What to Look for in Your Digital Marketing Reports

With the digital marketing market expected to be valued at $460 billion by the end of 2022, companies are spending more than ever on getting the word out about their brand. Unless you know how to position your brand and target your desired audiences correctly, though, you won’t maximize the potential of your marketing—or see the return on investment (ROI) that you’re aiming for.

It’s no secret that marketing reports hold valuable information for measuring your marketing hits and misses. They provide the factual data you need to calibrate (and recalibrate) your strategies. But even with marketing reports, you need to make sure you’re getting the right takeaways. It’s all too easy to get the wrong impression from data.

To stay on the right track, follow our instructions on what to look for in your marketing reports.

Creating your marketing report

Most platforms can auto-generate a marketing report from your data, but that doesn’t mean you should rely on it. Take the extra step to tailor your reports so you can work with useful, usable, and relevant data. Below are a few things to keep in mind.

Know what questions you’re trying to get answered

Chances are, you’re not just running a marketing report to pour over spreadsheets and data visualizations. You’re probably running reports because you’ve got questions, such as:

  • Is our email automation warming up leads?
  • Does our follower growth correspond to website visits?
  • Which types of content are website visitors downloading?

Starting with questions makes it easier to pull valuable insights out of your data. Just make sure that you keep your questions specific and focused. If you lead with questions that are too broad—like, “how is my marketing strategy doing?—then actionable insights will be hard to come by.

Choose relevant KPIs and metrics for your report

To select the right reports, you first need to choose the proper key performance indicators (KPIs) for your brand. Don’t just do a web search for what KPIs for your marketing strategy should be. KPIs will be different depending on your industry and the company’s specific goals.

Once you’ve got your KPIs, select the relevant metrics that go along with them. Metrics are the actual numerical measurements of your KPIs, and marketing reports include at least one. They help break your marketing reports down into actionable chunks.

Choose your reporting frequency

Not all marketing reports need to be run on a weekly or even monthly basis. In fact, if you monitor too frequently, you could inadvertently sabotage your efforts by not giving your platform and strategy enough time to deliver results. On the other hand, if you monitor too infrequently, you won’t be getting accurate results.

Your reporting frequency can vary based on the goals you’re aiming to analyze. Options include:

  • Daily—often focused on website traffic and social media engagement, typically for the benefit of individual teams within a larger marketing department
  • Weekly—focused on traffic, leads, and launched campaigns in order to gain actionable insights
  • Monthly—a cross-disciplinary view of multiple marketing campaigns (and often the most useful for marketing departments as a whole)
  • Quarterly—helpful for revealing long-term trends in the brand’s overall performance and evaluating the success of SEO campaigns
  • Annually—a big-picture view of the marketing team’s efforts over the year, typically as a way to communicate with non-marketing departments within the organization
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5 tips for making use of your marketing reports

If you’re looking to learn more about your company or improve your online reputation through social media metrics, here are a few ways that your marketing reports can clarify your performance.

#1: Stay focused on answering your questions

Remember how we said that you should start your marketing reports with focused questions? Don’t lose sight of that! While you should always be on the lookout for notable trends, it’s easy to fall down a data hole. Avoid distraction!

If it helps, document your questions before getting started on your reports, then note the answers as you find them. Documenting this information will be helpful for tracking your progress later (see #4 below).

#2: Look at the context of the results

A standalone report may not always provide all of the information you need. How does a certain set of marketing data compare to other reports from the same time? Do the results speak to each other?

Look at the broader landscape, too. Do you see a drop in your performance on Facebook? Has there been an algorithm shift that is affecting others? Has a new iOs release impacted mobile users? Has a larger social, political, or cultural issue shaped social conversations?

#3: Look for action items

Your marketing reports should result in tangible next steps, so create a model for collecting vital information. One of the most common models to use for this purpose is: reporting → analysis → conclusion → hypothesis → action → reporting.

Once you create your report, you’ll review the results and analyze the data. As you do so, look for patterns. Are your keywords offering sufficient results, or just driving up your budget? Is your audience using your “contact us” form or clicking on your CTA buttons?

Create a hypothesis about why something is or isn’t working. Do you need to use different keywords? Should you simplify your contact form, or move your CTA button at the top of the page? Run the campaign again, testing out whether your hypothesis was correct. Ideally, the changes you’ve made will improve your results, which will be reflected in your new report.

If your hypothesis was wrong, you’ll need to take action in a different way—and the cycle begins again.

#4: Track, rinse, repeat

You ran your report, you answered your questions, and you know what you need to do now. But is that it?

Not even close. Marketing reports aren’t a one-and-done deal. You need to monitor them over time, compare results over time, and, above all, be consistent. Not just in the running of reports, but in each of the steps above. That means focusing on asking questions, looking at the bigger picture, and identifying opportunities for action.

#5 Pay attention to consumer conversation and experience

When you’re head down in reports, your customers can turn into abstractions really quickly—data points tied to revenue and growth goals.

But don’t let that happen. Each data point also tells you something about your relationship with your customers. As you track KPIs and metrics, make sure you ask yourself:

  • What do our reports tell us about the value our marketing is providing to the audience?
  • Are we giving audiences the information they need to trust and choose our brand?
  • Where can we build opportunities for more meaningful conversations with them?

Now you know how to generate marketing reports and put them to good use. There are tools out there to help you with this process.

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