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Joanna Swartwood, Director of Marketing and Revenue GrowthMon, Aug 22, 2016 11 min read

Inbound Marketing Analytics: Unlocking The Numbers That Tell A Story


Editor's Note: Mike is off blog duty this week. We'll be featuring blog posts authored by a few other members of the Square 2 Marketing team. Happy reading!

inbound-marketing-analytics-that-tell-a-story.jpgYour customers are on a journey. Today’s modern B2B buyers are on an empowered trek through a “choose-your-own-adventure” story as they search online for your products or services.

Inbound marketing analytics are the numbers and other data behind your marketing program that tell that story — it’s a powerful tale about the success of your marketing performance.  

There’s no shortage of inbound marketing analytics and other marketing data available to your business. In fact, there’s so much data out there that marketing analytics can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure exactly where to focus your efforts.

Keep an eye on these key inbound marketing analytics to unlock the full story behind your marketing.

Website Traffic

Website traffic sets the stage for unlocking the story behind your inbound marketing analytics. It’s like the exposition of the story the beginning of the story where characters and setting are introduced.

Traffic to your website shows us how many online users are coming to your website. These users are the characters in your story, and the source of their visit (search engine query, social media, email marketing) is the setting.

User Intent

If you want a good story, you need good character development. Who are these website users? What is their background? How did they find you? What were they hoping to find when they did?

keywords-were-once-upon-a-time.jpgOnce upon a time, businesses relied almost exclusively on keywords to try to figure out what search engine users wanted. Today, marketers need to pair their analysis of keywords with a sound understanding of user intent.

User intent analytics tell us what users want. It is a characterization of search engine queries into three main categories: navigational, informational and transactional.

  • Navigational queries indicate that a user is looking to find a specific website.
  • Informational queries indicate that a user is seeking information on a particular topic.
  • Transactional queries indicate a user is searching for a product or service that the user wishes to purchase. Knowing and recognizing these classifications of user intent provides vital context for understanding your website users.  

User Behavior Signals

Website traffic and user intent give the story its characters and setting. Next, it’s important to analyze user behavior signals to develop the story within your inbound marketing analytics.

With user behavior signals, the plot thickens...

User behavior data is the rising action in your story, where the main character (your user) faces a series of conflicts in his quest to do business with your company. User behavior signals like click-through rate, time on site and bounce rate provide us with data on what users are doing when they come across your website.

Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate (CTR) tells you what proportion of users click through to a page on your website when it is returned on a search engine results page (SERP). A high click-through rate indicates that the user is interested enough to click through the title and meta description to see your web page’s content. A high click-through rate also indicates that the Google algorithm believes your web page’s content is a relevant result for the user’s search query.

Bounce Rate, Time On Page And Time On Site

Inbound marketing analytics like bounce rate and average time on site unlock the story of what happens next, once users have clicked through the SERPs and onto your website.

Bounce rate is a metric that tells you the percentage of people who land on one of your website pages and then leave without clicking to anywhere else on your site. Users bounce from a site when they don’t find information that is relevant or useful to them. Users also bounce when your website content fails to deliver on the promise of your page title and meta description, the combination of which prompted them to click through to your page in the first place. Bounce rate also tends to correspond to ranking position in the SERPs.


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If your website content does deliver on its promise, and it does match your user’s intent, the user is likely to spend more time on the page. Time on page tends to go up when a page contains “sticky” content, like a video.

Average time on site tells the story of how long your website visitors are spending clicking around your entire website, not just on the page they initially landed on. Google interprets high average time on site as an indicator of how useful a website domain is to answer a searcher’s query. As a result, pages with a high average time on site tend to be ranked in a better position than those with lower average time on site.   

Conversion Rate

The climax in the story behind your inbound marketing analytics is the moment when an anonymous website user converts into an inbound marketing lead for the first time.

It is the most exciting part of the story and where we learn the outcome, after getting to know and understand our main character and his problem.

In inbound marketing analytics, you should look to your conversion rate to gain insight into this piece of the story. A website or web page conversion rate tells us what proportion of website visitors are converting into inbound marketing leads by taking an action on your site.

Conversion rates are exciting because a conversion symbolizes the moment a user officially enters your company’s sales funnel. A conversion on your website may come in many forms — an email newsletter signup, a whitepaper download or a request for a consultation, to name a few.

Conversion rates help tell the story of what actually happened once a user finally arrived on your website.

It’s important to understand the difference between your site-wide conversion rate and the conversion rate for each individual page of your site. Landing pages have different target conversion rates than a website home page, for example.

You can unlock even more information by analyzing your website conversion rate by channel (organic search vs. social media traffic vs. PPC campaigns) and by page. By focusing on improving your conversion rate by channel or by page, you can really start to gain momentum for conversion rate optimization.

Lead scoring, engagement rates, customer close rates and return on investment (ROI) are all key to closed-loop inbound marketing analytics reporting.

Conversion Rate Optimization Analytics

CRO-inbound-marketing-analytics.jpgYour user has converted on your website and transformed into an inbound lead. How exciting! But it’s not the end of the story quite yet. What is the fate of the main character? A new sale, or a lost opportunity?

Once a user becomes an inbound lead, what does that history of interactions look like before the story ends? While the customer is in control of his own adventure, your website can help provide a roadmap to conclude the story nicely.

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a systematic and scientific approach to improving the performance of your website. CRO is largely informed by inbound marketing analytics, and its goal is to take the website traffic you’re already getting and make the most of each opportunity.  

CRO means analyzing and applying your inbound marketing analytics to continually improve conversion rates on your site. The faster your marketing team cycles, the faster your inbound marketing will improve.  

Start by analyzing call-to-action (CTA) click-through rates, secondary calls-to-action, lead scoring and email open rates. Review top-trafficked pages and blog posts to determine if any friction points are hindering users from taking the action you want them to take. Are there too many form fields? Does the user know what will happen when they do convert?


  • A tremendous amount of inbound marketing analytics data is out there for your business to leverage. Companies that understand and can apply the right analytics to tell the stories within them are poised for inbound marketing success.
  • Website traffic and keyword data are just the beginning of the story. Today’s online marketplace requires understanding of user intent as well as user behavior signals to gain context as to what search engine users want and how they engage with your site.
  • Conversion rates are probably the most exciting part of the story, because this is the moment an anonymous user transitions into an inbound marketing lead and enters your company’s sales funnel. CTA click-through rates, lead scoring and email open rates are all great starting points for any ongoing CRO project.
  • With a sound understanding of inbound marketing analytics and how they fit together, combined with continuous improvement through CRO, your business will have successfully built an inbound marketing machine.  

And you’ll live happily ever after.