Marketing reports are at the core of any marketing strategy.
And while some marketers only think of reporting as a sales pitch, it’s actually much more than that.
While it’s important to prove the value of the work you provide to your clients or your superiors, it’s even more important to develop an unbiased reporting framework for yourself.
You need to know if your marketing strategy is working in order to make smart decisions.
That said, nobody has hours and hours to put marketing reports together. Efficiency is key.
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to create a powerful and thorough marketing report that’ll blow away your clients.
Table of Contents
- What is Marketing Reporting?
- The Benefits of Marketing Reporting
- How Often Should You Do Marketing Reports?
- Tips for Preparing the Perfect Marketing Report
- What Metrics Should You Include in a Marketing Report?
- How to Create a Marketing Report
- How to Build a Marketing Dashboard
- Start Your Keyhole Trial Now
What is Marketing Reporting?
Marketing reporting is the process of evaluating the progress and performance of your marketing campaigns against a predetermined set of goals and key performance indicators (KPIs).
The goal of marketing reporting is to use data and analytics to inform decision-making on your future marketing endeavors.
What Marketing Reporting is Not
Let’s make a clear distinction: marketing reporting is not a data dump.
Something like a marketing dashboard is not a report on its own—although it may play a key role in your reporting.
The differentiator between a report and a dashboard is that its main purpose is to provide takeaways from the data—not just a bare presentation of the data itself.
The Benefits of Marketing Reporting
You only have so much time in a day. Why should you spend your valuable time producing a report?
Prove Your Worth
Even though quality marketing consistently leads to growth for any business, it’s more often thought of as a risky expense than as a necessary investment. If budgets need to be cut, it’s much harder to cut the operations that generate revenue than the promotion of those operations.
Creating a compelling marketing report proves the return on investment of your strategy to the decision makers in your organization (or your client’s organization), and justifies future strategies you want to undertake.
Ground Your Strategy
It’s easy for your clients to forget why you’re writing blog posts, or why you’re hiring Instagram influencers. By tying your tactics back to objective business goals like lead generation and revenue growth, you can reinforce the purpose of your actions.
Make Data-Driven Decisions
Even if you’re the world’s best marketer, your intuition and experience will only get you so far. Theories and strategies backed by cold hard data are far more worth pursuing.
How Often Should You Do Marketing Reports?
While you should be checking in on your marketing dashboards and campaign metrics on a consistent basis, full digital marketing reports should be reserved for key decision-making time periods.
For example, you may look at your website traffic, PPC campaigns, and social media metrics nearly every day. If you don’t, you risk missing glaring issues.
By checking these campaigns every day, you may be able to note small wins that you wouldn’t be able to remember three months from now.
However, you should not be providing reports at a high frequency to your clients.
First of all, you risk burning out your client. If your reporting becomes too routine, they won’t have the opportunity to truly digest the information, ask questions, or provide meaningful feedback.
And honestly, they probably just won’t read them.
You’re also risking evaluating your campaigns on too small a sample size. Making big, long term decisions based on day-to-day fluctuations in your data is just as bad as ignoring the data altogether.
And remember: Marketing reports should be period evaluations of success to drive key decision making.
So ask yourself: for the campaign(s) you’re running, what is a reasonable timeframe to truly evaluate your success?
In most cases, marketing reports should take place monthly, quarterly, and annually.
Monthly marketing reports are best suited for tracking progress and looking at month-over-month or year-over-year improvements.
Campaigns with tighter timelines like PPC and social campaigns can be reported on monthly, but only if you truly have enough time to ask “is this working?”
If you are reporting monthly, remember to take seasonal trends into account.
For example, you’d expect an eCommerce brand to pick up around Black Friday, so it wouldn’t make sense to compare November metrics to October. In that case, it’s better to compare to the previous year.
In most cases, quarterly reporting is a long enough timeframe to evaluate your big-picture goals.
Has revenue grown? Is our website traffic up? Did our ad campaign result in more searches for our brand?
Quarterly reporting also provides the chance to reset and evaluate your goals before the next three months of hard work.
If you’re an in-house marketing team or you have a big account that renews annually, you should also provide an annual marketing report.
A review of the entire year’s initiatives is a great way to demonstrate your impact, and most organizations will require a report on ROI when factoring their marketing spend into next year’s budget.
Tips for Preparing the Perfect Marketing Report
Creating the report itself is only half the battle.
Here are some important steps to take in advance to make sure that your marketing reports result in educated discussions with your team, superiors, or clients.
Tip #1 – Determine Why You’re Creating the Report
Are you reporting on the success or failure of a campaign that you’ve just completed?
Are you reporting on the progress of a campaign?
Or are you reporting on performance of a past campaign—such as benchmarking, for example.
By starting by answering why you’re creating the report, the rest of the report will flow much more easily.
Tip #2 – State Your Purpose
Because the goal of your marketing report is to help make a decision, the next step is to write down the goal of your report: what question are you trying to answer?
Your purpose should be tied back to a key business goal.
For example, your purpose may be “What type of social media content drives the most clicks to our website?” or “Did our Instagram hashtag campaign result in our target follower growth?”
Do not report data for the sake of reporting data. You need a clear purpose.
Your marketing report could report on the success of:
- Social media campaigns
- SEO efforts
- Content marketing
- Paid search and social ads
- Lead generation
- Revenue growth
You may choose to report on the success or failure of using one channel, or a comparison of which channels have proven most fruitful so far.
Tip #3 – Determine Your Reporting Audience
Think about who the report is for. As in, who will be the key decision-makers you’re presenting to?
Make sure you consider the goals and motivations of that audience, and give them the information they need.
And this isn’t just about emotional appeal. It’s about arming every decision-maker with the information they require to succeed in their role.
For example, if you’re reporting to your team, their motivation may be “what could I have done differently?” and you may want to tie specific tactics to specific results.
But if you’re reporting to your client, their motivation may be “is this investment resulting in revenue growth?” In that case, the breakdown of individual tactics may be less important to them.
Make a list of who the report is for, what motivations each person may have based on their role, and what metrics or facts you need to include to make the report meaningful to them.
If you’re presenting to multiple audiences, and their motivations don’t significantly overlap, consider making different reports for each audience.
Tip #4 – Choose a Reporting Period in Advance
Choose a reporting period that’s most relevant to your goal.
Bigger-picture decisions will require longer timeframes, but smaller tasks and goals may only need a few weeks or a month.
For more on reporting frequency, you can jump ahead to “How often should you do marketing reports?”
Tip #5 – Set a Reporting Schedule (and stick to it!)
Every marketer in the world has an infinite to-do list, which makes it easy to put aside or completely forget about recurring reports.
If you’re aiming for weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual reports, set calendar reminders for yourself.
And make sure to set the reminders early enough to have the report done by its intended presentation date.
Tip #6 – Choose Your Metrics & Reporting Tools
This is often forgotten at the beginning of a marketing campaign.
Always plan how you’re going to collect your data before starting an initiative.
In fact, if you want to test the effectiveness of a campaign vs. baseline performance, you may need to start tracking well in advance of the campaign.
So which reporting tool is right for you? That will once again depend on your goals.
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when choosing your reporting tools:
- Automation: Your data collection and reporting process should be as automated as possible to avoid spending hours copy and pasting data from spreadsheet to spreadsheet. Favor a tool that automates as much as possible.
- Ease of access: Are you able to easily export data to a spreadsheet or PDF, or link to another tool through an API? Consider how you will access the data.
- Feature set: Depending on your goals, you may want a tool that combines as many different data channels into one platform, or you may want a tool that gives you a deep dive into one channel.
- Price: Of course, your budget will always be your limiting factor, but you should factor in your own time when considering the cost of a tool that makes your life easier.
If you’re focused on website traffic or engagement metrics, you’ll almost certainly use Google Analytics. Similarly, if you’re focused on PPC campaign performance, you’ll use the native data reporting capabilities of Google Ads.
If you’re reporting on the effectiveness of your social media campaigns, you’ll want to use a social listening tool like Keyhole.
But to choose the right tool, it’s clear we’ll have to choose our key metrics first.
What Metrics Should You Include in a Marketing Report?
The most important aspect of any marketing report is the data.
But you can’t simply include any data. You have to choose metrics that are meaningful to the purpose of your report.
Based on the purpose of your report, choose your true key performance indicators (KPIs).
What are KPIs?
These are the metrics that actually show if you’ve accomplished your goal or not, or the metrics that correlate best with your goals.
Here are the main metric categories that you may want to include:
Reach & Impression Metrics
If your goal is brand awareness, you will likely be most interested in how many eyeballs your content has reached.
In that case, you’ll want to report on:
- Social media reach
- Social media impressions
- Search engine impressions
- Video views
For example, if you ran a campaign with a branded hashtag, you’ll want to report on hashtag analytics, such as Instagram impressions.
READ MORE: Reach vs. Impressions. What’s the Difference?
Traffic & SEO Metrics
If you’re interested in visitors to your website, you will report on metrics like:
- User sessions
- New vs. returning sessions
- Page views
You’ll get the most use out of these metrics if you compare things like channel sources, your most popular content, user devices, user geography, or other dimensions that matter to your business.
Perhaps you know you already have strong traffic, but your goal was to make more engaging content that results in more time spent on your website.
- Time on page
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
- Exit rate
- Click-Through Rate
- CTA clicks
These metrics will help you identify your most successful content and highlight where there’s room for improvement.
Conversion & Ad Metrics
Most digital campaigns are about driving conversions, so it’s likely you’ll need to report on revenue-driving metrics like leads and ad spend.
- Form submissions
- Advertising spend
- Conversion rate
- Cost per acquisition
Business Impact Metrics
These are the metrics that really tie back to the business’s goals:
- Sales-qualified leads (SQLs)
- eCommerce sales
The more closely you can attribute revenue and deals to a specific marketing channel, the more compelling a case you can make for that channel’s success.
How to Create a Marketing Report
If you’ve chosen a clear goal, you’ve identified the key metrics, and you’re using the right tool, the creation of the report itself should be a breeze.
Here’s how to create the perfect report:
Step 1 – Choose Your Format
How you present your report will greatly influence its effectiveness.
For example, a quick email with a few notes and numbers won’t do the job.
In most cases, we’d recommend creating a slideshow with free slide templates using Google Slides or Powerpoint as you can provide a good mix of data and notes.
Most analytics tools will let you export your data into a report, but even in those cases, it’s best to present this data into bite-sized slides as not to overwhelm your audience with tons of data points at once.
Step 2 – Start with Spoilers
Put everything good at the beginning of your report. Don’t save anything for the end.
You should start off by clearly stating your report’s purpose and goals. It should be clear to everyone what they are expected to take away from the report before they’ve even heard it. It’s all about creating the right context.
Include any relevant history that’s necessary to understand the report, including previous campaigns and what business problem or challenge led to the creation of the report.
If your report is really long, you may also want to jump straight to the point and state all of your key takeaways.
In this introduction section, you should also state your reporting period. If it’s your first time preparing that report, you may also want to include justification for why that reporting period is significant.
Step 3 – Review Each Goal & Relevant KPIs
This is the meat of your report.
For each goal (it’s possible you may have only one), include
- KPIs: What was your measure of success for the goal? Did you achieve it?
- Successes & Challenges: Provide a bullet point summary of what worked and what didn’t
- Metrics & Data: Include a summary of the data, including a visual component like a graph or chart
- Takeaways: What should we conclude from the data?
- Decision Points: Based on the data, are there any decisions to be made by the audience of the report?
The key here is to provide a data-backed review of each goal, but with enough narrative support that your audience doesn’t have to make conclusions for themselves.
To make things really fast for yourself, you’ll want to build a marketing dashboard. More on that below!
Step 4 – Conclude Your Report
Remember: the point of your report is to help drive decision making.
At the end of your report, restate your successes, challenges, and takeaways that you gleaned from the data.
Summarize any decisions that need to be made, because that’s the reason we’re here!
In most cases, you’ll want to include your recommendations for the decisions directly in your report, so that you’re not forcing your superiors or clients to make decisions on the spot.
How to Build a Marketing Dashboard
While we’ve made it clear from the start that there’s a major difference between creating a full-blown marketing report and building a marketing dashboard, having an easily accessible data dashboard will make creating your reports much easier.
A marketing dashboard allows you to see all of your data in one place so that you can periodically check in on a daily or weekly basis.
A clean dashboard will also let you easily take screenshots when it comes time to build your report, saving you tons of time.
Website & Ad Performance Dashboards
For website traffic and ad performance, tools like Google Analytics and Google Ads have built-in dashboards that summarize the most commonly used metrics.
If you want to change these dashboards, they also offer the ability to customize which metrics appear on the main dashboard.
If you want to get more sophisticated, Google Data Studio lets you import data from multiple sources into one visual dashboard.
Social Media Analytics Dashboards
For social media metrics, Keyhole aggregates all of the most important social media analytics into one place.
While Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter all have dashboards of their own, you’ll save tons of time by aggregating them all in one place.
Keyhole will summarize:
- Campaign & event tracking data
- Influencer performance
- Brand visibility metrics
- Competitor data
And not only does it get you the data you need, it’s presentation-ready too.
Start Your Keyhole Trial Now
Creating reports doesn’t have to be a cumbersome experience. If you’ve determined clear objectives, then it’s all about having the right tools.
Start your free Keyhole trial today for fast, beautiful social media analytics reports.