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Being Data-Driven Pt. 3: Metrics Your Boss Cares About

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Mary Fonvielle

Brian: Welcome back to another episode of the growth made simple podcast where we believe friction in your organization's slows your growth, but simplicity will build momentum. 

The growth made simple podcast is for entrepreneurs, business owners, marketing managers alike. And if you're passionate about helping your organization grow, then we want to welcome you to join us on this journey. I'm your host Brian, and I'm joined by my co-host, Mary.  Hey Mary. So where are we sitting today?

Mary:  So we're in a new spot today. We are in our official studio, a recording studio here at our new office in downtown Winston Salem.

Brian:  Oh my goodness. This has been a long time coming. Renovation has taken much longer than anyone ever expected. But speaking about that, this is episode number five, and in this episode we're going to be speaking about designing a space for your work office, any workplace. Here at Nu we've done that twice now, and so we've learned some things. We've had some challenges that we want to share with you. So I'm looking forward to it. It's pretty exciting to be in a new space dedicated to the podcasting world. But first I need to give a shout out to the name of our studio. It's called Faircloth Studio. The Faircloths were some of the owners of the original portion of our company, before myself and my business partners, and they've been instrumental to setting us up for success.

Mary: Yeah, I loved hearing that. I actually didn't know where the name Faircloth came from until you talked about it the other week. And I thought that was a great way to pay tribute to them.

Brian: Yeah. So what are we talking about today?

Mary: This is part of our mini series on data and how to use data for your business to help it grow. Last time we talked about paid ads and which metrics you should be paying attention to versus the ones you should be avoiding. We're going to continue with that today. We're going to talk about your boss. I'm here to talk about you, Brian.

Brian: Oh, well, um, do I need to leave the room?

Mary: No, no. We're, we're going to talk about how to communicate better with your boss when it comes to reporting data.

Brian: Oh, that should be exciting.

Mary: Yeah. So, your boss might be like my boss Brian, the CEO of Nu. They might be a client, might be a direct supervisor. No matter who you're working for, they all want to know that the work you're doing is getting results.

Brian: I mean, anytime I employ someone, I want to make sure that they are working towards the results that we discussed.

Mary: Yeah. Want to make sure we're all worth our paychecks. So we all want to impress our bosses, but sometimes the things that you find impressive might not be so great to them. Maybe your boss doesn't always 100% understand the work that you do, but that's fine. Maybe you and your boss just aren't on the same page when it comes to goals. Either way you want to make sure that whether you're doing weekly reports, monthly, quarterly reports, you want to make sure those are worthwhile and that they're showing the data that your boss wants to look at so that you're not wasting each other's time. Today we're going to talk about ways to make that happen. We're going to go over a few common challenges that people run into when reporting to your boss or your client, how to address those issues, and a few go-to data metrics that your boss actually will care about 100% of the time.

Brian: Well, I should enjoy today's podcast. Maybe I'll even learn something, hopefully. So, you know, I remember working at UPS when I was in a much younger stage in my life and I was an in safety and I had to do reporting on the injuries, or the lack of injuries hopefully in my organization. I would create lots of reports. I remember spending some time with my boss and I would slide the report over, he'd look at it and he'd give it back to me and say "attention to detail." That's all he would say. I learned that I need to pay attention to the little things in the report because maybe something was wrong, maybe something wasn't accurate. But that's where I learned the value of reporting and the value of accurate reporting to my boss when I was an employee.

Mary: Definitely, and I know from an agency standpoint, we send marketing reports to our clients on a monthly basis, and I don't always know that they get read. And we found that making sure that the metrics are something that our client actually wants to see will make them more likely to be seen. So we're not wasting our time gathering all this data and we're not wasting their time asking them to look at something that means nothing to them.

Brian: So let's jump into the challenges. The first challenge is when you create a report and all your boss can focus on is what they see is "missing" from the report. That's kind of similar to what I was saying as it relates to my UPS story. Maybe I didn't put something in and wasn't paying attention to details. So what can we do to solve that?

Mary: I think the big challenge here is when, you know, no matter what you're showing, whether to your your boss or your client, if something that they're looking for is not there, that's all they're going to see. And so I think a good solution is to sit down together and review your goals, review those metrics, and talk about how you're gonna measure those goals. "Here's what I'm going to report on and here's what I want to see."

Brian: Yeah. I mean getting aligned with your bosses though? Was it always a good idea? Because it may be important, something may be important to you, but if you don't know that something else is important to me exactly, then we're never going to be on the same page. So what are some examples that could be in a potential report that, someone like me or a supervisor would like to know?

Mary: For me, my department is marketing, so maybe I would report on the number of leads that we're getting every month. I might be reporting on the cost to get those leads, where we're getting them, where they're coming from. Stuff like that. Maybe you're doing a website for a client or your boss and maybe your goal is to bring people into the website. So traffic numbers are pretty basic metric, as well as traffic sources, things like that. If you're working sales, obviously revenue is going to be huge. Making sure you're meeting those sales goals. And again, I think acquisition is always a huge one to look at.

Brian: So when you're looking at these kinds of goals, what happens if your boss like literally has no clue what you're talking about?

Mary: If you hand something off to somebody, they can make their own conclusions. But, you know, sitting down and going over these reports, I think, is always the best way. So you can explain, hey, here's what you're seeing, here's the conclusions we've drawn from this.

Brian: Well, awesome. So the first challenge was what happens if your boss is only seeing what was missing. The goal was to sit down and align with your boss and walk through those goals together.

Mary: Yeah. I love that a lot of our solutions on this podcast are, you know, just sit down and communicate and talk about what your goals are and how you can achieve them together. I think that in this digital world, it's so easy to just to spit off an email.

Brian: Absolutely. And not think about what's the meaning behind the email or what we're actually doing and actually get face to face. So good solution. Challenge number two is when metrics look good but don't actually tell you anything. So what would be a solution to this challenge?

Mary: We're talking about value. We've talked about vanity metrics a bit in the past. Avoid these. I mean, they look pretty, that's why they're called vanity metrics, but at the end of the day, they don't really tell you much. If you do want to include them, at least pepper them around some more substantial metrics that are actually going to tell you something. Some examples of vanity metrics are things like social impressions, how many people are seeing a paid ad or a social media post, and calls made into the office. That's not necessarily telling you anything. You can take these vanity metrics and try and dig a little deeper with them and find something a little more substantial within those metrics. So out of social impressions, let's say, maybe we want to make sure this post is getting a lot of reach and a lot of engagement. Out of those calls made to the office, how many of those calls were actually valuable leads coming in? So it's really breaking down those metrics a little bit further just to find the nuggets of gold in there.

Brian: So another way to think about vanity metrics is it's just fluff. It may, it may end up looking good for a little while to your boss. It may look like you're doing some work, but in reality, those metrics, those numbers are not the things that are going to move the needle down to what your boss really cares about.

Mary: Exactly. And it's like,you know, if you're painting over mold on your wall or something. It looks pretty on the outside, but underneath there might be some issues that you're not seeing.

Brian: Yeah, definitely. Um, so after the break, we're gonna come back and talk about three key marketing metrics your boss will actually care about no matter who they are. And I am looking forward to that because I want to hear what I need to care about. So, we'll come right back.

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Brian: Well, welcome back from our break. We've been talking about the metrics that your boss is interested in. Um, and if you are reporting to your supervisor, if you're reporting to a client, if you're reporting to maybe the CEO of your company, it's really important that you get aligned with what they're interested in seeing in the work that you're doing to be able to prove, as Mary said earlier, your paycheck. As we come back, we're going to be looking at three key marketing metrics. So, let's jump right in. Mary.

Mary: Yeah. So Brian, we've talked about some of the common challenges when it comes to reporting to your boss. As you are my boss, what are some things you always enjoy hearing about from your employees?

Brian: Well, I mean, anytime we make a new sale. A new sale means revenue. My guess is most business owners probably care more about the sale, the revenue, than probably any other metric, to be quite honest. But besides revenue, obviously we need to think a little higher and think a little further up the funnel. So, you know, if we're going to increase revenue, we've got to increase the conversations that we're having with potential people. So I would say, you know, increasing the quality of leads and the leads that we're speaking to, the people that are booking appointments with us or whatever, would be probably some of the things I would be looking for.

Mary: Well that's great because I have three metrics here that sort of align with that.

Brian: Sweet, you read my mind.

Mary: I hope so. That's what we all want to do when it comes to pleasing our bosses. So whenever it comes to marketing growth, if you only report three things to your boss each month, each week, each quarter, whatever, make sure it's these we're going to talk about: customer lifetime value and retention, cost per lead, and overall return on investment. That sound about what you'd be looking for Brian?

Brian: Yeah, I'm pretty excited to hear about this.

Mary: Okay. Yeah. So first one, customer lifetime value and retention. So that really breaks down to the quality of the leads. So, how much is that customer or client worth over the lifetime of them staying with your company? And are they staying with your business? And you know, the higher those numbers are, the more you can value you're bringing to the company.

Brian: I mean, the thing that's important to me around that, you know, studies show that it's much easier to keep a customer and have them be a repeat customer than is to gain a new customer, or it's less costly to keep a customer than it is to gain a new customer. So this metric is definitely something business owners or supervisors or managers are going to be wanting to pay attention to.

Mary: Yeah, absolutely. The second one is the cost per lead. So how much is it costing the company to bring in a lead or bring in a customer? And you know, it all comes down to money. It comes down to revenue. Obviously the lower your cost per lead is, the better. And that's going to depend on that customer lifetime value. So if your customer lifetime value is much higher, then maybe you're willing to spend a little more per lead. If you've got a less expensive product and you're maybe not getting repeat customers, you want that costs per lead to be as low as possible.

Brian: Well, I think that first metric that you talked about with the lifetime value is really important to understand the cost per lead because yeah, if you're thinking of one sale, and you're being a little shortsighted in understanding the value of your customer, then you know, the cost per lead may be rather expensive. It may cost you 100 bucks to get a lead, and you may be selling a $500 item. That may not be the data that you want to hear, but maybe over a period of a year, that same potential client is going to spend upwards of $5,000, $6,000, or $10,000. And so that hundred dollars to gain $10,000 over a year is very valuable. So understanding the lifetime value is why it's important to understand the cost per lead. So that's great.

Mary: Yeah, definitely. And with all these metrics that we're talking about, I think not only looking at them individually, but like you were saying, Brian, looking at how they interact with one another is always really important. The last one we're going to talk about is return on investment, or ROI. That's I think at the top of everyone's list. You want to know that the money you're putting into your business is coming back and not coming back in the red. Hopefully. That could include how much money you're putting into your advertising, how much you're paying your employees, and how much you're bringing back at the end of the day.

Brian: ROI is the name of the game. So, you know, anytime someone's in business, we want to spend less than we are bringing in. So that's the name of successful businesses: that you are bringing in more money than you are spending. But obviously you've got to spend money to make money. And so it's that balance of when we understand these numbers across the board, and understand how they interact with one another that the return on investment is something that we can count on. Because, you know, in inbound, it's not going to be an immediate success.

Brian: You know, I had a conversation with a lead yesterday and the question at the end of any kind of sales presentation that people ask is, "how long is it gonna take to get my money back?" And it's a great question. Um, but, uh, the reality is it takes some time to build momentum in your digital, online marketing presence. And so, um, if we're looking at one, two, three months, that return on investment may be in the negative, or maybe you're just covering your bases, but as you push into month six, into 12 months, into 18 months, that momentum, if you're studying the data and using the right metrics, you're going to be able to see the results.

Mary: Yeah. And I think that's where the risk of slipping into those vanity metrics comes when you're maybe at a season where you do have to be a little patient and wait for that momentum to build up. And that comes back to, you know, communicating with your boss and making sure that you're both on the same page about expectations. If maybe you don't have a great report this month, showing that the momentum is building and that things are growing,, no matter how gradually, that's the key.

Brian:  So why don't we recap?

Mary: Yeah. We went over a few challenges. Again, slipping into those vanity metrics. Try to avoid that. Make sure that you and your boss are on the same page about what you're reporting on and what your boss wants to see. And these three metrics, when in doubt, you can always report on: your customer lifetime value, your retention, your cost per lead, and your return on investment. And I think any boss is going to be happy to hear about any of those metrics and how they're interacting with one another. A few final tips: I would say communication is key. We talk about that a lot. Make sure you and your boss are on the same page. You know, it's as easy as that, really. And again, I stress: don't rely on those vanity metrics. Make sure that your reporting is worth everybody's time and make sure you're reporting on what matters.

Brian: Well, this has been the great podcast and we're excited to be able to continue each and every month as we bring a new podcast on the first and third Wednesday. Next podcast we're going to be speaking about building an atmosphere in a new office space. Maybe your business is growing and you want to think about what that's going to look like. We've done this twice now and we just moved into a brand new space, so we definitely have some interesting information to share with that. Until next time, remember: friction in your organization's going to slow your growth, but simplicity is going to help build that momentum.


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