Deliver the marketing data that matters
Marketers sometimes get a bad rap. They work in an industry that is constantly evolving. They must become masters of a variety of mediums. And they are expected to combine right brain creativity and left brain logic to execute effective marketing initiatives. Marketers need to communicate and quantify marketing value to customers.
The layperson often struggles to comprehend marketing reports. Why? Because they went into business knowing how to do the work their business does. That’s why they hired you.
Click through rate? Funnel conversion rate? A/B testing analysis? Impressions?
The data marketers present to their clients can become confusing and unproductive.
Here are some tips on how to compile a marketing report that ensures your client will understand what’s happening while building a long-lasting relationship:
Start by shedding light on the marketing strategy
The first section of a marketing report should include a brief breakdown on:
- the goals for marketing
- new campaigns or tactics to reach those goals
- how marketing efforts were measured
Don’t dwell on the specifics. Instead, detail only the crucial bits of information that your client needs to know. This section should be a short and easy-to-read summary. Your client should understand at a glance what the entire document is about.
The next section should outline the marketing strategies and tasks performed.
Sounds easy enough, right? Not for your client.
Don’t forget that you are the expert in your industry. Acronyms and buzzwords can be nebulous to the layperson. Therefore, it’s important to explain the details in simple and easy-to-understand terms.
Some typical information includes:
• The target market. Identifying the primary and secondary target audiences will build trust with your client, because it indicates that you have a clear understanding of their business goals.
• The major marketing channels. Once you know who the potential customer is, where can you find them? This section should indicate where your audience likes to engage — including social media channels, websites, paid advertisements, e-mail, public relations events, etc.
• The scope of the project, campaign or initiative. In a nutshell, this section summarizes why the client hired you. This part of the planning process documents a list of specific goals, deliverables, tasks, costs and deadlines.
Determine which Pillar of Business Strategy to focus on
The analysis section of a marketing report is the most important part. This is the section that shows how the marketing efforts are performing.
The metrics that are most important to a business are the ones that will most efficiently measure how the business is moving from the business it is now to the business your client wants in the future. The metrics you use should measure underlying situations which marketing pros can effect and are predictive of the future business situation. I like to call them Key Predictive Indicators (KPIs) as opposed to Key Performance Indicators, these objectives provide more concrete evidence for marketing.
First, determine which pillar of business strategy to focus on right now. These are the 4 Pillars of Business Strategy:
Determine the marketing metrics that matter
Your client’s decision makers should work in order until they determine an area that is either problematic. For example, if revenue is a problem, then focus on the Customer Acquisition & Sales pillar and develop KPIs around that pillar. Example KPIs for this pillar might include:
- Paid versus organic leads
- Generated revenue
- Leads delivered by the channel
- Social media followers gained
- E-mail subscribers gained
- Average Google search position
- Website users, per day
- Website bounce rate
- Profit Margin
- Revenue per new customer
- Number of new customers
In considering the above, the goal is for these metrics to be trending in a positive direction — such as more Facebook likes, longer YouTube views and more visitors engaging with your website. That doesn’t always translate into immediate revenue. However, over a period of time, it’s reasonable to expect an increase in sales and customers. There are many other metrics you can track here, and the only limitations are your imagination and the quality, quantity and accessibility of your client’s data.
Include information that sheds light on the audience
Specificity is a must in marketing. It’s important to understand where your traffic comes from so that you don’t waste time dwelling on the wrong marketing efforts. Google Analytics is the ubiquitous website traffic monitoring system. It breaks down website traffic by analyzing:
- Traffic Sources — from organic and social media to direct and referral sites
- User behavior — from top viewed pages and how long users are staying on the website
- Technology — from mobile vs. desktop view to keywords used to find your website
The number of visitors, the time spent on the website and the most viewed content should always be top of mind.
Data should determine which social media outlets are working
With so many outlets orbiting the social media stratosphere, how do you know which ones are performing and which ones are a waste of time? Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, provide details on how these social sites are forming for your client:
- How many leads are generated by social media?
- What is the conversion rate from lead to paid customer?
- Which social site generates the most website traffic?
- Which social outlet garners the most engagement?
End the report with plans for business growth
Dedicated marketing departments and marketing agencies should always have their eyes on the future. The last section of the marketing report should include plans for how to grow your client’s business.
Explain how the current setup can be improved to meet their goals. When it comes to business growth, there is no better way to illustrate this goal than future financial projections. For this piece of the report, it might be helpful to partner with your client’s internal finance department, or an outside accounting firm.
How much should marketing spend for future campaigns and programs? And how much can the client expect in return?
Obviously, the profits should be higher than the expenses. The projections may not be completely accurate, but an estimate will start the conversation. Try to be as realistic as possible when developing projections. The only thing that’s certain about a forecast or a projection is that it will be at least a little bit wrong. Ideally, your projections will be based on experience you’ve had implementing similar tactics with previous clients. In that regard, you should be doing a lot of testing and logging the results for future reference.
Develop a marketing dashboard for easy-to-digest information
When it comes to data analysis, the most difficult part is presenting this information so that is is easy to understand.
Start by narrowing down the list to the six to seven KPIs to track on a dashboard. If you don’t limit the number of KPIs, too many details become a priority — making nothing a priority. KPIs should be forward looking. In other words, this data should tell you where the business is going.
The goal of the dashboard is to be able to ingest information at a glance and without scrolling. People read left-right and top-bottom. Therefore, charts should be organized in order of importance in the same way. The most important measures should display in the top left quadrant, and the least important in the bottom right quadrant.
Use neutral colors. Bright colors should only be used to call out something specific. The more color that’s on a dashboard, the harder it is to consume in one glance.
Because dashboards ideally display on one page, real estate is expensive. KPIs should be visualized in the smallest chart possible that also provides the appropriate context for the measure. When you meet with clients, provide a brief explanation of each metric and what this means for marketing and business goals.
Ideally, a dashboard will be published online for the entire team to have 24/7 access no matter where they are. A couple of popular tools to accomplish this are Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Domo, Cyfe or even Excel.
How marketers can show how much value they provide and then charge an appropriate fee
Now, you’ve created your marketing report based on the needs of the client. You’ve also recommended appropriate tactics and strategies based on prior clients your agency has served. Finally, you are tracking metrics to show the effect your efforts are having.
You need to be compensated for the value you’re creating for your clients. If you’re still billing by the hour, or if you’re marking up ad spend, you’re being compensated for tasks and time, not value. This is why you need to create a knowledgebase of prior experience and results. If you have an idea of how much value you can create for a client before you start, it’s easier to charge a corresponding fee. The dashboard will then be helpful in showing your client how you’re creating value for them commensurate with your fee.
The bottom line
Marketing reports should indicate how organized, efficient and aggressive efforts are to meet the business goals your client has defined. The only way marketing professionals and agencies can make this possible is through a palatable metrics presentation. An online dashboard that is regularly refreshed with the latest data builds trust with your client and cements a long-lasting relationship. The goal for marketers is to create value for both their customers and their agencies. The best way to do this is to effectively communicate marketing value to clients.