Marketing Reporting: The past, present and future (templates included)

Marketing Reporting The past present and future of reporting

The Comprehensive Reference To Marketing Reporting For Digital Marketers, Including Tools, Templates, Dashboards, and Software

Marketing is the art of spreading information to attract new customers.

War is ninety percent information.
Napoleon Bonaparte, French Military and Political Leader

Measuring information is impacting sales is where marketing reporting comes into play. In this article, we’re going through the past, the present and the future of marketing reporting. We’re also going to share templates, tools (updated as of 2020) and dashboards. But first let’s look at the definition of marketing reporting

What is marketing reporting?

Marketing reporting is defined as the process of measuring the progress towards meeting goals. It helps you to understand what actions to take and how your marketing effort is creating value.
 
We all know about the power of information and we all know that more and more money is going into marketing.  Most buying decisions are now based (or if not, heavily influenced) on information which is found through a search. Gone are the days where a sales person is the first touchpoint with a brand. The result: Increasing marketing budgets. As a result senior management, more than ever, want to understand the impact of spend to revenue.

Benefits of Marketing Reports

Let us get a clear understanding of the benefits of reports building into our regular workflows. Although the worth of marketing is quite clear to us, other people consider marketing as a support function and the money spent on it as a cost. It’s is the place where you feel the need for marketing reporting.

Marketing reporting can help you prove the worth of marketing. For example, if you can show how your campaigns are generating leads, bringing revenues, and fulfilling the business goals. Then you can prove the value of your and your departments and their efforts.

However, marketing reports help you get a clear idea about how things are working and what needs to be improved, and where we should spend our budget and give our efforts. A marketing report can answer all these questions and help you make the best business decision.

 

 

Marketing reporting basics

After we understand why should we create marketing reports, the thing we should be concerned about is, what constitutes a marketing report? The report can be of any type and look anyway. The thing that matters to you in the report may not be equally important to another person. Hence a few sections of a marketing report are broken down and discussed below.

Summary

This section gives you an overall view and breaks down the major points like challenges, successes, and future goals.

Traffic metrics

This section reveals the source of traffic, which is divided by channel and device.

Engagement metrics

This section shows how much interest is a person to your site when they have visited it. Bounce rate, time spent on site, and frequency of visit are a few key points.

Business impact metrics

This is what proves the ultimate marketing success and includes things like the revenue, opportunities, and pipeline generated.

Which marketing metrics should you report to?

Although you may feel like reporting everything, it is not a good idea. Because doing so, you may overwhelm your clients and stakeholders who are interested in just a handful of metrics like; leads for sales, branded search, conversion, etc.

To identify which metrics should you use, you must first figure out the objective and goals of your business and which metrics can best determine the ROI.

Steps to build a marketing dashboard

Building a marketing reporting dashboard is necessary for every marketer. No matter what system you are using to track down your business data. A dashboard helps you get a quick view of the metrics; that you think are valuable to you and your stakeholders.

When you are building a dashboard, you must have a clear view of your goals and then determine the performance of your campaigns over time. Besides, you must focus on a single topic and avoid having too many metrics, which helps a viewer to scan and get a quick understanding of the dashboard. Including too many metrics can make it complicated for the user to understand.

 

The overall creation of a dashboard is straightforward. Also, it works the same way in all systems. All that you need to do is, determine your business objectives and targeted audience, and then decide the marketing KPIs that you want to add.

considerations while building marketing reports

When building marketing reports, even if the metrics are similar, the individual channel source report may be different. For example, if you are making an SEO report, it won’t involve any information on ads and quality scores. Whereas; a PPC report will include it. An SEO and content marketing report can be similar in some ways as you are looking for organic keywords leading to clicks and conversion. An SEO report may include content information. But a content marketing report may not include technical issues and individual keyword rankings.

Let’s take the example of SEO and PPC reports. A typical SEO report includes the below-mentioned information:

  • Conversions
  • Rank improvements
  • Keyword performance
  • Landing page performance
  • Top performing content
  • Increase in organic traffic
  • Improvements made to content and overall optimizations
  • Technical errors like 404 and missing H1 tags
  • Backlinks created
  • Inbound traffic
  • Explanation of all the above points

A typical PPC report has similar goals where you want to show how your marketing efforts are driving more leads and traffic- the look of the metrics is slightly different

  • Individual device performance
  • Ad performance
  • Overall PPC performance
  • Quality score
  • Keyword performance
  • Cost per conversion
  • Impression share
  • Click-through rates
  • Overall cost
  • Average cost per click
  • Average position

Despite the differences in both the reports, it still shows the lessons learned, your plans, and how you want to address any issue.

 

Marketing reporting software and tools

If you ask ten different marketers what their favorite marketing tools are, you are bound to hear ten different replies. Most individuals utilize spreadsheet-based tools like Google Data Studio, Excel, and Google Sheets, as well as BI applications like Tableau, Qlik, and PowerBI, to create reports.

The tool you choose will be largely determined by your budget and requirements. Google Data Studio is a wonderful free alternative to traditional paid reporting solutions for most businesses. This one’s main selling feature is that it’s completely free. While there is a learning curve, you can rapidly conquer it by using one of the many free Google tools or by trial and error.

Why do we need marketing reporting?

Increasing budgets

In the past, most marketing efforts were offline-based (Check out Mad Men if you are too young to remember). Their way of measuring outcomes was using panels (as described here). We now live in a new era where the opposite is true: There are too many metrics we are able to track. Marketing reporting helps us to understand what metrics to watch and how to action on them to achieve our goals.

Increased complexity of marketing landscape

I’m not going to dive too much into the metrics (if you are interested have a look at this article here). Instead, let’s have a look at it from a maturity perspective. In the chart below you can find 5 categories:

Why reports are Mandatory and how to get started.

Marketing reports can confirm your attempts and spots the successes of your work. They can spot the trends, as well as reach out even the smallest details and define how they add to your marketing ROI (return on investment). Marketing reporting assists you to build a frame of reference that revolves around data.

If you were to scrutiny a data-driven marketing approach with that of a few years ago, you’ll probably be amazed that things have been replaced. From tracking visits per page, bounce rates, and cost per click, today companies have grown to masticate tons of complicated data. Although for many, the goal is to endeavor customers. The actual possible data-driven marketing can also help meet another purpose. Think about attaining new customers or adding your marketing ROI, such as

If we were to select the top three objectives of data-driven marketing, we’d look for:

  1. Exposing the customer journey and where Purchasers locate at any point in time.
  2. Mapping and scaling marketing ROI.
  3. Coordinating the marketing and sales teams.

Point discussed in detail.

  1. The first aspiration is conceivably the most determining one. Tracking where exactly customers are while they are spending time during the visit of the website, is crucial to Presenting them what they need.

Are they using their mobile device to be reached? what is their spending capacity? When they are supposed to purchase?

.

  1. How about Calculating and giving the return on your marketing activities? Don’t worry, we can understand. It is the biggest objection for marketers out there.

What you need to do is to use the collected data and place it in your business context. It could be an entire marketing mix or a partial mix? could encompass a single platform or multiple channels?

Note: Acknowledge the variables before you deal with the calculations.

 

  1. The third point is understanding the alignment of goals and actions, in particular between the marketing and sales divisions.

Marketing and sales teams generally work too closely. Though, it is usual that data moves across the organization – without getting stuck in the depository, and the team can do required amendments to hit the company’s targets.

 

Major steps to get the relevant data for your reports

 

  1. Ask the prominent and relevant questions
  2. Acquiring the highest possible data quality
  3. Breaking down silos and Depository
  4. Interpreting your data to get the best impression
  5. Combine the real-time data
  6. Bringing it all together

A contemporary report reveals that very few companies have fully implemented data systems. As data volumes continue to increase, integrated marketing analytics is very much important to getting the maximum out of your datasets.

Types of marketing reports (by maturity)

I’m not going to dive too much into the metrics (if you are interested you can have a look at this article here
25 Essential PPC Marketing Performance Metrics you should analyze and measure, instead let’s have a look at it from a maturity perspective. In the chart below you can find 5 categories:

 

 

Marketing Reporting Maturity

Marketing Reporting Maturity

Now let’s dive into them one by one, going from beginner to expert.

Traffic

Certain marketers optimize outcomes based on traffic to the website, their outcome is what the title suggests: Traffic. To get a marketing report based on traffic from your various sources do the following:
Open your Analytics platform and go to the acquisition section as in the screenshot below.

Traffic report google analytics

For a more elegant-looking report with the same data set you can use Google Data Studio. This makes it easy for you to present data to your clients or your manager. Here is a template:
Traffic report data studio

Traffic report data studio

Make your own copy here.

Summary

Traffic reports will give you an understanding on how you get potential buyers to your website. Important: It does not look into any other metrics. While it can be helpful you should not only look at traffic. Especially if you have a media buy it’s important to look at these metrics combined with costs. Let’s have a look at how we can do this in the next marketing report.

CPC/CTR

CPC stands for cost per click, CTR stand for click-through-rate. Marketing reporting on CPC/CTR connect:
This report, same as a traffic report, focuses on clicks but has the advantage of adding on the costs per click.
The click through rate is a good way to check if your content wins over the customer to click on your link.
In SEO this is a good way of measuring how your SERP (search engine results page) content appeals to the searcher.
In paid advertising CTR’s are also important bu there is a lack of direct correlation between clicks and business actions.
As with the traffic dashboards you can find all Google related data in Google Analytics. The report below contains conversions and CPA’s which we’ll get to later.
cpc ctr google analytics

CPC and CTR report Google Analytics

As with traffic reports, Data Studio offers templates for all Google related costs.
CPC report Data Studio

CPC report Data Studio

To connect other costs like Bing or Facebook costs you can use the manual CSV upload functionality.
There are also tools to automate the connection of the data, more about this here. This should help you to get all marketing data into one place.
Let’s move on to metrics which will impress your client or management more than reporting on clicks and CTR’s.

Analytics conversions

Here is where it starts to get interesting. The reports we looked at so far were based on outcomes (clicks or sessions) which do not correlate with business impact. The quote

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
Albert Einstein, Physicist

 
Fits this perfectly.
As you have noted by now on all the reports there are a lot of different metrics and dimensions to choose from. It’s important to measure what matters. Thats what’s next: Conversion based marketing reporting means that your goal are leads or sales. There are two possible conversion types here:
Conversion based marketing reporting means that your goal are leads or sales. There are two possible conversion types here
  • Ecommerce transactions: You sell something online and you have a direct conversion value. In this case it makes sense to skip this section and move to the ROI section.
  • Lead capturing: Your goal is to get as many leads, form fills, event subscriptions, etc. as possible. The final outcome is a persons email address and/or details.

The measurement to look at in conversions-based marketing is CPA. CPA stands for cost per acquisition. Sometimes you might hear the term CPL, which stands for cost per lead. The formula for CPA or CPL is

Cost/Conversions
 
As with the CPC/CTR dashboard Google Analytics provides you simple overview for anything Google related
In case you only advertise on Google channels, please refer to the dashboards I linked in CPC/CTR. Chances are that if you are reading this you will have extra media channels you want to report on. Here is a Data Studio multichannel CPA Dashboard Template. You might need to change the channel mix according to your setup.
Multi channel marketing report

Multi channel marketing report

Now let’s see how we can connect business outcomes from your CRM in your marketing reporting.

CRM Conversions

Let’s take a step back. If you are in ecommerce, when working on your reporting, did you ask yourself the question
 
How many confirmed transactions (not cancelled) did each marketing channel or campaign generate?
 
For those working with lead forms did you ask yourself
 
How many qualified leads, opportunities and deals did my marketing channels and campaigns generate?
 
The best way to go and answer these questions is by connecting your analytics data with your CRM or e-commerce data. You should understand which channel, campaign, ad or keyword brings you valuable conversions. Having insights on what brings you leads vs. qualified leads are different worlds. The ability to present data on qualified leads in marketing report brings credibility. It is evidence that your advertising efforts connect to real-world business outcomes. This Data Studio CRM attribution dashboard template connects your CRM and analytics data. You can also find instructions on how to connect your analytics and CRM on the dashboard itself.
Multi channel CRM marketing report

Multi channel CRM marketing report

The insights will also tell you which channel bring you junk leads.
For ecommerce, connecting store data to analytics data helps you with net revenue attribution. In hospitality: Connecting your booking engine data to your analytics data uncovers insights. You can understand channels and campaigns with higher return and cancellation rates.
In a next step, let’s look into connecting the revenue which comes with these conversions.

ROI

This is the by far the best way to present numbers in any marketing report. In ROI based marketing reports, the conversion value is added to the conversion.
 
This allows us to connect revenue contribution to the marketing expenditures. If it’s done in an automated way this goes down to a channel, campaign, keyword or even ad level.
 
In the case of ecommerce this is straightforward as you have the conversion value available in Google Analytics
 
You might have a situation where you are in an industry or region where you have to deal with a lot of cancellations or returns.
 
In the case of form fills, which only convert into opportunities and deals in the CRM system, the data needs matching. More about this in the section CRM conversions.
Here is an example of an ROI dashboard
ROI Marketing Reporting

ROI marketing reporting dashboard

To create your own ROI marketing reporting dashboard, you can get started here.

Attribution

Now that you made it this far you are starting to become an expert in marketing reporting. Independent of technology now you have an understanding of the importance of marketing reporting.
 
By the way, the most famous tools for data visualisation at the moment (April 2022) are:
 
One important topic when it comes to marketing reporting is attribution.
 
By default Google Analytics and most CRMs provide you information about what touchpoint made the deal. Touchpoints before that will get no credit.
 
Let me illustrate
Last Click Journey

Last Click Journey

In reality the customer more likely looks like this
CRM Revenue Attribution 2

CRM Revenue Attribution 2

Assigning the correct conversion credit to each touchpoint is multi-touch attribution.
If you want to understand the true ROI of each channel you will need to give credit to each touchpoint. I’m not going too much in detail in this article as we cover this topic in other articles on our blog. Model Attribution For Dummies

Conclusion

Marketing reporting is about measuring and reporting what matters. It shouldn’t take you too long to create a good report as there are many templates available on the web. Depending on your stakeholders level of knowledge you might need to drill deep or you need to keep it at a top-level. Being efficient in presenting and preparing the data is key.
An important consideration if you don’t have a template yet is: Do I work with a manual or an automated report? I recommend the latter as it will save you lots of work and removes the chance of human error.
To create simple and powerful automated reports consider signing up for a Windsor.ai free trial.