You've heard it time and time again: You need to set goals and track performance to prove your activities contribute to the bottom line. When goal-setting marketers are 376 percent more likely to report success, it's no wonder everyone is hyper-focused on data.

Problem is, we live in a sea of data. And when you track everything, you might as well be tracking nothing. Sure, it's nice to see referral traffic, user engagement, and every data point in-between. But is all this data helping us, or is it just making it more difficult to see the forest for the trees?

Most marketing teams are working to grow every "important" metric at once. This means simultaneously:

  • Increasing social followers

  • Improving open rates on emails

  • Increasing Web traffic

  • Lowering cost-per-click on ads

  • Getting more engagement

...the list goes on.

The fact is, too much data often results in too many goals, which divides your attention and diverts your resources. And we often track these items only because they are available to us. There's usually a lack of strategy behind why we need to track these metrics.

Focus all your efforts on just one metric.

You'll need to identify the one goal that is most closely related to growth. Let's say your overarching marketing goal is to produce 1,000 leads per month. Working back from there helps you identify the one lead metric to focus on.

When your website typically generates your leads, how much traffic you're getting is a good place to start when formulating your metric. Say you get 5,000 website visitors each month; is it possible to convert 20 percent of them?

If so, contact me...I want to know your secret.

In reality, according to a study done by Wordstream, a 2-5 percent conversion rate is par for the course.

Calculate how much traffic you will need to hit your goal of 1,000 leads. Reverse engineering would tell us that you need between 20,000 and 50,000 website visitors per month to hit your goal.

Now you've found the one lead metric to focus on. Every activity you do should focus on increasing the volume of website visitors from 5,000 to 20,000 (to hit a 5 percent conversion rate).

The "One Metric That Matters" works because it makes you focused and disciplined. It makes you concentrate on the one thing that is within your control that contributes the most to the growth of your business--it's your North Star.

I know this strategy works because my team at CoSchedule used it to grow our website visitors from 0 to over 640,000 visitors per month, and from 0 email subscribers to over 880,000. Our focus was to master two fundamentals: get traffic and build an audience.

1. Get more traffic.

Imagine your retail store needs to increase sales. You'll need to increase the number of people entering your store and looking at your products. The same goes for those with a digital product, except the website is your engine.

To accomplish this, focus on one of these traffic-related metrics:

  • Pageviews

  • New visitors

  • Unique visitors

Our "One Metric That Matters" was to grow website traffic. Here, we focused on a few powerful tactics:

  • Optimize the user experience.

  • Delete all distractions from the website.

  • Use the Skyscraper Technique to make the best content.

  • Focus on SEO and keyword strategy.

2. Build a loyal audience.

After we got our traffic in high gear, we needed that audience to convert into leads. This posed a challenge. How do we turn our traffic into leads? How do we get them into our marketing funnel?

The answer was providing them with insanely valuable downloads gated behind a simple form. The two main elements of this strategy were:

  • Content upgrades--or downloadable resources like templates, worksheets, pre-made spreadsheets, ready-to-use slide decks, etc. Basically, any document that would help our visitors resolve a challenge they face.

  • Opt-in tools--This one is a little more high effort, but for us, the effort has paid off tenfold. We create several software tools, like the Headline Analyzer, Social Message Optimizer, and Email Subject Line Tester, to encourage email opt-ins.

For many businesses, mine included, email signups forecast profitable action that will happen. The more email signups we get, the more customers we get.

Here's the rub when it comes to goal setting and tracking: Focusing on 45+ KPIs makes you look busy. It makes you look like you're accomplishing things. In reality, tracking more makes you focus on less. Finding and focusing on your "One Metric That Matters" means you become laser-focused on something that actually contributes to business growth.