Getting Started With Reporting

Getting your reporting structure right is key to the continual improvement of your marketing efforts. Here's some tips.

Remember that time you worked out the digital contribution to your overall business goals?  Sure, you do. It's the foundation for all the digital work you're doing, guiding you as you add to the website, send emails and run social campaigns. Great, everyone's on board and delighted.

After all that work though, you have to make sure that you're on track, that you understand what's working and what isn't. Reporting is, obviously, the key to that.

I won’t go into the structures of a good report as these depend on what you're reporting on. I'll just cover some basics to bear in mind when you're thinking about building one. 

What should a report do? It's not enough to simply report what happened. The point of a good report should be two-fold:

1: Where are we against the KPI's we've set ourselves?

2: What are the areas we should look at to make next month effective?

If you're not reporting on those areas, then you're just data-puking. Don't look at metrics (1,000,000 likes!) look at KPI's (acquisition of new sales should cost less than $5).

The worst example I've seen of this kind of metric mediocrity is a report that highlighted the best performing social post for the month. The post had a 50% click-through rate. Wow. Then the report revealed that the post had only 2 views in the past month. Honestly. It rips my knitting. Don't focus on activity; get into the outcomes.

When you're looking at past performance, make sure that you're focusing on what matters. You should be paying for insights, not pages and pages of reformatted Google Analytics tables, one after the other. It may end up a chunky document but a worthless one too.

The report needs to be forward-looking. Continual improvement is the name of the game here. Look at reporting on the following points:

1.   What is our report could be improved?

Cost per acquisition too high? Sales dropped? Leads dropped? Leads dramatically up against trends? If there’s something that looks like it needs attention, then give it attention. Call it out.

2.   What are we going to do about it?

What action are you going to take to correct the challenge above? Change your media spend over to another channel? Stop spending altogether? Change the creative? Have another look at messaging? Whatever it is, make sure that is SMART and clear for all to understand.

3.   What's the impact?

What do you expect to happen when you take action? Make sure it’s clear and that it’s something you can revisit next month.

These are what I consider the basics of what you should expect from a report. Don't just look at what's happened but build towards greater success in the next report.

One more thing. Don't forget your audience. I've been in reporting calls where the detail is everywhere, and we've talked through Every. Single. Point. What happened was that those that perhaps weren't 100% aware of the intricacies of digital marketing started to pick apart at the detail. That pulling at the threads of your work is easy to do but tricky to push back on. Especially on a conference call. Certain people in the team will require the top level of detail (are the arrows red or green?), while others will be able to add value when looking at specific campaign results. Understand what each stakeholder is looking for and try to tailor the report to what concerns them.

I love a good report, one that shows the contribution your activity is making to improve the business, that is honest about where things can be improved and which encourages a culture of continual improvement within your organisation. It will take time to perfect, to provide the right level of detail to the right stakeholders, but nothing demonstrates more that marketing efforts are generating revenue for the business.

Have a listen to more about reporting

Chris and Stewart took a deeper dive into reporting in our podcast, the Good Round Up. Have a listen, hit subscribe to get more brand goodness delivered to you.