There’s always something we’re doing that’s working better than everything else. If we’re unsure what that is, it’s usually only because we’re not tracking. Easy fix.

Another reason is because improvements might be too small to seem significant “to the naked eye.”

For example, let’s say we’re using two marketing strategies, A and B.

Marketing A generates 6 clients in 3 months.
Marketing B generates 13 clients in 3 months.

So which one works better than the other?

Many entrepreneurs would say B.

But we don’t have all the data to make a sound decision.

The Problem with Taking “Results” at Face Value

Just comparing sales numbers won’t give us anywhere near enough info to know what’s working.

We have to consider the return on investment (ROI) required to get those sales, as well as conversion rates.


How many leads did Marketing A generate vs. Marketing B to draw in those clients?

How many resources were spent to fuel A vs. B?

Conversion Rate

For each one, let’s calculate “conversion rate” — the number of leads that “converted” to clients. (Higher is better.)

Marketing A generated 300 leads in 3 months, resulting in 6 clients.
Marketing B generated 1,200 leads in 3 months, resulting in 13 clients.


If Marketing B attracted 4x as many leads … should it only have attracted 2x as many clients?

Let’s go one more step… and calculate the exact conversion rates for both types of marketing. This means we:

  1. divide the number of clients by the number of leads; and
  2. multiply that result by 100 to convert the decimal into a percentage; then
  3. round to the 2nd decimal place for easier reading, (if needed).

This final percentage is our conversion rate.

For instance:

Marketing A:

  • 6 clients ÷ 300 leads = 0.02
  • 0.02 × 100 = 2% lead-to-client conversion rate

Marketing B:

  • 13 clients ÷ 1,200 leads = 0.0108333333333333
  • 0.0108333333333333 × 100 = 1.083333333333333
  • 1.083333333333333 rounded to the 2nd decimal = 1.08% lead-to-client conversion rate

NOW we can see which marketing strategy converted better: Marketing A. It converted nearly double the amount of clients as Marketing B.

But there’s one more thing we should check: Return on Investment.

Return on Investment (ROI)

To consider Return on Investment, we need to know the revenue we earned from those sales. Let’s say each sale nets you $1,000.

Return on Investment basically means:

“How many [resources] (billable hours [time], human effort, supplies, dollars, etc.) did we spend to get a certain [desired result]?”

For instance:

  • How many [dollars] did we spend to get [6 sales]?
  • How much [time] did we spend to get [6 sales]?
  • How many [supplies] did we use up to get and fulfill [6 orders]?
  • Etc.

To calculate ROI, we divide Revenue by Investment. Then we multiply that result by 100 to get the percentage. This looks like:

(Revenue ÷ Investment) × 100 = ROI

Back to comparing our marketing.

Remember, we have:

  • Marketing A: 300 leads, 6 sales, 2% conversion
  • Marketing B: 1,200 leads, 13 sales, 1.08% conversion

Let’s say Marketing A is posting on Instagram. Across three months, accounting for your time ($50/hr), the hours you spent on writing and scheduling posts (120 hrs), and the cost of your scheduling tool ($300), let’s say you invested $6,300. And you earned $6,000 from your six sales.

Let’s say Marketing B is emailing your in-house list. Across three months, accounting for your time ($50/hr), the hours you spent writing and scheduling 6 emails (18 hrs), and your mailing list tool ($0/mo), let’s say you invested $900 across three months. And you earned $13,000 from your 13 sales.

So here’s our ROI:

Marketing A: (6,000 ÷ 6,300) × 100 = 95.24%

Marketing B: (13,000 ÷ 900) × 100 = 1,444.44%

Marketing A has double the conversion rate, but a drastically lower ROI.

Marketing B has half the conversion rate, but an insanely high ROI.

Pro Tip: Which metric is most important depends on your objectives. For example, a marketing campaign with a lower ROI might have much higher customer retention (lifetime value).

Please pardon all these maths. 😓 I hope I didn’t lose you.

The point is, tracking the right data helps us make growth-focused decisions clearly, easily, and fairly quickly… without a lot of costly guess work.

Basic Metrics to Track

In general, you want to be keeping track of:

  • # of leads per ___ (ex: time period or campaign)
  • lead source (where they’ve come from)
  • # of sales per ___
  • resources invested per ___ (ex: period, campaign, sale etc.)

Tools to capture these metrics are below. Once tracking these, you can calculate your ROI and basic conversion rate.

Tools that capture basic metrics also usually capture intermediate/advanced ones, too. So let’s go to talk about those.

Intermediate-Advanced Metrics to Track

For your website specifically, track:

  • # of unique visitors per ____
  • # of returning visitors
  • lead source
  • top entry pages
  • top exit pages
  • avg. time spent on site
  • avg. time spent per lead source
  • bounce rate (esp. on landing pages & home page)
  • conversion rate (how many visitors took the desired action)

For each email campaign, track:

  • # of unique email opens
  • # of link clicks per email message
  • clickthrough rate (CTR) (# of recipients vs. clicks)
  • opens vs. clicks conversion rate1
  • delivery/bounce rate
  • unsubscribe rate
  • conversion rate (how many clicks led to orders/actions)

For each social media campaign or post, track:

  • reach (# of feeds it appeared in)
  • engagement rate (# of users who clicked/liked/shared/etc.)
  • clickthrough rate (CTR)
  • conversion rate
  • follow/unfollow rate
  • # of shares
  • # of likes
  • # of mentions

We could get a lot crazier than this, like tracking where incoming calls come from. But let’s keep it simple(r) and move to how to track all these.

The Good News: We can usually use just ONE good analytics tool to track ALL of these in each category.

HOW to Track These Metrics: The Basics

Below is the minimum you need to gauge the value of your marketing efforts.

Pro Tip: No one to actually review data from these tools yet? Still implement them ASAP.

This ensures your marketing strategist has data to read once you find one, and building your marketing plan won’t be delayed because you have no data.


Get your website person to install Matomo Analytics. (It’s free.)

Matomo On-Premise is the free version of this tracking tool. It will help you see what page people enter on, page they leave on, how long they stay (on-site, and on-page), what path they take, when/whether they opt in, how many times they’ve visited, and exactly where in the %*&($ they came from.

All vital info, so you know if your site needs fixing and how your lead gen efforts are working (or not). (Note, if you want Matomo to report search terms people use to find you, that requires a paid extension. Thanks, Google.)

Note: Matomo is a Google Analytics replacement. Although a lot of existing web tools (like CRMs) don’t integrate with it, I prefer it for greater data privacy and ease of use.

Matomo has a cloud version that isn’t free, but that you wouldn’t have to bother with installing or periodically updating. With On-Premise, your website person would (should) help you update your install periodically.

Get your website person to activate Google Search Console. (It’s free.)

This will help you see what pages rank in Google (if any), whether your site’s even in Google, and how many people click on your listing vs. pass it by in search results… as a start.

All vital info, so you know if your Google optimization is trash and you need to rework what people see in search results. You can also find terms you’re ranking for that you didn’t expect — again, to capitalize on easy wins. And more things.


Use a (mostly) free service with at least basic analytics, OR have your website person install a mailing list script like Sendy.

You should be tracking email open rate and click through rate at the very least. Sendy isn’t free, but very low-cost (under $100) and it’s a one-time fee. You can mail to as many subscribers as your server allows. (Actually, we recommend using something like Amazon SES or MailGun to improve email delivery rates and mail to a lot of people for a very low cost.)

Another option I just found is Mailbluster. Ah-mazing! Excellent reviews. You can mail to 65,000 subscribers completely free, with branding. Mailbluster requires an Amazon SES account. Amazon SES may be free (mailing up to a few thousand messages monthly), OR charge a few cents per 1,000 messages sent. It depends on the size of your list: check here.

Bonus if the mailing list service lets you use UTM links.

YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA (& Everything Else):

Use unique links for every social media AND offline marketing campaign, when possible. (It’s free.)

How can you tell if all those bookings came from that workshop you ran, the business cards you left at the cafe, or the speech you gave for that local nonprofit? Well, you won’t unless you drive people to your site using unique links for each mention.

If you’re on WordPress, you can get your website person to install Pretty Links plugin. I don’t recommend bitly. (What if they disappear one day… then what happens to all your links/marketing?

If hosted on your own server, you can be your own Bitly! Have your website person install something like YOURLs to create your own URL shortener service just for your company’s links.

No matter where you’re hosted, you can use “UTM parameters” — different codes you place at the end of your website link to track where traffic comes from. Personally, I find creating, using, and keeping track of UTM links too fiddly and annoying… though it probably produces the most useful data. See A Beginners Guide to UTM Parameters (And How to Use Them), if that’s the option you choose.

If you’re just starting out with tracking, I recommend keeping it simplest. This might mean choosing YOURLs or Pretty Links, depending on your setup. “Simple” is still informative enough for most purposes.

The Bottom Line: Tracking Helps Speed & Stabilize Growth

How will we grow consistently OR quickly if we can’t tell what’s working?

And not only that, but how much better something is working than other options. High-performance entrepreneurs run businesses based on data and intuition. Relying on one or the other is way too risky.

I won’t go so far as to parrot other experts and say, “Entrepreneurs who don’t track data have hobbies, not businesses.”

But how can we build sustainable companies without consulting the data that shows us what efforts to ditch?

After setting up tracking, you’re set to create your high-impact growth steps. Next, read: An Action Plan to Improve Sales Performance (When “No Marketing Seems to Be Working”). Happy nerding!