Prepare Regular Analytics Reports
Don’t assume that your clients are automatically attributing leads or purchases to your work. Also, don’t assume that they’ll attribute drops in revenue from outside factors, such as weather or seasonality, to the proper cause.
It’s important to be your own advocate by preparing analytics reports that clearly explain your work. Include data that breaks down how much traffic came to the website, how users engaged, and what content they viewed.
Identify the channels that drove traffic, and show how organic search, paid search, and social media have contributed to website performance. Whenever possible, attribute each channel to work that you’ve done. For instance, did your SEO efforts measurably impact organic search traffic? Did PPC management boost leads from advertising? Sometimes the numbers alone aren’t convincing enough. You’ll have to connect the dots between actions and results.
It’s also essential to include conversion data to show how many users submitted a lead form or completed a purchase via the site. Ultimately, you want to correlate your work to user actions that directly contribute to the client’s ROI.
For more on building client reports that demonstrate the right data, see our article on Elements of an Effective Web Analytics Report.
The numbers are telling a story. There are patterns and correlations that may be clear to those who work in data all day long. But for those who don’t live and breathe analytics, it’s crucial for their digital marketing teams to recognize and communicate the narrative the numbers are showing.
Maintain Reporting Consistency with Templates
The first step is to identify the metrics and KPIs that the client is evaluating.
Once you’ve built an analytics report detailing the agreed upon metrics, stay consistent so the client can understand how to evaluate the data that matters each time. If you’re constantly changing the layout of a report, you’ll only serve to confuse your clients instead of clarifying web results for them. The first report may show baseline data and require extra time to define metrics, but once the composition of your regular reports is finalized, you should maintain a consistent format as much as possible.
With a consistent template, anyone reviewing a report will know exactly where to look for a specific data point each time. For instance, the marketing manager will know to look at the top of the report for high-level user and session totals, followed by a table showing traffic by channel, while an SEO manager will know exactly where to view keyword reports and search console data.
Megalytic allows you to create custom analytics report templates that include the precise data you want to show. You can start with a built-in template or build one from scratch, tweaking it to present just the data that’s important to your client. For more, see our post on Top Monthly Report Templates.
Schedule Report Review Meetings
While it’s easy enough to deliver a monthly web-based report via email, it’s important to make sure your client is actually reviewing the data in the report. Emails can easily get lost in a world of constantly flooded inboxes. In addition, your client may skim the report without actually focusing on the details that matter.
To remedy these potential problems, schedule regular conversations with your client to review reports. Depending on the size of your client’s projects, these may be weekly, biweekly, monthly, or quarterly discussions. Generally, you should try to touch base at least once a month if at all possible.
Even if your client can’t physically come to your office, you can easily connect via phone or web conference. The method of interaction matters less than ensuring that you have your client’s attention and you take the time to walk through the report’s details.
Use this meeting time to review the results in the report and discuss specifically how your work has contributed to website performance. In addition, encourage your client to ask questions about what they see (or don’t see) in the report. Do they understand what all the metrics mean? Are they curious about traffic to a particular page? Do they know how each channel mentioned in the report correlates to a marketing effort?
It also makes a huge difference when you understand, and tailor your message to, who you’re talking to in the meeting. The CEO likely cares most about big picture details (How many leads did we get? What was the cost per lead?), while the marketing director may care about more specific details (How did the most recent set of banner ads perform?).
Don’t Hide Negative Data
While you’d ideally like to show your clients constantly upward trending graphs, reality generally doesn’t reflect nonstop growth. Search engine optimization can take a long, extended effort to begin to show increases. Paid search can see on and off months due to competition and changes in consumer behavior.
When traffic and leads are down, it’s easy to hide the data that isn’t pretty from the report, picking out only the most positive metrics to show your client. While you should encourage your client to focus on the big picture and not individual stats that may be down, you also shouldn’t hide negative data from them. Instead, show the downside, but provide an explanation behind it or strategy to overcome obstacles.
For instance, a furnace repair company may see search activity diminish during an abnormally warm winter. Without extremely low temperatures, fewer heating systems are failing, and fewer people need service. In this case, you can explain that an outside factor (the weather) has likely contributed to a drop in search, as opposed to faulty SEO or paid search efforts.
Encourage your client to look beyond brief periods that may show some negative results, by comparing data over periods of time to show cumulative growth. Even though traffic may have decreased month over month, increased volume year over year points to long term success in positioning the site in spite of outside factors.
Presenting negative data before your client calls it out positions you as trustworthy and shows that you’re on top of reviewing analytics data. Providing a reasonable explanation and a plan of action helps to deflect the blame from automatically falling on you. Of course, you should also communicate clearly if an error on your part did lead to a drop in traffic or inaccurate data tracking.
When you take the time to prioritize web analytics for your clients, you can put trackable metrics behind the results you show. Solidify your client relationships from the start by establishing regular expectations for reports and setting up routine meetings to go over those reports. Review the data with your clients to make sure they fully understand each metric you present and how it relates to their bottom line. It isn’t hard to create report templates that clearly communicate the results of your digital marketing efforts. The hard part is using the charts and data to tell a story – but that’s why your clients have you.