How to write a better marketing report (and why you should want to).
At first glance, the term “marketing report” may not conjure up the most exciting images (memories of doing school reports, anyone?) but the truth is that crafting a good marketing report for your business is essential, enlightening and potentially exciting.
What is a marketing report?
A marketing report is a monthly report that collates data from the previous month’s activities, measures the success of marketing efforts, gives insights into trends and highlights opportunities for improvement. This is where a great deal of your marketing power comes from: monitoring, measuring and tweaking as you go.
What is the purpose of a marketing report?
The main reason for writing up a marketing report is to analyse your marketing efforts over the previous month to see what’s working and what’s not. For example, there’s no point coming to the end of a campaign and realising missed opportunities too late; it’s much more effective to gather data, track how you’re travelling and make the necessary adjustments along the way.
Who is a marketing report for?
Most likely, a marketing report is shared with a variety of people — it could be your team or other stakeholders (other departments within your business). It explains to the reader (and writer) where budget is being spent and identifies opportunities for better investments. A marketing report ensures everyone is focused on common goals and working off the same document — literally.
What’s included in a marketing report?
The content of your marketing report will differ depending on your business, target audience and your unique goals and activities, but typically the report will include elements such as:
- The overarching goals and objectives on which your marketing efforts are based, as well as predetermined KPIs (key performance indicators).
- A breakdown of leads/sales including the source (where the leads/sales came from).
- An overview of social media insights into reach, engagement, impressions, followers, leads/sales etc., as well as that of social media advertising and Google Ads.
- A more detailed look at each social media channel being used, including the most engaging posts for each channel (if relevant to your marketing plan).
- A review of your most recent eDM (electronic direct mail) with open-rates, click-through rates, most-clicked links etc.
- An analysis of website activity — from the number of users and page views to the number of leads/sales and bounce rates. You may want to include SEO (search engine optimisation) here too – domain authority score, top performing keywords, visibility percentage etc.
- A brief round-up of marketing updates, including any upcoming activity such as events or sponsorships.
- Graphs and tables to provide a visual representation of the data.
- Wherever possible, month-on-month or year-on-year comparisons to track growth (or lack thereof).
- Explanations of the data so the reader can appreciate its meaning.
The thing that will elevate your marketing report is your ability to make meaning out of the information presented. Data provides context and adds weight to your conclusions and recommendations, but you need to explain its ramifications. Your team won’t appreciate being handed a report that contains all kinds of analytics with no effort to demystify the information.
Good reports highlight successful marketing efforts and explain the cause behind less successful ones (e.g., if website users were lower in January than February, why could that be?). It should also provide recommendations or an action plan for the following month in an attempt to improve report results.
As well as the nitty-gritty of data and analytics, it’s important to include the larger objectives, goals and KPIs of your marketing efforts at the outset of each report. This is immensely helpful for the sake of continuity, keeping your eye on the prize, getting everyone pulling in the same direction and providing broader context as to what you’re doing and why. At the end of the day, a marketing report is for the sake of the person writing it, too. It encourages you to engage with and reflect on your marketing efforts, keeping you agile, responsive and accountable.
From a budgeting perspective, a marketing report can save you money by telling you which activities are providing the best ROI (return on investment) — if 80 percent of your leads are coming from one source but you’re spending a large portion of your budget on another channel, for example, it’s good to know this so you can re-allocate your budget accordingly. Plus, they can also potentially justify an increase in budget because you have the data laid out to support your request.
What to include
There is a huge amount of information that you could include in the report, but that doesn’t mean you should. Rather than providing a comprehensive review of every single marketing activity undertaken and every single metric, the report will be most useful if it’s a summary of the most important, most relevant information.
What not to include
Consider the readers and be careful of including too much jargon — if the person reading the report is not a marketer or not versed in digital marketing, there’s no point presenting a bunch of abbreviations and marketing-speak. A good marketing report is useful and accessible to everyone.
Essentially, marketing reports are both a review of where you’ve been and a roadmap for going forward. They provide an opportunity to see how your target audience ticks and what resonates with them. See? It doesn’t need to be a dry and dull document at all, but something brimming with life and possibility!
Need some direction?
To find out how you can bridge gaps, interpret the success of your marketing efforts and better meet your benchmarks, get in touch with PIER. We can help you take your business to the next level.