As the SaaS industry matures, there’s an increasing demand for SaaS companies to show their performance not only in terms of top-line growth but also with a focus on operational efficiency and cost structure.
This guide explores the most important considerations when creating an annual report as a SaaS company. We’ll also walk you through sample sections of an annual report and give tips on what you need to include in your company’s annual report.
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- What’s an annual SaaS marketing report
- Why should you report on your SaaS performance
- What you should include in your annual report
- What full-funnel SaaS KPIs should you track
- How to automate your SaaS reporting
- Top tips for building your annual report
What’s an annual B2B SaaS marketing report?
In B2B SaaS, an end-of-year report is usually a combination of KPIs, metrics, and benchmarks from your marketing and sales funnels. For example, you can include information about your sales pipeline and opportunities, what content is resonating, and how leads convert into customers.
The main audiences for your annual report are your management team, investors, or anyone who wants to understand how marketing contributes to your business success.
Why should you report on your annual SaaS marketing performance?
Since marketing is often the largest expense on the P&L after SG&A (profit and loss, after selling, general, and administrative expenses), marketing leaders need to share the results and budget allocation with the rest of the company.
“If a marketing team wants to function optimally, it needs to have the trust of the rest of the business. That’s why marketing leaders need to clearly demonstrate where this year’s budget was spent and how the learnings will inform next year’s plan and budget.”Gabrielle Stafford, CMO, Supermetrics
Here are some reasons why you should report on your annual performance:
An end-of-year report helps you understand your performance and identify the blind spots that may cost you money. Additionally, it shows you the activities and channels that worked so you can double down on those in the year ahead.
“Being data-driven isn’t the same as being insight-driven—data is just one piece of the puzzle. Only by understanding the ‘why’ behind customer behavior can we create a truly effective marketing campaign.”Will Yang, Head of Growth, Instrumentl
Strengthen transparency and trust
Creating and sharing your annual report will make your results visible across the organization and show you’re taking ownership of your work. While this may make you feel vulnerable, it fosters a stronger culture of transparency and accountability for your results. When you can explain why performance was what it was—for better or worse—it will also build trust as you’re being completely open about performance.
It’s much easier to make decisions for the coming year when you know how your marketing is performing. Just going through the process of analyzing and reporting on your performance will put you in a better position to make the right calls going into a new year.
Sharing your results will show the value of marketing to the rest of the business and other key stakeholders—such as senior leadership, the board, and investors. It’s your chance to show how you drove business impacts —not just leads—which becomes critical in securing the needed budget, resources, and headcount for the coming year.
What you should include in your annual SaaS report
In your report, you’ll want to cover your goals for the past year, results and KPIs by team, learnings, and focus for the upcoming year. Let’s look at each section.
Past year goals
This section should contain an overview of your goals for the past year, and it should remind the readers about what you set out to accomplish at the start of the year. The idea is to give readers a high-level overview of where you were a year ago.
Next, you should outline the results marketing delivered throughout the year.
Measuring success in your SaaS business might include KPIs such as trials, demo requests, marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), sales-qualified leads (SQLs), opportunities, pipeline, and revenue. You should aim to get as close to revenue as possible and tie everything back to business results.
In addition, you should include an explanation of why you did or didn’t hit your goals—this will be one of the most important sections of your report.
Besides quantitative results, you should also include qualitative feedback from your team on how the year went. Here, you can use a retrospective format where you highlight wins, losses, and learnings. Taking time to reflect on the previous year will help you uncover the reasons behind the numbers with important learnings to take into the coming year.
Performance by team
Modern SaaS marketing teams are broad. With so much falling under the marketing umbrella— brand marketing, demand gen, performance marketing, product marketing, customer experience, marketing operations, etc.—you can break down performance by team and share how each team contributes to your overall growth.
Next year’s goals and plans
Based on your performance this year and the company’s goals, present the marketing strategy for next year. You’ll want to answer the following questions:
- What are the company’s goals?
- How can marketing support them?
- What are the key initiatives in the upcoming year?
- How will you allocate budget and resources?
What full-funnel SaaS KPIs should you track?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all your marketing KPIs, especially in SaaS. But the key to measuring your success is to keep it simple and only include what’s relevant to your business.
Let’s say you want to understand your company’s growth. Then, you should look at your customer count, ARR, and customer retention rate.
If you’re focused on efficiency, you’ll drill down on CAC, LTV, and payback. Or you may be somewhere in the middle and give an overview on both, which is probably the majority of cases.
People don’t typically buy from you if they haven’t heard of you before. At the awareness stage, your prospects may not know about you, or in many cases, they haven’t even fully recognized the problem yet. It’s your job to get out there and educate them about your brand and the problem you’re solving.
Here are some metrics you can use to monitor your brand awareness:
- Website visits
- New traffic vs. returning traffic
- Ad impressions and engagements
- Social media engagements
When potential customers are in the consideration and conversion stage, they evaluate your product against alternatives. They may even be trying out your competitors’ tools. At this stage, you need to make it easy for your audience to make decisions. Here are some metrics you can track:
- Pageviews on high-intent pages—pricing pages, product pages, comparison articles, etc.
Conversion isn’t just about how many prospects became paying customers. Measuring conversion should look at each action that brings your ideal customer closer to a paying customer.
If a self-serve sales model is a part of your funnel, you’ll want to monitor:
- Trial to PQL conversion rate
- PQL to purchase conversion rate
Most SaaS businesses also have a sales-assisted funnel, where the sales team will be in charge of converting those marketing-qualified leads into paying customers. In that case, you should look at the following:
- Sales qualified leads
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
- Customer acquisition cost and customer lifetime value ratio (CAC/LTV ratio)
- Annual contract value (ACV)
- New business vs. expansion sales
- Sales cycle length
- YoY growth
For a subscription-based pricing model, your growth also depends on the number of renewed contracts. You want to keep your customers from leaving at the end of their contract.
Senni Niemi, Customer Experience Manager at Supermetrics, shares, “It’s important to monitor how your customer base is using your product and prevent churn. You want to understand, for example, if there’s a product showing signs of higher churn. Or, the kinds of customers who are more likely to upgrade or stay with you for a long time.”
Here are some metrics that help you understand how your retention strategy works:
- Client retention
- Net revenue retention
- Contraction MRR
- Total ARR growth
- Lifetime value (LTV)
“When you understand your customer retention better, you’re more likely to be successful with your marketing and customer acquisition strategy.”Senni Niemi, Customer Experience Manager, Supermetrics
Automating your SaaS reporting in 3 steps
We get it. Creating reports can be extremely time-consuming and tedious. It takes time to collect, clean, and analyze data before you can start building a report. That’s why it’s important to automate the process where possible so you can focus on what matters most.
Here are three steps to automating your reporting:
“We were in a situation where we had to decide if we wanted to plan for the future or get stuck in the past. And in that scenario, we’ll always plan for the future. We’re an SQL-native analytics team, and getting our data into a data warehouse created a far more flexible, easy-to-join, native dataset for us.”Zach Cooper, Director of Analytics, A Cloud Guru
1. Identify your marketing channels
First, consider the data you want to collect and where you can find it. If you want to understand your site visitors, you can find relevant metrics in your web analytics tool, for example, Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics.
2. Centralize your data—Decentralized vs. centralized data access model
Tracking and understanding your funnel performance can be a nightmare with scattered and siloed data. If you don’t centralize your data, you risk missing out on opportunities or optimizing for the wrong things.
Depending on your resources and analytics needs, there are two ways to access your data and get insights—decentralized and centralized.
You can benefit from a decentralized data access model if you’re still early on your data journey and don’t have the technical expertise to manage complex analytics architectures. This means getting data directly from your marketing channels into a spreadsheet or Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio). The decentralized data access model gives you quick access to your data. You can easily build graphs and charts.
On the other hand, if you want to look at the bigger picture—full visibility into your marketing results or historical performance—you’re better off with a centralized data access model. With it, you’ll first store and manage your data in a data warehouse before feeding it to a BI tool for reporting. Centralizing data in a data warehouse helps you create a single source of truth, have more analytics capabilities, and take full control of your data.
3. Build an automated and shareable dashboard
Let’s say you have your data in a centralized destination—a spreadsheet or a data warehouse. Next, you’ll want to deliver the data and insights to those who need them to make decisions. The easiest way is to build an automated and shareable dashboard. Using a data warehouse, you can easily connect it to a BI tool like Looker Studio for visualization.
Alternatively, if spreadsheets are your bread and butter, use them for analytics and visualization. Then, you can connect it to a presentation tool, like Google Slides, for reporting.
How to build an annual report—5 tips from SaaS marketers and analysts
Keep your data organized
To build any report and get meaningful insights, you need to keep your data organized, searchable, and up-to-date.
Logan Mallory, VP of Marketing at Motivosity, shares, “Make sure your data is tagged and organized, so it’s searchable and up-to-date. If you do it right, when you build reports, you don’t have to go back and forth to find the data or fix the tags.”
Don’t bury the lede
Your end-of-year report isn’t a place to dump all your marketing metrics. Depending on who will be reading your report, you should highlight the message that’s relevant to them.
Zach Grove, a Growth Advisor, says, “I once worked with a SaaS CMO who would look at our EOY reports and ask: “what’s the headline here?” As in, what’s the main takeaway for leadership with all of this data?”
“It’s tempting to throw together tons of detailed charts for a massive end-of-year update. But in my experience, the biggest pain point in preparing EOY reports is including “executive-friendly” reporting that can tell a story.”Zach Grove, Growth Advisor
Tell a story
Now that you know what your key message is and what metrics you want to include in your report, The next step is to tie everything together through a strong narrative.
She continues, “A good story will help your audience understand and remember the information, even if they’re not experts in the subject matter. Another helpful tip is to use visuals to supplement your data. A well-designed graph or chart can be worth a thousand words, so don’t be afraid to use them. Make sure they’re easy to understand and add value to your presentation.”
“I think it’s important to present the data and put it into context and explain its significance.”Diana Stepanova, Communications Manager, Monitask
Tie numbers to actions
A good report should tell you if your efforts in optimizing your campaigns work and what the next steps are. If not, it’s pointless to do reporting in the first place.
Catie Peiper, Senior Marketing Manager at The Motley Fool, advises, “Many dashboards fail to inform you what we do next or how to fix this. Make sure each table, scorecard, or graph/chart informs actions.”
Use data visualizations
Data visualizations are your best friend when building reports—they make data less intimidating and more digestible. A good rule of thumb for visualizing your data is to figure out your key message before getting down into the weeds.
Ralph Spandl, Head of Data Visualization at Supermetrics, says, “Before throwing numbers on your page, think about your audience and what you want to tell them. After formulating your key takeaway, add the visualizations that best support this message—one page, one message.”
“Visuals help your brain process more data at the same time. Used well, it can help your reader understand complex data in the blink of an eye.”Ralph Spandl, Head of Data Visualization, Supermetrics
Goodbye, reporting nightmare
And that’s how you build and automate your end-of-year reporting. We hope this gave you the confidence and momentum to create your own reports. When in doubt, feel free to come back to this guide. You’ve got this.
About the author
Edward is Demand Gen Director and leads our global demand gen team. He works with a lot of marketing data to turn insights into opportunity and ensure our integrated demand campaigns generate results.