Marketing analytics used to simply be about measuring the hits on your website and the number of opens and clicks on emails. But as marketers we know that the times are changing.

For one, the buy cycle (how your prospects buy) has changed because of the vast amount of information now available on the Internet; in turn, we have been forced to change the way we market products and services. Accordingly, the analytics and metrics that we use to track and evaluate marketing programs must change, too.

Of course, that's not to say website pageviews are unimportant or that you shouldn't track clickthrough on email. But those metrics are no longer the end point; instead, they are merely the beginning of real marketing analytics.

Today, marketers must find a way to manage leads through the lead life cycle, which requires visibility into how you drive, track, and evaluate leads, and it requires the ability to determine when leads are "Sales-ready" and when they are not.

In addition, marketers must take responsibility for nurturing leads that are not "Sales-ready," in order to maximize the value of what they've spent on their lead-generation dollars.

In fact, some industry benchmarks suggest that leads must be continuously "touched" before they close. Around 80% of leads close only after five contacts; in some cases, that number is closer to 9-11 touches.

If as a marketer you are assuming that the value of your lead-generation dollars comes from just one email blast or a month of AdWords buys, then you're not on the right track to understanding how to increase the value. In contrast, nurturing leads (through multiple contacts or touches) as part of your lead-generation programs will increase the return of your lead-generation dollars.

Determining Real Marketing Analytics

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Lisa Cramer is president and co-founder of LeadLife Solutions, a provider of an on-demand lead-management solution.