5 Steps to Better B2B Marketing Reporting


Reporting gives B2B marketers headaches and heartburn more than almost any other task. Honestly, it’s frequently frustrating for non-marketing execs like CEOs, CFOs, Sales VP’s, board members, and investors because the marketing data just doesn’t mean anything.  But if B2B marketers provide high-value reporting and analytics, it’s a great way to become a leading star within your organization.

Our research shows the demands for more meaningful B2B marketing reporting is a direct result of increased marketing accountability on pipeline creation and revenue performance.  Aside from financial details, the entire organization is starving for meaningful information that shows the health and performance of the business. No other functional group is better equipped than the marketing team.

The best way to meet these high expectations is to report strategic KPI’s and revenue performance metrics, not tactical activities that most B2B marketers are comfortable with.  The strategic-level reporting pushes the comfort zone for most B2B marketers – as it should. But the payoff potential is very high because of the quality insights provided by the marketing team. The bottom line: Embrace the opportunity!

Raising your game takes work but it’s very doable. Here are 5 big steps for improving your B2B reporting and analytics.

1. Focus on Reporting Strategic Impact

Track the KPI’s and metrics that align with overall company objectives and goals and revenue performance. Stop guessing at what the C-suite wants and make suggestions. Pipeline velocity, cost per lead, cost per opportunity, cost per deal, and opportunity creation rates are all good places to start.  It’s surprisingly common for execs to not know what data they want from marketing. Set the parameters to focus on the big performance KPI’s to avoid scope creep and reporting ratholes in the future.

2. Align the Organization on the Data

Alignment is tough.  Trusting the data is a big factor.  Make sure everyone aligns on specific data points and the systems of record. Make sure the sales operations and marketing operations teams are using the same data from the right systems. Disparate data and calculations will only weaken organizational alignment.  The upfront work on aligning the stakeholders on reporting expectations will pay big dividends in the long run. 

3. Use Tactical Data The Right Way and With the Right Audience

Tactical data has its place.  Use in the right context with the right audience.  I can almost guarantee your CEO doesn’t care about email open rates for the last quarter. Activity metrics dominate most B2B reports.  Activities are like a binky for a baby.  We B2B marketers love to track how emails and websites and trade shows provide a tick-list of data touchpoints. These metrics are important in the right context. But marketers are missing a huge opportunity to demonstrate a broader and strategic impact to the business.

4. Find the Right Reporting Format

I have sat through incredibly painful monthly business reviews where the marketing team presents a 90 page slide deck.  (Yes – I really have seen 90+ page MBR decks on multiple occasions.) Most of the data is eye-burning and tactically boring.  Structure the format in buckets and try to include on a single page dashboard.  Impossible you say? I disagree.  Here’s an example outline:

Executive-level KPI’s

  • Marketing ROI based on Budget Spend
  • Cost per Lead, Opportunity, Deal
  • Sales Pipeline Velocity
  • Marketing Sourced Revenue

Sales Pipeline Metrics

  • Inquiries, Leads, Opportunities, Deals
  • Conversion rates
  • Open Lead Reports

Campaign Performance Metrics

  • Sales Qualified Leads
  • Opportunity Creation
  • Deals Won  
  • # of Engaged Accounts

5. Tell the Story – What Happened, Why, and What is coming

This is where B2B marketers have huge opportunities to shine. Marketers often present data as static numbers without any context WHY things happened the way they did. Even more important is using the data to provide context for what could happen with the business in the future. This isn’t like sharing a sales forecast. Full funnel marketing data reveals incredible clues into what is coming for the future of the business, not just what happened last month. All that is needed is B2B marketing brainpower to analyze the clues, test ideas, and share the insights. Your C-suite will thank you.

Use the new year as an opportunity to dramatically improve your B2B reporting and analytics. What are the steps you’re taking?