49 Reporting Best Practices From 1000+ Marketing Experts Around the Globe.

Reporting best practices around the globe

Don’t you want to know how marketers worldwide create their reports? Want to learn all their expert advices and reporting tips?

 

We do too! So, we asked thousands of marketers and agencies from around the globe for their reporting best practices to help you achieve reporting perfection!

 

We got SO many great answers, it was simply crazy! In about an hour, my inbox was filled with amazing insights from the best in the business!

 

We had to make some tough choices and narrowed it down to a more reasonable 49 tips!

 

Without further ado, here are the industry’s best reporting tips!

 

Keep it simple

Choose your data

Work on the presentation

Create a personalized overview

Keep a good communication

Be honest

Have the best strategy

Use an automated tool!

Keep it simple

The first thing everyone seems to agree on is that reports should be SIMPLE. Make sure your report components are clear as day, intuitive, and simple for your clients to understand.

 

Best practice #1: Explain your data in a simple fashion

 

In order to make things simple, you first have to explain complex data simply.

 

When it comes to marketing reports, it's all amount keeping things simple! It's by far the biggest request we ever receive from clients. Keeping things simple doesn't mean excluding important data such as conversion and ROI statistics though. Ultimately, it's about explaining often complex data in a simple fashion.

David Pagotto

https://sixgun.com.au

 

A colleague advised me to think like I'm preparing a report that will be sent to people that have no background in digital marketing. This is important, because if our client, who is going to receive the report, does not understand terms or metrics, he/she will try to contact us in order to understand what he/she's reading. Unfortunately we are not always available to contact with them and answer all their questions as soon as necessary, so it’s important that the client understand the report as much as possible at first glance.

Ioanna Hotova, Junior Digital Marketing Executive

BGM OMD GREECE

 

Best practice #2: Make your metrics understandable, digestible, and clear for each client

 

Another way of keeping it simple is to have easy-to-understand, digestible looking data in your report. You can use graphs, charts, lists, and really anything else in order to make your report look simple in your client’s eyes.

 

Some understand charts, graphs, and numbers better, while others prefer a written interpretation of their data to better clarify what those numbers represent. A happy client is one who walks away from reading a report after having completely understood the data they read and knowing the tangible ways in which those results affect their business!

Alison, SEO Consultant

CanIRank.com

 

Create a report that is clear, concise, and can stand on its own - your client shouldn't need to hire an interpreter to understand their data. Don't bury the lede - the most critical information should be front and center.

Lita Lea, Digital Marketing Specialist

Hidden Gears

 

Keep it straightforward and actionable; leave the complex data analysis to your web-analytics tool.

Xavier Wyard

Knewledge.eu

 

Best practice #3: Customize your reports to each client

 

Not every client is the same, and one client’s definition of simple won’t be the same as another’s.

 

This seems simple, but it actually runs deeper than “which widgets would you like to see?”. The widget selection is only the tool by which you communicate the results of your work to a client. Each client has their own particularities based upon a number of factors including their industry, personal level of knowledge, and that of their board members/CEO. Navigating between need and ability will produce a report that wins you a lot of brownie points as an account manager.

Joel Evans, Content & SEO Specialist

Reef Digital Agency

 

Tailor each report to what your client wants; one wants to look at all of the data wrapped up with a nice summary, another wants to just read top-level summary info.

Sandy Byron

Local Online Smarts

 

Is your client a CEO? A marketer? A communication executive? And what’s their particular niche and sector? Hôtels, E-Commerce..? You need to adapt your report to each individual client according to what they do and who they are.

Alexandre Filluzeau, Directeur technique

Business to web

 

Best practice #4: Put yourself in your client’s shoes

 

It’s easy to get excited about data and start explaining everything to your client as you would a colleague. However, you should always put yourself in your client’s shoes in order to determine what they will understand or what they won’t.

 

ALWAYS try to get in the head of your contact person and deliver what he/she accepts. Don’t blow people away with too many stats and charts; keep it as simple as it can get.

Jurgen Vandevelde, senior consultant

Rca.be

 

Don’t overcomplicate the wording in the report by using terminology that your clients may struggle to understand. Explain the results in clear terms so that they’re able to get the maximum value from the report.

Sean Potter, Content Manager

Evoluted

Choose your data

 

What data and KPIs should you include in your reports, according to the thousands of experts that we surveyed? What mistakes should you avoid when tracking and collecting data for your reports? It's not about business intelligence or data management, it's about user experience and effective reporting. Let’s take a look!

 

Best practice #5: Choose your KPIs and metrics strategically

 

First and foremost, out of all the data available, you have to make a strategic and logical choice in terms of what to track and show in each client’s report. Every single marketer agreed that you need to limit your KPIs to just the necessary and not clutter your report with unnecessary data. In other words, reporting-wise: less is more.

 

These days, it's easy to report on anything and everything, which can cause you to lose focus on what really drives your business. Choose your KPIs strategically, and in small quantities, and measure against them to evaluate performance.

Mathew Bernstein

Bern Digital

 

Make sure that you use supporting performance indicators to your KPI's in your client reports. By that I mean, that if you report on SEO performance, for example, you should measure traffic as the key performance indicator, but also the average ranking positions for the keywords that you are optimizing. That way you can point to the increasing visibility (higher ranks) if you are not yet reaching your traffic goals.

Mark A. C. Andersen, Online Marketer & Partner

Cosina

 

Although we have access to a lot of data, it's important not to get to bogged down by information overload or analysis paralysis. Use metrics and data that help you accomplish your goals and objectives. Have a clear path and measure it. "If You Don't Know Where You're Going, You'll Probably End Up Somewhere Else."

George Schildge, CEO

Matrix Marketing Group

 

If you include a lot of metrics that look cool and impressive, the "message" in the report will probably be ignored by the customer. You should be able to understand the main points within one minute, either good or bad.

Andreas Løken, Paid Media Specialist

Redperformance.no

 

Too often, reports end up being a compilation of stats that don't provide any real value to the client.  Don't confuse your client with random stats and metrics; provide real, actionable insights.

Dustin Klein, Sr. Digital Marketing Manager

Braintrust Agency

 

Make sure you decide from the outset what is important to your business/client and focus on tracking the essentials, regularly. Get to the point: comment/summarise your findings, use filters to get the specific information required, and find the patterns in the data to fuel your marketing insights and power.

Kirsty Wright, Account Manager

Dynam

 

Ask your client: if they only had 15 seconds to look at a report, what are THE most important metrics that they want to see? Put those at the top and make it uber clear.

Susan Kim

Digital Caffeine Group

 

Reporting should align directly with a campaign’s key objectives and answer the questions: what are we doing well, where can we improve, and what should we do to optimize?

Kathy Doody

Hubbuzz.com

 

Don't rely on or choose vanity metrics. You have to ask yourself: how does this metric help you or the client's company make decisions? Can you make a strategic decision based on this metric? If the answer is no or you are in doubt, this is already reason enough to delete it. Each metric needs to have a purpose: just keep the actionable ones.

Jeroen Peetermans, Team Lead Online Marketing

Yappa

 

Best practice #6: Show your data year-over-year

 

It’s important to show your data not only monthly, but year-over-year. Seasons and holidays can quickly change the data obtained; a year-over-year look will give your report more context.

 

I want to see if it’s normal to have a low month in, say, January. Are we seeing the same trends in September 2018 as we did in September 2017? This helps set realistic expectations in the minds of business owners, and helps marketers make accurate promises of what can be delivered.

Randi White, Social Media Specialist

Sjc.marketing

 

One of our biggest pet peeves is people who create marketing reports for seasonal businesses but don’t show year-over-year results.

Craig Smith, Founder & CEO

TrinityInsight.com

 

Best practice #7: Show them their getting their money’s worth

 

You should never forget the return on investment (ROI) of your clients’ sales and leads. No matter what type of metrics your clients say they want, they especially need to see if they’re making money out of all this.

 

They want to know that their money is working for them. Make sure your marketing report shows that.

Mike Shaw, Internet Marketing Team Lead

Tower Marketing

 

Focus on how your client makes money (revenue, sales, leads, etc.),and  don’t get lost in vanity metrics that don’t even deserve to be diagnostic metrics.

Jeff Ferguson, CEO

Fang Marketing

 

Best practice #8: Take a look at where people bounce off

 

You sure take a look at the bounce rate, but do you track where these users exit to? It might give you valuable insights regarding their intent!

 

We also track the channels or product pages where users actually bounce off after visiting, so that we can understand the underlying problem and perform tweaks to perform better the next time.

Ketan Kapoor, CEO & Co-Founder

Mettl

 

Best practice #9: Look at your assisted conversions to get the big picture

 

Sadly, assisted conversions are sometimes forgotten! However, this metric can play an important part in any report, giving a more accurate portrait of your conversions.  

 

When you look at a particular source's performance, do not forget to look at assisted conversions. This is something that many clients do not consider when they look at their reports, so not only do you need to ensure you provide these metrics, but you need to explain them well so the client understands how they play a part in the overall success of their marketing efforts. This is especially important for paid traffic; as there are times it could be the determining factor in whether or not you continue to run a campaign or not.

Brad Blackburn, Director of Search Engine Marketing

GravityFree

 

Best practice #10: Search for insights in your data

 

This might seem obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning: don’t just put the data out there and call it a day. Make sure you look for all valuable insight in your client’s data.  

 

Don’t give data without insight. Often, it’s tempting to just pull a delivery report and send that off to a client, but that doesn’t tell them anything. Our clients depend on us to look at the data and provide some insight into what the data means to their business.

Seth Mariscal, Director of Production

Synapse

 

Always look for key learnings in the data, because without a learning the data holds no purpose.

Daniel Swepson, Head of Marketing and Communications

Woven Agency

 

Best practice #11: Have a balanced granular and high-level data report

 

It’s always about balance, make sure you don’t offer your client a too granular, or too high-level report. A little of both is where you want to be.

 

When creating marketing reports for clients, be sure you're always balancing granular, short-term data with a more high-level overview of the aggregate performance over time. It's so easy to get bogged down in good or bad performance from a short period of time, and sometimes that is a poor indicator of the overall level of success of your marketing efforts.

Anna Stout Astute Communications

 

Best practice #12: Use data to tell a story

 

Make sure it’s not just a bunch of data. Tell them what happened, how, and why.

 

Do not think of what we do as reporting data, but telling a story. What separates humdrum reports from memorable, practical insights, is storytelling. The data in your reports, even beautifully presented with snappy graphics, is just a report until it’s crafted into a real narrative. As a presenter of data, the job is tell the user something about what you're showing, instead of telling exactly what you are showing.

Dan Howald, Director, Digital and Social Media Intelligence

SMA NYC

 

Do not only list numbers without really telling the story.

Yuan Feng

Spectrum Group Online, LLC

 

If your marketing reports aren't focused, or don't tell the story of the data, I challenge you to ask yourself how much value does this report truly hold.

Nate Bauer

ROInsights

 

Best practice #13: Include a content marketing section

 

This one is for content marketers out there and agencies that provide content marketing to their clients: don’t forget to add a section for this very important part of your business.

 

Create a content marketing section designed to detail the new content deliverables expected to drive traffic and results. Provide hyperlinks to the new directories, blog articles, webpages, press releases, blogger outreach articles, etc.  Now the client can simply click and confirm the work was done and that the quality was exceptional. It will build trust and confidence, which are key elements of any relationship.

Scott Berry, President

MarketCrest.com

 

Best practice #14: Stick to a reporting frequency that allows enough time for meaningful results

 

It’s not always one month’s data for everybody. It’s a little more complex than that!

 

Whether you create dashboards on a daily or monthly basis has a lot to do with the nature of your business. For example, a retailer might want to revisit their dashboard daily during the holiday season to optimize, identify issues, and double down on bets that are winning. A business that receives less traffic over a longer period of time (like a SAAS software company), might need two weeks or a month of data before information is useful.

Elliott Brown, founder

BackOfficeBasics.com

 

Best practice #15: Don’t show irrelevant data

 

When something looks as cool as a sudden spike in your instagram followers, you tend to want to show them off! But if these numbers are not in line with your marketing plan, why clutter your report with it?

 

Many of the reports we get from social scheduling tools list every user that engaged with our social profiles. While this can be a helpful guide for the marketer managing daily social engagement, this is irrelevant to decision makers.

Randi White, Social Media Specialist

Sjc.marketing

 

Write down your plan before you start to configure your Dashthis dashboards, so you measure only what you want to see. Otherwise you will only select some of the built-in possibilities, and measure things you think could be interesting, or just look nice on the report.

Thomas Vandromme, Online Marketeer

Smart Served

 

Don't include data from known technical glitches. A spike in traffic might look great, but if it isn't valid data don't share it!

Zoe Vega, Digital Marketing Manager

CNG Digital Marketing

 

If a marketing report offers vague numbers and fails to distribute performance to respective products, channels and geographies, it’s not worth including in a report in the first place.

Ketan Kapoor, CEO & Co-Founder

Mettl

 

Best practice #16: Don’t review audience demographics every month

 

Demographics are great and all, but their not ALWAYS the most useful thing to add in your report.

 

Graphs about audience demographics are valuable to review on a yearly basis as a check to ensure you are reaching your target market; however, it’s not necessary to spend time reviewing these every month.

Randi White, Social Media Specialist

Sjc.marketing

 

Best practice #17: Measure your results with benchmarks

 

Make sure your clients know what the numbers you’re reporting mean with a benchmark!

 

Make sure to measure your results against a particular benchmark. 1,000 users on your website is just a number. However, 1,000 this month compared to 100 last month is great, whereas 1,000 this month compared to 20,000 last month is bad. Always make sure your clients understand what the numbers you're reporting on mean. With DashThis, I like using the notes section to track what the numbers were for widgets that mean the most to my customers. This way they can see if things are going well or not.

Nick Groh

Milestechnologies.com

 

Best practice #18: Take a look at your customer’s lead acquisition funnel

 

Take a look at where your leads come from to make better decisions!

 

It is great for a client to be able to view global statistics like search traffic or page impressions, but what really interests clients is conversion data.  With the custom (and even native) integrations that DashThis offers, there is no reason not to provide clients with data that reflects exactly who, when, and from where leads are coming.

Nick Nydegger, President

TargetMarket

 

Best practice #19: Don’t flood your report with as much information as you can

 

This is a common mistake marketers make, but not all data is equally useful to your client. Make sure you don’t clutter your report with vanity metrics or more data sources than necessary.

 

Nothing is impressive to a customer if you can't give a good reason behind why you included it.  Less is always more.

Nick Groh

Milestechnologies.com

 

Just because you have a number, doesn't mean it needs to go into your report. Always remind yourself of the client's goal and make sure everything you include into your report is relevant. There's nothing worse than wading through a 10 page report when 1 or 2 pages would do.

Jennifer Chin, Head Community Manager

Chime.io

 

As digital marketing experts we get excited about complicated metrics which can end up confusing the client and leading to heaps of questions and concerns from them.

Steph Vesely, Performance Media Specialist

Reef Digital Agency

 

Don’t drown in data. With all the data points and metrics we have at our disposal, it can be easy to get swamped. The key to success is obsessing over the small range of top-line numbers that actually matter to your business.

James Lawrence, Founder

 Rocket Agency.

 

Spend time on statistics that have actionable outcomes.

Kara Whittington

Karawhittington.com

 

Best practice #20: Don’t view data in a silo

 

You can track each marketing strategy separately, but why not analyze them together and see how they can complement each other?

 

We use reporting from DashThis to see the big picture of how our clients' marketing campaigns are complementing each other on a large scale over time.  Google’s analytics are great, but they're significantly more powerful when analyzed alongside social media and email metrics too.

Maureen Ballatori, Designer & Strategist

29 Design Studio Branding and Marketing

 

We recommend avoiding reporting within silos. This is particularly important within the hospitality industry where everyone's positively working together to sell more rooms at their respective hotels. It's good to have all channels reported upon within one report, at least to give hoteliers a clear picture of their digital marketing and website performance at a high level.

Matt Tutt, SEO Manager

Travel Tripper

 

Best practice #21: Don’t neglect offline data

 

We’re all so focused on online marketing and online reports, but sometimes it can give a better idea of the overall picture to have access to offline marketing data.

 

While online reporting may paint a good picture, the overall business could be down due to poor offline performance; which would mean you may need to consider ramping up your efforts in driving walk-in traffic to the store as well.

Brad Blackburn, Director of Search Engine Marketing

GravityFree

 

Best practice #22: Don’t assume you know the client’s KPI’s

 

We’re professionals, we tend to believe we know best. But our vision of a successful campaign might not be the same as our clients. Make sure you know the your client’s goals and corresponding KPIs before you start reporting.

 

Walk through their metrics of success so you can provide the most valuable DashThis reports. The first question you have to ask your clients before reporting is "what does success look like for your company?" Use their response to build a report that ties closely in with how they perceive success.

Aaron Metzger, Founder

CATAPULT.digital

 

Best practice #23: Don't just show a snapshot of data for the month

 

Make sure you offer the entire overall picture to your clients by providing context through notes or talking to them. Don’t just do a quick snapshot of what is going on right now and send it.

 

This is usually meaningless and doesn't answer any questions. This is the data for the month... OK is that good or bad? How does that compare to the previous month/year? How do we know if our recent activity has affected anything?

Scott Pittman, General Manager

Reef Digital Agency

 

Work on the presentation

 

Let’s be real, even if we know that it’s what’s inside that matters, looks and presentation are crucial! Our marketing experts had a lot to say about how to present your digital reports so that your clients will love them!

 

Best practice #24: Make it visually pleasing

 

Don’t neglect your report’s design. No matter how you create your reports, may it be with an automated reporting tool with white label options, or if you have a design team to help you out, your report’s visual look will help your clients with their comprehension and appreciation of your reports.

 

Build highly visual dashboards that display the business KPIs clearly without clutter. Management needs to easily interpret and analyse trends and growth in specific areas of the business. Place the detailed secondary data widgets lower or in separate dashboards, and make sure you use headings to categorise each section.

David James

North Point

 

Whether you're using pre-made or custom widgets, give yourself the opportunity to look into the different visual aspects of each widget you identify for your report. Don't just import the widget and call it good. The visual elements of each widget can add to the overall feel of your report. It also allows you to get some fun statistics into a single widget, such as percentage breakdowns. For the data minded marketer, widget customization can be a fantastic tool.

Reece Albrecht

Bayshoresolutions.com

 

Best practice #25: Have an easy-to-understand format

 

No 30-page Excel spreadsheets please!

 

Track your data on a nice, graphical, easy to understand format.  The goal is for everyone to be able to reference the dashboard and quickly consume the information as they make decisions about the business and its campaigns.

Joel Black, Founder & Managing Partner

Black Bear Design

 

Best practice #26: Add some graphs and bullet points

 

Graphs are the key to success! Line charts, Pie charts, historic trends… your report design will be next-level.

 

Graphical data is typically easier to look over quickly and see what is happening; this is why we always include graphs along with an executive summary in which we give the bullet points or listed items.

Craig De Borba, Senior Digital Marketer,

Onpoint Internet Marketing

 

Best practice #27: Keep the client interested in your dashboard

 

Spice thing ups a little from time to time by changing the look of your report!

 

Try to change your dashboards once in a while. No changes and we run the risk of being "wallpaper" and the client loses interest, or, if we change too much, they might feel lost. A few tweaks here and there will help to improve the dashboard by keeping the client interested and informed. We sometimes add another widget with some extra data, we try to change the look, or the Graph Type. However, we try to avoid changing the position of the widgets, it's easier for the client to always know where to find key information.

Pedro Machado, Digital Director

PureDigital

 

Best practice #28: Don’t use the same template for every client

 

Your report templates should be used as guidelines to help you create your reports faster, not as everyone’s report without any modifications.

 

As an agency, we always need to streamline our processes to be more efficient, and profitable. At Rablab, we worked with our rep at DashThis, Gab (the Real MVP), to set up one gigantic reporting template that contains SEO, SEM, and SMM. BUT, this is our guideline: something to build from. Each and every time we onboard a new client, we’ll spend some time customizing the template.  They all have different businesses, objectives, campaigns and, above all, they don’t have the same level of knowledge.

Maxime Bergeron, Partner and Head of SMM

Rablab

Create a personalized overview

 

Time is precious for everyone. Clients usually don’t have the time to go through every nitty-gritty detail of your marketing performance report. A good way to keep it simple, fast, and digestible is by creating a summary; an overview of the most important data that your client can take a look at without having to go through every detail.

 

Best practice #29: Include an overview

 

Is a report without an overview is just too confusing!

 

Based on our experience, most executives prefer to have an overview report for all the services that we do for them (SEO, SEM, Content, etc.). We have additional slides for the details, that way they have to option to drill down. Having an overview establishes the flow of the discussion better and shortens the meeting, since most of them would just look at the areas that need improvement. At the end of the report, we also include recommendations and action items to manage the expected deliverables for the next report.

Jomel Alos, Online PR Lead

www.spiralytics.com

 

Our reporting is more of a summary or overview that highlights the company's KPIs. Clients have requested us to combine all reports into one summary report of all channels. They requested to keep the breakdown by channel, but just put it further down in the report in the event that they needed to check the data.  

Alisha Chocha

President, Co-Founder

yourmarketingpeople.com

 

Best practice #30: Make it easy to access

 

Make it simple for your clients to access their report, no matter how they want to consult it: as a pdf, printed out, or as a real-time interactive dashboard.

 

Clients don’t want the hassle of logins and complicated data. They want one sheet: an executive summary they can easily access or print out that allows them to share with their boss the highlights of what is happening with their digital marketing.

Meredith Oliver, Creative Director

Meredith Communications

 

Best practice #31: Include your next opportunities and the progress made

 

Add some of your progress made over time and the next marketing opportunities you’d like to explore so your client knows what you’ve done so far and where their marketing strategies are heading.

 

Be sure to include what you did that contributed to the improvement in a certain metric, or include the strategy you’re going to implement in order to improve a metric, all so that you get credit where credit is due and they see your value.

Craig De Borba, Senior Digital Marketer

Onpointinternetmarketing.com

 

Best practice #32: Personalize it!

 

Don’t JUST put a general overview, customize it to the needs of your client!

 

Do include a brief (very brief) custom and personalized overview of analytics in report to make it seem more personalized for each period report. It’s a nice personal touch to make it feel more human.

Doug Kirby

Acquire Internet Marketing

Keep a good communication

 

A marketing report is nothing less than your #1 way of communicating with your client; don’t underestimate it! Include comments in your reports and have discussions with your clients in order to build a lasting and trusting relationship with them.

 

Best practice #33: Add some comments with your data

 

Comments are a good way of communicating with your client. Add your professional insight so that your clients understand the numbers you’re showing them.

 

Add notes with commentary explaining your charts. Example: why the metrics are moving a particular way, what you’re doing about it, etc.

Justin Mosebach, Director of Search Marketing

Improve & Grow, LLC

 

Always use the comments widget to tell a story about the data. Sending a data-driven dashboard is good, but providing well-written insights with the data helps your audience interpret the reports..

Christopher Miller, Head of Digital Marketing

Tractorbeam

 

A small legend with a snippet about each metric can help a marketer succinctly explain data to business owners unfamiliar with marketing reports, and give those owners a reference should they review reports later without the guidance of the marketer.

Randi White, Social Media Specialist

Sjc.marketing

 

Add explanatory notes to metrics. As digital marketers, we work with certain metrics day in and day out, and take it for granted that our clients understand what 'basic' metrics mean, when a lot of this may make no sense to the layperson. Having notes to explain concepts like impressions and reach makes reports much more accessible to clients.

Sven, Digital Marketing Manager

Gnuworld.co.za

 

Best practice #34: Give your client a call

 

Nowadays, phone calls really aren’t as popular as they once were. However, don’t neglect the power of talking to your client directly, either by phone, screen share, video chat, or in person.

 

Do follow-up calls. After you send the first report, you should always call the client to review it with them and go over any question areas. After that, it is key to do a follow up meeting every 4-6 months. This way you can show them your progress and review the steps you have been taking to improve their campaigns. This shows you’re working hard, invested in their business, and doing exactly what they hired you for.

Garron Rinkel, Marketing Lead

The social otter

 

When we report in DashThis, we add a text-field to each channel. After viewing the numbers from our Facebook campaigns, we add an analysis as to what we've done, what the results are and what our plans are in terms of improving our results. After this, we make sure to call our clients and go through the DashThis-link so that we make sure we are on the same page. This reduces the amount of misunderstandings and "unhappy meetings" - allowing for more happy clients and consultants.

Anne Sofie Sjørup Christensen

Obsidian

 

Do schedule a regular call to keep them updated and to explain the report. It will be well appreciated, especially as some may not even understand what is in the report or what they should do with the information!

Spinifexmedia.com.au

 

Take time to walk them through the report. Ask them if they have any questions. Ask them if the trends presented on the report lines up with what they are experiencing and if it doesn't, find out why!

Carl Lefever

Improve & grow

 

Best practice #35: Get as much feedback as possible

 

It’s really important to talk, but even more crucial to listen!

 

For the first report, it's important to listen to the client's feedback; ask questions that can help you better understand what needs to be updated, and don't get discouraged - the initial report will always have changes. Think of it this way: it's your first attempt at aligning the agency's goals with the client's. Moving forward, it definitely gets easier, since the client understands your calculations, trusts your numbers, and has a baseline to make informed decisions.

Alisha Chocha, President & Co-Founder

Yourmarketingpeople

 

Don't be afraid of questions. When you present the full report, encourage clients to ask questions. This has a two-fold effect; it allows the client to get a better grasp on what is going well and what isn't (and why), And it also forces you to know your stuff and discover kinks in your own armor. Vulnerability and willingness to do more is what separates elite marketers from everyone else.

Lansing Brown, Digital Marketing Manager

Clear Marketing & Entertainment Group

 

Best practice #36: Discuss your goals

 

Don’t just talk about the results, you need to start by discussing your client’s goals!

 

Find and agree on a goal. All your reporting efforts should help you achieve that goal. Sure, you can have different kinds of goals and use both granular and high-level ones. But reporting becomes so much more clear when you know what you are looking for.

Uno Ullvén

Right Thing united

 

Talk to the client about what is important to them, then, base your reporting off of that. Set up an initial conversation with the client to discover what metrics they deem valuable to their business.

Katie Lumley

Anson-Stoner

 

Understand your clients needs and which metrics are important to them. This ensures that you report the metrics that are most important to the client. Too many times agencies create reports that "they" feel are important. This causes confusion and frustration.

Joe Balestrino, Digital Marketing Expert

Joebalestrino.com

 

Discuss, in depth, with your client the kind of goals they want to reach and what kind of activities you as a marketer are going to do and select KPI's accordingly.

Ilonka Leermakers, Head of SEO

Riff

 

Provide actionable data based on the client's goals, not yours.

Matt Rigg, Digital Marketing Manager

Solodev

 

Best practice #37: Educate your clients

 

The more your clients understand what you do, the more they’ll appreciate all your hard work!

 

Educate the customer on what metrics are available and what they mean; platforms may offer unique jargon that is not standard marketing language IE: not just ‘Impressions, Clicks, Conversions’ – ex. ‘What is an Engaged User’ (Facebook) ‘What is a Mention’ (Twitter). We include a Glossary of Terms with every report that aligns with the customer’s KPIs to act as a learning tool.

Michael Racioppo, Digital Director

Media Classified

 

We know that we need to track for benchmarking, engagement, consumer behavior, and ROI purposes, but because our clients don’t live in our marketing world, they don’t always understand why. That’s why it's important to consistently verbalize the connection between each metric and business decision behind it so the client builds an appreciation for the metrics we're tracking.

Randi White, Social Media Specialist

Sjc..marketing

 

Don’t assume that your client understands any level of reporting until you educate them.  As marketers, we stare at analytics daily. It is easy to forget that a lot of the data and terminology can be confusing to a client.  Remember to thoroughly educate a client on all aspects of that first report you generate. Failure to do so will devalue your future reporting and create unnecessary questions about progress.

Nick Nydegger, President

TargetMarket

 

Always explain micro conversions and why the KPIs you've highlighted are important, otherwise people will gloss over them when looking for the bottom line.

Paolo Vidali

Hidden Gears

 

Marketers generally assume that because they’re seeing great results, their clients are happy about their performance. However, clients don’t necessarily know that the results obtained are all thanks to your work as a marketer. Reports help justify the work you’re doing for each client, and these reports need to be explained and presented so that the client is able to understand them. When the client understand that your efforts are generating results and revenue, he’ll stay with you forever!

Tareq Dasser

J7media.com

 

Best practice #38: Give it a personal touch!

 

Give each report a personal touch, by explaining the data to your clients!

 

Our customers are especially happy with a personal touch. Instead of automatically sending the reports via e-mail, we provide them with a personal screencast each month to explain the data. That way it’s not just hard data, we can also convey the feelings and opinions we have about the results.

Jeroen Bos

LeadLogic.nl

 

Best practice #39: Present high-level findings first

 

Don’t wait after you’ve explained everything to give them the insight they need! Talk to them about your high-level findings from the start.

 

When you send out the dashboard (or present it), point out your high-level findings before you start. It'll save your audience some mental bandwidth, it'll help set the context for them when they review the report, and it'll help keep them focused on the things that are most important.

Elliott Brown, founder

BackOfficeBasics.com

 

Best practice #40: Have a positive attitude!

 

Your attitude can make a big difference! Smile, give positive feedback, talk about future improvements.

 

My best advice is to try to transmit patience and perseverance that the results will eventually come in the future thanks to the good work that is being carried out today.

Cristian Rennella, VP of Marketing & CoFounder

oMelhorTrato.com

 

Be honest

 

You shouldn’t be shy to disclose everything your client needs to know, including bad numbers. This lets your clients know what you’re going to improve next and it helps build trust. Many marketers agreed that the best practice in the industry is to start with honesty.

 

Best practice #41: Show the bad numbers

 

We all want to hide our bad results, and only show what worked out great, but it won’t do you any good.

 

We all know that campaigns sometimes don't go as expected and the results are not quite what we promised. Rather than hide that data to make yourself look better, take the time to write up why the data is not as good as you had hoped and what steps you are taking to improve it. This will show that your business is reliable, transparent, and trustworthy. Clients will always understand that marketing takes time and you are continuously improving, but they will not forgive or work with someone they don't trust.

Garron Rinkel, Marketing Lead

The social otter

 

If the client has access to the same numbers you do (and they should), don't try to cover up lower numbers. Instead, explain why that figure may be down from last month. Then, make that reason clear to the client so that they are fully aware that you are actively looking for solutions on their behalf. This culture of honesty is what keeps clients coming back.

Lansing Brown, Digital Marketing Manager

Clear Marketing & Entertainment Group

 

Even if you discover that you are ultimately totally or partially responsible for an issue, you can take charge of the narrative and display integrity by addressing it openly, fairly, and honestly.

Jonas Meister

Gnuworld.co.za

 

Make sure to include just as many things that are working in the marketing reports as things that aren’t. Any marketing-related win you can include will let the CEO, or other people looking through the report, know work is being done, things are not all going downhill, and it may even help you get the budget you need to fix what's not working so well.

Ela Iliesi, Digital Marketing Trainer

London Marketing Academy

 

Don’t create a report that will only show your activity in a good light. The ‘bad’ points are the best opportunities for improvement.

Aime Cox-Tennant, Founder

Studio Cotton

 

Don't forget to include solutions for performance areas that could be stronger. When you notice weaker metrics, it's your responsibility to also include tactics to improve performance.

Kim O’Brien, Content Strategist

Synapse

 

Best practice #42: Identify discrepancies

 

Things don’t quite add up? Don’t hide these either; once you understand the cause, show them to your client and explain what’s going on!

 

Show all KPI's. One big mistake is not identifying discrepancies in the data you provide. Showing these to your client will provide an explanation as to why certain aspects are not performing, and add credibility to your report.

Alexis Soer, Digital Copywriter

Elite Digital

 

Have the best strategy

 

Making a report is a good occasion to analyse your strategies. Analyse your recent results, look over past strategies, and make sure those strategies evolve over time.

 

Best practice #43: Compare your strategies’ results

 

Don’t just assume that a new strategy isn’t working simply because it isn’t performing as well as the others at first. Make sure you compare them with older strategies when they were implemented to have a better understanding of its potential.

 

It is VERY easy to underestimate a new marketing strategy simply because we see that in the report it is only 2% or 5% of our results. However, if we compare its results (for example, in the first 3 months) versus the results of other successful strategies in the past, we can effectively realize the potential of this new marketing channel.

Cristian Rennella, VP of Marketing & CoFounder

oMelhorTrato.com

 

Best practice #44: Don’t have a static strategy

 

Companies, target audiences, and technologies are evolving, and so should your strategies.

 

Don’t allow your strategy to become static. A strategy should grow, evolve and adapt depending on what the results and data are telling you.

Daniel Swepson, Head of Marketing and Communications

Woven Agency

 

 

Use an automated tool!

 

Yes, I know, since DashThis IS an automated reporting tool, we’re a little biased. BUT, you should automate your reports! And for once, I’m not the one saying it! Here’s what our expert marketers had to say about report automation.

 

Best practice #45: Automate everything to save time

 

The first reason why you should automate your reports is obviously to save time, as our expert marketers do! It enables you to focus on your strategies instead of your reporting!

 

Create automated live reports to be delivered to clients at a cadence of their choice. Set it up once, and look good always.

Samuel Zivot, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Inside an agency, client reporting can really take the focus away from doing the work that ultimately gets the client results. Having a way to simply, yet powerfully, report the results back to a client is therefore critical.

David Pagotto

sixgun.com.au

 

Automate it!

Tom Stride

WePlay.co

 

Best practice #46: Use the different features of your automated reporting tool

 

Don’t just set up a tool. Try and learn how to use all the different features of your reporting software so that you can really use it to its full potential.

 

Filters are, in my opinion, underused. They allow us to give numbers that actually make sense. When we build marketing campaigns, we always have our client’s objectives in mind. When giving reports, the numbers we show should meet those different objectives. So you need to make sure to name your campaigns correctly and always apply filters when using metrics/KPIs for specific objectives.

Maxime, Partner and Head of SMM

RabLab

 

Do yourself a favor and look into the DashThis-supported widget filters. These filters can give you a leg up on reporting exactly what you want and excluding any data that (while important) doesn't help paint the picture of the widget you are working on. For a one-two punch with data that exists in multiple properties, layer your widgets by filtering out the data you don't want and then merging them together.

Reece Albrecht

Bayshoresolutions.com

 

Try out as many different widget options as you can - it's amazing how much insight you can get from a little trial and error.

ROSS WALKER, Digital Marketing Manager

KTM Sportmotorcycle UK LTD

 

Get creative with filtering segments of data into DashThis so you can offer a concise snapshot of the top reporting sectors of your client's website.

Monique Clark

Nomadigital.com.au

 

Best practice #47: Share your numbers automatically with as many people as needed

 

There’s no limit to the number of people you can share your report with. And you shouldn’t be shy to share the report with as many people as you need.

 

Share the dashboard with as many people as possible. If everyone on the team is talking about the same figures, it usually creates the best results.

Rutger Mackenbach

stroom.com

 

Best practice #48: Don’t forget to provide your own analysis

 

Automated reports are great (of course)! But you can’t just set it up and never talk to your client again! Explain the results with your own expert analysis.

 

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.

Vicki Lesage, Project Manager / Digital Marketing Strategist

Thoughtprocess Interactive

 

Best practice #49: Don’t manually export data

 

Why would you lose your time manually exporting data?

 

Don’t manually export data into excel, clean up data, build pivot table, format pivot table, repeat across multiple platforms, spend your life reporting.

Samuel Zivot, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Don't spend hours filling reports manually, automate it instead!

Tarek Reda, Head of Digital

Bfound LLC

 

Extra food for thought from experienced marketers!

 

Some extra insight from marketers that aren’t really tips per se, but that I think you’ll all appreciate nonetheless!

 

There’s only one thing worse than not tracking your marketing efforts, and that’s tracking your marketing efforts and not adjusting to the results you are seeing. Years ago, marketing teams would have loved to have a fraction of the insights that are now available to professional marketers. Today, let’s face it, we are a bit spoiled with the real time marketing ROI feedback that is available to us. Where most marketers are now failing is in how to handle the large amount of data in smart ways and, most importantly, how to integrate that into the business model. Tomorrow's winners are pushing marketing reporting beyond a dataset and into predictive trend forecasting.

Timothy Cox, Partner / CEO

Stir Creative Group, Inc.

 

Dr. Brene Brown famously told a TED audience, "maybe stories are just data with soul."  I think she's right. There is no shortage of data available to us as marketers, but there is a shortage of data infused with some soul. So my approach, after assembling and analyzing data, is to ask...what is the data telling us, and how can I use it to articulate a story arc that is truthful, interesting and meaningful? Beautiful graphics make storytelling much easier and more memorable…but they alone are not a substitute for knowing  the deeper story they can tell.

Dan Howald, Director, Digital and Social Media Intelligence

SMA NYC

 

That’s all folks!

 

There you go! The 49 best practices from expert marketers around the world! I hope this gives you plenty of new ideas to make better reports!

 

Do you have any suggestions of insight we should add to the list? Additional information is always welcome!

 

Just let us know and we’ll gladly add it!

 

P.S. Like what you've learned? Upvote it on GrowthHackers to share the knowledge!

 

Marie Marie Lamonde

With an ever growing love of writing and marketing, Marie proudly wears her title of Content Marketing and Communications Specialist at DashThis, sharing her dashboard expertise with her fellow marketers. Want to be a guest writer on the DashThis blog? Drop us a line at marketing@dashthis.com!

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