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Use Reporting to Sell Your Digital Agency

Published July 21, 2016
There are thousands of marketing agencies in the United States. Depending on where you live, there may even be dozens of agencies in your immediate area or market. Today, more and more of these agencies are incorporating digital marketing to keep up with consumer demand. With so much money on the table for marketing, in an increasingly competitive space, how do you stand out in a sea of RFPs all on the hunt for ROI?
When pitching potential clients to become their digital marketing agency of choice, you need to identify the characteristics that set your company apart from others. These may include one or more of the following:
  • Total years of experience for your staff and for your agency as a whole
  • Level of experience working with clients in particular industries (healthcare, finance, etc.)
  • Specializations in digital skillsets (linkbuilding, Google Shopping campaign setup, etc.)
  • Integration of multiple digital skillsets (PPC, SEO, and content teams working together)
  • Quality of work and record of success
In addition to these points, you should also strive to make reporting a key selling point for your agency.
Many agencies know how to do digital marketing. They may even do it well. But most don’t take the next step to communicate to their clients. In turn, client relationships suffer, and the agency suffers.
In this article, we’ll talk about why reporting matters and how to make your reporting process one of your agency’s unique selling propositions.
First, let’s look at how lack of proper reporting can hurt an agency.

 

 

Lack of Reporting Hurts Trust

After an ambitious initial pitch, many clients start their agency relationship with high expectations. These expectations may quickly turn to disappointment if two months into the project, the client hasn’t received a report of results to date.

Even though the agency staff may be working hard on building out paid search campaigns and optimizing a site for organic search, the client doesn’t know what’s going on without communication. From the perspective of many clients, if the agency isn’t communicating what’s happening, then no work is happening. Of course, this may not be a fair assumption, but the agency should communicate on a level that leaves no room for false assumptions.

Hopefully, you have a better reporting plan in place (if not, work on it!), but how clearly are you communicating this in the sales process? Let’s discuss some ways to emphasize reporting when selling.

Set Clear Expectations

From your initial pitch to the scope of work you hand a new client to sign, make it clear how reporting will play into your digital marketing process. Highlight reporting in your pitch and in the proposal document you provide afterward.

Let your prospect know how often they can expect to receive reports, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Clarify how you’ll review reports with them, whether planning a phone call, web conference, or in-person meeting. Describe the format or platform of reporting, such as web-based (like Megalytic) or PDF.

In addition, set expectations for what data you need from the client in order to prepare effective reports. For example, you’ll need access to Google Analytics, if it’s currently in place on their website. Other data such as historical figures for sales, lead value and lead volume will help you to more accurately compare new data to past performance.

Show an Example Report

If a prospective client wants to learn more about your reporting process, show an example report highlighting the effort you put into client reporting. Emphasize that any given client’s report may not look exactly as the same as they are customized to each client. However, you can provide your prospect with an idea of what they’ll see in monthly and quarterly reviews.

Your first option is to use an existing client’s report, with their permission of course. If you or your current client would rather not show their business name in a report, you can black out or delete any personally identifiable information. This may include mentions of the brand name, website URLs, and some keywords.

You can also prepare an example digital marketing report template that’s completely anonymous and can serve as a sales piece for multiple clients. In this case, you won’t have to worry about blocking out personal information if you build the template to be free of branded identifiers.

 

Sample Megalytic Report

 

Emphasize Customization

While an example report gives a general idea of how a client’s report will look, a complete one-size-fits-all approach to reporting doesn’t work for most agencies. Especially if you work with a variety of industries, you’ll end up formatting reports differently for each client.

Some clients may just care about high-level numbers, such as changes in sessions or conversions over time. Other clients may care more about more in-depth data, such as breakdowns of metrics by landing page or directory. In addition, clients may want to evaluate specific metrics, like tracking sales of a new product.

You should emphasize that you’ll work with each client to craft reports that speak specifically to their needs. If they don’t understand certain metrics in a report, you’ll work to present those metrics in a way that’s easier to digest and do your best to explain exactly what those insights mean to your client’s bottom line. Your sales approach can significantly differentiate your agency from those who provide automated or broadly templated reports for all clients.

Explain Reporting’s Role in Strategy

Beyond highlighting your reporting process, it’s important to cover how reporting plays into the actual work you’re doing on your client’s campaign. Ideally, the evaluation of analytics data will drive specific actions month after month.

If you see that a blog post about morning workout routines drove more signups than usual, you may suggest writing more posts about similar content and connecting them with the high- performing post. If you see that product pages are getting high traffic but no sales, you may suggest testing variations on your call to action (CTA) or adding more content about selling points.

Ultimately, you want your prospect to understand how reporting guides a thought process that looks beyond day-to-day tasks to focus on long-term strategic planning. Proper reporting means a careful review of analytics data that produces informed actions to fluidly adjust digital marketing campaigns.

In addition, reporting can help you to go back to your client with ideas for their business. For instance, you may find that a client who only sells products locally in a brick-and-mortar store receives significant search volume from other states. From this data, you may then recommend that your client test selling products online. Ultimately, the information you get from analytics can prove to drive more revenue in the long term when turned into action.

Conclusion

If you’re not already emphasizing reporting as a part of your sales process, start now.. Describe your approach to reporting as an aspect of campaigns from the initial pitch. Provide sample reports when appropriate, and talk about how you’ll customize actual reports to meet everyone’s concerns. Explain how reporting, particularly the way you do it, can contribute to a broader strategy for your clients.

Reporting can be a powerful tool in your arsenal of selling points. Of course, you’ll need to back up your sales talk by delivering on your reporting promises once a new client starts. That’s easier to do when you have the right reporting framework in place. If you’ve invested the time, energy and resources into developing a reporting process, never underestimate how pivotal that can be when it comes to getting clients on board with your agency.

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.
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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.
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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.