As digital marketers, we handle a lot of data every day, and while data can be incredibly powerful, with great power comes great responsibility. Harnessing the power of this data to improve account performance is one thing — reporting this to a client is an entirely different beast.
I’ve spent hours putting together multiple data sources into a dashboard of excel pivot charts with slicers and filters only to end up with a report that looked very pretty and was very impressive technically, but was overkill when the client only wanted to know about their 3 KPIs.
Although reporting should be handled on a case by case basis as different clients in different verticals will have very different expectations, I’ve put together 5 tips to keep in the back of your mind when putting together a report, to help reduce time wastage and improve client relations.
1. What story are you trying to tell?
We talk a lot at Indago about data telling a story, but at the end of the day it’s our job to tell the story – based on the insights we gain from the data. It can be easy to get caught up in trying to cover everything that happened in the reporting period, but try and keep to relevant, related, and significant changes or trends that highlight the story you are trying to tell. Have a look at the example I’ve come up with below.
- CTR increased 24%
- CPC didn’t change
- You ran an ad copy test and applied the findings to the account
- Conversions increased by 10%
- CPA dropped by 16%
How not to do it:
“The ad copy test showed that type A had better CTR so it was added to the account, as a result CTR rose by 24% and CPC was the same as last month. Conversions also increased by 10% with a CPA reduction of 16%”.
This is just repeating the results, it doesn’t showcase any strategy or any insights gained from your operations that month.
Tell the story:
“We reviewed the results of the ad copy test and found that type A had a higher CTR than type B, with the new call to action resonating more with the target market. Off the back of this, we implemented the change across key converting campaigns, and as a result have seen an increase in CTR of 24%, without increasing the CPC on keywords. This leveraged the spend for the month and drove an increase in conversions of 10% whilst reducing the CPA by 16 %, demonstrating the increased quality of traffic being directed to the landing page.”
Not only does this highlight a strategic approach to account management, but it demonstrates your understanding of the market and the channel, and your ability to implement effective strategies to drive performance for the account.
2. Report to your KPIs
Beyond anything else, the client wants to know how their KPIs fared, so use this to guide what you report. It’s great that you tripled CTR, and reduced CPC by 57%, but if conversions dropped, and that’s what your performance is being measured against, then does that matter?
We have an online education client that is tracking enrolments in their courses, and these conversions and their CPA are the KPIs. Our first few reports we went into detail about how we’d restructured the account, expanded their keywords, increased CTR. While this showed us that we had been busy and our changes had made a positive impact on the account, the client wanted to know two things:
- Was paid search generating more conversions?
- Were they paying less for those conversions?
If we couldn’t align our reporting to those two basic measurements, then it was of no use to them.
With this understanding, we could tailor our reports to always point to these KPIs. Yes CTR increased, but that is a good indicator of targeting higher quality traffic that is more likely to convert. Yes CPCs dropped, which lead to a reduction in CPA for the same spend. The expanded keyword set allowed us to capture traffic that our ads weren’t showing for and we’ve seen enrolments grow steadily since its implementation.
This lead to a happy client, who knew their KPIs were improving, and that we were targeting our operations to their goals, not to % changes in marketing acronyms.
3. Report to the scope of your operations
Short and simple: report to your operations.
If the client is asking for a report on paid search activity, don’t spend hours of billable time pulling together a report on all of their online activity. The client knows the rest of their operations, they don’t know what you did to improve their paid search channel.
You only have control over certain variables in regard to a client’s account, and reporting on anything outside of this scope, is not what the client wants to hear from you.
4. Don’t state the obvious
Your client can read! Your time is valuable and so is your client’s, don’t spend time reading the numbers to them or typing out notes that just repeat what the data shows. If you want to highlight something, highlight a % change, or a CPC dollar value reduction, and state the impact of the changes. You can talk numbers until the cows come home, but if you can’t relate the numbers to a KPI relevant, real-world change, then what’s the point?
Of course you need to tailor your reports to suit the client’s level of understanding. Simply stating that CTR has increased sounds great, but doesn’t necessarily relate to a measurable indicator for the client.
5. Have an open dialogue with the client
Reporting can sometimes feel forced and there’s nothing worse than both parties sitting down for half an hour to go over data that the client doesn’t care about and you already know. Do they want to know anything about the performance metrics? Or do they just want to know that they paid less this week than last week for more leads?
As I mentioned in the KPIs tip, make sure that you understand what the client wants you to report on, and ask them during the meeting if there is anything else they want you to cover next time. Share a copy of the meeting plan with them before the meeting, and agree upon a structure for the meetings. If things change on either side, be flexible, change up what you report on to suit their needs. Having an open dialogue with a client will lead to a lot less time spent talking about performance and a lot more time spent driving it!