Generating meaningful reports is often a challenge for many marketing agencies. Whether you use Excel or reporting software, creating an expressive document that helps both the client and you is not an easy task.
Reporting has been one of the hardest parts of my job since I remember myself as a marketer. It is always associated with tedious and time consuming tasks. Numerous times I reinvented and tweaked the process costing time and money.
A few years back, I mastered the reporting process with Excel. I used formulas, macros, API calls and whatnot. Excel is still my friend but not for web marketing reports. I had created a complex template that only I was able to use! As the owner of an agency that started to grow, delegating was inevitable and creating reports wasn’t possible with my Excel masterpiece.
I decided to build a reporting tool that not only would be easy to use, but will also minimize the time spent on the periodic reporting tasks.
What Makes a Good Report?
A good report serves both the client and the service provider. Generating good reports is about being able to focus on what matters – the actual work that keeps your client happy. Below is a list of the 6 most important report features I found over the years to be critical to delivering a document that actually means something to your clients:
1 – Easy to Generate
If you are spending hours writing reports for your clients, you are not just wasting their money; you are wasting your own time. Reports are important, but they shouldn’t take a big chunk of your time to write them. Ease of use will increase your efficiency!
Your reporting solution should offer some automation of collecting data through a user friendly interface.
On Ignitur you can easily choose your data and reorganize it using the drag & drop feature. Moreover, Ignitur allows you to create fast and easy custom report templates in only a few clicks.
2 – Concise
Long reports do not necessarily impress rather overwhelm. If you don’t want your clients to get lost in a sea of data, lose the clutter. The information in a report should focus on the main marketing objectives you initially set with your client. It’s okay to provide some additional information to assist in providing a wider perspective about the operation and its progress. However, be very selective with what you choose to add.
When your reports are concise, your clients will actually review them. Consider splitting long reports into shorter topic-focused sections. You can provide your client with multiple reports as needed.
For example, for an SEO client consider sending three separate reports:
- Traffic stats + trends
- Keyword positioning
If you automate these report, you can set them up once to run periodically – now that’s time saving!
Schedule a report:
3 – Your Actions
Your deliverables in web marketing projects are intangible. Failing to keep in touch with your clients and prove their money has been spent wisely will result in a high churn rate. Graphs and tables alone won’t do the job. Reporting should always include the work details and a summary of time spent in efforts of making more money for your client. To achieve this, some agencies even allow their clients access to their project management system.
If you think about it, reporting your actions is something you are probably already doing but a bit differently. Periodic phone calls or emails probably cover your ongoing updates. This probably is in addition to the regular reports you provide, right? It would save you a great amount of time if you could combine action reporting with everything else.
4 – Stats and Trends
Stats are the meat in your reports and something you probably already have. Trends on the other hand are often overlooked. Trends provide stats history and a wider picture of your work performance. Trends go up – client is usually happy, and the opposite.
Some stats without trends are meaningless. What good will it do if your reported traffic shows 755k monthly visits without knowing what that metric was the month before? On the contrary, what if you had 12 consecutive months to compare the numbers? Better, right? Unless you are sure your client has a good memory and remembers his stats, you should always provide stats alongside with trends to some of the data you report on.
5 – Recommendations and Report Highlights:
Add to your reports a personal touch and show you care. This is where you nurture your clients and stay in close touch. You initiated discussions and set the ground to future upsells. Commenting on some of the different sections of the report takes a few minutes but goes a long way. Help your clients excel by making ongoing recommendations. They will show their respect by trusting your advice.
On Ignitur you can include any custom text using a WYSIWYG built in editor.
6 – Legible
It is intimidating enough to receive a report document with so many numbers, graphs, and tables. Therefore, the least one can do is make sure it easy to read.
Explain things: use simple terms; don’t try to wow your clients with technical vocabulary. Explain concepts in plain English and make them available where needed.
White space is golden: The report should have enough white space, good contrast, colors and proper font size and style.
Designed for web: If your report is just long by nature, include a table of contents. Don’t forget headings and sub headings. Styling a report is very much like designing a web page. Your clients are not going to read every word, rather in most cases will skim through the data just like if it was a web page.
What NOT to Include in Reporting?
Client reporting is not the place to present your credentials or advertise your firm. Exclude any irrelevant information that doesn’t pertain to the actual report.
Too much information could be irrelevant information. Don’t include data unless it is directly related to the main marketing objectives you set with your client. Clients care about the results and the work you do for them, not the story and numbers behind what was involved in getting there. For example, clients do not care how you fixed on-page SEO issue rather that you fixed it. Clients do care who send time working on their account, rather how much time spent. etc.
Reporting is important to your operation and even more to your clients. Creating meaningful reports could be a tedious task. Fortunately, we simplified it for you in Ignitur so you can focus on what really matters.