How report automation can improve your reporting process

Report Automation Illustration

 

You've got multiple metrics and KPIs, from multiple digital marketing tools, and you want to create great business reports, what do you do? 


Well, you can always create manual reports, or you can streamline your workflow with a report automation software that will help you by generating reports without any of the usual copy-pasting hassle. Here's how to create reporting dashboards with automated report generation tools that will work for your business.

 

Let’s take a deeper look into what report automation is, why your agency should automate its marketing reports, and how you can do it.

 

 

What is report automation?

Report automation is the process through which digital marketing reports are created and automatically updated using a software. The gathered data can then be delivered to specific email addresses on a regular basis with automatic email dispatches.

 

digital marketing report

Here’s an example of an automated report made with DashThis.

 

An automated reporting software generally goes through APIs to automatically fetch data from each platform and integrate it into the software system. Thanks to this automated data collection, marketers have access to updated digital marketing reports that they can then send regularly to all parties concerned. You can schedule reports or simply view them online in real-time.

 

report automation process

 


Even if it sounds like this process would also skip the communication and custom nature of marketing reports, the problem is easily solved with customizable options like comments, custom email messages, white label design, notes, and other features offered with with customizable automated tools like DashThis.

 

 

Report automation is all about saving time by automating the parts of the reporting process that don’t require human insight and giving enough custom options to add those insights where they matter most.

 

You can even use report templates, already filled with the most common KPIs to start and then customize them, so that you save even more time, to then work on your strategies.

 

Example of a PPC report template available in DashThis.

 

After all, report automation is about giving marketers their time back.

 

Why should you automate your reports?

 

Why shouldn’t you?

 

Marketing reports are your way of communicating the effectiveness of your work and your value to your client. You need to keep track of SEO strategies, social media campaigns and presence, AdWords campaigns, website data, and a lot more. All this data can quickly become a burden for any marketing agency. Having to track, aggregate, put together, and present hundreds of KPIs for each client, each month, really is a waste of time, which is why report automation was created in the first place.

 

Having to track, aggregate, put together, and present hundreds of KPIs for each client really is a waste of time, and therefore money. How much money? On average, agencies with approximately 30 clients, will spend 5,250$ every month just to create reports.

 

Isn’t that crazy?

 

If you want the exact numbers for your own agency, use our handy calculator.

 

 

Shocking, right? Proof that you need to start automating your reports! You could save almost 60,000$ every year if your agency is anything like our example above!

 

Agencies can also use automated reports as a competitive edge, by offering personalized white-labeled marketing reports for each of their clients, without actually wasting time and energy to create them by hand in a pretty bland excel spreadsheet or other manual reporting system.

 

How? With white label options.

 

You can get white label automated reports that have the branding and overall look of your client’s visual identity, giving your client an even bigger WOW factor.

 

white label

How can you automate your reports?

To automate your reports, you need to choose an automated reporting tool that fits your own particular needs as an agency and marketer.

 

What kind of tool is best for you? Let’s find out!

 

First off, make a shortlist of what you want from your reporting tool:

  • KPIs and integrations: What type of KPIs and integrations do you need to track?
  • Frequency: At what frequency do you need to send your reports: monthly, quarterly, weekly?
  • Integrations per report: Do you need to include more than one integration per report?
  • Number of reports: How many different reports do you need?
  • Time and resources: How much time and resources are you willing to spend on the tool to set it up?
  • Accounts: How many employees need to have access to the tool in order to see and/or work on your reports?
  • Assistance and support: Do you need assistance and support?
  • White label options: Do you need design customization and/or white label options?
  • Sharing options: How will you share your reports? Online (URL link), PDF, print, or automated email dispatches?
  • Budget: What’s your budget?

 

These are all very important to keep in mind when choosing the tool that works for you.

 

Now that you have a better idea of what you want and what is important to your agency, what report automation tool should you pick? Let’s see:

 

Report Automation Tools Pros & Cons Infographic

Code-it-yourself system

 

  • Pros: Very custom solution
  • Cons: Time-consuming

 

You can code your own system for your report automation. The advantage of such tools is mostly their incredible flexibility and personalization. Since you’re doing it all yourself, it’s going to be perfectly adapted to your agency with your own functionalities and business data in a custom-made single report.

 

However, these types of tools take up a LOT of time, money, and effort. You have to pay a team of developers to create the software, then maintain it, update it, as well as solve any bugs, problems or glitches that occur over time. Take into consideration that you’ll have no support, no forums, and no online community that can help you; you really do it all yourself.

 

It’s basically like building a house with your own hands: it’s a lot of work!

 

Business intelligence (BI) tools

 

  • Pros: Pretty custom and flexible
  • Cons: Not user-friendly

 

Another option is to use a BI tool, like Tableau. You don’t have to build the tool yourself this time, and it can still give you a lot of custom options. You have all the flexibility you want for calculations and data analysis.

 

You need to be ready for a challenge though, because you’ll have to learn how to use the tool first, and since they’re pretty complex, they tend not to be very user-friendly. Also, these tools are made mostly for analysis and therefore probably won’t appeal to your clients. Your reports will probably look way too intimidating to them. And if your clients don’t understand or like your reports, that sort of defeats the purpose of creating them in the first place.

 

All in all, this is a very complete option, but it’s a complicated type of tool made for analysis, not reports.

 

Data analytics dashboard tools

 

  • Pros: Usually inexpensive
  • Cons: Fewer features available / Not user-friendly

 

Data analytics dashboard tools like Google Data Studio are a little less complicated than BI tools, but they’re still not very user-friendly. These also lack some basics in terms of reporting like: various data sources other than just google, automatic email dispatches, and pdf sharing options.

 

This type of tool is almost as complicated as a BI tool while offering way less flexibility. Its biggest appeal is usually the price. It’s got a wide variety of price ranges, in Google Data Studio’s case it’s even free! It's a great data visualization tool to get started if you don't have a big budget but still want some of the benefits of report automation. Particularly if you only use Google's tools like Google Analytics and Google Ads.

 

Automated reporting tools

 

  • Pros: Easy-to-use and scalable
  • Cons: Not meant for deeper analysis

 

Automated reporting tools like DashThis are created with the sole purpose of making automated reports. With regards to DashThis in particular, all the features were created to give users an easy-to-use report automation tool: 30+ integrations, easy-to-use interface, unlimited users, preset report templates, your own account manager, and customizable.

 

It’s a tool that was made to be straightforward, while other types of tools, like Tableau and Google Data Studio, are way more complex. If you’re looking for a tool that gives you a deep and complex analysis of your data, DashThis is probably not for you.

 

On the other hand, if you’re looking to create awesome reports, easily, and quickly, it’s the best solution there is.

 

Now that you have a better idea of the types of report automation tools available, you can choose the one that’s best for your agency! If this tool happens to be DashThis, go try it and let us know if you like it. I’m sure you will!

Marie Marie Lamonde

With an ever-growing love of writing and marketing, Marie proudly wears her title of Content Marketing Specialist at DashThis, sharing her dashboard expertise with her fellow marketers. 

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