How to Stop Marketing Reporting from Interfering with Marketing Goals
One of the biggest challenges marketers face is balancing the demand for tactical ROI with the need for tangible results. In today’s data-driven world, it’s expected that you can illustrate the return for every investment you make (advertising, content, email marketing) while still proving your overall strategy is making a difference to the bottom line. Reporting on every tactic, however, can make it hard for you—and your boss—to stay focused on real goals.
As a marketer, it’s important to know exactly what is going on in all parts of your marketing strategy. So you should pay attention to tactical metrics on a daily basis, if only to ensure you are going to meet your goals at the end of the month or quarter. But what helps you doesn’t always help others understand your efforts.
When it comes to reporting success to internal stakeholders, start by having a conversation about what really matters.
Set and Report on Primary KPIs
Before you go down the road of over-reporting all the activity you have data for, it’s important to have a collective conversation about what metrics really matter. Sales, marketing and any other stakeholders should set goals together and keep an ongoing scorecard to track progress. But what metrics should you focus on?
Instead of reporting how a single search keyword contributed to lead conversion or how many clicks each PPC ad received, keep this scorecard at a high level. From marketing success standpoint, it’s important to see the overall website visits, new leads and visit-to-lead rate. You can also measure the effectiveness of your marketing and sales pipeline with information on the number of marketing qualified lead, sales qualified leads, opportunities and customers.
In addition, HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe pointed out 6 marketing metrics your CEO actually cares about, which include:
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Marketing % of Customer Acquisition Cost (M%-CAC)
- Ratio of Customer Lifetime Value to CAC (LTV:CAC)
- Time to Payback CAC
- Marketing Originated Customer %
- Marketing Influenced Customer %
I’d recommend reading his blog in full for all of the technical details. (It's a great read.)
A combination of high-level performance metrics and bottom line ROI reporting can help you determine just how well your marketing is performing, without getting lost in the data weeds.
You have a set budget and you have goals. The question now is how do you reach those goals with the funds available?
Companies, not necessarily the marketers at them, historically have tactics that have proven valuable to their marketing efforts in the past. It’s not wise to completely cut off these efforts in favor of something untested. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever experiment.
Setting goals and keeping a scorecard to show progress toward them gives you flexibility to try new things with the money that has been allocated to marketing. Instead of relying on blog posts alone to promote an eBook, maybe you start directing a few of your PPC ads to the eBook’s landing page. Instead of just solely advertising in that trade magazines or through display ads, maybe you allocate additional money for LinkedIn Sponsored Updates or Facebook Promoted posts.
Experimenting is extremely important with the rapid pace at which technology changes. And an agile marketing mentality is the only way to sustain a marketing department/strategy in light of those changes. If you can keep stakeholders focused on primary KPIs, you’re free to reach your goals however you see fit. This is where data really matters.
Report for a Reason
I spend a good portion of my day (OK, most of it) looking at analytics for Kuno and our clients. And our team here has countless spreadsheets with metrics in them to manage all of these analytics. However, many of these metrics and spreadsheets work behind the scenes, only being utilized when a decision needs to be made or a trend needs to be brought to stakeholders.
Why? Reporting for reporting’s sake is inefficient and ineffective because there is so much data available. Key stakeholders may request or even demand data that falls far outside the stated goals. And while often times you can’t deny that data, it’s another opportunity to remind them of the primary KPIs.
After all, educating stakeholders, like modern marketing, is an ongoing process. Getting traction may take time, but once you move the needle on those KPIs, you and everyone else will know it was all worth it.
photo credit: hfreesartography
Dan has developed online communities and building buzz for companies, products and brands professionally since 2003. Today, he helps Enterprise-Level clients map content to different buyer personas and develop behavior-triggered lead nurturing communications at Kuno Creative, an inbound marketing agency. Find him on Google+.
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