Guide to Performing a Performance Review
Performance Reviews, EBR’s, QBR’S, ABR’s, whatever they are, however you like to conduct them, whatever your liking or disliking is towards them, are a big part of running a successful client relationship. David Ogilvy once famously said, “Performance Review, didn’t we have one, just last week?”. And they did have one last week indeed.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to do performance reviews across an agency environment, a programmatic environment and over the last few years across a SAAS martech/adtech offering.
In my experience across all, I have realised that the basics, the information, and the story remains the same. It’s just the type of data you report on, the KPIs you include, and the tactics and recommendations you highlight are the parts that change.
Here are my suggestions on some of the aspects to consider to conduct a successful business/performance review.
1. Know your content
Even before you start working on the deck, understand the true reason for the upcoming performance review. Understand the objectives and goals behind this exercise. To be put simply, when a client activated your adtech/martech solution they would have dictated some objectives/KPIs they were looking to hit, and challenges they were looking to solve. Make sure your full deck is around these objectives. Were they met? How were they met? If they weren’t, what could be done to meet them in the future.
In an agency scenario, these would be more around the campaign that was launched, what were the objectives the clients had sought out before the launch, and what was the spending? Were the objectives met? If they weren’t, what were the learnings?
2. Know your audience
If the performance review is only going to be attended by your key contact, you already might know what is the story/insights/kpis they prefer. Ensure the content you create revolves around the KPIs that matter. If there are new personas who would be joining the review, then research and enquire in advance what insights would they be interested in seeing in addition to the ones you generally highlight to your lead contact.
New personas joining a performance review is a good sign, make sure you have a snippet or a slide on content that might be relevant for some or all of them.
For example, a digital marketing manager might be interested in looking at performance metrics vs a brand manager might look for vanity metrics vs a category manager, category metrics.
Now in regards to the content, I have always found that starting from overalls, and then narrowing down towards granular insights across the presentation works better.
3. Set the scene/Agenda
Always set the scene in regards to what the objective of the performance review is. Start with the objectives, and what you are looking to cover. This is a great way to set an expectation with regard to the content that’s going to follow. This also means that the audience knows in advance to wait for questions, if their question is around let’s say bullet point number 3 in the agenda.
4. Start with overalls and then go granular
The first 1–2 slides should always focus on overall performances and longer timelines. They should ideally come straight to the point and answer if the performance has been in-sync with what was expected. Ideally, these slides are to deliver the positive/negative message and set the tone. They generally need not have recommendations. They can focus on for example:
- Clicks/Leads, Sales, Orders/Baskets, the conversion rate, the total videos views, a timeline of monthly performances.
- In regards to a campaign: Spends, impressions, clicks, CTRs, CR%, orders, sales.
These slides are generally followed by loads of questions if the performance has been negative, or pin-drop silence, if it’s positive. You can choose to answer some of the questions then and there, and come back to others at later parts of the presentation.
5. On the granular side
Once you are done with the initial part of communicating the overall performance, choose 4–5 insights that are granular in nature. These granular insights are generally agreed upon before the presentation. If this is your first business review, these should ideally come from the discovery that was done at the pre-sales stage or the campaign objectives that were laid out during the planning stage. Some examples would be:
- Traffic Insights: Spends, Clicks, CTRS, CPCs, traffic by Channel.
- Sales: Spends, CR%, ABVs, CPAs, Sales by Channels/Campaigns.
- Deeper view of traffic and sales: Demographics reached, Campaign creative/targeting performance, which one performed better and why.
- Wins and Loses Overall wins, what did work and learnings.
- Opportunities and recommendation: Clear recommendations and next steps. Make sure these are actual actions that can be achieved and are not holistic.
6. Hard part is done, now it’s about following up.
Going back within a week of performance review means that the content is fresh in mind. You should also encourage sharing/forwarding the deck to anyone within the organisation who couldn’t make it. The more people in the organisation/brand/company you have interested in your data, the better for you.
Performance reviews are always stressful and tricky. But I have realised coming out honest, and confidence in the recommendation is generally the best step forward.
But with that being said, it’s important to know your audience, highlighting the obvious at times, highlighting the KPIs of interest for the maximum attendees will lead to a positive and highly engaged performance review.
What are some of the tips/tricks/suggestions you would follow on your side for a performance review?
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