Annual reports should tell a story. The story is written by your entire team throughout the year, and everyone should already know how the story goes long before year’s end.
Sure, you can fudge some numbers to tell the story you want to tell, or, in some cases, feel you need to tell, but how does that help anything? Consistency is key with reporting. If you report something in 2017 because the numbers helped tell your story, then you have to include it in your 2018 report as well.
Reporting shows data. The data helps decision makers evaluate and make their decisions based on numbers. Those numbers never lie. So, what should be included in your annual marketing report? The answer is pretty simple: you need to report what matters, not what looks good.
Finding Out What Metrics Matter for Reporting
Annual reports usually fall on one person’s shoulders—especially if broken out by department. For the sake of this post, let’s focus on sales and marketing. In a perfect world, sales and marketing go together like peas and carrots. In the real world, sometimes that relationship is more like Penguins fans and Flyers fans.
Sales says marketing doesn’t generate enough leads. Marketing says sales doesn’t follow up or close any of the leads they give them. It’s a never-ending cycle. What does this have to do with reporting?
The sales team and the marketing team need to sit down and figure out what matters and then put some quantitative numbers together. What does a qualified lead look like to the sales team? How does the marketing team help generate more of them? Who judges the quality of the lead? Here are a few things to track in your CRM:
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
- Close Rate
- Marketing Collateral Conversions (Landing pages, etc.)
- Email Marketing Statistics (Open rate, unsubscribes, etc.)
After these discussions, both the sales and marketing teams should be able to settle on what metrics matter and how to track them throughout the year. This will increase collaboration and hold each side accountable for carrying out the strategies set in place for lead generation.
Using What You Learn
The biggest downfall of an annual report is that it is just that, a report, something that many businesses just do. They take the previous year’s report, update the numbers and cross it off the list. Why even take the time to do the report if it’s just going to sit in your google drive folder until it’s time for the next year’s report?
A solid annual report ties directly back into your company’s goals, plans, and timelines for the previous year. If your 2018 goals were to finally launch a new website, increase revenue by 5%, and develop email marketing campaigns to delight current customers, then each of these plans should be addressed in your annual report, and more importantly, discussed among your sales and marketing team.
Did the website launch on time? Why or why not? Did you increase revenue this year? Why or why not? How about those email marketing campaigns to your current customer base that you’ve been talking about for months? Did they get set up? What are the numbers like? Did they increase repeat purchases, facilitate referrals, etc?
The numbers are important, but so is the analysis. These two factors are the key ingredients to a solid annual report. Without numbers you can’t analyze, and if you can't analyze you can’t make decisions based on numbers. The decision-making process goes much smoother when you have all of this in place.
If you’re struggling to find out what matters, what to do with all the data you are taking from Google Analytics or your marketing software, give us a call. We’re always happy to share how collecting and analyzing data can help your business.