Reporting, Dashboards and ForecastingPerformance is Everything
Reports, alerts and dashboards provide a view into marketing performance. Reporting tends to imply a regular production of reports – typically documents – outlining marketing performance.
It could be argued that dashboards and alerts are aspects of marketing reporting, albeit produced and accessible in real-time.
Reports are used to summarise performance when communicating with the wider business. Different metrics and KPIs are relevant at different tiers within a business.
Reporting become less granular and tends to focus on overarching business objectives the higher they need to reach.
Above all, marketing reports should be meaningful, insightful and actionable.
Aside from reporting success against business goals, reporting should provide insight, from which action can be taken to improve marketing performance. Reports should provide a meaningful summary of metrics.
A test of any marketer’s faith in their models and proposed marketing activity is their willingness to forecast results against metrics. Many organisations require Best, Middle and Worst (BMW) forecasts for marketing activity – helping to justify and calibrate marketing spend.
Forecasting also supports a fundamental business need, the ability to manage cashflow. Miscalculation of marketing performance and resulting sales can lead to a problem with cashflow. Businesses can run at negative profitability for years (Amazon is a good example of this), but a cashflow crisis is terminal (where are Enron, BHS or Carillion now?)
With a solid understanding of hard metrics and their impact on revenue, combined with expected activity performance, you can apply ROI calculations in reverse.
When developing marketing plans for clients, we always try to extract insight into conversion rates beyond the marketing process – so we can forecast an expected range of marketing performance.
Forecasting should be possible from any stage in the sales and marketing pipeline.
Every stage should have specific marketing or sales activity assigned to it, with an expected performance outcome (refined over time). As a result, a refined and reduced lead volume can be extrapolated into the future with a knowledge of conversion rate and timeframe. Ultimately, this delivers a revenue forecast for the future.
Return on Investment (ROI) Reporting
ROI calculations help determine the overall success of a marketing campaign. Metrics should be in place to ensure marketing activity can be evaluated from overall investment cost to the incremental revenue generated as a result of the activity.
All aspects of investment – from external agency costs, to campaign deliverables, media, advertising costs, refunds/lifetime value and even internal resource costs – should ideally be taken into account.
If a campaign generated a 10% uplift in sales but took 200% longer to convert by sales teams and incurred a high volume of refunds, it may not have been worth it.
ROI should take the bigger picture into account and be applied at multiple tiers – tactical level, campaign level and strategy level with appropriate timeframes for each.