Proving value for money is essential. Every marketer wants to prove that what they’re doing is valuable. Senior management wants to know that departments are hitting growth targets. IT teams want to know they have the best software and tools for their business needs.
Overall, this can lead to businesses purchasing multiple reporting tools and software. Even internal teams in your marketing department can see the benefit of measuring tools that are specific to their needs alone.
The ultimate goal for businesses should be a single, all-in-one system that allows marketers, IT teams, and senior leadership to see relevant data through connected reporting.
Sounds too good to be true right?
In this article we’ll be taking things back to basics, covering what marketing reporting is and why it’s a vitally important business need. We’ll also help you understand what you need to report on and how to turn marketing reports into action.
What is marketing reporting?
We all do it, but how many of us can say that we fully understand what we should be reporting on and how to do it effectively?
Marketing reporting is the process of measuring progress, demonstrating value, and identifying actionable next steps to improve your marketing performance. The result is a clearer, more structured approach to marketing that allows you to meet and exceed your marketing goals.
Why is reporting important?
Whilst for us it’s completely obvious that marketing is a worthwhile investment, there are many people in business who do not see it that way. Many of you will have had an encounter (or ten) with someone who considers marketing to be a support function instead of the business-critical department that it is.
These are the people who are so focused on growth and profit that they’ve lost sight of how it’s achieved in the first place. (Marketing. That’s how.)
Enter: marketing reporting.
Marketing reports show the real, tangible results of your hard work. Through marketing reporting, you can show how your campaigns are fulfilling business goals, generating high-quality, sales-ready leads, and bringing in significant revenue to your company. Ultimately, they prove the value added by you cand your team.
Therefore, it’s essential you’re creating thorough, connected marketing reports.
The benefits of marketing reporting
What needs to be in your marketing reports?
While your marketing report will always be unique to your business goal, there are a couple of sections that are vital to every business.
Your summary breaks down the key facts – successes, challenges and goals for the next reporting period.
This is what all your work results in, the real value your marketing team adds to the business. These metrics include new opportunities, pipeline generated, and revenue.
Your traffic report looks at top-of-funnel acquisition broken down by channel and device.
Engagement reports look at customer behavior and on-site activity. Metrics can include time or site, bounce rate, and frequency of visits. More advanced reporting might also offer RFM insights.
Conversions are generally what interests most stakeholders. This report should break down new conversions by channel, revenue generated, cost per lead, and more.
Choosing what to including in marketing reporting
It can be tempting to report on everything you do as a way of demonstrating precisely how valuable your activities are.
Don’t give into temptation.
Typically, clients, stakeholders, and senior leadership are only interested in a handful of metrics. You need to highlight what is most important.
To identify the metrics, you need starts with understanding your goals and objectives, and what metrics best demonstrate return on investment (ROI). These can include the following:
- Channel sources – which channels are performing best and driving the most clicks/leads?
- Conversions – how many people have the potential to become customers of the back of actions on a website or at an event or tradeshow?
- SERP – what are your top-rated keywords and how are they affecting your ranking on search engine result pages?
Marketing reporting: what to consider
The online nature of most businesses today means that marketers have a wealth of data and information at your fingertips. Customer interactions are occurring on different channels and that data is being collected by different sources and different software.
Modern marketers need a single, all-in-one system that can connect your data and deliver valuable and actionable marketing reports.
When evaluating the effectiveness of a software’s reporting capabilities you should consider:
How nicely does your software play with the rest of your marketing stack?
You can’t discover the ROI of your email marketing campaign if you don’t know how many click-throughs resulted in purchases on your ecommerce store.
Today’s world of online interactions means that operating in multiple markets is easier than ever. That means closing sales in multiple currencies. You need to ensure your reporting tools are providing real-time insights using up-to-date currency conversion rates.
For most marketers, the reporting tools they use depend on their budget. As a result, Google’s free Data Studio is a significant player in the marketing reporting sector. It’s also great for sharing with external teams and stakeholders.
Therefore, your software must communicate effectively and efficiently with the Google suite.
No one brand is the same. That means a lot of you with have unique nuances that need to be considered. One such nuance is how many accounts you have.
Maybe you’re an umbrella company and manage the marketing activity of three separate brands. Or perhaps you use specific software for multiple functions, such as a non-profit that uses SMS marketing software for marketing, fundraising, and liaising with volunteers.
Connected cross-account reports enable cost savings and optimizations to be made with ease.
After all, who doesn’t love receiving a personalized experience with a brand?
Customer insights, whether it be eRFM customer modeling, online behavior, or simply marketing preferences, you need a system that can help you identify trends in your customer base to empower optimization across the board.
How to turn marketing reports into action and optimization
Now, here’s an important question: what’s the point of all this reporting is you’re not turning it into actionable takeaways?
It’s all well and good proving the value of your marketing team, but you need to be continuously testing and optimizing to maintain those results. What you need is a strategy for turning marketing reports into action.
Step 1: Frequency
You need to determine how frequently you’ll sit down and review your reports in detail to create new optimization action plans. Once a month? Once a quarter? Every six months? Knowing this will help you scope your action plans.
Step 2: Reporting
What you report on once again depends on the goals of your marketing team. Are you seeking to improve your organic search results, improve revenue generation, increase brand awareness. Your marketing dashboards should include all information associated to these goals.
Step 3: Analysis
Make sure your systems and dashboards are collecting data in real-time and storing this for comparisons to be drawn. This will help you see patterns and identify trends audience behavior.
Step 4: Hypothesis
Following your analysis, you can create a hypothesis as to why something is or isn’t working. This might require some testing on your side to ensure your theory is correct.
Step 5: Action
Once you have established your hypothesis (e.g., high bounce rate on the pricing enquiry page is due to the long form) you can turn this into an action plan. How will you address the issue to improve conversions and customer experiences?
Step 6: Reporting
Has the change resulted in an optimized campaign or customer experience? During the next period of reporting, you’ll discover whether or not the action has worked. Also, with one issue addressed, it will make identifying the next blocker to conversion easier.