If you’re interested in how your website and digital marketing efforts are performing, you likely check Google Analytics and pull some sort of monthly marketing report. (If not, install Google Analytics now and start tracking that marketing data!) You might also track campaign performance from Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, MailChimp—any number of platforms where you’re running campaigns.
In addition to pulling digital marketing reports on a regular basis, you might need to present these reports to either an internal team or your clients. If you’re unsure how to do that, here are some steps for pulling a stellar report and delivering a great presentation.
First, you’ll need to prepare your reports. DashThis is an excellent tool for streamlining your reporting, which saves you time and helps you present top-notch reports that are clear for your team and clients to understand.
Here are some tips to prepare your marketing reports:
Know your audience. The way you present to upper management might be different than how you present to your colleagues. Are the people in your audience “numbers people” or do they get scared off by too much data? Do they want high-level information or the nitty-gritty stats? Will multiple audiences be viewing the same report?
Depending on the answers to these questions, you might want to set up your report differently. In all cases, though, here are some good guidelines to follow:
Know your goals. Are you using the digital marketing report to show progress, inform a decision, or justify an action? Or some other business goal? Be sure that your report includes all the data necessary for your goal.
For example, if your goal is to increase engagement on Facebook, you would probably want widgets that show:
Once you have this data, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about what is working with your campaigns, what isn’t working, and where to focus future efforts.
Know your data. Before presenting in front of people, you want to be sure you understand where all this data is coming from and what it means.
In a DashThis article about reporting best practices, I shared the following advice:
“Auto-generated reports like DashThis are great time-savers and provide a streamlined, consistent format, but the true value to your client is being able to explain what they’re seeing and help them make data-driven decisions from it.”
Sure, using DashThis simplifies the task of monthly reporting, but it’s not meant to replace critical thinking about the performance of your website and digital marketing efforts.
If you’re using preset widgets, be sure you understand what they represent. If you’re using custom widgets, double-check that they are reflecting what you’re intending to reflect. And be sure the names of each widget (you can edit them) are accurate and precise.
Now that your digital marketing performance report is set up and you have a solid understanding of what it represents and what your audience is looking to glean from it, you’re ready to prepare your presentation.
Here are a few questions to consider:
Will you be presenting in person, over the phone, or via email? Will the people you’re presenting to see the reports beforehand?
When you present in person, you have the benefit of being able to read your audience’s cues and adjust your presentation accordingly. You can speed up the dry parts and delve deeper into the parts that interest them. You can explain things they look confused about. And it’s easy to make sure you’re all looking at the same thing and following along in real-time since you’re all in the same room.
You can print your report, which is great for seeing data up close but not so great if the report has a lot of color, a lot of pages, and will be printed for a lot of people. Alternatively, you could present on a screen or projector. If possible, try to figure out what the set-up will be beforehand so you don’t risk losing your audience’s interest before you even begin!
If you do a conference call, it’s crucial that your audience be able to follow along. You’ll want to email the reports in advance and be sure to insert page breaks throughout so it’s easy to refer to which page you’re on. You can send them the URL to the report, but I prefer sending a PDF—it makes it even easier to keep track of which page you’re on. You can do a screenshare in a video conference so your audience can see what you’re showing them, or they can pull the reports up on their computer and follow along; it’s probably best to go with whatever they’re used to.
Whether presenting in person or via conference call, be sure to prepare a list of talking points in advance. I usually highlight a few trends or anomalies I noticed in that month’s marketing report, along with recommendations for improvements.
If you will be “presenting” via email, i.e. simply sending the report over without explaining in person, this will be a bit harder but still doable. You can write notes directly in DashThis or use a “comments” widget in each section where you can write your notes. For my clients, I typically download the report in PDF format and email it to them with a bullet point list of notes directly in the email. You should provide the information in whatever format your clients will find easiest to read and review.
How often will you be presenting?
I provide monthly digital marketing performance reports for my clients, which is a pretty standard reporting period. Any more frequent than that could be too soon to draw conclusions (though you should still be keeping an eye on things throughout the month), and any longer than that makes the data harder to muddle through.
Having individual monthly reports allows you to go back and see specific stats for a particular month, but it’s also a good idea to include trend graphs so you can spot trends for the year without having to open 12 separate reports.
How often you prepare reports is different than how often you’ll be presenting. While it’s useful to touch base with your clients to review reports, it does take time—time that you could be spending working on your website and digital marketing efforts. So it’s important to find the balance. You want your team/clients to be on board with the program and your decisions, but you also need time to actually do the work you’ve promised to do. My general rule of thumb is that for large budgets and big decisions, meet more frequently (perhaps monthly or bi-monthly). For smaller budgets or programs with few changes, quarterly is probably fine.
The first time you present, you might have to make assumptions: You’ll have to take an initial guess at what data they want to see in their digital marketing performance report, how they would like it presented, and how often they would like to see it. During your presentation, take notes and collect feedback on what they would like to see next time. Maybe they would like you to add new stats or report on some of the data in a different way. Perhaps they would like to meet more or less frequently. Maybe other people should be included in the next presentation. Always take their feedback into consideration and incorporate it where possible.
When you present marketing reports with the data your audience wants and the way they want to see it, they’ll look forward to your presentations and the value you provide. Everyone wins!
I hope these tips help you prepare excellent reports and deliver successful presentations!
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