We're certainly glad you didn’t see the headline of this article and just leave to delete all your bar graphics for traffic out of your reports - or if you did and came back, that’s okay, too
Basically, thank you for being interested enough to click on and then read this article. We can tell we like you already.
Alright, enough with the pleasantries, let’s get down to business.
We’ve shared some tips on determining if you’re messing up your marketing and whether or not you’re a cost center to your company (and why that’s a bad thing), but now let’s talk a little bit about reporting.
Reporting is the dreaded time of the month or quarter where you’re expected to create a pretty Google Slide or Powerpoint reflecting all the great things that came from your work.
Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE reporting. It’s a core principle around here, but lately marketing reporting has left us feeling a little Mad Men-ish and not at all like the serious business-focused professionals we are.
After seeing hundreds (and hundreds) of marketing reports, we’re going to share the three things that you should be reporting on in your reports. Of course, this is in addition to anything else your leadership has already requested!
But, first, still curious why we proclaimed to stop reporting on traffic?
Website traffic is a great metric - for you, the marketer responsible for generating more awareness and it’s a good tool to measure but it’s not the things your CEO and CFO care about. The distance from website traffic to closed revenue is too far for us to expect our leaders to translate.
They are smart and capable, but their perspectives are not the same as ours. They need the nuts, the bolts, and the results. Being proud of increasing traffic is great and you should celebrate, but celebrate increases in these metrics with your CEO:
1. Pipeline Performance
Your pipeline is everything that happens before a prospect becomes a customer. Traditionally, the marketing part of this ends right about at the lead conversion stage. While this is fine if you’re content with being seen as a cost center in your company, it won’t do for real business marketing.
By creating a Closed-Loop dashboard you’ll give yourself an avenue to see everything from impressions, website conversion, lead numbers, MQL numbers, SQL, numbers, etc.
Your sales pals are reporting on their pipeline and you’re reporting separately on what happens before your lead gets to their pipeline, but traditionally these two pipelines never cross. There is a giant gaping hole between the two.
By reporting on the entire customer acquisition process from start-to-finish, you’ll likely:
- Surprise a few people
- Be asked to explain it a few times
- Provide actionable insights to both your marketing and sales teams
What should be covered in this report?
- Impressions > Conversions % (by channel)
- Conversions > Leads % (by channel)
- Leads > MQL % (by channel)
- MQL > SQL% (by channel)
- SQL > Closed Won % (by channel)
- SQL > Closed Lost % (by channel)
Modify this path to reflect your own company’s language for each of these stages. But get all of this information into one place and then compare each conversion point to see where the best opportunities for more optimization are.
Report on that.
Return on Investment. If you’ve ever worked at an agency, this is likely the #2 reason that a company has ended a relationship with you. #1 being, “you don’t understand my company.”
While we have lots of thoughts on the first reason, the second one isn’t just applicable to agencies who have to constantly be aware of the perceived value they’re generated for their retainer. It’s relevant for in-house marketers as well. While you may not “lose” a contract over it, you can certainly lose influence and budget.
The formula for ROI is pretty straight forward:
ROI = (Current Value of Investment - Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment
One thing you should know and be reporting on is the ROI of your marketing efforts. Now, unless you have access to business finance data like salaries, cost-of-goods-sold, and baseline operating costs, you won’t be able to give the full ROI, but you can do a department view.
With the spend that you’re able to calculate (Cost of Investment):
- Team Salaries
- Tools & Tech
- Ad Spend
- Outsourced Cost, etc.
Include the revenue generated from your efforts (Current Value of Investment):
- Marketing-influenced leads total and value (your sales team should have a value)
Report on the ROI of your department as often as you have something to report - don’t be afraid of poor ROI, at least you know where you are and you can be making improvements toward more effective marketing and a higher ROI.
3. Performance Metrics
Alright, we know, we said NOT to report on website traffic and website traffic is one type of performance metrics.
Reporting on the overall effectiveness of your different campaigns and channels is important, the metrics that you use to communicate that are:
- Include this high-level information in your report, but always tie it back to your sales pipeline and ROI.
Our recommendation is to report each of these things quarterly and only dive deep into the ones that you have something remarkable to say about: whether good or bad. For example:
- Our organic traffic has increased 45% this quarter, due to increase investment in content development. This increase has resulted in a higher number of leads through our marketing campaigns and we’re seeing a positive ROI from that spend.
- Our Facebooks Ads budget was reduced by 50% last quarter, decreasing the impressions from those ads. While the impressions were decreased, the conversion rate increased due to language changing. Allowing us to generate higher ROI from less investment in the ads.
- The overall marketing ROI is much lower than I would expect it to be, based on the review of the performance of each channel, I see that we’re spending roughly ~30% more on referral networks, but they are not producing any leads. By reducing that cost, our ROI will immediately rebound and free budget for us to apply to more effective channels.
Can you see how those conversations are different than simply reporting on website traffic?
Want to learn more about Math for Marketing and how to find and apply the data already at your fingertips? Check out our guide here!