When news and entertainment stories come across your social media feeds, you quickly glance at the headlines in order to get a sense of the day’s news. Yet, many marketing metric reports don’t follow this simple example.

Remember, clients want to know—quickly and briefly—what they’re getting for their marketing dollars. They want the headline. And whether you’re reporting to decision makers without advanced marketing knowledge or discussing metrics with the most knowledgeable marketers, you still need that headline—a main point that summarizes your “news.”

However, many marketing dashboards—even those that come easy to use out of the box—grow complex rather quickly. Some marketers use this complexity to hide or obscure results (or a lack of results) from clients by pointing to dozens of metrics that point up, down, and every which way. But what’s noise? And what matters?

Let’s look at two generalized client examples that illustrate how to report the headline—rather than the noise—of key marketing metrics.

Client A: Get ‘Em on the Phone

Client A’s website performs well. It gets good traffic and boasts a low bounce rate. Many of its services pages and blog posts seem popular according to the analytics. Yet one main metric matters to this client: phone calls.

The client knows that they can close one deal for every 100 phone calls. As a result, the client cares most about:

  • Paid media driving traffic to the site
  • Increased traffic leading to increased phone calls
  • Sales resulting from phone calls paying for or exceeding the marketing investment

Other metrics simply support this main metric. And so the “headline” for this client is the number of phone calls (which affects the number of sales).

Client B: Red, Yellow, Green

Client B consists of decision makers without advanced marketing knowledge. If you mention “bounce rate,” they are lost.

In this case, an experienced marketer would enjoy looking at many important metrics pertaining to their website: traffic, referrals, bounce rate, exit rates, conversions, etc. But the decision makers were overwhelmed and wanted us to cut out the jargon.

While some of this “jargon” was important to their business, we needed to simplify down to a “headline.” We constructed a dashboard with extremely simplified KPIs that tied to important metrics that they did care about such as sales and leads.

As a result:

  • Red indicated that the combined metrics posed a critical problem. For example, leads might be plummeting or non-existent due to a critical dip in website traffic.
  • Yellow indicated that a few problems existed that needed addressing but weren’t showstoppers. For example, a new web form to download a whitepaper may have decreased the usual number of leads by 10%.
  • Green indicated that sales, leads, and conversions were healthy and/or increasing. Despite the complexity of marketing metrics, we could report with confidence that sales were strong and their marketing investments were paying off.

How do you share your “headline” with clients?