Marketing Metrics 101: Making Better Forecasts and Reports

SEO and Marketing forecasts can help you gather data and make predictions regarding future traffic levels. They can also help you predict the possible value of that traffic. Forecasts use past patterns as a point of reference to help you allocate resources, prioritize SEO efforts, and make adjustments before you commit to any marketing decisions.

There are many reasons for a small business using SEO services to utilize marketing forecasts and reports when planning on a strategy.

How Can Marketing Forecasts Help Small Businesses Using SEO Services?

SEO Service providers for small businesses often need to make projections for their clients. If you are working with an SEO service provider, you would probably want to know how much SEO can help your business grow and how much your revenue can increase. As professionals, they cannot just make claims without data to back it up which is where forecasts will come in handy.

Marketing forecasts can help your SEO service provider set goals to reach the estimated outcome. It can also help them coordinate with you and your team regarding any marketing resources that your business may need, especially when there is a discrepancy between the expected outcome and your company goals.

Marketing forecasts can also help predict the future impact of a strategy for a client. Understanding how a strategy might affect your sales allows you to make adjustments to ensure that results will mostly be favorable. You can see where you are lacking and where you should pay more attention.

The Impact of Marketing Forecasts on Small Business

The power and usefulness of marketing forecasts depend on who is looking at them. For instance, if you are a small business working with a marketing and SEO service provider, then their digital marketing manager can tell you a lot by just your past data. They can look at your previous performance and give you an estimate of potential leads that you can get through certain campaigns and strategies for months one and two. They can give you an educated prediction of opportunities that will translate by month three. 

Based on that forecast, the SEO and marketing team can work on a campaign-focused strategy.

However, if the head of marketing looks at the marketing forecasts and reports– they will work on understanding the revenue targets, historical company data, and industry market trends. Once they have a better idea of the situation, they will focus on revenue-focused strategies.

Revenue-focused strategies mean shortening sales cycles, closing marketing-generated revenue, and/or identifying areas that require improvement or even corrections.

How to Forecast Things that Matter?

A lot of the metrics that marketers use are just vanity metrics. What are vanity metrics? They are metrics that look good on paper but do not really do much for your business goals. These metrics include social media followers, page views, subscribers, and other analytics that are only satisfying to look at.

Vanity metrics may offer a good-looking report, but most of them have no significant effect on your future marketing decisions. So if an SEO Service provider only offers your small business amazing results on vanity metrics— run far away. You need to find a reliable digital marketing team that will help you work on actionable metrics.

Making better marketing forecasts and reports means focusing on accuracy and avoiding vanity metrics. Miscalculations in the forecast can lead to unnecessary adjustments or efforts. You want to understand what a good marketing forecast looks like regardless if you run an SEO agency or if you are a small business owner looking for an SEO service provider.

Understanding how it should look will either help you make better forecasts and reports as an SEO company, or see if you are in good hands if you are running a business. 

Here is how marketing forecasts and reports are done right:

With the Right Forecasting Technique

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An accurate forecast requires the right forecasting technique. Choosing the best way to forecast data is not an easy task. It is also not a one-size-fits-all situation. Sometimes one approach can work for one case but can be lacking for the other.

Here is what you need to do when choosing the right technique for your marketing forecasts:

  1. Assess the availability of your data points.
  2. Assess the skills of your marketing forecasting analyst.

If you are a marketing agency, then you need to evaluate the situation and make sure that all the data you need is available. You also need to make sure that you or your analyst is skilled enough to understand your chosen forecasting technique.

If you are a small business working with an SEO service provider, you can see whether they understand what they need to do by observing how they handle your data. Are they using accurately available data? Are they using relevant historical metrics to forecast? If not, then you may be better off with a new SEO agency.

Note: Keep in mind that some marketers try to rush work or do “quick forecasting” by taking average figures of different channels than using that number to make estimates and projections. Beware of this method. This method is not marketing forecasting.

This method will give you skewed and inaccurate data which will impact the interpretation of the forecast. An incorrect forecast can lead to incorrect decisions, which can cost your company money, time, and reputation.

With Realistic Vision, Timing, and Expectations

SEO and marketing are not magic. It takes time and lots of continuous effort to achieve amazing results. People outside the marketing industry may be concerned about the progress of all the time, money, and effort that goes into SEO services and marketing campaigns. It is important that a realistic vision, timing, and expectation are set to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

To make sure that you are on top of all things, marketing forecasts must be done monthly. Conducting a monthly forecast ensures that the team remains agile and aware of the campaign’s performance and status. Frequent forecasts will allow the team to give a better and more accurate vision to help set expectations.

Setting a long-term goal is okay, but keep in mind that circumstances can change so plans must be flexible. To ensure that everyone has a realistic idea of the vision, goals, timing, and expectations— the milestones should be adjusted as frequently as needed.

With a Compelling Story to Tell Accurate Data and Findings

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Marketing forecasts consist of accurate and relevant data points. Although the facts are there, it is the story that will help sell the analysis. You would think that the data is enough, but not everyone can read numbers and statistics. Storytelling is an important step in creating an effective forecast since it helps people feel what the data means.

Data is cold, factual, and objective. Data makes sense, but a story gives it emotions and meaning.

To effectively tell the story of your data and findings, you need to follow a three-act story structure:

  • Beginning – Present the problem or the opportunity. In marketing forecasts, this part is where you state your current situation.
  • Middle – This part is where you explain how complicated the situation is– your data will help explain and assess the issue.
  • End: This part is where you present a solution that will lead to a happy ending. You need to present actionable steps that the team needs to take.

 There are different ways wherein the story can be more relatable to people outside the marketing industry. Since not everyone is going to understand technical terms you can do the following:

  • Present data by connecting it to common measurements. You could use size, distance, quantity, speed, and/or time.
  • Build up the suspense. Presenting the data straight and flat may not be so appealing– still accurate, but maybe not as inspiring. Show the data, build a scene and build up suspense.
  • Humanize your data. Instead of keeping your data accurate but cold, why not make it accurate but relatable?

Accurate data is important, but communicating the data from your marketing forecasts also matters. 

Everything Considered

The ability to accurately gather data and analyze it for your marketing forecasts and reports has a significant impact on your SEO and marketing strategies. These reports will help in the decision-making process involving any current and future campaigns for the company.

Vanity metrics are just satisfying on paper, but your forecast should be more than just something pretty on paper. Effective marketing forecasts should help the company by providing actionable metrics that can help improve the company’s performance.