BLOG

How to Present a Digital Marketing Report

Published September 14, 2017
When we’re given a gift, in theory, it’s what’s inside that counts. Does it matter if it’s packaged in elaborate gift wrap or plain brown paper? Does it matter if something is hand delivered by a friend or sent via UPS? No, it’s the gift (or even the thought) that counts. But let’s be honest – it’s not that simple when it comes to monthly digital marketing reports for your boss or client. Even if the work is exceptional and the results are amazing, without the right packaging and delivery, the real value of what you’re giving may be lost.
So, how do you present a digital marketing report in a way that ensures the meaning of the message isn’t lost because of the way it’s delivered? In this article we’ll cover some of the ways to create and deliver reports the strongest way possible.

 

Presenting a Digital Marketing Report

 

The Data

Let’s start with the data. If the numbers were good enough, a client would probably be happy if the information were scrawled on a bar napkin in crayon. We wouldn’t recommend that approach, but the point is – the data is the most important part.

We get a lot of our insight from places like Google Analytics, where there is a seemingly endless supply of numbers, stats and graphs. But which ones should you be reporting? There’s not necessarily a neat and tidy way to categorize all the data, but we can look at four distinct types that have a place in your reports.

Revenue and Lead Gen – Data that pertains directly to profits or goal completions that equate to leads belongs in every report. Period.

Performance – The data that indicates growth or decline in a website’s performance is important to showing and evaluating trends. This includes reports like overall traffic, user acquisition, entrances through landing pages and even ranking reports. These areas pertain directly to the work that is being done. This should also drill down into channels associated with specific campaigns like PPC, email marketing, social media and SEO.

Engagement – Not every completion pertains to a sale. Actions like email subscriptions or brochure downloads can also be telling. Studying how users pass through content funnels is also an important insight. Looking at how people interact with the site, the time they spend, the number of pages viewed and even user loyalty will help tell a story about how well a website and its content resonates with users.

Strategic – Also worth including are any reports that help guide tactical decisions. For example, traffic reports by device, city, state or country can suggest areas of opportunity. This can also include reports from Search Console or Google My Business that are imperative to defining the “next steps” of your strategy.

The reports you choose in each of these areas will be affected by your campaigns, your client’s business model and overall digital goals, but most of what you’ll need to report regularly will typically fit in these categories.

Executive Summary

Does that seem like a lot of data? It should, because it certainly can be. That’s why one of the most important components of a report is the executive summary. The executive summary is a shortened narrative explaining what the data shows. Ideally your highlights should include things like:

Significant improvements – Anything that stands out as a positive growth number. For example, traffic being way up month over month or year over year, or if social media posts performed exceedingly well this month. But the number alone is available in the graph. The executive summary would focus on what was done to drive that result. Was there a new piece of content attracting new visitors? A ranking keyword that improved dramatically? Or was it branded search that added to these clicks? What kind of posts were posted or promoted this month that were effective on social media? Dig into the improvements and look for correlating factors. Even though correlation does not equal causation, it does help bring focus to what should be watched and improved further.

Significant Losses – On the flipside, did something go down? These unfortunate occurrences can’t be ignored even if they can’t always be tidily explained. If traffic or leads are down for a month it’s important to acknowledge that and pinpoint it as a place to watch as an anomaly or an ongoing pattern. If it’s the latter, this indicates a problem that needs to be addressed.

Work Done – The numbers and graphs can’t tell a client what you did this month. Branded search is up, that’s awesome! But if those spikes came from a city where a new commercial ran this month, that may not be immediately apparent in the data. Additionally, if an e-book received an unusual number of downloads, the executive summary might be the best place to note that they came from PPC, social and email marketing. Of course, it may be worth adding a breakdown of leads by channel to this specific asset in the report as well but without context in the executive summary, the importance of that data could easily be missed.

Work To Come – What you’ve accomplished is only as strong as what you plan to do now. That’s why the executive summary should outline your next steps. This portion of the narrative can also reference any of the included data that is informing your immediate action items.

These points are essential to framing the numbers and graphs that appear in a report. It’s this aspect of the presentation that differentiates a report from a dashboard.

The Format

The substance of a report is the numbers and the story that accompanies the data. But the format of the presentation can also impact how well it is received. There are several methods for communicating reports to a client, and each one has its own merits.

A Platform – Reports can be created and shared in numerous ways. One of the fastest growing options in the digital world is a platform that is built specifically for reporting. A system like Megalytic allows for the aggregation, assembly and sharing of data with the capacity to leave notes and provide insight and observations.

PowerPoint – One of the most well-known and used ways of creating and giving a presentation is PowerPoint or a similar tool. Slides built here can capture images and allow for bullet points, but they don’t automatically pull the requisite data and may require a significant effort to compile the appropriate information.

Print – Even a digital report can be effective in print. Especially in person, this format can be conducive to a conversation more than a guided presentation. Also, having printed copies available for all parties, rather than several individuals looking their own computer screen can also help keep the group focused on each item of data.

Screen Share – When you can’t meet a client in person, a screen share may be a viable substitute. Screen sharing over the phone can be a useful method for helping to guide a client through a report, point by point, to discuss each item of data and its implications.

Video – A video can be an effective blend of a screen share and a PowerPoint presentation. A pre-recorded video showing a screen and voice-over narration can be an impactful method for delivering a report when the communication isn’t in real time.

The optimal format is often dictated by the circumstances of the presentation, such as in person, over the phone, or direct communication vs. a delayed debriefing. But the audience is also an important component. Knowing what your client responds well to will also influence the format you use to deliver a monthly, quarterly or annual report. Whenever possible though, face-to-face communication will often lend itself to the most meaningful connection and the most fluid dialogue.

Conclusion

There’s no one right way or perfect way to assemble and deliver a report. But if you focus on the data that matters most to both progress and future initiatives and choose a format that best suits your client and the circumstances of the presentation, you’ll be off to a strong start. In this business everyone has their own style, and we’d love to hear your tips. So share your favorite reporting techniques and success stories in the comments!

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.