It all starts out by thinking of your marketing efforts as a sort of funnel. This funnel goes from the broadest category of people visiting your website just to poke around all the way down to the laser focus of your long-term clients. Think of this like the skill levels within the building trades. At the top of the funnel you have unskilled laborers who can barely hammer a nail. Moving deeper, you have trades involving more advanced framing, tile-setting and other trades that tend to have a certain level of training involved. Beyond that level you have the fully skilled trades such as plumbing, HVAC and electrical workers. Each level weeds out more people, because less and less people can do the more skilled trades.
This is the same way with your customers. At the top of your customer funnel you have visitors. You need to track this number to see what kind of raw numbers you’re dealing with from the start. Below them you have your leads, who are people expressing interest in your services through submitting their information on your landing page. At the deepest level, you have bona fide paying customers, and you can consider an even deeper level of repeating customers or clients. You need to track all of these things.
But your customer funnel isn’t the only thing you need to be tracking. You also have to keep track of your conversion rates, which measures the percentage of visitors you convert into leads, and the percentage of leads you turn into full-fledged customers. You also need to measure your channel-level funnel, which is just how you’re doing with every method of lead generation you use. You have a funnel for your website, one for your blog, one from your search engine traffic and from other sources. You need to know how each channel is doing.