No matter how often you present to the board, the pressure to perform and justify your existence is ever present and can be one of the most intimidating things you’ll do professionally. And the prep work can be onerous. The hours spent pulling data together from various dashboards, reports and spreadsheets are endless; and weaving together a bulletproof story that can stand up to (what seems at times) “the firing squad” is grueling at best.
Through my own personal experience, I have foregone that grueling experience and now am able to confidently present an insight-driven performance report. In fact, as I write, I’ve just walked out of my board meeting and can’t help but feel that I “crushed it!”
So, what’s the secret? It’s all about the insights and knowing where to get the information.
Specifically, you’ll want to organize your performance report around four pillars:
- Marketing Goals;
- Performance Against Goals;
- Business Processes; and
- Campaign Attribution.
Organizing Your Board Report
The name of the game is revenue. Having a snapshot of the KPIs of revenue for your business is crucial. Ultimately, what the CEO and Board want to know is: what are the marketing goals that will help drive revenue and are you meeting them? In many B2B companies, the CMO is responsible for shouldering half the revenue.
Pillar #1 — Marketing Goals
After that, use historical conversion rate data to determine the volume of MQLs (marketing qualified leads) needed at the top of the funnel and at each successive stage throughout the funnel. These are the goals you’ll be measuring yourself against at each board report and should be the foundation of all your dashboards in your marketing performance management solution.
Pillar #2 — Performance Against Goals
At the end of the quarter, the narrative is straightforward — you either achieved your goals (in which case the data speaks for itself) or you didn’t. Throughout the quarter, dashboards are used to view progress toward reaching goals in order to assess if you’re on track. The dashboards I use here include Revenue Goal, Opportunity Coverage, MQL Metrics, Average Deal Size and Sourced Revenue. If you didn’t achieve your goals then you are obligated to explain why, which is a good transition to the next section.
Pillar #3 — Business Processes: What’s Working? What’s Not?
In this section, the focus is really on business process and specifically which processes are performing well and, of course, which aren’t. The CMO not only needs to shoulder part of the burden for revenue generation and, in doing so, ensuring pipeline coverage. But a CMO who is performing well is one who does so efficiently. Improved conversion rates, improved velocity of deals (so you can do more deals in a set time period) and increases in average deal size are excellent KPIs to prove marketing efficiencies or areas of needed improvement.
The dashboards I use include MQL-to-Close Conversion Rates, MQL-to-Close Velocity Rates, MQL-to-Demo Conversion Rates (this makes sense for my business but other businesses may have a different opportunity stage), Average Deal Size and Average Number of Touches For Won and Lost Opportunities. In this section, I think it’s important to show trend data as it helps to tell a story about how/if you are improving business processes.
The narrative in this section is (hopefully) one of the efficiencies. Showing that marketing is (at best) improving conversion rates, velocity and deal size by delivering better-targeted leads.
Pillar #4 — Campaign Attribution: Which Campaigns Are Impacting Revenue the Most?
For this pillar, it’s all about spending more of your marketing budget in areas that are returning the most, while spending less (or cutting funding altogether) in areas that have little to no return. My favorite charts are all campaign attribution-based and include Opportunity-to-Won Conversion, Opportunity-to-Won Velocity and Average Deal Size. These dashboards tell you specifically which campaigns have the highest conversion rates, which campaigns generate the fastest velocity and which campaigns generate the largest deal size. For me this is nirvana!
I also include an overall campaign attribution chart which puts a dollar value on the individual campaign’s impact on revenue. This allows me to see some big winners and high-performing outliers, as well as the biggest losers.
Tying A Bow On It
The goal of board reporting is to tell a meaningful story based on impactful insights — rather than just regurgitated data — and to be able to do so in a scalable way. Having a templated approach to your reporting and organized dashboards in a marketing performance management system that delivers insights based on a single source of truth is critical. With these elements in place, the ease at which you can pull reports together and the confidence you have in delivering them goes a long way in simplifying your board reports.
Christine Vermes is the Head of Marketing at Full Circle Insights. She leverages a rich track record in marketing with a noteworthy breadth in the discipline, nearly two decades in the making. Her career spans key executive roles in the startup and agency worlds, strategy and implementation roles at Intel — where she rose to Corporate Brand Director, responsible for managing the company’s entire worldwide brand identity — and even a stint with the governing body of polo as CMO responsible for the growth of the sport.