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One of the most daunting tasks for any new business is developing a marketing analytics model that can scale and grow with the company.  

With a fast-growing startup, the value of every marketing decision, from website design to content creation to attending conferences, is critical. 

Individual startups will have differing needs dependant on various factors. However, we found that there were five key points that helped us to successfully grow our strategy with the business as we went from 10 people to more than 100.

1. Think about the bigger picture. Profit, not cost

On average, the sales cycle for enterprise software companies ranges from two to 12 months, making the role of consistent marketing more valuable than ever.

Marketers need to work more creatively to keep prospects interested until they’re ready to buy.

We found that controlling churn is critical and should be looked at on an aggregate level (percentage of overall customers and associated revenue loss), as well as an account level (product downgrades, reduction in users or licenses).

2. Be relentless about organisation

Make sure that metrics-driven marketing is a habit. The first step is to define the marketing channels and programs that generate leads for your company, whether that’s inbound marketing, conferences or outbound marketing – diligently categorise them into your CRM and marketing software.

Step two is to optimise your website. Ensure that landing pages and forms are accurately tagged to capture leads from each channel and program.

NewsCred's homepage

3. Use metrics to matchup your sales and marketing

Most companies have a system in place for tracking top line metrics – traffic, engagement and conversions – but rarely delve deeper than this.

We use an analytics system that is a collaborative process between marketing and sales. This keeps the two teams glued together with singular goals, rather than working in silos. 

4. Obsess over data (but not too much)

Simple analytics frameworks provide an easy way to compare progress over time. We always ask ourselves a few consistent questions: What marketing channel is performing the best, and why?

What trends have we seen monthly and quarterly, by channel? Are there any red flags we should be reacting to? This keeps us close to any changes, big or small, month on month.

5. Experiment. When something works, go big

Every quarter, we would experiment with a new demand generation channel such as LinkedIn, trying native advertising or seeking sponsorships.

Once we’d figured out what we were going to invest in, we set up an analytics model to make it easier to compare and assess results based on the quality of the leads generated and how quickly these leads become opportunities. When you find a channel that works, invest more. 

Some things can’t (and shouldn’t) be quantified on such a minute level. It’s important that you keep yourself honest and look at the big picture.

Take a step back and ask: What does the market really say about our company? How does our brand awareness rank compared to our competitors? What do I want to improve?

Most often, a mix of intellectual curiosity, creativity and analytics will lead you to the right answer.

In the long run, setting a strong data-driven foundation has the potential to really pay off for startups. It gave NewsCred the creative and financial flexibility to take bigger risks.

We soon learnt to adapt to trends. It helped guide our hiring decisions and team structure. Most importantly, it will help to build a metrics-driven culture that will allow your company to grow.

Shafqat Islam

Published 31 March, 2014 by Shafqat Islam

Shafqat Islam is CEO & co-founder at NewsCred and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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