CEOs love hard data, but they’re wary of sinking millions into projects that don’t show results. With 10.2% of the average company budget going toward marketing, according to Gartner, it’s clear that marketing is a necessary component of any business. 

When it comes time for the quarterly report and the CEO calls you into his office, how do you impress him? Which metrics should you provide to show the best snapshot of the company’s marketing efforts?

1. Qualified traffic (as a percentage of total traffic)

The CEO doesn’t care about every lookie-loo who ends up on the company site; they’re interested in traffic that leads to a sale.

Qualified traffic rates vary based on company size, goals, and products, but that doesn’t mean anything goes for the CEO. Set benchmarks, and share them. Beware that about 56% of web traffic comes from bots (Incapsula), so a 100% qualified traffic goal is unattainable.

To boost qualified traffic, consider your audience. For instance, if you market to teenagers, consider upping your social media game with engaging, laid-back video posts. If you’re targeting business executives, content production might be a more viable strategy.

2. Conversion rate

Sara Helmy, CEO of digital marketing agency Tribu, called conversion rate “by far the biggest indicator of whether or not our efforts, as a marketing agency, are successful.” Helmy is right: Site traffic without conversion is pointless, and conversions are the company’s ticket to growth. 

If the conversion rate of your website is stubbornly low, two things could be wrong. First, consider what percentage of your site traffic is qualified. If it’s in the single digits, your target audience probably isn’t hearing you. Next, consider users’ online experience. If checkout is cumbersome or your site is confusing, visitors are unlikely to convert.

Complicated forms are a common stumbling block in the user experience and can damage conversion rates. Consider giving users a guest checkout option. If visitors must register before checking out, make the process as simple as possible. If a longer form is absolutely necessary, try prepopulating data fields to minimise the hassle.

A website that lacks responsive design can also sap conversions. Most of your users are probably on mobile devices so ensure your website can adjust to small screens.

3. Channel / media mix

While every brand’s mix will look a bit different based on its strategy and audience, try creating two separate charts: one to show the CEO where money is going and another to show where traffic and revenue are coming from. This helps identify overspending and underspending — you don’t want to blow the budget on social marketing if it’s generating a tiny percentage of traffic or revenue.

Knowing your customer is key to an effective media mix. If your audience tends to be older individuals who are accustomed to receiving information via print media, a content-heavy strategy with a direct mail component might be your best strategy. 

To get a sense of how customers respond, experiment with channels and measure results. I recommend tracking marketing spend versus conversions via a metrics dashboard. Once you’ve determined which channels resonate with your audience, you can customise marketing spend to favor effective channels.

4. Net promoter score

The CEO cares about the Net Promoter Score because he wants to see happy customers. What’s more, there’s a strong correlation between a high Net Promoter Score and company growth. To date, no airline has been able to grow without bettering its ratio of promoters to detractors.

Surveys are great tools for tracking the Net Promoter Score: You can ask respondents how likely they are to recommend a company to a friend or colleague, then ask them to score their satisfaction with your company between zero and 10. Calculate the percentage of responses that scored your company between seven and 10, then zero and six. Subtract the zero-to-six percentage from the seven-to-10 percentage, and you have your Net Promoter Score.

Don’t forget to ask surveyed customers how you can improve. Your CEO will be impressed with the bonus insights you can provide with the Net Promoter Score.

5. Customer retention rate

Sure, a customer bought from you once. The big question is whether he will come back for more. Customers who love the company and product will recommend you to co-workers and friends – plus, they’ll keep purchasing the product themselves.

Loyalty might be created by an awesome product, stellar service, or a unique business proposition – hopefully all three. The goal should be to create a baseline to measure future loyalty against. If more customers are repeat buyers each quarter, the company is poised for success.

Retention campaigns might be necessary if your brand is on defence. Some companies use loyalty programs or discounts to spur retention, but improving the value of the experience has a better chance of retaining customers.

Presenting metrics to the CEO

CEOs don’t want numbers thrown in their faces, so marketers should use data to tell a story. An endless stream of numbers is tough to digest and carries less meaning than visual methods of presenting data. 

When telling your story, make clear, data-grounded recommendations. For instance, you might tell the CEO, “You’ll notice we spend 20% of the marketing budget on social media, but we’re not seeing great results. I recommend cutting back and allocating money elsewhere.”

Efficient marketing requires data, but CEOs aren’t concerned with every scrap of it. They want a clear view of how customers behave and how marketing projects impact revenue. To keep your CEO in the loop without wasting his time, present him with these metrics.