Reports. Whether you are a sales person, or in marketing, you probably hate making reports. It is a tedious process, takes a lot of time, and doesn’t add much, if any, value to your actual work. Worse, it takes your focus off of work that actually matters to you. But, good reporting is essential. For the person receiving the reports, as well as for you.
Marketing reports help you understand how your efforts are faring in the big bad world. They help you recognize the winning parts of your overall marketing gameplan, and identify the laggards. If you are the marketing lead at a company, they also help you demonstrate value in the work you or your team have been doing, and get your bosses to back you up in your overall strategy. If you are the founder of a business sending monthly updates to your investors, it helps you project both confidence and competence. Your investors will be able to see how the business has been growing and what efforts have you been making to keep that growth curve moving in the right direction.
And yet, given a choice, we wouldn’t want to create reports. After all, they are tedious AF.
So, the main problem, it seems, is less with the reports themselves and more with the complex and tedious nature of making them. If you could eliminate that part out, you would not only be having real data illustrating how well your marketing is working, but also find yourself having more time to spend on marketing activities that actually move the needle.
Today, let’s focus on that.
When you already have analytics dashboards, why bother with the reports?
That is the first and most natural question to have. After all, isn’t the analytics dashboard supposed to do exactly that?
Depending on which Analytics tool you use, its dashboards can substantially reduce the work required in building marketing reports. But, whether your analytics tool/platform provides you with marketing reports or not, here are a few reasons why you should spend a little bit of time into building your own reports:
It presents a bird’s eye view of your growth in a quick, easily consumable fashion. We are all answerable to someone. Whether it is your CEO or your investors, they all want to get a sense of how the business is doing, and they want to know about it in a manner that allows them to absorb and retain as much valuable information as possible without having to go through multiple reports or dashboards, or spending a lot of time on it. Well made marketing reports provide them with that.
The success of your marketing strategies is contingent on you being able to draw correlations between data presented by multiple sources. You probably use a few different products and platforms to help you with your marketing. While sometimes these platforms will give you the ability to share data from one platform to the other, most of the times, they each operate in their own independent silos. It is incredibly insightful to put all those individual data-points side by side because when you do that, you see correlations and causations better than you would have otherwise.
Keeping different stakeholders and teams aligned to the broader business objectives. Different teams have different mandates, and they form their strategies and execute marketing activities based on their own individual mandates. Having a cross relational marketing report ensures that different teams are aligned to the business objectives and can fairly access the impact of their respective activities on the overall goals.
What information should your marketing report contain
Now that we understand some of the reasons why we absolutely must have monthly, quarterly and annual marketing reports, let us look at some of the sections that should be present in a well crafted report.
#1. Marketing and sales summary
Businesses are in the business of making money. So, irrespective of what marketing activities you are engaged in, you would always want to keep track of the business’s bottom line.
So that’s where we begin. A summary of the revenue growth trends. This should include overall sales numbers, growth as compared to previous period, and so on.
I would also recommend having two more sub-sections here:
- a revenue summary for the different marketing channels you have
- a list of 2-3 most impactful activities within each channel. What impact did they bring and why.
How do you find this data?
If you have set up revenue attribution correctly in your Analytics dashboard, you would be able to get all of this information from it.
There are a few things to note though:
Most businesses set up revenue attribution for their paid marketing efforts, but do not do so for email marketing, content and especially direct, social and organic traffic. That’s a mistake. Any data you are measuring and analyzing, your intent needs to be to get that information across the board. So, set things up right. (Setting up revenue attribution is mostly a one time task, and it is worth making the effort and taking the time to do it right. If you have never set up revenue attribution before, let me know and I’ll send you a step by step document to help you do that.)
You need to look at different activities undertaken under different channels. How they performed, how much they contributed to the growth of that channel etc. This helps you identify the winning strategies, and figure out what worked best for you so that you can replicate those successes in future.
Depending on your business objectives, it is possible that your most valuable activity isn’t the one performing the best on your typical metric. So you need to make sure, you are looking at different metrics to access your activities better. For example, if your current business objective is to grow its consumer base faster, velocity becomes a much more critical metric as compared to unit cost or ARPU. (But you should still look at performance as a combination of performance across these different metrics. An activity that is delivering results at a slightly lower velocity as compared to another, may be more valuable if the unit cost is significantly lower or the ARPU is significantly higher. It’s best to access overall performance by the means of a weighted scoring system.)
Accuracy is extremely important here, so you need to make sure you have the revenue attribution set up right.
#2. Performance of marketing channels with multiple goals
If I am running a Facebook ad, I am probably going for revenue. That is the end goal. Same for email campaigns. But, not all marketing channels operate with such a singular focus.
Take your website, for example. Sure, you want it to drive sales and revenue, but you probably have one additional goal that matters almost just as much to you. Sign ups, free trials etc. For the blog, it could be subscribing to your newsletters as well as website sign ups. While these goals are important to your growth, and do bring in eventual revenue as well, they do not do so immediately, and a good chunk of any revenue you are attributing to these channels fulfilled these secondary objectives weeks and months ago.
This poses a problem for the business because if you are looking at just revenue numbers, at least for these channels, the data you are looking at today is not the correct indicator of their current performance. Your website could have seen a five-fold increase in sign ups this month, but since they would not be translating to revenue this month, revenue trends will not tell you the amazing growth your website brought about this month.
So, have a section on secondary goals. Whether it is free trial activations or newsletter subscriptions, if these metrics do contribute to the bottom line at some point, you should include these as well.
Pro tip: You should also include a note right here in this section to give some sort of an indication on what impact these channels will have on the revenue eventually. Be clear in your reporting. For example, you can have an additional table for previous few quarters that shows the conversion percentage of these free trials into paid customers along with ARPU. This historical data would help you viasualize how the current growth trends of these secondary objectives would translate to revenue, and by how much.
How do you find this data?
Goals! Goals is your friend here. Since you have already set up traffic and revenue attribution, you would be able to isolate the performance of your different goals vis-a-vis these channels only. Have clear goals. The more clearer and precise your goals are, the better and more accurate your reporting will get.
If you are on Economy or Growth plan of Benne Analytics, it will take you ten seconds and one single click to fetch this data in a ready-to-use format. Go to the settings of the website you need this data for, and generate detailed goals report for the period you wish. If you want to fetch the goals report for all the websites in your account, you can do so from the data and reports section of your overall account settings.
#3. Social platforms performance
First of all, a word of advice. Unless you have an extremely engaged audience across all platforms, I would strongly recommend focusing on one (at most two) social platform(s). Each social platform has audience that behaves differently in how they engage and interact with a brand, so you need to be tactical in your approach. Having the exact same strategy and methodology across all platforms is a surefire way to kill your growth.
Irrespective of which social platform you use, you will be able to pull out a detailed performance of your account from the platform’s analytics module. This will help you access your overall growth in terms of reach and engagement, as well as performance of your individual content.
Keeping on top of this data means you would be having crucial information on what kind of content performs the best and why, helping you strategise your social content calendar optimised for your business objectives.
Having a cross sectional view also helps stakeholders and teams from other marketing channels learn from your performance. If a particular type of content is witnessing the most engagement and shares on social media, your content marketing and email marketing teams can use that information to craft their upcoming deliverables accordingly, helping them improve their conversion numbers.
If you are using more than one social platform, chances are you are already using a social media analytics tool to access your performance across different platforms in one place instead of having to fetch it manually from each platform. If you are an existing customer of Benne Analytics, and are on the Growth Plan, you would be able to activate integration with your social media analytics tool of choice and have access to the analysis right from your dashboard. You would also be able to download relevant reports in 1-click, just as you did for your website goals earlier.
#4. Organic performance
This is, arguably, the most important of them all.
For sustainable growth of your business, you want to witness a consistent growth for your organic traffic and other indicators.
Here, you want to chart out overall performance and comparison of organic traffic, searches, prominent search queries etc.
There are several paid tools out there that help you get a handle on your organic performance. Some of the ones most widely used are Moz, ahref and semrush.
But, if you are not keen on using paid tools, a very basic overview is available in your analytics dashboard, and a slightly detailed view can be achieved by using free tools like Google Search Console and Keyword Tracker.
If you are on Economy or Growth plan, you can connect your Benne Analytics dashboard to some of this data via our Google Search Console Integration. This ensures you always have access to detailed organic search insights for free.
#5. Email marketing performance
Do your subscribers open your emails? Do your emails convert? Are you losing subscribers? Why?
These are some of the most basic questions you want this section to answer for you. Whether you use mailchimp, campaign monitor, convertkit or any other email provider, you will be able to fetch detailed reports on all relevant metrics. For the best results, I strongly recommend analysing this data periodically and moving your subscribers around into well defined audience-segments based on their common traits, engagement and motivations. This will help ensure you keep on improving the performance of your email marketing over time.
For users of Growth and Economy plans, we offer integrations with most email marketing platforms to fetch and analyse this data for you, sharing with you the relevant actionable insights.
That’s it. You would probably be changing the format, visualisations and data types included for the first few marketing reports you create based on what your business objectives are, as well as feedback from external stakeholders. But, after a few reports, it becomes more of a routine task that would not take as much time as it did initially, and yet add incredible value to your overall marketing efforts.
And if you are using the Growth plan on Benne Analytics, you would be able to set up parameters that you need to measure and monitor and generate not just individual segments, but the whole marketing report in one click. You would also be able to set up auto generated reports based on your configurations, chosen data types and data points, as well as overall representation. These reports will be periodically generated based on your settings and available in the mailboxes of everyone you have configured as recipients of this report. No more making reports manually. ;-)
Questions, Suggestions, Feedback, Criticism? I would love to chat.
That’s it for today, see you tomorrow.
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