Ask any VP-level or above in Marketing if they’ve read any thrilling reports lately, and you’re sure to be met with a look of distinguished confusion. The fact is, an overwhelming number of marketing metrics reports aren’t exactly page turners. Yawn. So how can you make your customer reference reports better than the rest?

Customer reference reports shared with the marketing management should be seen (and utilized) as an opportunity to reach these important stakeholders in an exciting way. To connect the initiatives you oversee on a day-to-day basis with larger marketing objectives and strategic objectives of other departments. To show them you’re much, much more than just numbers or a tactical order taker…your work is a true value driver. Sure, the figures need to be in there. After all, it is a report and any current manager will want that info. But don’t make the mistake of missing the huge opportunity that lies beyond the data. Here are four things to remember that will put you on track to a kick-a** customer marketing report.

You Have a Visitor

Opportunity. Most of us eagerly wait for it. Well, here it is on your door. Invite it in! Reports can be a strong tool to communicate past results, but don’t forget about future vision. Create an Executive Summary section of your report and use it to communicate vision, strategy, values and thought leadership. Focus attention on recent program initiatives that have helped achieve the overall marketing department’s goals or other corporate goals. Use a pullout quote from a customer or add an easy-to-read graphic to convey a bit of personality and express the highlights of the report. Strut your stuff and add a little color commentary to those numbers. The opportunity is there. Don’t leave it out in the cold.

Everyone Likes a Good Story

So, you’re at a dinner party. Everyone is seated at the table enjoying their meal. Does the host simply bring in a bowl of steaming deliciousness, plop it on the table and unceremoniously say, “Green vegetables?” No. That host most likely will describe what it is in more detail. ”I’m usually not one to have a green thumb, but I grew these green beans in our garden this summer! My secret is the special hand-mixed seasoning I added right before I brought it out here.”

According to the 2017 State of Customer Marketing Benchmark Report, 62% of customer marketers are putting customer references front-and-center as their most effective revenue generating tactic. But so what? Why should your boss care? What impact does that number have on them, and specifically revenue at your company? What are the compelling points behind that statistic that would make your boss sit up straight in their chair and lean in as you said more?

Customer marketing reports are the perfect opportunity to share your story and bring some of those numbers on the page to life in a much more meaningful way. Did you develop a case study that landed your customer a promotion? Did the X number of reference calls you coordinated result in millions in revenue this year? Did encouraging a handful of customers to participate in writing reviews increase their customer success health score? Engage your audience. Make this an opportunity for interaction; give them something worthy of a positive response. Is there an interesting story? Is it emotionally moving? Aim for a relevant story that communicates clearly and your “guests” reading or listening to you present the report are sure to come back.

Don’t Be a One Trick Pony

There’s nothing more boring than seeing the same report on the same five or six data points over and over, month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year. Take advantage of the power and vast knowledge you can pull from the administrative functionality of your customer reference platform. There are numerous ways to demonstrate the impact of the voice of the customer (VOC) on both sales and marketing from the data that’s available in the system.

For example, in the RO Sales Enablement platform, the Spotlight Revenue Influence report is used for MUCH MORE than just the surface metric of tying revenue impact to the VOC. It can be used to clearly show buyer engagement at various stages over time, the shrinking of the length of sales cycles when the VOC is used, increased average deal sizes, and trends/insights on the different stakeholders that are being involved in the sales cycle. The data showing what content, what customers, what people are engaging (both internal and external) can help Marketing validate budget spend and/or adjust it appropriately based on the market and what’s happening in the field. (Psssstt…current RO customers: want more tips on how to use specific reports like this? Get in touch with Lisa Hoesel!)

No One Likes Boring. (If You Remember Just One Thing!)

Without starting a debate regarding the subjectiveness of “boring” cut to the chase: Be passionate. That’s the key. Passion isn’t boring. Remember, your audience is already on your side, so they’ll be open to your passions. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you like to hear that story? If not, no one else will be interested. Be clear and informative. Touch an emotional side. Or their sense of humor. Or their curiosity. Give your manager the opportunity to engage and ask questions. Any time you can grab your audience by the brain and heart, you’re well on your way to achieving the ultimate goal toward which we all strive: connection. There you go. The almighty customer marketing report. Properly utilize its strength and you’ll separate yourself from the boring.

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Nichole Auston
Director, Content Marketing at RO Innovation
Nichole Auston is the Director of Content Marketing at RO Innovation. With a background in digital marketing and nearly a decade of experience managing marketing programs for a variety of SaaS companies, she’s passionate about sharing insights, best practices and stories about sales enablement and customer reference management, and the people and technology that power it.
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