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Performance Metrics Your CMO Actually Cares About

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Over the years, I’ve seen countless marketing teams struggle with knowing which metrics to track. And not knowing which metrics matter most leads to an even bigger issue: measuring, tracking, and reporting on every irrelevant metric.

You’ve probably experienced this before, and you’re not alone.

There’s so much to keep track of that many marketers think it’s important to report on each and every metric in performance reports. Every week, month, quarter, and fiscal, teams are overwhelmed by an avalanche of data.

And doing that usually results in this:

No one pays close attention to information that isn’t relevant to their role at work. It’s only natural that people absorb the information that’s most relevant to them, and everything else falls by the wayside. This is even true within your marketing department — A social media marketer cares about different metrics than a paid marketer. 

That’s why it’s up to you, as a leader, to make those numbers mean something.

Here’s how you do it:


Stealing a page out of your Product Manager’s playbook, you can think of continual data awareness as similar to Continuous Discovery. It’s a process where product teams continually search for new information about user needs by using research activities like weekly customer touchpoints and hypothesis testing to uncover insights and user behavior data.

Only, for marketers, you don’t need to be actively searching for your data if you set up your dashboard right. Having one, simple dashboard that shows a live feed of your most important metrics can keep you and your team continually aware of whether you’re inching closer to the company’s North Star Metric — or further away. 

A North Star Metric is the one measurement that’s most predictive of a company’s long-term success.

For Netflix, it could be “time spent watching.”

For Slack, it could be “messages sent within the organization.”

Or for Loom, it could be “video minutes recorded.”

Without a North Star Metric, marketers set crappy KPIs that have everything to do with appearance and competition and nothing to do with growth and retention.

Don’t make the mistake of going too small with your metrics.

Go big by thinking about which indicators are most important for everyone to be aware of at all times. Put 5-10 of them on a dashboard that everyone has access to. This way, you and your team can plan your day around the most important daily activities aligned with reaching your North Star.


Most SaaS companies have six departments within their company:

  • Product
  • Engineering
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Success
  • Ops & Finance

And each department needs its own set of tools to research, create, and report on progress. 

The challenge is that most enterprise companies use, on average, 52 different technology tools for marketing alone. That’s a lot of data to track. 

Not to mention the cost of each tool (hint: they’re not cheap).

Overloading your dashboard with every data point these tools bring in won’t make the big picture of your performance any clearer. In fact, it can lead to confusion.

Keep in mind that tracking what technology stack your competitors are using could help you decide which tools are the best on the market and minimize the number of them. Technographic data can help with this by improving your lead generation and sales.

Make it easy on yourself and your team: choose 5 metrics to display on one dashboard that matters most to the person looking at that data to see how the company’s marketing strategy is performing overall.

If you really don’t know what those are, start by tracking and measuring the following:

  1. Cost Per Acquisition
  2. Leads by lifecycle stage
  3. Marketing sourced revenue
  4. SQL velocity rate
  5. Qualified Marketing Traffic

These will indicate how your content is turning interested prospects into new customers and the rate at which you’re doing so. But even within SaaS marketing, these metrics will change depending on the vertical, company size, industry trends, etc.

Review where your company stands in your industry and share the 5 metrics you believe are most important to the company’s long-term success. Be open to feedback on which ones are rightfully placed versus which ones can be switched out for something else.

Remember: You want to show how your output is leading to outcomes.

Don’t try to manipulate the data to make it seem like your output is undoubtedly producing desirable outcomes.

Because if it’s not, the longer that goes on, the more damage you’ll be doing to your company.

Let data speak the truth.

That’s how you become the real hero in your role; by honestly acknowledging what’s not working so that you can implement a solution that does.


It’s fun to create content, but it’s a waste of time and resources if you can’t explain how the content will influence a larger outcome.

Metrics like cost per acquisition, generated revenue, and average contract value matter much more when  talking to your C-Suite.

To make an impact during a presentation — you need the results to demonstrate how data has driven your decisions. 

Which can be a tough job for marketers.

Because, truthfully, a lot of user activity happens in places we can’t always track.

But there’s always a way to connect the dots.

Maybe one of your team members’ LinkedIn posts led to an extra 1000+ website visits after receiving a lot of engagement.

Maybe meeting a prospect in a private Slack community led to a new sale and standard of Average Contract Value (ACV).

And maybe all those new followers on social media have led to more searches in Google that start with your company name or the main keyword associated with your brand.

Presenting influential data to your C-Suite will never be straightforward. The context, nuance, and story behind those numbers will always need to be explained.

One way to make it easier on yourself? Use Geckoboard to create a real-time dashboard that C-Suite members can glance at to get a picture of performance. 

Keeping them in the loop with a simple, shared dashboard adds so much more context to your conversations. They come with relevant questions, and you don’t have to start from square one every time.


Marketers have gotten battered over the years for not showing *tangible* results tied to revenue.

But this is where that all changes.

In this video, I teamed up with Geckoboard to talk about:

  • How you can ensure you’re focused on tracking the right metrics.
  • Why you should stop using Excel and use Geckoboard to set up a simple dashboard
  • How you, as a strategist, marketer, or leader, can deliver data reports in a way that your team cares about

When you understand that marketing is like investing, it becomes clear which metrics matter most. Once you’ve identified those and ensured that data is stored centrally so that everyone can see how those metrics are changing, you’ll be well on your way to meeting, if not exceeding, the goals you’ve set.

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