Although reporting can be the bane of marketers' existence, it serves an incredibly important function. After all, without marketing reporting, there's absolutely no way of knowing whether or not a marketing strategy is succeeding or failing. It would simply be like marketing blindly into the abyss, just hoping that your messaging will resonate with someone, but having not a single clue if it really does.
This is why measuring the success of your marketing efforts is key to effective digital marketing. However, it's quite easy to get bogged down in marketing reporting, ultimately failing to reap the appropriate rewards for reporting.
Learn more about the importance of marketing reporting, how to create a marketing report, and how to avoid some potential pitfalls that come with the reporting territory.
The Importance of Marketing Reporting
Marketers often choose to do reporting in one or more of these increments: monthly, quarterly, or annually. This depends on the type of campaign (i.e., you may want to report on ad campaigns monthly while you may want to report on organic social media campaigns quarterly) and the resources of the marketing team.
There are several reasons that marketing reporting is a necessary task and even more benefits to knowing and understanding exactly how your marketing strategy is performing.
First and foremost, reporting creates boundaries around certain time frames, campaigns, and so on, making it easier to update strategies and understand the timeline where analytics may have changed. It helps to create a time period when tasks need to be done and when goals need to be met, creating a sense of accountability for the marketing team.
It also helps to secure trust from the c-suite when they're able to see hard metrics and proof of results. This can lead to a bigger budget or more freedom with campaigns and digital marketing tactics. CMOs love being able to see the actual results in a year-end or quarterly report.
Furthermore, reporting also helps to pinpoint problems within a strategy or campaign. Not every report is going to be a positive report (even though we'd all like for it to be). Sometimes tactics or ideas simply don't work for your business the way they might work for others, and that's okay. Reporting helps to find these issues so that they can be addressed and adjusted. This might be adjusted to another entirely new strategy to be tested, or to a strategy has already worked in the past in order to make up for the previous failure.
How to Create a Marketing Report
When it's time to create your marketing report to send to your superiors, your client, or your team, you'll want to start by gathering CSV exports from all of your analytics platforms. Whether you utilize a third-party analytics platform within your martech stack or you take advantage of the in-platform analytics, each should have an option for you to download information and stats from a certain time frame as a CSV.
If not, you can simply keep that page open to browse through each of the different metrics you're trying to track. This might be Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Pinterest Analytics, Google Analytics, your email marketing platform's stats, and more.
You can create a report using a number of tools at your disposal. If nothing else, you can create a basic report in Microsoft Word/Powerpoint or Google Docs/Slides to easily share with your team.
Here are the basic parts of a solid marketing report:
What is the purpose of this report? What are you covering? If it's just an overall quarterly or annual report, mention what your tactics have been like during this time period, overall goals and objectives, which platforms you're covering, and so on. If you're reporting on a specific campaign, talk about the goals and objectives of that particular campaign, and whether or not they were met.
2. Website/Blog Performance
Your website analytics should be a prominent piece of your marketing report because nearly all marketing should have the goal of getting people back to your company's website. That's where most of the magic happens by way of contact form submissions, product purchases, etc.
One of the only instances where getting people to the company website isn't the ultimate goal would be with apps, where the end goal for a customer is an app download from the Apple or Google Play store.
You want to share how many unique visitors the website is getting along with how many overall pageviews. What were the most viewed pages? How did your blog posts perform? What are the top 5-10 blog posts? How many times were certain product/service pages viewed? How many contact form submissions were there? How many goals/conversions were made?
Covering the most important aspects of your website and where you want customers to land is an essential part of your marketing report.
3. Social Media
This covers both marketing and advertising on your social media platforms. You want to talk about the increase in followers and likes, engagement on your posts, and the customer service messages or comments you receive.
Furthermore, you want to talk about clickthroughs due to your social media ads, how much those are costing, and what the conversion rates are. Your social media platforms are one of the most prominent ways to reach new customers, so you want to make sure you show these results off throughout this part of your marketing report.
Another portion to make up your marketing report should be SEO (search engine optimization). This includes the keywords for which your website is ranking, to what pages those keywords are leading people, and more. You can find this info using the Google Search Console as well as the search settings within Google Analytics.
5. Email Marketing
Last but not least, look into your email marketing platform to find the stats on your email newsletters. How often are you sending these? Take a look at your open rates, your click-through rates, and your unsubscribes. On what links are your audience clicking? Are these leading to sales or form submissions?
How to Avoid Pitfalls of Marketing Reporting
When we say pitfalls, to what are we actually referring? This can be a number of things. That includes focusing on elements of marketing within your report that don't actually matter or failing to report (or even track in the first place) necessary metrics.
Here are a few pitfalls and how to ensure you don't make these errors in your own marketing reporting.
1. Focusing on vanity metrics.
Vanity metrics are stats or analytics that look good on the surface but don't actually amount to much in the end. One of the most glaringly obvious examples of vanity metrics includes social media following. Although it's still important to include this in your report, putting a large emphasis on numbers is bad practice.
This is because, with social media algorithms in play, a large number of those people aren't even going to see your content. If your page or profile is followed by a large number of inactive followers, the number is absolutely irrelevant. So while it may make you feel good to have 100,000 likes on Facebook, if less than 1% of those are actually interacting with your content, the number doesn't matter.
2. Failing to track important metrics.
While it can be great to see clickthrough rates and engagement with your digital ads, if you don't have the proper tracking pixels in place on your website to track conversions, the report is essentially null and void. If you have a lot of clicks but absolutely no idea how many purchases or form submissions are actually coming from these clicks, you don't have the full story.
It's essential to implement all tracking information possible so that you know exactly what actions users are taking after they see your ads online. This is the only way to see the entire picture and know how well your ads are actually performing.
3. Focus on your goals and objectives.
Make sure that you're always keeping your goals and objectives in mind throughout your entire ad creation and reporting process. If you forget what you're actually trying to accomplish, your ads will be irrelevant and your team won't see the success for which they're looking.
Focusing on your goals and objectives helps to keep them top of mind throughout the entire process, and you can go in and adjust your ads accordingly and craft a report based on the goals and objectives.
Marketing reporting doesn't have to be a difficult task. Just make sure you're covering the specific reports and platforms for which your team needs to know the information, you're creating your reports every quarter or so, and you're not falling for any of these pitfalls.
If you're interested in learning more about a data management software to help house information to use within your reports, contact us for a free demo today.