Got Data? This Is What Marketing Reporting Should Look Like
From web analytics and search reports to ad insights and social data, businesses these days have access to so many numbers that it’s hard to know where to begin. With all sorts of metrics to measure and data to analyze, trudging through the jungle of marketing reporting can be a massive time suck.
After all, you’re a busy person. The last thing you probably have time for is sifting through reams of reports noting each pixel that’s been seen or each click that occurred. You may know that you need data — that tracking clicks, engagement, click-through rate, and so on is important — but what does it all mean? Which numbers truly reflect your specific marketing and sales efforts?
The truth is reporting is absolutely essential for success — but it’s only really valuable when you know what to do with the information being presented. It needs to be more than just a bunch of numbers shown off in eye-catching charts for management to stare at. Anyone can send over heaps of “helpful” data. It takes care and skill to track, analyze, and report numbers that will actually lead to making a difference.
So, how do you ensure that your marketing reports help you kick butt when it comes to your strategy and growth? Well, it all starts with the data you collect.
Embrace the Data
You can't make insightful, data-driven decisions if you don't have any data. The problem is, with so much data out there, it can be hard to know exactly what metrics to track and what data to collect.
The big thing to understand is that there's a difference between collecting and actually analyzing and reporting that data. You can think of it like this: Your marketing report is the vehicle while the data is the fuel that runs on. The more fuel you have, the easier it is to get to where you want to go.
That's why we say, collect as much as you can. Not keeping all the data you have access to would be like discarding perfectly good fuel just because you don’t plan on going very far today. According to a Kantar report, fewer than 10% of marketers say that they have all the data they need — the rest only have some of the data they need or noticed gaps in the data they have.
So, don't get rid of any information. If it’s available to you, keep it. When your situation and goals change (and trust us, they will!), those seemingly insignificant metrics could become super important to you.
At the end of the day, the goal is to have enough data at your fingertips so that each time a new question pops up, you’re not back at square one. Without the right information, you could be missing out on some really important insights—and that just won't fly. Let the data flow in. And if you don’t have the bandwidth to do all the collecting yourself, we’re always here to help steer the wheel.
Hone in on What Matters Most
Now, with all of the data you’ve collected, the next step is to put aside (not discard) the data points that are insignificant or distracting to your current goals and focus on the most meaningful and relevant metrics.
Why? Because if you try to keep up with every metric out there, there’s no way those numbers will result in an optimized and insightful marketing report. Having all the fuel in the world means little if you don’t know how to work the vehicle. You need an experienced driver — AKA the marketer — to make use of that precious resource and steer the vehicle through all the twists and turns to get to your destination.
Of course, that starts with knowing what that destination is. What specific goals do you have for your business? What do you hope to achieve by tracking and analyzing all of these metrics?
Since there’s no single magic metric that can tell you everything you want to know, you have to be strategic when you pick the top ones to focus on. Each one has its usefulness, depending on what your goal is.
For example, if our aim is to grow brand awareness, then reach would be a more meaningful metric to analyze than clicks or likes. In other words, the focus is on getting as many eyeballs on the product or service as possible, not necessarily getting viewers to engage (at least not yet).
Similarly, if our focus is on sales, we're gonna look at metrics associated with the sales funnel. In doing so, we can look closely at each stage of the customer’s journey toward purchase to identify where improvements need to be made and how they might impact the rest of the funnel.
Ultimately, there are a kajillion ways to slice the data for reporting. The challenge is finding the right mix of metrics that matches your goals and will help you refine and improve your business's strategy. Anyone can spit out a report in pretty colors. It takes an experienced team (like ours!) to know which metrics matter the most for your business’s growth.
Put the Numbers to Work
Now, data is great, but it's only useful if you know what to do with it.
Once you've identified the most relevant marketing metrics, it's time to put those numbers to work so that they can guide your efforts moving forward. Here are some tips for turning data into actionable insights.
Keep the source in mind
In order to get accurate and insightful information, you need to be aware of where the data came from. Where did you get that number? What does it mean? How was it calculated? What assumptions were made? Different sources could calculate the “same” metric using completely different methodologies. Keeping in mind where your data comes from ensures you don’t jump the gun and make inaccurate conclusions.
Consider the big picture
It's important to look at your data with context rather than as a stand-alone metric. Don't just look at one number — look at all of them together. Compare it to data from past periods to see if the historical data reveals any trends and insights. Consider other marketing efforts and external factors that could have had an impact. Include related information that expands your understanding of the data.
For instance, if it’s reported that you boosted your email open rates by 15% last month, but you have no idea how many emails were sent out or what those emails included, then any conclusions you make are likely incomplete or inaccurate. Bottom line? Present all the facts before settling on a verdict.
Create a visual representation of the data
People shouldn’t have to be an expert in analysis and statistics to understand what's happening with their marketing efforts. Tracking results is essential, but it can be hard to quickly digest information when it’s only presented as a bunch of numbers.
Visuals, on the other hand, “can help people organize and process information faster” and were found to have positive effects, including:
- Improving problem-solving effectiveness by 19%
- Shorten meetings by 24%
- Boost a group’s ability to reach consensus by 21%
So, don’t hesitate to leverage visual tools like pie charts, bar graphs, or line trends in your marketing reports. For example, if you notice that traffic from social media has increased dramatically compared with organic search results, use a line graph to illustrate that rather than simply listing out numbers on a page. If you really want your business to make use of the findings, find the best way to translate the information into something that your audience can understand at a glance.
Get the right people in the room
Don’t rely on just one person to review and make decisions from each marketing report. Get a group of the most relevant stakeholders together to analyze, draw conclusions, and offer recommendations based on their collective expertise.
This is especially important if your team is handling multiple initiatives or comparing different metrics with each other. Having someone who understands each specific effort and can speak to what the metrics mean will give everyone involved a better understanding of what's going on and what needs to be done.
Make an action plan — quickly
Be careful not to succumb to analysis paralysis, or when you’re unable to make any decisions due to overanalyzing. The last thing you want is for all of the hard work you put into reporting to go to waste.
Once your latest report is done, review it, draw out meaningful insights, and craft an action plan. Don’t let the report just sit there or wait too long to implement changes. You never know how quickly your data and insights could become obsolete. Discover those game-changing developments, have those data-inspired epiphanies, and then get the ball rolling!
Stay Light on Your Feet
In business, change isn’t just inevitable, it’s vital. In the same way that a good marketing campaign needs to be flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances, so does your reporting.
Think about it: When you set out to measure something, you're putting yourself in a box. You've got this idea of what success looks like and how you want to achieve it. That's stellar! But after a while, if the market changes or your goals shift, your metric might not be as useful as it once was.
So, don't be afraid to change up your strategy to keep up with the latest developments or adapt to your new goals. Stay light on your feet and you’ll be prepared for whatever curveballs are thrown your way.
Marketing Reporting Done Right
If you want to guarantee a strong ROI and measure your marketing efforts, you need data. But as it stands, many businesses still lack the proper marketing reporting strategies in place to help them properly understand and leverage their data.
Effective marketing reporting is a combination of art and science — a mix that we here at PH3 Agency + Brewery understand well. We take care to look at all the data, prioritize the right metrics that align with our efforts, and focus on how the insights we make can move us forward. In other words, our services don’t just come with results — they come with helpful reports that keep you in the loop of your business’ success.
So, if you’re ready to gain actionable insights from your reporting, go ‘head and give us a shout.