BLOG

Creating an Online Marketing Report Template for In-House Marketers

Published January 21, 2015
It’s a simple truth: in-house online marketers face different challenges than agency marketers. Working in-house requires producing reports for the people whom you work directly with each day. Your colleagues are coming to you with different money metrics, and you need to show how current marketing is hitting (or not hitting) their goals.
In-house marketers are also often required to wear many hats, especially in small businesses, balancing reporting duties with other tasks like writing content for the website, sending email campaigns and managing other search engine optimization efforts. You need to be able to able to update your team on the success of the website and digital marketing campaigns, as well as customize the information for them. And it needs to be done quickly because you have other things to do!
Let’s step into the shoes of a marketing professional working for a small, local college. She’s responsible for preparing a monthly analytics report for the college’s executive team.
The leaders of this school have multiple concerns to address. Obviously, they want to see that potential students are showing interest in attending the school. But they also want to see engagement around the new bachelor’s programs recently added to the school’s offerings, as well as how the website is helping to encourage people to sign up to visit the campus.
To start her report, our marketing friend wants to provide enough data to answer the questions she knows her colleagues will inevitably have about website performance, without overwhelming them and sending them running for the hills. She’ll start by creating a new report in Megalytic and proceeding to add widgets that present data to address the school leaders’ specific concerns.

In-House Marketing Presenting Report

 

Compare Overall Traffic to Last Year

Since interest in researching colleges will vary heavily by season, comparing to the same date range of the previous year will provide the best picture as to whether traffic and engagement have improved. Megalytic’s Period Comparison Table provides an easy way to show performance from one year to the next.

After adding this widget, she’ll customize it to compare December 2014 to December 2013.

 

Megalytic widget comparing year over year metrics

 

From this data, note that Users, Sessions and Pageviews increased significantly from the previous year. However, Average Session Duration and Pages/Session decreased slightly.

To provide further insight, this college had launched a new website toward the end of 2013. The old website had a dated architecture, with the new site providing more direct navigation options to get to inner pages of the site immediately. With this knowledge, she concludes the decrease in session duration and number of pages viewed in a session actually indicate improvement in user engagement, as users are finding the information they want more quickly. An Avg Session Duration of more than two minutes still indicates a reasonable amount of time spent on the site absorbing content.

Show Top Traffic Sources

Every online marketing report should show how people are finding a website, whether through organic search, pay-per-click advertising, social media, email campaigns or referrals from other sites. To show this data, our in-house marketer will include a Traffic by Source/Medium widget and, for the sake of this report, set the date range to December.

 

Megalytic widget showing traffic by Source/Medium

 

From this widget, she can see that organic traffic via Google, Bing and Yahoo makes up the largest source by far. Next, a high amount of direct traffic arrives on the site. She knows this is likely reflecting heavy use of direct mail campaigns, as well as frequent access from students and faculty already familiar with the site’s URL. Finally, referral traffic from a couple of sites ranks among the top ten sources.

For the executives reviewing the report, she can point out:

  • What source drove the most traffic: Google organic search
  • What source drove the highest engaged traffic, based on Avg. Session Duration: aota.org, referrals from the American Occupational Therapy Association
  • What source from the top ten drove the lowest engaged traffic: timesunion.com, a local newspaper site

Based on this data, she can conclude that any work to keep the college’s site positioned in organic search will be crucial to continue, as that source drives the most traffic. In addition, she may recommend doing some paid online advertising to boost traffic toward key pages.

Show Pages of Key Concern

As mentioned, the college executives are especially concerned with seeing interest in their bachelor’s degree programs. To show this information, she can add a Page Traffic widget and filter it to show only pages relevant to the bachelor’s degree programs.

To add a filter, select the gear symbol in the top left of a widget. In the sidebar that appears, click “Show Filter.”

 

Megalytic Filter for a Widget

 

You can now add criteria for your filter. In this case, we’ll set it to include only URLs with bachelor.

 

Setting up a Megalytic filter on a widget

 

Click “Apply” to save. Now, the final widget shows the desired pages.

 

Megalytic Page Traffic Widget with Filtered Data

 

Across the board, interest in the pages relevant to the bachelor’s programs has increased, based on Pageviews, even allowing for the fact that some of these pages were added after December 2013. The RN Baccalaureate Completion program appears to be the most popular and has seen around a 45% increase in Pageviews. Based on this data, our marketing friend can report to her colleagues that interest in the bachelor’s degree programs information on the website is clearly increasing.

In addition to seeing where people go on the site, she also needs to show how well the site is encouraging prospective students to contact the school.

Show Goal Completions

In this report, she’ll highlight the most important Goal tracked on the site, a registration page where prospective students can sign up to visit the campus. The college hosts informational events throughout the year, as well as scheduling one-on-one visits with people who express interest.

The college executives want to know how many people are registering for campus visits via the website, as well as where these people are coming from. In addition, our marketing friend should show whether registrations are increasing or decreasing.

First, she’ll add a Conversions by Channel widget. As the registration Goal was set up more recently, she doesn’t have data from last year to compare. In this case she’ll compare stats to the previous month using the date range selector. Next, she’ll select the gear symbol to customize the widget.

 

Setting Up a Megalytic Widget Showing Goal Conversions

 

She’ll choose the far right bar graph option and then use the “Goal” dropdown to filter by a specific Goal. In this case, the “event registration” Goal includes the data she wants to display. After applying changes, the final widget breaks down Goals by channel.

 

Megalytic Widget Showing Conversions by Channel

 

From this data, she can show that the majority of conversions come through Organic Search. In addition, a number came in as Direct traffic over the past month, possibly reflecting direct mail efforts. From that information, she may want to work with her team on better setting up offline efforts to track properly through Google Analytics.

Overall, she can show that conversions have doubled from the past month, demonstrating a rise in interest to the school. She knows that January events offering on-the-spot admission have likely helped drive this increase.

Tying It Together

Throughout this article, we’ve noted several areas where our marketer should provide further explanation for the data shown in her widgets. She may need to define some metrics for those unfamiliar with analytics, while also explaining key takeaways, such as the high percentage of organic traffic. To include these explanations in the report, she can add comments with Megalytic’s Notes widget. In addition, to make her report look professional for the college executives, she can add a cover page complete with the college’s logo.

Once the report is complete, she can then save it as a template for future use. To do this, she’ll just need to select “Save as Template” from the options directly above the report. After naming it, she can then choose this template whenever creating a new report.

 

Saving a Megalytic Report as a Template

 

Conclusion

Our college marketer has provided one example of building an in-house marketing report template. She adapts her report to the concerns of the team she works with, showing specific content and goals that they care about. While in-house reporting may need to address different concerns from agency reporting, ultimately the best online marketing reports find value in showing the right data and only the most relevant data to the people receiving the reports.

ALSO IN THIS BLOG

When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:

 

 

It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.