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One of the huge benefits of digital marketing is that so much of it can be measured. And if we are spending time and money on our marketing, then we might as well know that it’s working, right?!

So often reporting is seen as an afterthought, and annoying activity, or something we do to figure out what went wrong.

But regular, proactive reporting, offers huge benefits.

Benefits of regular digital marketing reporting

Whether you are reporting on your website, social media activity or any or all aspects of your digital marketing, regularly reviewing results allows us to continually adjust our marketing tactics to achieve our goals, or reinforces that we are on track.

By regularly reviewing our results, we are able to make informed, strategic, results-focused decisions, that keep us on the path to success.

Sounds good to me!

Too often though, reporting is seen as something that takes too much time in the first place, and that no one will read the report anyway… But let’s change that with our five tips for creating effective reports that people WANT to read!

How to create effective digital marketing reports:

1. Identify relevant focus metrics

This first step is often what trips up a lot of marketers and business owners, figuring out WHAT to report on.

Well, HOPEFULLY, you have a marketing strategy… in which case the metrics you focus on measuring should relate back to your strategy’s Aims and Objectives.

For example:

Aim: Increase brand awareness

Measurement metric/s: Visibility metrics related to Reach and Impressions

Metrics like these are pretty high level, but give you a good understanding of how far your message is spreading and how many people know about your organisation.

If you have a specific geographic target, it is worthwhile drilling down from the total number, to focus on just those in your target locations. While it may be a smaller figure, it is going to be more closely related to your overall business goals and results.

 

Aim: Increase brand loyalty

Measurement metric/s: Audience metrics related to Total Followers/Users, including a specific look at New Followers and New Users (in Google Analytics), and email subscribers

Again, these are pretty high level, and you can again drill down to focus on those within your target geographic locations.

 

Aim: Engage and educate 

Measurement metric/s: Engagement-based metrics, such as Likes, Comments, Shares, along with Pages/Session, Avg. Session Duration for Google Analytics, and Open/Click Rates for email marketing

 

Aim: Generate leads/sales

Measurement metric/s: Enquiries and sales attributed back to your marketing

In most cases, these types of metrics will require initial tracking to be set up to allow you to easily measure the source of actions like online enquiries, telephone calls and sales.

You can use Facebook’s Conversion Pixel, along with Goals and Events, and UTM tagged links for Campaign measurement in Google Analytics.

All of these suggestions are very general, and ideally, your strategy should help suggest suitable goal-focused metrics to measure regularly, rather than getting overwhelmed by all of the options.

And your focus metrics should offer a mix of “high level” including some “vanity” metrics, that assist with the general overview, as well as more specific engagement and objective-based metrics.

 

2. Make time for regular reporting

As mentioned above, reporting is often seen as a chore, an afterthought, or in an emergency, but regular, proactive reporting that offers real insights (see below), WILL provide benefits which reinforces the value of making time for it!

In addition to regularly glancing at your results to check things are on track (daily, every other day, or weekly), we strongly recommend setting aside a regular chunk of time to really look at what’s going on.

Monthly reporting works really well, as you can generally find 2-3 hours in a month to do some analysis, while it also being frequent enough to pick up issues before they become a real issue. Which is what can happen when reporting is done every 3 or 6 months.

The best thing to do is book it in your calendar.

Within the first week of the month, block out a chunk of non-negotiable time, close distracting apps, and shut yourself away if you need.

I actually like to do my reporting in two separate sections:

  1. Data gathering; getting all of the numbers into my reporting template, noting anything of interest as I go (see below)
  2. Data analysis and recommendations; reviewing the data to observe findings and develop actionable insights (see below)

These two types of activities are quite different, and sometimes separating them into 2 x 1-1.5 hour sessions on separate days can work better.

 

3. Create a good reporting template or system

Another factor which can create “analysis paralysis” with reporting, is not having a good template or system for managing your data, resulting in reporting being more clicking around looking at the numbers…

Again, the best solution will need to suit your needs and strategy, however, for most cases, I find what works best is:

  1. Dashboard tool
  2. Excel spreadsheet

Dashboard tools such as Dasheroo or Cyfe, are great for pulling data from all of your digital marketing channels into one place, for easy review. Particularly at that high level, daily-weekly frequency.

Example of a Cyfe dashboard

Then it’s hard to beat a good ol’ Excel spreadsheet for keeping track of all of your detailed metrics month-on-month. Mine uses separate tabs for different channels and even different reports within channels and provides you with a versatile source of historical data.

Example of an Excel spreadsheet report

And where relevant, take screenshots of graphs, or content examples to help record and illustrate the data.

Separate from the “numbers” part, I then create a simple executive summary to document my findings and insights…

 

4. Observe findings

Having the numbers is one thing, interpreting them is quite another…

This also takes time and practice as well.

What I find works is setting up percentage comparisons for the different data points month-on-month, and starting off with focusing on the big increases and big decreases.

We had a huge spike in visitors!

Why…?

Where did they come from…?

What did they look at…?

Was there seasonal interest? A particular campaign or piece of content that performed particularly well? Did a significant organisation or influencer share your website/accounts?

Dig around to try and find the answer. You don’t need to include all the numbers you see along the way, but document the finding that can be attributed to the spike or decline.

 

5. Develop actionable insights

This is really fun – and hard – part, and also what will have people actually care about your reports.

Most reports don’t get read because they don’t offer real value. Many reports are JUST the numbers, but no findings and no REAL actionable insights.

The real reason we should be reporting is to find opportunities to improve results, and use the information to develop the roadmap for how.

So based on your findings, look for ways to improve, that include real actions.

For example:

Finding: We saw a huge spike in traffic after X mentioned our products.

Actionable Insight: We should look for more relevant influencers to help get our message out.

 

Finding: Our Organic Search traffic has been on a steady decline for months.

Actionable Insight: We need to make SEO a focus, by understanding our keywords, and creating regular, relevant, optimised blog posts.

 

Finding: We are seeing a large number of visitors from mobile devices, but they have a very high bounce rate and low average session duration.

Actionable Insight: We know the mobile version of our site isn’t very engaging, we must focus on creating a great mobile-optimised experience.

 

Insights should also be prioritised as well, to help determine what to focus on for the month/s ahead, as it may not be possible to do everything at once.

However, with a clear plan, and ongoing regular reporting, you will be able to easily measure your results, and keep on track.

Erica Stacey

Erica is a Google Analytics, Google Ads and Mobile Sites certified professional, so you’re in qualified hands. Erica has had over a decade of experience – working for agencies and a wide range of clients – in digital and social media marketing strategy, website development, search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing (SEM), content marketing, inbound marketing, online advertising and so much more. A professional in the field of design, branding and marketing, she is a trusted name in the Adelaide community to help an array of businesses sort out and achieve their marketing objectives.

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