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Written by Chris Irwin on June 22, 2019

Digital Marketing Reporting Explained

Introduction

We live in an age of never-ending digital content production and availability. Whether it is being blasted into our faces from our mobile phones or we are passively absorbing a couple of social media updates on our laptops, we are spending more and more time online every day. 

More and more people are using both search engines and social media to for their shopping, invest in companies, watch the news, and connect with friends and relatives. It is estimated that we spend more than 3.3 hours every single day online, passing time, buying things, and reading whatever floats through our timelines.

That’s why digital marketing is becoming such a massive industry. In fact in 2019 Digital ad spend surpassed traditional ad spend in the US for the first time. However, like any form of marketing, in order to advance its effectiveness, reach, and interaction rates, and most importantly return on investment, you need to be measuring the data that is readily available from your current and future campaigns.

We’re going to dive deep into digital marketing reporting today, and look at how you can present the perfect digital marketing report to your clients or your boss. Reports are what either retains your clients, or sends them packing. So helping to demystify all of the “analytics” related to the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns is crucial for any business. 

With social media you can no longer post a picture or a quote and call it a day. There needs to be educated backing for each and every post, and that can only be made possible through digital marketing monitoring and reporting.

So whether you’re the owner of a digital marketing firm, a digital marketing manager, or even a client looking to understand analytics better, we’re going to break everything down for you. Here is what you can expect: 

Chapter 1: What is Market Reporting and Why is it Important?

Chapter 2: 4 Key Questions to Address in a Briefing

Chapter 3: 10 Sections Every Market Report Should Include

Chapter 4: Considerations for Different Marketing Reports

Chapter 5: Daily/Weekly Marketing Report Examples and KPIs

Chapter 6: Digital Marketing Reporting Best Practices

Are you ready to get started? Without further a do, here is Digital Marketing Reporting Explained.

Chapter 1: What is Marketing Reporting and Why is it Important?

When it comes to preparing the perfect digital marketing report, you first need a basic understanding of what a report actually is, and why it is so important. 

That brings us to our first question: what is marketing reporting?

Digital Marketing Reporting‍

‍At its core, marketing reporting is the process of measuring progress, showing value, and identifying actionable steps to improve marketing performance. The idea is to crunch the available numbers and analytics to help meet future marketing goals, whether that be earning more revenue, expanding service footholds, increasing the online audience, etc.

A digital marketing report can be broken down, generally, into the following structure: summary (the section that breaks down the key points, including successes, challenges, and also upcoming goals); traffic metrics (top of the funnel acquisition numbers that are broken down by channel); engagement metrics (onsite activity and how much time a particular buyer spent on your site, how long until they left, etc.); conversion metrics (these are the golden numbers – they are telling a client the cost per lead or acquisition so they can determine if they want to keep investing); and business impact metrics (these numbers cover opportunities, pipeline generated, and revenue).

Depending upon the types of campaigns that you are running, you will want your reports broken down for PPC, SEO, social media, content marketing, account-based marketing, revenue reports, and overall comparison reports.

‍Why is Digital Marketing Reporting Important?

Why do we go through the hassle of exploring the metrics generated through digital marketing? Why is it even important anyway? We’re glad you asked!

Let’s look at a few important reasons why including client reporting into your workflow is critical to any thriving business today:

Reports Detail Your Actual Efforts

You already understand that marketing is important in our world. That’s why you work in marketing. However, your clients don’t share that same passion as you – they just know it’s a necessary evil. Marketing reports show them that your efforts are paying off. They articulate how campaigns are fulfilling goals, generating sales-ready leads, and bringing in revenue. That’s all these clients care about at the end of the day: is their investment paying off? If not, they’re probably going to walk away.

Establishes a Benchmark

Marketing reports provide you with a benchmark for how things are working right here, right now. You can look at a report and go: are we succeeding? Where are we falling short? Where do improvements need to be made? Which channels are working and which ones are not? All of these questions can be answered with marketing reports, which will act as a guide for you throughout all of your marketing efforts. Without these reports, the team will be flying blind, aimlessly creating messaging and content that is totally falling to the wayside. That’s why digital marketing reporting needs to become a core part of your day to day marketing operations and workflow.

Creates Year-Over-Year Review

At the end of the year, when you’re sitting there reflecting on your business and how far it has come, you will want to see the bigger picture of what you have accomplished. The goal should always be continuous growth for your company, which means every digital marketing report should be compiled to answer questions such as: Which months were your slowest? Which days of the week? Did you do better around the holidays? These big picture trends should be observed and highly noted for the coming year so you know where and when to invest more.

Makes it Easier for Segmented Teams

Digital marketing is a complex feat today. It involves photography and videography, copywriting, hashtag research, audience research, keywords, and the list goes on. At big digital marketing firms these are all broken down into different departments, which means there needs to be constant cross-communication. Analytics reports will help teams identify which component needs to be invested in more for an upcoming campaign. Perhaps photos are doing better than videos in your market. Only a digital marketing report will help you identify the changes that need to be made by the necessary departments in real-time.  

Real-Time Information

That brings us to our last and final point, the value of having real-time data at your fingertips. When you engage in marketing reporting, you are forcing yourself to go over the numbers every single month. With this information, you can make real-time changes and adjustments to campaigns to ensure they are more effective the coming month. Why wait until the time of the year to review the necessary information when regular reporting can get it done for you? It’s up to you the kind of cadence you want for reporting the analytics – some people even elect for weekly or bi-weekly updates. If you get into the habit of understanding the importance of digital marketing reporting, you won’t find compiling the reports to be so monotonous anymore.

Chapter 2: 4 Key Questions to Address in a Briefing

Before you explore the nitty-gritty details that go into a digital marketing briefing, managers are going to be concerned with 4 general areas that are related to what they are doing on their end. Think about it from a clients perspective: they want to spend money on marketing so they make more money. They don’t really care about how you do it – they just want to know their ROI is paying off.

This can be hard for those steeped in marketing to understand. To you, every last detail matters –  as it should! But before you delve into the details, you would first need to answer four crucial questions that will shape the outline of your digital marketing report. 

You would need to address: 

1. How Much Money is Being Spent?

Sometimes, a company may give you X amount of dollars and tell you to allocate it however you see fit. Other companies will permit a fluctuation in what you can use if you have their card on file. Either way, they want to know how much money is being spent, and on which channels. 

Your digital marketing report should therefore cover things like Facebook Ads, prizes for contests and giveaways, SEO on your blogs, etc. There should be a total dollar amount spent per digital marketing segment, as well as a total for everything at the end of the month. This won’t necessarily deter them or send them away – they just need to be able to identify what is being spent in order to quickly make business decisions based on the findings.

2. How Many People Are Being Reached with That Money?

Now the managers know what is being spent, the next question in their minds is going to be how effective are those dollars being spent? Should they be skeptical of you? Are you doing a good job, or are their dollars being wasted on campaigns that are not performing as well as expected?

Your marketing report should articulate the number of people who have received your marketing message through social, email, etc. With these numbers, companies can start to decide if they want to continue on with your services if they feel the investment is worth it. As we will review in the coming chapter, there are different sections in the report that can help you highlight your marketing value even if some numbers are lagging.

3. How Effective Have Marketing Efforts Been?

This is where the client is going to expect some information on leads. Are leads being generated? Are they closing? Are they converting into numbers that translate into a higher bottom line for the client? 

Be sure to highlight in the report the amount of new leads, the people who received your marketing message and pursued your service/product further, the amount of new customers, or the people who went from being leads to actual investors in the business.

This is how the client will compare if the money being spent is translating into the results they desire.

4. What is the Financial Return on the Money Being Spent?

Is it all worth it at the end of the day, or could the client go on their merry way and attempt their digital marketing on their own?

 The digital marketing report should cover the cost per lead and the cost per customer. What does it cost, at the end of the day, to turn one of the leads into a cold, hard, paying customer? Can you ramp up your efforts so your client can make more money?

Be sure your marketing report articulates this in an obvious way for the client. You have to remember that digital marketing monitoring is not their forte – that’s why they hired you instead!

Chapter 3: What Should a Digital Marketing Report Contain?

When it comes to the actual creation of your digital marketing report, there are a handful of mandatory categories that every single report should contain to help impress and guide your clients through the report. Including a table of content will allow anyone without marketing experience to scan the report for what they do/don’t want to see.

Although you might be passionate about these reports, you have to keep in mind that the client’s impression is what really matters.

Here are the top 10 things that should be included in every digital marketing report:

1. The Summary Page

Before you hit someone with aggressive numbers, hold their hand and walk them through a nice summary or highlight page. This section should always be at the top of your report. In the summary, you want to highlight the most important metrics and a project overview that is succinct and to the point. 

By the end of the summary, your client should have a general understanding of where they stand and what they should expect to see when reviewing the report. Everything that comes after this section should be details that support this opening summary statement.

Since not everyone is a marketing expert, try and use language and terms that are easy to understand so anyone can get the full picture. 

2. Present A Marketing Strategy

Again, although you are probably well versed in this marketing strategy, many of the executives and stakeholders are not. That’s why you want a section that approaches the core marketing strategy. In this section, you will want it to answer the following questions:

  • Who is my target market?
  • Which channels are performing the best? Are they also the primary marketing channels?
  • What growth opportunities are being harnessed?
  • What is the present scope?

This is an easy place for you to articulate to the client why they hired you. Take time to ensure the scope of the project is clear and that you are delivering on everything you promised. 

Let’s say you are offering SEO. This is where you will give an overview of what SEO is and how you are leveraging your skills to boost your client’s SEO. Spell it out in obvious terms, even if you think it’s redundant. Be sure to reaffirm how you are reaching the target customers every single day? Whether it’s more of a focus on blogs or on email – explain to the clients why you are choosing those channels.

Wrap it up by giving an overview of what has been accomplished in the last month as far as the marketing strategy is concerned. You still want to sell yourself so be sure to mention any changes to the marketing strategy and why you felt those changes were important. Close it by stating how the changes are going to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns in the coming months.

As you can probably see, this section is arguably one of the most important in the entire report.

‍3. Conversion Metrics

Now that you’ve looked over the marketing strategy and the summary of the report, it’s time to cut to the numbers every CEO wants to see: the conversion metrics. Conversion metrics should take up the meat of your report, with plenty of charts, graphs, and statistics that show how your campaigns are in-line with growth goals and projections.

You will want to bolster this section up while also keeping it easy to understand. Run reports on metrics such as:

  • Channel breakdown – leads by channel, offline sources, social media, paid search, etc.
  • Revenue breakdown – this is especially important to those with e-commerce sites
  • Paid vs. organic leads breakdown
  • Cost per conversion for paid channels – how are your AdWords and Facebook ads doing?

 

It helps to compare the current metrics month to month so you can showcase where you have excelled and improved.

4 . Lead Acquisition

If you are working with a company that is hot on leads, be sure to list out the leads that you have generated that month through your digital marketing efforts. In this section, show which channels the leads were coming from or whether it was SEO or PPC that brought them to you. This will give your client a clear picture of where their marketing investment is generating the highest returns.

5. Breakdown by Channel and Device

At the end of the day, it is imperative to understand where your website traffic is coming from. You also want to know how long those leads are lingering before they either buy or leave. Are most of your web visitors coming from email? Referrals? Social media ads?

In this section, you will want the metrics included to be:

  • Bounce rate
  • % new session
  • Top pages
  • Email campaigns
  • Top Referrers

This is where you can show the client that the bounce rate is much higher on mobile than the website, for example. With those numbers, the client knows that the mobile site needs to be altered or optimized for mobile viewing. You will also discover that some blog posts are doing much better than others – why? Was it the topic? Should you do more blogs related to that topic?

6. Search Engine Optimization

This will vary depending upon the SEO that your firm is offering. For example, do you optimize onsite, or do you just stick to providing link building services? Either way, be sure to share an overview of how rankings have increased – then back it up with information about what you have been doing to achieve these results. Be sure to include a table that highlights new backlinks for the month.

7. PPC Endeavors

If you are tasked with running PPC campaigns for your client, be sure to have a section that covers cost per conversion, click-through rate, impressions, ad spend, ROI, etc. Take the results and compare them to each channel. If the client is working with a limited budget, you can deliver valuable insights of where their money should be targeted based off of the information you have presented. 

8. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is another component of this overall report, as well as strategy. There isn’t a single business out there that is unaware of how important social media marketing is today. In this report section, be sure to cover performance per channel, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Be sure to include information related to goals such as engaging existing customers and generating new leads via social channels.

Many companies will want to invest big money into social media marketing, which is why this section should be carefully detailed.

9. Ideas for the Future

Showing a client that you have future plans and goals is a great way to convince them to stick around with your services. If the past month’s analytics have been lackluster, here is where you can show them that you are going to continue pushing the boundaries. Revisit goals from prior months and highlight any progress that has been made.

10. Future Budget

Last but not least, here is where you can chat about future promotional expenses that you are anticipating as well as the expected return on investment. This area should take the goals that you just listed and provide some kind of cost-analysis associated with them so your client doesn’t need to do anything but agree!

And there you have it! Those are the key components of any effective digital marketing report, sure to wow clients sitting across the table from you.

Chapter 4: Considerations for Different Marketing Reports

The most complicated part of building marketing reports is that you need to include so many different channels in one scope. You are tasked with reporting everything from email campaign results to social media marketing effectiveness. 

Although there needs to be cross-comparisons so clients can make final decisions on the amount of money they want to spend on your services, there are still some considerations you should be making based on the channels reported.

While the metrics may all be related, each channel source report should still have its own characteristics that makes it a unique, standalone mini report. For example, in your SEO report, you shouldn’t have information on ads and quality score, whereas in the PPC report, you should most definitely have that information presented. But then there may be some similarities between SEO and content marketing, where you’re focusing on keywords that are helping with the total conversations and clicks.  

When it’s time to create individual reports, you must take into account source differences. This will make you look more professional, and it will also help your clients follow along and digest everything in one sitting.

Although we can’t go through what should be included in every single individual report, we will provide you with the examples of what you should focus on with SEO and PPC:

SEO Individual Reporting

Your typical SEO report will contain the following: keyword performance, landing page performance, rank improvements, increase in organic traffic, conversions, top performing content, improvements made to content, overall optimizations, inbound traffic, backlinks, and a general overview of what it all means. Remember that the viewer is not an expert on digital marketing like you are.

PPC Individual Reporting

With PPC, you will want to highlight that your efforts are driving more traffic and leads. Therefore, your report should include metrics such as:  average position, cost per click, overall cost, clicks, click-through rate, impressions, conversions, overall conversion rate, cost per conversion, quality score, keyword performance, individual device performance, and overall PPC performance.

With PPC, your client will probably request that you provide a weekly report as opposed to a monthly report. Yet, something like social engagements may only require your attention a few times per year.

Despite the differences, all reports should still contain a summary, as well as lessons learned, goals, what you plan to do in future.

That brings us to another hotly contested question in the world of digital marketing reporting: how often should I generate reports?

The Magic Cadence for Digital Market Reporting

If there were a one size fits all answer for this question, we would definitely provide it! However, the reality is there are always different elements and moving parts that should be considered with this kind of answer.

You will need to set expectations early with your client. Talk with them about how frequently they want to see their reports. As the expert, you should tell them that it’s normal to want to see biweekly PPC reports, whereas social reports are only a quarterly necessity. They will listen to you and follow your lead.

Remember they are not the experts, so be sure to explain to them that things like SEO are slow and really won’t show any big changes even on a monthly basis (same with social). If they know this ahead of time, they won’t contest you on your efforts.

It’s all on a case-by-case basis. But, if you make the effort to set the limitations and rules upfront, like how often reports are generated for certain topics, how many individual reports are guaranteed versus one big report, and how many times the client can call you about it, then there shouldn’t be any issues. Be sure to be transparent in your communication about everything.

Chapter 5: Daily/Weekly Marketing Report Examples and KPIs

At the end of the day, the purpose of reporting analytics is to make better informed decisions, both for you as a digital marketing expert, as well as for the client. Although the big, impressive reports with typed up sections, summaries, etc. are important on a biweekly, monthly, bimonthly basis, there is also value in a daily marketing report.

Obviously, a daily report will not be quite the same scope of a monthly digital marketing report, but it can help you do everything on a daily basis at a faster pace. Using these reports, you can make an action plan every morning, comparing it to what you accomplished the day before, and what you intend to accomplish tomorrow. Doing this will enable you to interact with the data in real-time, diving into the tinier details that can get lost during a 30-day timeline.

These reports will also aid in faster experimentation – you will be able to test out ideas and changes on a smaller scope before it turns into anything big and potentially terrible. You can avoid wasting money by carefully working with certain numbers on a day-to-day basis. A lot of things are out of your control in this kind of arrangement, but when you pair together several days in a row you will be able to indicate a trend.Why wouldn’t you pursue this kind of analytics record keeping?

We’re not saying tie yourself up with this kind of daily reporting. However, we are suggesting that making a habit of checking on certain statistics will make you more effective and productive at your job. Here are some of the KPIs you should absolutely be tracking on a daily basis:

Website Traffic

Websites are typically where you make the final kill. It’s where you get the lead to finally click, buy, donate, invest, or opt-in to your emails. Websites are the resting platforms that finally turn these prospects into actual customers. After you arrive at a traffic goal for the month, you can divide it by the number of days in that month to set a daily target. Maybe you want to convert 2 leads per day. By monitoring these numbers more closely, you can see how they related to your other lead generation efforts, like social media posts and email marketing.

Monitoring your daily website traffic will help you identify a sudden rise or drop, enabling you to act right away with experiments that might uncover the secret sauce. This is an easy way to explore options that the client might not initially approve of. But on such a small scale, you can figure it out on your own and boast your findings on the next monthly digital marketing report.

Social Media Engagement

You’ve probably heard the phrase: engagement is key. That’s because it’s true. For your brand to be known, shared, and loved on social media, consumers need to engage with it. That’s why you should be posting every single day on social media, responding to comments, and working on new campaigns that will catch others attention. No one discusses the brand that last posted on social media 4 months ago. Find the channels that work best for your brand (more visual brands will do better on Pinterest and Instagram; serious brands will do better on LinkedIn, etc.) and help you reach your target audience more effectively. Develop a strategy of posts that you have seen do well in your analytics, as well as the optimal time to post them.

By tracking these stats daily, you can harness social media posts that do the very best for that client, translating into lucrative analytics that you can share with them every quarter. Track how effective your post was and do it all over again the next day.

Weekly Marketing KPIs

Beyond social media analytics and website traffic, there are some other analytics you can check every 5-7 days. What are they?

Blog Traffic

Blogs generally have a shelf-life of 5-7 days, mainly because your social media sharing that you coupled with their posting will generate some traffic for the first few days anyways. One study also confirmed that after a week, a blog’s traffic will decline by 90%. Therefore, if you want to know how much traffic a blog generated,  you would be able to  check this at the end of the week so you can move on with your strategy. Of course, there will always be cruising traffic that comes through your SEO endeavors – but, checking on the finalized blog metrics at the end of the week should help you compare it to previous blogs and fine-tune your strategy moving forward.

Website Traffic

Yes, we’re back to website traffic. Not only is it beneficial to review it daily, it’s also beneficial to review it weekly, breaking the traffic down into channels. Analyzing which ones are bringing in the most leads will help you approach the client with a proposition to spend more money on X channels.

Online Advertising Performance

If you are spending someone’s money in online advertisements, you should definitely make it a habit to monitor how it performs. Any kind of PPC, Facebook Ad, etc. should be something that you check in with at the end of the week. You don’t want to be spending $100 per click (depends on the industry). This can cause you to spend more of the budget than what the client had intended, which isn’t a good look for you. If you see the numbers are down for a particular ad, it can signal to you that it’s time to create a new one.

The more you generate these tiny reports and make them part of your everyday habit, the better you will become. It’s as simple as due diligence!

Chapter 6:  Digital Marketing Reporting Best Practices

Anyone out there tasked with generating digital marketing reports, or reviewing them for your prospective boss, knows that there can be a lot that goes into the process. What does the “perfect” digital marketing report look like at the end of the day?

There are of course great reporting examples and best practices that we want you to review today before you get out there and attempt to replicate it for yourself.

As we have covered many times before – not all reports will be the same, and in many cases, they shouldn’t be. No matter the client, you want to be sure you are addressing your audience and providing the information they seek to make an informed decision. It’s their money at the end of the day – you’re promising to allocate it strategically for them.

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when preparing your reports:

Use Reporting to Both Enhance Your Value and Accountability

At the end of the day reports help your clients improve their business and that’s what we all want. But, it also enhances your credibility and value as a firm. With so many metrics in the world of digital, it often becomes a conversation of what you don’t measure, versus what you do measure. The more time you put into it, the more it will show, and the greater your client retention is going to be. Not to mention, these reports hold your firm accountable, too. If you’re slacking, now you know you’re slacking and where to make improvements.

Don’t Just File the Reports Away; Use Them

Your clients aren’t the only ones that need these numbers and analytics. You need them, too, in all of your marketing campaigns and advertising campaigns. You can use the numbers that you organize and report to help you make changes to content, demographics, posting times, etc. Especially if you are checking certain analytics every single day, you are going to integrate that finding into your marketing, which will make your firm more effective.

Keep It Organized with Dashboards or a Program

You don’t have to do all of this by hand either. There are plenty of programs, support tools, and dashboards that make it easy for your teams to understand what they should or should not be reporting, and how they should be reporting it. Using a dashboard makes teams accountable to the certain metrics they need to be supplying daily, weekly, or monthly.

Forecasting Potential

Every business wants to be able to look into the future and make financial predictions and changes. With analytics reporting, you will have a better idea of how a company is doing with a certain ad spend, which will give you more confidence to ask for more money from the client. Using these numbers, your team will be able to forecast results based on spend. That’s why you should always be identifying the goals a client has and working to ensure they are reflected in the agreement. Making this kind of commitment to the client will show them that you care.

Encourage Your Clients to Stick with Metric Goals

By including a goals section in your digital reports, you can hold both yourself and your client accountable to achieving these goals. This can give you leverage if they are questioning how much they are paying or if they don’t want to work with you anymore. Encourage them to stick with their marketing goals even if they start to get fatigued at some point. Back up your encouragement with your forecasting and goal planning.

Reporting is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both the marketer, and any business.  It’s a benchmark that keeps everyone accountable, knowledgeable, and motivated. There are no justifiable arguments for why digital marketing reporting should be ignored. 

With these best practices, you’re now ready to get out there and report like a marketing guru.

Conclusion‍

‍At the end of the day, digital marketing reporting is the very blood that flows through the veins of a marketing body. It paints a pretty good picture from how well posts and ads are doing, to what is being spent and lost. These reports show brands what else they can do to resonate with their audiences, or perhaps, if their predetermined audience wasn’t correct in the first place.

To exist without this kind of reporting is a disservice to you and your client. That’s why it’s time to embrace reporting with open arms.

About Oviond

We provide our customers with one platform that consolidates and organizes all of their digital marketing data. Through instant integration, it’s easy to visualize, optimize, and automate reporting on key performance areas across clients, digital marketing platforms, and campaigns. With Oviond clients have the ability to access real-time marketing insight across a variety of channels, saving time and frustration in the process.

 

You don’t have to do this alone. With Oviond, you can master the art of report generation and review. It’s time to bring on the cold, hard facts in 2020.

Thank you for reading along with us! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team.

Article written by Chris Irwin
As the Founder, product-lead, and head of technology of Oviond, Chris is the driving force behind the business, with a relentless passion for technology and more than 14 years of digital marketing experience. Having serviced more than 100 brands, and taking an active role in 3 other successful digital businesses, Chris has a holistic and intrinsic knowledge of the digital landscape, giving him the insight and experience to deliver the results that business owners demand from their digital marketing efforts. In his personal life, Chris is a health and fitness enthusiast, passionate boxer, father to the power of 4, and devoted husband, who enjoys nothing more than to opt-out on weekends and spend time outdoors with his family.

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