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How to craft effective marketing reports

January 19, 2023
Table of Contents

According to Nielsen’s 2022 Annual Marketing Report, only 26% of marketers have full confidence in the audience data they’ve collected.1 A survey from Gartner seems to confirm this uncertainty, with just 14% of organizations saying they’ve attained a 360-degree view of their customer.2

So, even though 72% of marketers believe they have access to high-quality first-party data, they’re not capitalizing on this treasure trove of marketing stats and sentiments.3 Where is the disconnect? Is it a lack of internal resources? A gut feeling that the marketing data is inaccurate?

Only an insider could say for sure, but one possible cause could be the absence of effective marketing reporting.

Marketing reports let brands translate information into actionable strategies; they take all available marketing data points and performance metrics and distill them into easy-to-understand snapshots of what’s going well and what isn’t.

But it isn’t enough to cobble together a hash of statistics. Only a well-crafted marketing report will help businesses truly understand their customers and the impact of their marketing efforts.

The components of a marketing report

Marketing reports are intentionally concise, typically covering one to three pages. But even though they’re condensed to fit on a single screen, they’re still jam-packed with information.

Alongside logistical details like the timeframe the report covers, a marketing report should include three sections:

  • A comprehensive overview
  • An analytics deep-dive (including a collection of vital data points)
  • A step-by-step plan of action

Let’s discuss each component in more depth

 

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A comprehensive overview

The first portion of an effectively-crafted marketing report is essentially a “cover page.” This overview provides crucial context to whoever may read the report—new hires, the manager of a non-marketing department, investors and so on. By leading with context in their marketing reports, brands can ensure every stakeholder stays on the same page (literally).

Although this introductory section can take some time to set up, it shouldn’t need more than a semi-regular tweak once it’s complete.

Depending on the digital marketing report’s purpose and intended audience, the comprehensive overview should also elaborate on three essential components.

Objectives

Businesses that reach their goals spend time talking about them. When marketers lead their reports with the organization’s current marketing objectives, they provide a baseline that tells readers whether the statistics that follow are cause for celebration or not.

As with all objectives, these marketing goals should be “SMART”:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Marketing channels

Marketers should also include the channels they’re using to reach these goals. If a brand is leveraging dozens of channels, it may make sense to include only the most relevant ones. However, in a more thorough report, all channels deserve a mention of their marketing metrics and performance.

Customer personas

Lastly, the overview should touch on the buyer personas that these marketing channels aim to reach. In the interest of brevity, it may be best to include a link to these personas rather than overcrowding the first page with a list of customer likes and dislikes.

An analytics deep-dive

Now, it’s time for the star of the show: The data. At its core, a marketing report is a user-friendly, all-in-one-place summary of vital marketing analytics.

The keyword here is “vital.” This section should not display everything and the kitchen sink. While it’s tempting to throw in as much data as possible, information overload is a real issue—especially for busy executives. How granular or high-level the client reporting is will depend on the business and the audience, but in many ways, less is more.

What the analytics section should include are…

Highlights

Before jumping headfirst into jargon-heavy graphs, businesses should lead with a highlights segment, bringing four to six core statistics front and center.

Note that highlights do not necessarily need to be all positive. Instead, this section should essentially cover all the need-to-know news. Brands that call out their noteworthy successes and opportunities in a marketing report may have a better chance of overcoming their setbacks.

Traffic and engagement statistics

After setting the stage with some highlights, marketers should generally move to more detailed reporting on engagement across all platforms. You want to highlight and provide insight into your marketing effort and performance metrics of the platforms used. Whenever possible, a marketing report should include relevant data from the company’s:

Once again, what to incorporate will depend on the brand and the audience. However, all the typical marketing data analytics numbers apply—page views, email open rate, follower counts, and so on.

Paid advertising performance

Although paid advertising is often linked to social media marketing, it’s worth dedicating an entire section of the marketing report to paid media—after all, that’s where the money is. Potentially relevant statistics include:

  • Ad spend
  • Click-through rates
  • Views
  • Actions taken
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Cost per conversion (CPC)

Leads and conversion metrics

Another category that will no doubt interest stakeholders is sales leads. Again, these numbers can be intertwined with organic and paid traffic, but outlining them in a separate section can eliminate potential ambiguities.

This is important as it helps the brand understand how many leads each marketing channel generates. When outlining leads and conversion metrics, brands generally cover:

  • The total number of leads obtained
  • Leads by channel
  • The average customer acquisition cost
  • The average opportunity value
  • The lead conversion rate

A step-by-step plan of action

A marketing report without any action items is nothing more than a museum of marketing dos and don’ts. With that in mind, marketers should always look to conclude their marketing reports with concrete steps that will lead the organization closer to its goals. This involves looking at past and present marketing performance metrics and concluding what the next marketing campaign will focus on.

4 tips for creating an impeccable marketing report

A marketing report that encompasses all the above components is indeed a marketing report. But unless it follows certain guidelines, it may not be as effective as it could be.

Here are a few ways brands can create five-star marketing reports that meet the needs of stakeholders.

#1 Lean on visuals

Marketing reports tend to make their way to the top brass—busy, important people who appreciate an info-packed report but don’t have the time to sift through it. You can make data more accessible for the over-scheduled and the analytics-averse by including:

  • Infographics
  • Charts
  • Diagrams

As an added bonus, visuals you include in a marketing report can become outward-facing content. For example, an eye-catching infographic about conversion metrics could become part of your next thought leadership LinkedIn post or whitepaper.

#2 Decide on a proper cadence

For most brands, a monthly marketing report should be sufficient. This gives businesses time to allow new strategies to take effect, rather than checking in each day to see if the needle has moved.

That said, daily or weekly marketing reporting can have its uses. For businesses in the midst of a high-profile marketing campaign or PR crisis, more frequent reporting can provide the data necessary for urgent pivots. However, in most cases, daily or weekly marketing reports can feel excessive.

No matter which cadence businesses choose, the key is keeping a consistent schedule.

#3 Don’t sugarcoat it

As much as every stakeholder wants to see improvements month after month, successful brands know that growth is rarely linear. For myriad reasons, statistics fluctuate throughout the year.

As such, marketers should always be transparent with their analytics. And we’re not just advising against fudging or omitting numbers (which no one should ever do). We’re also including “sneakier” tactics, like using good-news graphics that absorb half the page while footnoting any bad-news stats.

Marketing reports aren’t opportunities to impress—they’re factual indications of progress. And while it can hurt to include negative numbers, reports that show backward progress still have the opportunity to examine missteps and brainstorm the next steps for solving them.

#4 Ask for feedback from report recipients

A final tip: Marketers should remember who marketing reports are for. By asking the typical readers of a report for their feedback, marketing teams can tweak their monthly reports as needed. The “standard” marketing report outlined in this guide may work for many businesses, but it might not suit every brand equally. The best marketers cater to their audience.

Craft first-rate marketing reports with Power Digital and nova

Marketing reports allow you to bring data to people across your organization. That data comes from hundreds of different sources—so many that, at times, it can feel impossible to fuse it all into a cohesive report.

It’s a problem we know all too well at Power Digital, and it’s one of the many reasons we built nova. With a built-in Scoreboard that pools all your relevant marketing data in one place, nova lets businesses create intuitive, individualized reports that give each user a tailor-made look at their marketing data. Our machine learning-powered platform also generates the next steps that align with your goals so you can put your marketing analytics to good use.

If you’re searching for a digital marketing agency to power your growth, drop us a line—we’d love to chat.

 

Sources:

  1. Nielsen. Global survey among marketers finds that brands’ top priorities for 2022 are increasing brand awareness, breaking down measurement siloes, developing personalized strategies, and becoming more purpose-driven. https://www.nielsen.com/news-center/2022/nielsens-annual-marketing-report-uncovers-only-26-of-global-marketers-are-confident-in-their-audience-data/
  2. Gartner. Gartner Marketing Survey Finds Only 14% of Organizations Have Achieved a 360-Degree View of their Customer. https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/gartner-marketing-survey-finds-only-14–of-organizations-have-ac
  3. Nielsen. Global survey among marketers finds that brands’ top priorities for 2022 are increasing brand awareness, breaking down measurement siloes, developing personalized strategies, and becoming more purpose-driven. https://www.nielsen.com/news-center/2022/nielsens-annual-marketing-report-uncovers-only-26-of-global-marketers-are-confident-in-their-audience-data/

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