Digital marketers and user experience (UX) pros love data and metrics. Many are true data junkies. Websites and performance marketing can be measured, refined, and improved on an ongoing basis. What’s not to love?
The C-Suite cares about data and metrics, too. With numbers, they can understand the heartbeat of the company and can communicate with investors in a substantive way.
So, everyone loves data and metrics. Should be party time, right? Then why is it that so many marketers completely miss the mark when it comes to reporting to the C-Suite?
Impressions and Button Colors
Log into Google Search Console, and you’ll find impressions data for a range of organic search keywords. One keyword may have 10,000 monthly impressions, while another has only 500 impressions.
On the conversion optimization side of things, you may test a green button compared with a blue one. Or a red one compared with an orange one.
When you’re getting ready to make your monthly or quarterly report for the C-Suite, just remember to toss all of that into the trash can before you enter the room. That is, if you ever want to be invited back.
The C-Suite doesn’t care about your impression numbers. Oh, they certainly don’t care about the color of your CTA button either. Sure, you can make great use of such data among fellow marketers and UX designers. You can conduct all sorts of cool hacks that prove out more data points, and yes, absolutely, it’s all helpful in improving your results.
Then what the heck is wrong with the C-Suite? Why don’t they get it? Or…maybe, they do get it. But here’s the thing. Their “it” is very different from your “it.”
If you are a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist, you are used to reporting on organic search rankings. But even you realize that rankings are only a small piece in a much larger reservoir of SEO data. After all, you may rank near the top of Google’s search results for a relevant term, but if that term has only a few searches each month, it’s as if you have a billboard in the forest. No one will see it, and therefore there’s very little business value in it.
On the other hand, you may have a lower rank on another keyword phrase, yet drive much more traffic from it due to high search volumes.
Adding traffic numbers to rankings is helpful, but it’s still not the complete picture. You may also be reporting on domain authority, click-through rate, keyword competitiveness, shares, video views, external links, mentions, etc. All of these metrics are valuable to the day-to-day SEO practitioner in order to optimize further and drive increasingly better results.
If this is where your reporting stops, though, it’s not for the C-Suite.
If you are a UX designer, you are most likely used to reporting on engagement metrics, A/B tests, surveys, etc. As with SEO, there’s a world of data to be gleaned from high-level engagement metrics such as page views, bounce rates, time-on-site, time-on-task, use of onsite search, use of navigation, error rates, back button usage, exit rates, and task completion percentages. At a more granular level, you may examine heat maps, click maps, scroll maps, and every step in the conversion process (e.g., which clicks or form fields cause excessive abandonment during the process).
When you combine audience personas with journey maps, you can layer in your analytics to see where the path is a smooth flow aligned with the customer’s objectives and where they start to zig and zag due to confusion. Or, where they simply lose interest and drop off.
You can also now use emotion recognition technology as offered by Affectiva, iMotions, and others to gauge your audience’s emotional reactions to your website. Eye tracking, facial expression analysis, and galvanic skin response all help you to measure the success of the user experience from the physical reaction of users separately from their onsite behavior. The understanding of emotions is far beyond what your site analytics can reveal, and so adds a new dimension to your examination of the customer journey and experience.
These are all highly useful data points to the UX designer and to those responsible for upgrading designs, messaging, and offers. However, if you are talking to your CEO about reducing time-on-task for an activity from 15 seconds to 10 seconds, she is going to kick you out of the room…
The mountain of SEO and UX metrics you collect and analyze is useful and helps you to improve website performance. However, what the members of your C-Suite care about may be very, very different. If you want all of your SEO and UX work to be given the credit it deserves, learn to talk to executives in their language.
What your C-Suite cares about is growth:
- What impacts growth, and how?
- What are the impediments to growth?
- What are the means to more efficient growth?
- What are you doing to drive greater growth?
This means instead of talking about impressions, rankings, time-on-task, or navigational flow, talk about revenue. Talk about conversions. Talk about profit. Talk about customer acquisition. Talk about leads. Talk about transactions and average order size. Talk about customer lifetime value vs. customer acquisition costs, or in other words, talk about ROI.
Your C-Suite wants to understand the strategy to get from here to there. They do not need all the gory details of your HTACCESS file or of a scroll map analysis of your About Us page.
If you really want to engage your C-Suite and get them fired up, learn to speak to them in the following terms:
- The Language of Levers – Your executives want to know what the company can do to achieve greater growth more efficiently – with less effort or investment. What are the strategies you can recommend that would produce 2X, 3X, or 10X results?
- The Language of Momentum – It’s always easier to grow when riding the waves of market change rather than fighting against any new market directions. What are the coming trends on which the brand should capitalize for an easier path to growth?
- The Language of New Markets – Bain & Company conducted a five-year study of growth-driving moves by 1,850 companies to determine how businesses achieve sustainable, profitable growth. The research revealed that companies realize their most ongoing, profitable growth when they push out the boundaries of their core business into an adjacent space. How can your data reveal new, related market opportunities that would be a natural extension from your core business today?
- The Language of Segmentation – How can you slice and dice the market further in order to dominate specific audience segments? This might be related to the types of keywords on which they search. Or, this might be geographic or demographic in nature. Or, it may even be the difference in targeting a different department or title/role if B2B. Ownership of a segment is a very profitable proposition, and one that executives understand give the brand a competitive edge.
- The Language of Competition – Whenever you educate your execution team on deeper insights into competitors’ strategies, tactics, plans, and results, their ears perk up. They are always eager to understand the “Moneyball” of the market, where they can efficiently gain a competitive edge where a competitor is weak, using the wrong metrics, or simply not paying attention.