What should you include in a marketing report?
Reporting on the outcomes of digital marketing campaigns is much like stretching after a long run – somewhat tedious, occasionally painful, but vital for future success.
In the same way that a runner looks for niggling aches and pains, without an unblinking analysis of how your campaign performed, you’ll have no idea where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and what you can do differently next time the starting gun sounds.
Today, we’ll be exploring how to write a robust marketing report. We’ll look at what to include, how to demonstrate ROI and some handy tools for getting the job done.
Time to report for duty.
What should you include in every marketing report?
Whether you’re producing a monthly, annual or end-of-campaign report, it should include the following features:
1. An overview
Before you dig down into any precise details, start with a succinct cover page that gives a broad brush idea of how things have gone. Mention any particular wins as well as areas where you were hoping for better results. This means someone who isn’t necessarily familiar with digital marketing – your CEO, for example – can understand the headlines at a glance.
While this overview should come first, you’ll probably write it last as it will be based on the trends you dive into during the meat of the report.
In this overview, you should also briefly outline the campaign strategy, specifically:
- The scope and objectives.
- The target audience.
- The channels you used to reach this audience.
You could probably recite this information in your sleep, but remember those outside your department may have less insight.
From here, we can break things up into specific sub areas.
2. Lead and conversion results
Ever met a senior executive who isn’t interested in ROI? Me neither, and that’s why this needs to be top of your reporting list. The key things to include here are:
- Revenue – If you’re selling from an e-commerce store, start this section by demonstrating exactly how much money it has made for the business.
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC) – To work out how much your new customers cost, add up the total spend on marketing in this campaign (not just advertising – think staff salaries, bonuses and overheads) and divide by the number of new patrons won in the period.
- Estimated customer lifetime value – Working out the lifetime value of a customer involves taking the gross margin of that individual away from the revenue they’ve generated for you, and dividing this figure by their estimated cancellation rate.
- Leads and conversion rates per channel – Your readers will want to know where these new customers are coming from. Be sure to include every branch of your strategy, from paid search to email marketing to social media.
- Organic vs. paid leads – While they could work it out from above, your CEO will likely be interested in a distinct breakdown of paid vs. organic results, so make it easy for them!
3. Traffic metrics
Even if some web traffic didn’t ultimately convert, it’s still important to establish where they came from. Raising brand awareness is a key part of many marketing campaigns, and this will tell you which channels are bringing home the metaphorical bacon.
A lot of this info can be found in Google Analytics. Among the nuggets it can divulge are:
- Overall traffic – Ideally, you should see an increase in overall web traffic as a result of your marketing campaigns. However, you should view this in the context of conversions and the actions users take on your page.
- Sources -In Google Analytics you can see how users came to your site. Standard routes include:
- Organic search – If you’ve been attempting to raise your SEO game, you’d hope to see a marked spike in traffic from blogs and landing pages.
- Social media – Social is great for getting your name out there, and if you’ve been targeting these platforms ideally this will be borne out in Analytics.
- Paid search – You can filter by Google Ads campaign names in Analytics to see if your paid efforts have delivered ROI.
- Direct traffic – You’ll also be able to identify users who’ve come to your site simply by typing in your URL.
- Bounce rate – Getting people onto your site is no good if they take one look and run the other way. Don’t panic if this is happening to you – you just need to take some time to improve searchers’ experiences.
Optional extras based on your needs:
From here, the order you take for the remainder of the report is up to you, and will probably reflect the particulars of your last campaign. Standard elements to include are:
4. Social media
Each of the major social platforms has its own analytics hub – think Insights on Facebook and Instagram or LinkedIn Analytics.
These are a veritable gold mine of info for marketers, but you need to know which social media metrics matter. The most important are:
- Engagement – One of the best things about social media from a marketing perspective is the chance to have authentic interactions with your target audience. This is where measuring engagement comes in – are people liking, commenting on or (probably best of all) sharing your content?
- Reach – Pretty straightforward – how many people are coming across your brand’s content? This is a top-of-funnel metric great for indicating the success of awareness campaigns.
- Referrals – Referrals show how many people come to your website from a given social platform.
- Click-through rates – CTRs track the number of people clicking on your social media content or ads to access your website or blog.
5. SEO report
If improving organic search rankings was a key KPI for your marketing campaign, you’ll need to report on your SEO progress.
The crucial aspects of this section in your marketing report should be:
- Ranking improvements – Have you improved your site’s position on Google results pages for target keywords?
- Website health – Are there any problems with your site that could impact SEO progress? Think broken links or missing tags.
- Organic traffic – Which pages are driving overall traffic numbers, and which are falling behind?
- External backlinks – How many external sites are pointing back to your own? Are they high quality? This is a great opportunity to show off the hard work you’ve put into link-building relationships.
Remember, the exercise here isn’t to bamboozle CEOs with intangible graphs and SEO terminology. Making this understandable is the best way to show the importance of SEO to the business’ objectives.
6. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
Google Ads provides insights aplenty on the performance of your search and display ads, and is a great tool to use for this part of your report. Here you’ll provide specific details on:
- Your ad spend.
- Cost per conversion.
- Impressions (This is the number of times users view your ad, or how often it displays.)
This section is a really tangible area for demonstrating ROI in your marketing report. Your company is shelling out on these ads, so you need to clearly link this spending with results.
However, it’s important to remind readers of the intent behind the ads. You won’t always be targeting ads directly at conversions, some may have higher funnel objectives – so ensure you set expectations and communicate this properly.
7. Blog performance
If you’re devoting time and resources to creating and curating blog content, your audience will want to know if it’s proving worthwhile.
As well as demonstrating how the blog is impacting leads and conversions, this will also be a useful exercise to establish what types of posts are working best. Are your target audience engaging most with thought leadership pieces, or are they flocking to practical ‘how to’ articles?
Google Analytics should be your go-to here – you can analyse if people are reading your content in the first place, how long they spend on it, and if they’re taking desired actions such as following links to landing pages.
The best tools for creating marketing reports
Google Analytics and Google Ads are brilliant starting places for creating marketing reports but, in the name of choice, here are some other handy options:
- Supermetrics – This app can bring together information from a variety of external tools into a centralised dashboard. A huge timesaver, this means automatic compilation of website and social analytics as well as PPC and SEO results. All of this data can be delivered directly to your inbox!
- Cyfe – With similar powerful functionality to Supermetrics, Cyfe allows you to build custom reports related to specific marketing objectives.
- Moz – Moz is one of the big names in SEO, and has all the reporting capability you need to track your site’s organic search performance.
- DashThis -This focuses on PPC, allowing you to track all your most important paid search KPIs and produce reports from one easy dashboard.