Thursday September 17, 2015

The Four Sins of Reporting (And How To Create Reports That Are Actually Useful)

Any marketer worth their weight in AdWords knows that reporting is one of the most important cornerstones of a successful campaign. Reporting allows marketers and the business owners working with them to see what is or isn’t working and allows decisions to made regarding best next steps. Without reporting, marketing is just a series of uninformed guesses.

The Four Sins of Reporting

 

With such emphasis (rightly) being put on the importance of reporting, we’ve noticed that sometimes reporting is taken too far. Whether you are a marketer tasked with creating reports or a business owner who is responsible for monitoring the success of their marketing agency, you should ask yourself if your reports are committing any of the following reporting sins:

1. Too Detailed To Understand

With a bevy of analytic tools available to marketers, it’s easy to get excited about all of the data available to include in reports. While having many different ways to quantify success (and, occasionally, failure) seems like a sure-fire way to impress clients, business owners know that too many details is not just overwhelming – it makes it difficult to figure out which metrics matter the most.

2. Too Time-Consuming To Create

Reporting does not happen without a time commitment. After all, marketers need to be providing accurate data and making it easily understandable. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to spend too much time on reporting, though.

Marketing Land’s Matt Umbro said it best when he suggested that reporting should require no more than 25% of a client’s monthly billable hours. After all, if a marketer spends more than a quarter of your time reporting, how will they have enough time to produce campaigns to report on?

3. Lacking Context For Individual Data Points

“30% increase in conversions!”

“2,500 clicks!”

“10% increase in time spent on page!”

If you’ve ever created or been presented with a marketing report, you’re familiar with the data points like those above. Unfortunately, these data points are often presented without the context necessary to actually make this data mean anything. A 30% increase in conversions sounds great … until you remember that the previous month had seen a 70% dip in them.

4. Lacking Accountability For Success or Failure

The success or failure of a campaign is dependent on many things: channels, copy, budget and targeting – to name just a few. However, that doesn’t mean that marketers shouldn’t hold themselves accountable for the results of a campaign. If your reporting doesn’t provide any goals or benchmarks to determine what success is, how can a marketer or a client determine they are receiving the results they expect?

If any of those sins are reflected in the reports you create or receive, it’s time for a reporting overhaul. The good news is that a restructured report can save time and give you a clearer sense of what moves need to be made to help your campaigns be successful.

Creating Useful Reports with Scorecards

We’ve found that the most effective reports are concise, provide relevant context and hold our team accountable for its results. It also requires less time to create than reports we’ve made in the past. We call this report our scorecard, and it’s quite simple to emulate.

An example of one of our scorecards can be seen below:

 Scorecard

Benefits of Reporting with a Scorecard

The benefits of the scorecard are quite apparent upon first glance: 

  • You can clearly see what goals have been set
  • You can clearly see if those goals have been met, which means business owners are able to see if the marketers have held up their end of the bargain
  • You can quickly compare the results of varying months to each other
  • You can learn all of this information with only a small amount of time spent looking at the report

Because our scorecard shows monthly data, there is enough context to give more meaning to each month’s information – for example, you see that even though August 2015 had significantly more conversions than July, it still felt short of our monthly goal.

Because this scorecard design inherently provides context, it allows for reduced or completely eliminated written analysis. With less written analysis and overall simpler structure for reporting, you’ll be able to spend more time earning conversions and less time reporting on them.

Written by Brittney Lane | Tags: Reporting

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