15-MINUTE-READ By Pinja Virtanen
HubSpot is the go-to marketing, sales, and service platform of thousands of businesses worldwide. And for good reason.
But because HubSpot helps you generate so much data from email open rates to SQLs and from social media engagement to revenue, getting started with reporting can feel pretty overwhelming. To help you level up in HubSpot reporting, we asked six experienced marketers from some of the leading HubSpot partner agencies around the world to share their analytics and reporting secrets.
In this post, our six experts discuss:
- Which metrics they’re tracking on HubSpot and why
- What are some of their favorite HubSpot reports
- What other data sources they’re combining with HubSpot
- How they measure the success of their marketing performance
- What’s their best piece of advice to fellow marketers who are trying to make sense of their marketing performance through HubSpot
1. Which HubSpot metrics should you be tracking and why?
First, let’s look at what kinds of metrics these six HubSpot experts have decided to track — and why.
Top of the funnel marketing metrics
Especially if you’re just getting started with HubSpot or you’ve decided to use HubSpot as a marketing automation platform alone, it might be a good idea to start from tracking top of the funnel marketing performance.
Jeff Previte explains that the Bluleadz content team focuses on measuring month over month blog post views, blog post performance over the past 30 days, new monthly blog subscribers, and top blog posts by views.
Jeff says, “These metrics provide a great overview of how well our blog is performing as a whole, in terms of both traffic and subscribers. It’s a great high level view that we often use to dive deeper on more detailed metrics as needed, such as engagement metrics or traffic source breakdowns on individual posts.”
On the other hand, Kara Susvilla from Campaign Creators explains that while she likes to monitor some metrics like the number of sessions, sessions to conversions, and SQLs on a daily basis, her team chooses additional metrics to track case by case.
She says, “There are a variety of metrics I follow depending on any current campaigns or goals we set that month. For example, I’ve been following our sessions more than usual due to our traffic tanking by about 300% last year after the June Google algorithm update. We’ve been actively working to get our traffic back and are thankfully seeing growth again.”
Kara also highlights that it’s more important to focus on traffic quality than traffic quantity: “I also check the sessions to contact conversion rate, and would probably consider this more important than our number of sessions, because I find it more important to understand how many visitors actually convert on our website. Regardless of our traffic dropping last year, seeing that our contact conversions continue to grow actually illustrates that we may just be receiving better quality visitors that are actually interested in our website.”
Full-funnel performance metrics
One of the overwhelming benefits of HubSpot as a reporting platform is that it brings together marketing, sales, and service data, making closed-loop reporting a reality.
As Chris Vendilli from ProFromGo explains, this allows marketers to easily track full-funnel performance. Chris says, “The metrics we’ve chosen are a combination of ‘soft’ metrics such as traffic, alongside important revenue-related metrics that suggest how we’re trending: the number of new contacts, the number of new deals, and the dollar value of new deals.”
However, as Jennifer Shore from SmartBug Media stresses, not all metrics are created equal. She explains, “The traffic numbers are a great benchmark to see how prospects are engaging with our content, but when it comes down to what’s most important for our business goals, it’s following the numbers along our lead funnel. We have very aggressive growth goals this year, and we’re not only trying to scale the numbers across the board but are working to influence the conversion percentages all the way.”
Sales and revenue metrics
Dan explains, “Marketing should focus on driving revenue. Working with sales ensures we’re on the same page filling the pipeline. We obsess over meetings booked and deals we didn’t close both so that marketing can see results (meetings) and understand lead quality (closed lost).”
Richard Wood from Six & Flow agrees. Instead of spending a ton of time looking into proxy metrics like page views and sessions, the Six & Flow team obsess over pipeline. Richard says, “Our main metrics are MQLs, SQLs, opportunities, and pipeline. These metrics allow me to gauge the effectiveness of our marketing activity and the impact that’s having on our sales process and pipeline.”
2. Four examples of insightful HubSpot reports
Next, to give you concrete examples of the kinds of reports these world-class marketers are building on HubSpot, we asked them to briefly describe their favorite reports.
It should come as no surprise that three out of our six experts named the HubSpot marketing dashboard as their favorite report.
Jennifer from SmartBug Media explains, “Although we’ve built out a number of reports to track some of our KPIs related to traffic, email and social media engagement, etc., building out the lead funnel metrics is crucial to staying on top of meeting our goals. Every day when I log into our marketing dashboard, I have a clear view into what’s performing well or what needs improved upon.”
Similarly, the Bluleadz team has baked the marketing dashboard into their daily operations. Jeff says, “We look at our marketing dashboard every day when we meet with our sales team to monitor our progress on key metrics associated with our service level agreement. These metrics include the number of SQLs generated, the percentage of qualified SQLs, and medium and high leads generated.”
Kara from Campaign Creators agrees. “Our contact pipeline report is one of our most important reports we built in HubSpot. This illustrates how many contacts we have in each lifecycle stage, as well as the conversions from one lifecycle stage to the next. We used a Funnel Bart layout and configured this report to show contacts that have been a marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, opportunity, and customer,” Kara says and continues:
“This report helps us understand whether our leads are moving through our funnel, and ultimately whether our lead nurturing campaigns are working. It’s also helped us identify huge bottlenecks, which in our case, has been the conversion from MQL to SQL, as well as identify which new customers we receive are due to inbound marketing efforts.”
Similarly to the marketing dashboard, the HubSpot sales dashboard offers a quick overview of what’s going well and what could be improved.
Chris from ProFromGo says, “We’ve spent some time dialing in our sales dashboard to contain reports that are easy to digest and indicate what kind of month we’re going to have while the month is still playing out.”
Richard from Six & Flow swears by a different sales report that concentrates on tracking the productivity of their sales reps. He explains, “We track individual and team sales activity as it allows us to understand both their productivity and effectiveness. These reports normally outline elements like the lead volume passed to the sales rep, how those leads are being worked and an overview of effectiveness through the funnel stages and pipeline value added.”
Another great way for marketers to benefit from sales data is to look into the deals that the sales team has closed as ‘lost’. Why? Because understanding why a good-fit prospect didn’t buy is an invaluable piece of information for the marketing and product/service teams.
Dan from Impulse Creative explains, “One of my favorites is closed lost in the last 14 days. This is an opportunity for marketing to learn from sales what deals became opportunities but didn’t progress to customers. Sometimes it’s messaging: we missed the mark and they shouldn’t have been opportunities. That’s a good chance to dial in our marketing to better serve revenue.”
3. What other data sources should you use in addition to HubSpot?
While there’s no denying that HubSpot offers a comprehensive view into your marketing and sales performance, marketers often need more granular data to make better day-to-day decisions.
As Richard from Six & Flow suggests, it’s best not to rely on one platform alone. He says, “While HubSpot gives you great insight into the sales and marketing activity marshalled through HubSpot, it often negates periphery but important elements such as automated inbound call volume reporting, deeper marketing analytics, and easy access reporting.”
Dan from Impulse Creative agrees. “We love HubSpot. But there are other metric tools like Google Analytics, conversational marketing conversions, and video marketing metrics that help tell a more holistic narrative of our marketing efforts. Consumers aren’t in only one spot, so we need to be in multiple platforms and ‘watering holes’. This will mean multiple metric sources. Bringing them together in one dashboard helps make reporting to leadership more efficient and understandable.” says Dan.
As Maricarmen Vargas from Vuelo6 states in a recent Supermetrics customer case study, by far the easiest way to build marketing dashboards and reports that combine data from multiple marketing and analytics platforms is by using Supermetrics for Google Sheets, Excel, or Data Studio. But which data sources should you use in addition to HubSpot and Google Analytics?
The one thing that’s lacking from HubSpot’s own reporting tools is detailed analytics about the keywords visitors use to land on your website or blog through organic search. That’s why many of our experts mentioned that they use additional SEO and web analytics tools to complement their HubSpot data.
Kara from Campaign Creators shares a practical example of the situations in which her team resorts to other analytics tools, “Our team recognized a huge drop in our organic traffic last June by looking at our sessions over time HubSpot report. One of our first steps to understand what happened was to determine the pages on our website that were impacted most and experienced the biggest drop in organic traffic. We used Google Search Console and Ahrefs tools to identify that most blogs discussing ‘lead generation’ dropped in rankings most, and so we fixed those pages first.”
Similarly, Jennifer from SmartBug Media finds additional analytics and SEO tools useful in her work. She says, “Aside from HubSpot, I’ll use Google Analytics and SEMrush to look at keyword data, and I’ll hop into the analytics views on different social platforms if I’m looking for deeper performance metrics — but HubSpot does a fantastic job of giving an overall view of our performance, and because we also utilize the CRM functionality, our marketing and sales teams have complete transparency.”
Jeff and his team at Bluleadz are no exception. He says, “We use tools like Moz and Ahrefs to monitor link building efforts, track our visibility and keyword rankings, and assess our authority metrics: domain authority, page authority, domain rating, etc. In addition, we use Google Search Console to find opportunities for what pages we need to update to improve our click-through rates. As we make updates to our content, we look at both HubSpot data and these tools to draw conclusions on what efforts are working and what efforts are missing the mark.”
The ProFromGo team and Chris, on the other hand, suggest that it’s good practice to occasionally validate HubSpot data with data from other platforms. He explains, “We sometimes build reports that show Google Analytics data alongside HubSpot data so that we can ensure the trends are at least similar. We don’t get hung up on minor disparities since the different systems vary slightly insofar as to how they track page views, goal completions etc. We primarily like to just make sure the trends are similar.”
Additionally, Chris’s team likes to compare the results of their paid campaigns with data from HubSpot. He continues, “Another area we’re frequently mashing up data from different sources is how paid search and social advertising campaigns are (or aren’t) feeding new leads into HubSpot. For example, Facebook ad spend, impressions, clicks, CTR alongside traffic reports from social channels, new contacts from social advertising as a source etc. is a great way to setup a command center so you have some indicators as to how you’re faring with social advertising.”
It feels safe to say that our six experts agree: do make sure to combine data from different sources. (And psst! Should you need any help with that, you can now get a free 14-day trial of Supermetrics.)
4. How should you measure the success of your marketing?
When it comes to assessing the performance of their marketing efforts, pretty much all of the six HubSpot experts agree that revenue is by far their most important goal.
Dan from Impulse Creative drives this point home by saying that, “Views, chat conversations, video view and all of that doesn’t matter if it’s not driving meetings to our sales team that result in closed deals.”
Richard and the Six & Flow team are also big on measuring marketing-generated revenue. He says, “Attributable revenue is the main marketing metric we focus on but we also use a number of leading indicators including visits, MQLs, SQLs, and opportunities. We also use the ROI reporting functionality within HubSpot aligning deal value or average deal value to campaigns and activity.”
Chris from ProFromGo seems to agree. He explains, “Marketing efforts should always lead to sales. The devil is usually in the details as far precisely ‘how’ me measure success but my favorite tie back is to the overarching sales related goals of the organization, in instances where the HubSpot CRM is being utilized effectively for the more relationship-driven sales conversations that most of our B2B customers are aiming.”
He continues, “For example, email marketing performance is nice to know as far as opens, link clicks etc. But even nicer would be to see campaign level performance trends that tell the story of whether or not your email marketing program is getting contacts ready to talk to sales, or perhaps even putting deals on the board.”
The Bluleadz team and Jeff share this view. He says, “Our success is ultimately defined by our SLA and the metrics associated with that. Of course, traffic, views, and engagement on our site are important, but it all comes down to what our sales team holds us accountable for, which is SQLs and medium/high lead generation.”
Jeff also adds that even though bottom of the funnel metrics carry the most weight, they’re not the only thing his team focuses on, “We also look at lead generation campaign performance for our content offers. These reports show us a high level view of each content offer and the conversion paths associated with it. We can see all the blog posts, social posts, CTAs, emails, site pages, landing pages, and traffic associated with the lead magnet. HubSpot’s campaign reports also help identify influenced contacts and influenced revenue, which is very helpful in attributing success to each lead generation campaign.”
Kara and her team at Campaign Creators also believe in full-funnel reporting. She says, “Each month our marketing team performs a full-funnel report. We break down our marketing based on top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel activities. The goal of our full-funnel reports is to see from a bird’s eye view how we are performing, but also where our biggest bottlenecks are.”
She continues, “We measure the success of our HubSpot marketing by goals we set, but more importantly whether we’re seeing gradual growth over time. For example, we have a sales & marketing SLA, which outlines that our marketing team should deliver a certain number of MQLs and SQLs for sales, but for marketing metrics like traffic, new contacts, and contact conversions, we like to see gradual growth overtime. This is a more realistic way of determining our success considering any seasonal patterns our outlier months.”
Lesson learned: focus on revenue, but don’t forget to track the progression of proxy metrics to optimize the top of the funnel.
Another great tip comes from Jennifer whose team at SmartBug Media is a big believer in custom reports. She says, “We have custom reports that show specific sources and campaigns — and how they influence our deals.”
5. Expert tips for superpowering your HubSpot analytics and reporting
As our final question, we asked the six HubSpot experts to share their best piece of advice on how to analyze and report on marketing performance. Here’s what they came back with.
Don’t get hung up on vanity metrics
“Don’t obsess over vanity metrics that won’t move the needle for your business goals,” Kara from Campaign Creators sums up.
Richard from Six & Flow also warns against falling in love with vanity metrics. He says, “Unless they’re developing into SQLs, stats like visits and leads are fairly irrelevant to the overall growth of your business. If the early stage marketing funnel metrics are growing, ensure you’re monitoring the stage by stage conversion rates and comparative opportunity increases.”
Along the same lines, Chris and the ProFromGo team swear by understanding and striving towards the company’s sales goals. He explains, “Your ownership or leadership team likely has sales or revenue goals that get distilled down to marketing objectives. Marketing team goals are all too often boiled down into what I call ‘soft’ metrics as a way to hold marketing accountable.”
Chris continues, “My favorite part of HubSpot is how it can help break down the silos between sales and marketing to help organizations get everyone rowing in the same direction. Who cares how many emails were sent or opened if they’re not putting deals on the board or nurturing leads towards a sales meeting? I encourage marketers, whether it’s our own team or internal marketers we work with inside our client organizations, to strive to deeply understand their organization’s sales goals and challenge any notions that get too hung up soft — aka ‘vanity’ — metrics. 1 million visitors are worthless if they’re 100% unqualified.”
Work closely together with the sales team
The other big theme that our experts wanted to highlight was communication and collaboration with the rest of the business.
As Jeff from Bluleadz suggests, it’s a good idea to spend time developing the relationship between your sales and marketing teams. He says, “Work closely with your sales team to establish expectations at the beginning of each quarter and put those expectations in writing. Our SLA guides everything we do in marketing and it helps hold both marketing and sales accountable on a daily basis. These expectations you establish should align with reports that you can build into your HubSpot marketing dashboard. A dashboard that aligns with your SLA keeps your big picture goals at top of mind.”
Similarly, Dan from Impulse Creative brings his advice back to basics. He says, “Communicate. This includes emails and other chat conversations, but it can’t end there. Institute weekly standup meetings with everyone responsible for revenue so you’re all on the same page and can correct the course when necessary.”
Create custom reports with the most important metrics
Last but not least, Jennifer from SmartBug Media recommends getting up close and personal with HubSpot’s custom reporting tools. She says, “Take the time to get familiar with all the custom reporting tools that HubSpot offers — it’s really important to set yourself up for success by creating a dashboard that provides the metrics that are most crucial to your business’s success. And then become obsessed with positively influencing them and showing the results.”
What can you take away from all of this?
HubSpot reporting may seem like a hairy beast, but it doesn’t have to be. By following these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating reports that your stakeholders will love:
- Report on revenue first, and proxy metrics like traffic and contacts second.
- Use HubSpot’s native dashboards for daily optimization but make sure to complement your HubSpot data with other data sources when you’re building bigger reports and performing deeper analysis.
- Instead of spending hours on copy/pasting screenshots from different marketing platforms to your PowerPoint reports, use spreadsheets or free dashboarding tools like Google Data Studio to combine data from different sources. (This is where Supermetrics comes in handy.)
- Always customize your reports: not all businesses are created equal, and the metrics that matter to you may not be found from a ready-made reporting template.
- Communication is everything: work closely with your sales team and other departments to make sure that your efforts are aligned.
Happy reporting! ?
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