Reporting

What makes a good digital marketing report?

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Building and delivering a great digital marketing report for your clients can present some obstacles (and how to overcome them).

I recently started creating customised reports for our clients at the company I work for. I thought that this would be a simple task to do: just put together all stats from different campaigns channels into one document, add some charts to make it look nice and make the report available on a weekly basis to the client.
However, the more I was working on building the report, the more I realized that was an big amount of non sense. I have started having doubts on the utility of this report (it happens to question when I work independently): what does the report really say about the campaign? What type of decision can we take to reach the campaign objectives or to improve it? Are the objectives even feasible or just a result of a SMART exercise? Are we even sure clients see the value of what we deliver?

This is obvious for many but not for me. I suddenly realized the report to be considered good has to be of exceptional value. A good report is really vital.

In digital marketing, as opposed to traditional marketing (print, billboards etc…) everything can be reported, you can measure everything. This is why reports are the result of your efforts and set the bar of performance. While in printed ads you cannot tell how many people interact, in digital you can. Numbers don’t lie. A weekly report makes clients happy because it shows the progress of your campaigns. It can compare forecast and actual results to see where we are going and how we are achieving objectives.

The article focuses on what we should look at when we build a report and what we want our clients to know to make them happy.

Nobody cares about your metrics

Eveyrbody knows that a good report should contain informatoin about the most obvious. If you are doing, for example, a report on PPC campaigns, then you need top search queries, quality score, CTR, impressions, clicks, possibly conversions and conversion rates, to start with. These are generic metrics that I set up and we can go on dozens of different details but it’s not the scope of this article. We are trying to determine what metrics make sense.

When I say that nobody cares about your metrics, I am referring to the CTR, quality score etc…nobody cares. Is the objective of your campaign to have a good quality score? Who cares about it. AdWords became too expensive for everyone and this makes quality score completely irrelevant. The biggest worry is how to make money from it.

Set up objectives beforehand

SMART objectives are not just a pointless exercise, they are the fundamental part of your strategy, they can impact your client’s relationship. If you agree in advance of what the main objectives are, you can then work on your tactics. Reports should then reflect this!

If you start by making objectives right, then you are half way through success. It’s like someone says “I want to cross the ocean”. And then you reply “have you got a boat?”, if the answer is no, then you got your first objective, building the boat. Reports should then reflect how the building process is going and how it’s improving over time.

What’s wrong with your campaigns?

Another good practice is to look in the report at areas that clearly need improvement. I like to start with priorities and give it a 1 to 10 scale, where 1 is the most important and 10 the less important issue to focus on. Again, this depend so much on the objective you set up at the beginning.

Report

Most viewed directory entries on my website

This reports for example shows that my client’s directory entry, Sabik, is the third most viewed directory on the entire website. The problem is: how good is this? Is it good enough? Is there anything wrong?

It depends, again. If my objective is to increase the directory’s entry page views then it’s probably a good result. But if the client spends thousands of pounds to be there, then it’s probably not good enough.

having the big picture in mind at strategic level, will help you focus more on tactics on how to go from position 3 ot position 1 and improve your campaign. In order to do this, you can look deeper into every channel that sends traffic

Report score

Report score

I have a look at main KPIs and give it a score on the different levels (directory traffic, native article traffic, etc…). What I am doing is trying to understand the impact each channel, Faceboo, Twitter, LinkedIn, AdWords, Native Article to each KPI and then calculate with a simple Excel formula AVERAGE what’s the total impact for the channel.

The information I get is used for investigating more into each channel to find out why is not performing as it should. What’s wrong with the campaign? Find this out from the report score.

Logical thinking

If you show this logical thinking broke down into steps, then you can have a clear picture.

1- Directory traffic underperforming on AdWords?

2- This means AdWords doesn’t contribute to the directory traffic

3- Since AdWords is set up for search ads and display ads, this means probably there aren’t enough clicks to the ad

4- This can be explained in many ways: you do not have any Site Link, not suing add extensions, no extended headlines, no call to action.

5- Check all these best practices and see if the traffic improves.

6- Go back to the report score and update the number for AdWords.

This way you should see traffic increase on the directory entry for Sabik, which will lead to increase in the top most viewed directory entries on your website. Which was the first objective of the campaign.

Format matters

Once you have figured out that improving the original objective can be done by using the report, you have completed half the job. You have achieved what it makes more sense to achieve: that the numbers you show your clients are finalized to the main objective and what decisions you can take to improve the campaign.

The last part of building a good digital marketing report is the format. Adding charts to compare the good with the bad and the ugly, choosing colours, choosing type of diagrams are fundamental in the look and professionality.

What I like to add in my reports are these elements:

  • Brief summary of the campaigns
  • Channel summary
  • Priority of issues
  • Report score
  • Steps taken on how to fix issues
  • Report itself
  • Conclusion

The last thing you need to do is finding an automated reporting tool that can allow you to pull information directly from the channels you use. This way all you need to focus on is improving the campaign, by saivng time and effort from building and sending it.

 

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