By Joe Brannen
Whether you're giving an impromptu presentation or running the show in a recurring meeting, communicating your SaaS marketing performance to your CEO may have you on edge.
Some may attribute this to normal pre-presentation jitters; others may be nervous about how their presentation will be received. After all, companies across the board are increasing their SaaS solution spend—up 78 percent over last year alone.
This means there are a ton of marketing analytics and KPIs that can demonstrate success and opportunity to your CEO. But the key to impressing the CEO is not always in the numbers and performance—it’s how you present them.
What Data to Communicate to Your CEO
Choosing which marketing KPIs to present is the first challenge a SaaS marketer faces. Would the CEO be interested in seeing customer retention and acquisition rates? Or perhaps something more granular like conversion rates? Or maybe web traffic?
Ultimately, what you present comes down to what goals you or your department has identified and how the marketing analytics support them. Here are a few examples:
- Unique Visitors: If your goal is to bring more visitors to the site, it would be great to show metrics such as how many unique visitors came to the site.
- Leads: Visitors don’t always mean potential customers, so it would be good to pair this with new leads and qualified leads to show how this helped customer acquisition and revenue.
- Lead-to-Customer Rate: What percentage of the leads you are attracting are becoming customers?
- Customer KPIs: These are metrics around how much it costs to acquire customers, their lifetime value, and a comparison of the two metrics. Gaining customers is great, but the spend needs to be equal to the customer’s value.
- Churn: Are you retaining customers? The average company’s application stack changed at a rate of 43 percent over the last two years, so customer retention may be an important goal to the SaaS CEO. Showing data around post-purchase and customer delight initiatives is a good way of demonstrating how the SaaS marketing team is helping reduce churn.
Whatever your goals may be, it is important to show how your team or department is performing and reaching them.
Going Beyond Team and Department Goals
It could also be good to show how the marketing team contributed to other teams, especially if your goals are being met. Because maintaining revenue and growth are common company goals, lead generation and sales enablement efforts can grab the CEO’s attention. Despite the industry—whether it is SaaS, manufacturing, or retail—if your company is selling a product or a service, the CEO will be interested in seeing performance in this area.
A SaaS marketer could also show marketing analytics that support overall company goals. In addition to showing how the marketing team is fighting churn, helping other areas of the company (e.g., customer support and client managers) do their part would be a good indicator of demonstrating how marketing has gone above and beyond to reduce churn. If your CEO is looking to gain talent for your company—after all, the tech industry sees some of the highest turnover of all industries at 13 percent—you could present marketing analytics based on the company’s career page performance.
Prioritizing KPIs and Data
Your CEO more than likely has a specific purpose in mind or a specific marketing KPI that they want to see, so it is important to prioritize your data accordingly. Sometimes, you will luck out, and the CEO will tell you what they want to see. Other times, you may have to anticipate what goal has the CEO’s attention. A good practice is to provide a brief recap of how your SaaS marketing team has performed or improved on what you presented in the last meeting. If this is your first meeting, do some research on what the most important goal is for the CEO and start there.
How to Communicate to Your CEO
Some CEOs are more versed in marketing analytics than others, but regardless, it is a good idea to structure your presentation correctly so as to not confuse or bore the CEO. An easy way to do this is to use clear, easy-to-understand language and try to make your presentation visual, rather than bombarding the CEO with numbers. Make sure you are only displaying a few graphs and visualizations per slide and ensure your presentation is properly formatted to tell the story so you don’t overwhelm the CEO. Here’s a preview of our template:
1. Brief introduction slide
2. Goals recap
3. KPI section (repeat as necessary)
4. Next steps
Unless your CEO is fascinated by data, they more than likely will want to know whether the company is hitting important marketing KPIs through a 1,000-foot view of strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Have the other data that support your findings on hand in case they want specifics, but keep the presentation simple and focus on the metrics that matter most to your CEO.
You’ll also want to be prepared to answer questions. As stated above, having the data on hand to support your presentation is important, but also try to anticipate questions the CEO may ask. For example, they could be worried about the cost per lead or what you could be doing to deliver more qualified leads to sales and they might have questions around this. Leave enough time to answer those questions, but don’t skimp on the quality of your presentation to do so. If your meeting with the CEO is a recurring one, you may get in the habit of sending your presentation to them ahead of time to allow them to prepare as well.
Breaking Bad News
Finally, there is the question that chills many SaaS marketing teams to the bone: What if we didn’t hit our metrics? At some point, you will have to face the CEO about not hitting your goals. Not every marketing plan is perfect, and many teams will have to tackle this hurdle. The important thing is to own this. Acknowledge that the area is in need of improvement, explain the lessons that you’ve learned, and present a clear, specific action plan to get back on track.
Communicating your SaaS marketing performance to your CEO can be daunting, but with proper preparation and the right presentation, you will emerge from the meeting relatively unscathed.