Digital Marketing Reports
During the span of my 25 year career I’ve had to create hundreds, if not thousands of different business reports and a majority of them had one thing in common; they where to hold someone accountable for success or failure of some type of business effort. There is nothing wrong with using reports for accountability; however, they should serve a higher purpose, and that is decision making.
Today, you can create reports that are updated in near or real time, and they can be fluid like on a dashboard or visual like a heatmap. There may be times when you need to run reports daily. If you send an email blast on a Friday at 5pm for business cleaning supplies, don’t use the open and click report to determine if the content worked or not.
It’s unfortunate to say that in a majority of reports never seem to be read or really understood – managers are simply looking for an “up” or a “down” result, argo accountability.
In a reporting rut? Try These 3 rules to help get you started:
- There is no right or wrong answer, there is only the result.
- The results communicated via the report are there to make an informed business decision.
- Understand the report’s purpose. What is the message you are trying to convey?
Keeping these three rules in the back of your mind will help you to be objective and honest when giving an opinion on the results. It’s a mind set, an attitude, before you start to think of the elements of the report. Since changing my perspective, I’ve noticed a much more engaging interaction.
5 tips to remember when developing your report:
- Define the Primary Purpose
The primary purpose of the report should be listed and documented, even if it’s for your own reference. Of course there might be several other secondary findings, but there can be only one primary purpose; remain focused on that.
- Identify the Audience
This will help with the amount of detail that is needed or the amount of summary and notes. In some cases, you might need to include a glossary of terms or background on the purpose of the report to help explain your metrics and results.
- Think in Cliff Notes
What should the take away be for the report reader? If the report is just informational, it is probable that they will be looked at but not read. Create a call-to-action for the reader or call-out for a point of interest. Another way to engage with the reader is to ask for an opinion from the reader on a section of the report. Guide them to read through the report to the question you are asking, don’t allow them to flip through it. Give the reader something to get excited about and make them feel like it’s a collaboration not a single effort.
How will the report be delivered? If it’s an attachment, it might not be looked at but then forgotten. No one wants to read a report on a mobile device, but create a live link to read further or save it. Extract some information and data points within the email make the reader want more, save it and read it ASAP.
- Reporting Doesn’t Have to be DULL!
Think like a marketer or sales person when writing the report. If you act like it’s just another report, the readers will think the same thing. So sell the report and sell the next one! Tell the reader what to expect in the next one. If you are presenting the report, have some call-outs and talking points ready. Remember, no one wants to be read a PowerPoint presentation.
Of course these tips can be categorized as common sense, but they are not commonly used. Sourcing and formatting the data is easy, however, taking the data and making it useful and interesting requires thought and planning. If you are creating a report, always think how you can make it better – not just in the data. If you are delivering the report to a business leader or customer always ask yourself, “Is reading this report a good use of time?”