell you that, is it's hard that when you have a goal—let's say my goal of wanting to hit a million downloads a month, and for years, I'm looking at the number, and it's not. It's not going above five hundred thousand, to be quite honest—and so it's hard to see numbers every single week or once a month that aren't doing what you want them to do. But as long as you're brainstorming, experimenting, trying new things, you will eventually get there. And we did. We are now doing over a million downloads a month, and we have been for an entire year, almost, I think. I think it’s—mm. I think it's been almost a year. I could be off with that number. But actually, no, it's been, like, eight months that we've been able to hit this. And so I feel really blessed, but, also, I've looked at the numbers when they haven't been anywhere where I wanted them to be for years, and I know how maddening it is. But I just want to say don't give up; you will get there. But the minute you give up looking at the numbers, I promise you, you're never going to hit them. Like, you have to keep your eye on the prize.
Okay. So we look at the total podcast downloads for the month. And then once a month, our social-media manager reports on all of our social-media platforms. So for us, that's Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Now, for each platform, we're tracking things like net follower growth, total impressions and engagements, and video views. And then the reason we track social is that those new followers are new people in our audience. And as we continue to expand our reach, we want to make sure we're creating and posting content that really resonates with them. So that's it for monthly social-media tracking.
Next, we report on our evergreen products and our email list. So basically, we're just reporting on the same numbers that we do weekly; we're just keeping track of where we landed that month, so we can easily compare these month to month. Again, if you're more advanced, you definitely want to track this from week to week. And if you’re new in your business and you’re still a pretty small business, small audience, you can just look at this data on a monthly basis to see what kind of trends you're seeing. Remember, you're looking for trends. You're looking for patterns. You're looking for spikes. You're looking for dips.
All right. Now let's dive into quarterly tracking. First up are tools-and-resources revenue, which, as you already know, is affiliate-marketing revenue. And then, a really big one for us is the website. We're putting a ton of effort into the website in the upcoming year, so we're paying particular attention to this area. So if you're a new entrepreneur, you should be tracking your website metrics at least on a quarterly basis. You can keep it super simple like we do, and look at basic metrics like web-page views, bounce-rate, session time, and new subscribers.
I'll be honest, we haven't been tracking the website-performance metrics for that long. And I urge you, my sweet friend, don't make the same mistake that I did. Your website is one of the most effective tools you have in your arsenal to reach and engage your ICA. So you want to know how it's performing because it will help inform strategic decisions moving forward. Because I've had a podcast for so long and I send people to my show notes, but I know so many people are not coming to my website to listen to my podcast, so I just have never put a huge emphasis on that traffic, and I wish I had. When you take a look at the reasons why your metrics are dipping down, you better understand why it occurred, and you can develop a solid plan to address those issues.
So now that you know that we track on a quarterly basis, here's what we look at annually, and it's a really short list. Are you ready? Of course, we look at total revenue and our profit margin. That's something that I guess it goes without saying because it's not really a marketing metric, but I just need to put it out there. We are, every single month, looking at how much revenue did we bring in, and then, of course, what our expenses/profit margin looks like. We look at that every single month, every single quarter, every single year. But that's not really a marketing metric. It's a business metric. But I just had to put it out there.
But remember, we're just focusing on marketing metrics right now. So we're going to look at tools-and-resources revenue. We have one goal: for all my affiliate marketing, we want to hit x amount by the end of the year. So we look at that at the end of the year. And then our evergreen revenue, which is List Builders Society, we look at that at the end of the year, individual of just the overall revenue, or separate from. And then our total email growth and the podcast growth. That's what we're looking at at the end of the year.
Okay. So now that you know what we're tracking and a little bit more about our goals for each of them, you might be wondering how you should approach doing this for yourself. Now, here's the thing: setting goals for your metrics is all going to depend on where you're at in your business and the type of business that you have. But one thing's for sure no matter what, and it's that your marketing-metric goals should always be aligned with your overall business objectives. So a great place to start is by defining what you want to achieve as a business and then drill down from there.
So, for instance, the podcast, like I said, it's been a really big area that I’ve wanted to grow over the past several years. So it's a big focus, meaning in our marketing meetings, we have to know the metrics so we can hit the goal. And that's how it became a metric that we tracked on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. So it really starts with your goals. And then from there, you decide what metrics will allow you to check in on your goals.
What's great is that if you're tracking your metrics, eventually you'll start to see patterns in your growth, even after a short period of time. And based on what your growth looks like, you can set goals that are in alignment with them.
So that's another thing. Like, if you're stuck on, “Okay. What kind of new goals do I want to set?” look at some of your metrics and ask yourself, like, “Where can I improve? What could I focus on that could really make a big impact in the business?”
But remember, you can always go back and change the goals for your metrics. Believe me, we are constantly reassessing our metrics and tweaking them as we continue to learn more and more about our performance. So sometimes you just need a quarter or maybe six months to really understand and learn everything. And from there, goal setting becomes easier and easier.
Which brings me to my final point—and I really want you to pay attention to this because it's so important—you've got to set yourself up for success. And what that means is you don't want to set goals that are so aggressive that you'll never meet them, and at the same time, you want to set goals that are challenging enough to motivate you. It’s a little tricky, but you'll figure out your sweet spot.
Like anything in life and business, it's all about finding that balance. So give it a whirl. See what works for you. We've all got to start somewhere. And the key thing is that you simply take action, choose a few metrics, get that Google Doc up and running, and start putting a plan together to update it on the regular.
Okay. So we've reached the end of this episode. I know I've given you a ton of information to think about. So give yourself a pat on the back just for making it to the end.
Now, what you should do now is head on over to amyporterfield.com/587, and you're going to download my marketing-metrics cheat sheet. In it you'll find a list of all the metrics I track on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. That's amyporterfield.com/587. And once you have that downloaded, go through it and just circle some of the metrics that you think might make sense to implement in your business. And then from there, you can ask yourself if you want to be tracking them on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. The earlier you start tracking your metrics, the better. Even if you're still getting your business off the ground, I promise you, your efforts right now will be well worth it in the long run.
So thanks for joining me for another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast. I will see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.