Demonstrating your team’s accomplishments with year-end reporting is an opportunity no marketer should pass up. Your executive team will appreciate a reminder of achievements in one presentation.
Most of us have felt the pressure of creating year-end presentations for the executive team. My colleagues on the MERGE business intelligence team, Tracy Smith, Senior Director of Business Intelligence, and Stuart Fern, SVP, Group Business Development Leader, shared their wisdom on the topic of creating year-end reports.
1. Know your audience
Put yourself in the executive team’s shoes. They allocated dollars to the marketing budget and at the end of the year, they expect a summary of the results. The C-suite wants to know:
- Did you accomplish what you said you would?
- Were your channels and tactics effective?
- And if not, why?
Remember, the C-suite doesn’t need granularity. Keep it high-level. Tell the story of the “why” behind the metrics with as much objectivity as you can muster. Be prepared to explain where you fell short.
For many organizations, the data presented at year-end meetings will be shared with the board. That’s another reason it’s crucial to keep the narrative at a high level.
2. Focus on what matters
What is the topline number your department is responsible for? SQLs? Total marketing-influenced revenue? That’s the metric you should highlight.
Consider your audience. What metrics resonate with your C-suite? What metrics will they want to share with the board?
For example, if your CMO focused on CRM tools, emphasize the size of your database and how much it grew or how much revenue was generated per email sent.
Having a hard time determining which metrics to pull? (If you are, make agreeing on what’s important your number 1 item to fix next year!) Figure out where your team spent the most time and money and report on that.
Dig deeper: Getting back to basics: Marketing ROI
3. Tell a story
If there’s one way to not impress the executive team, it’s presenting data and displaying charts and graphics with little to no context.
Avoid that trap by crafting your story. Infusing a narrative into year-end reporting will ensure your message is understood by your audience. Eliminate pieces that don’t advance your story. Support your presentation with data, and ensure it can be understood when shared with people (e.g., board members) who may not be in the room.
If there was a goal you didn’t meet — don’t shy away from this. Be forthcoming — tell the story of why you didn’t meet this goal and explain learnings you can apply next time. Be sure to communicate with your team beforehand to gain alignment and ensure there are no gaps in your story.
Dig deeper: For data storytelling, start with the story
4. Share the impact of external events
Some things are beyond your control, so it’s important to share the impact external events may have had. Explain any gaps or spikes you experienced throughout the year. If supply chain issues limited your ability to ship products and reduced sales, the C-suite should be reminded of that.
It’s also important to include an industry analysis. For example, marketing operations teams struggled with retaining talent due to the competitive market in 2022. Did this impact your team’s ability to execute campaigns efficiently?
5. Document the sources of your data
Always be prepared to back up the data you present with the source. You may receive questions on a single metric, so know exactly where those data came from. Credibility is crucial to the success of your presentation. Document the source of your data and eliminate discrepancies.
For example, your organization’s accounting system may include debits from returns, whereas the marketing team’s Google Analytics 4 does not gather this data. That’s why it’s important always to document the source! (And ideally, you’ll know the revenue measure the C-suite and board use. If you do, use that one.)
Dig deeper: 5 steps to make the most of your reporting and analytics
6. Build visualizations that support the narrative
Once you’ve settled on the narrative, you can begin developing your data visualizations. The good news is that you don’t need the latest and greatest data visualization tool to tell your story effectively. Google Sheets or Excel are great starting points if you don’t have advanced tools like Domo.
It’s important to remember that building data visualization takes time. Be patient and carve out enough time for several rounds of revisions.
Dig deeper: What is marketing performance management and how can it help you?
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.