Marketing reports are an important part of not only better understanding customer behavior and emerging market trends, but also gauging the success of marketing efforts, increasing returns on marketing investments, aligning team members with current goals objectives and progress, and helping inform decisions in management, marketing and even operations.
Marketing reports can vary widely—while general marketing reports might look at a holistic picture of the total of an organization's marketing efforts, teams also may rely on more specific marketing reports, such as pay per click advertising reports, SEO marketing reports, ecommerce marketing reports, campaign marketing reports, email marketing reports and more.
Which success metrics are included in a report, how frequently a report is created and shared, and the intended audience of a report can all depend on the goals of a marketing report. It can be important to determine, based on the purpose of the report, how frequent it may be. When creating reports, it’s often important to consider the audience, the purpose of the report, and the frequency of the report when determining appropriate KPIs.
In order to better understand marketing reports, it can be important to understand what they have to offer, key components in an effective marketing report, some simple best practices to adhere to when reporting, and some of the KPIs that might be appropriate for different types of reports–as well as how regularly reports are created, and key considerations when determining how to create a report.
So what exactly do marketing reports offer? What is the objective of marketing reporting? How can they aid organizations in their goals? There are a few ways, the objective is almost always to provide valuable insights, and the benefits can be numerous. Marketing reports often make up an important component in a marketing strategy that prioritizes data driven decision making and deriving actionable insights.
Marketing reports can help organizations better understand how their marketing efforts pan out through careful analysis of trends over time—trends informed by success metrics, previously established with the organization's specific goals in mind. Here are some of the important functions of marketing reports:
The data itself in marketing reports can be an invaluable tool to organizations who seek to optimize and enhance their marketing effort, but that isn’t their only importance as a marketing and management tool. They also represent an important line of communication that enables marketing managers, leaders, and other relevant team members to remain well-informed about the performance and approach of the organization's marketing efforts.
Marketing reports often are generated consistently with specific goals and objectives; while general marketing reports are a common type of marketing report, marketing reports can also take a much more narrow focus.
For example, an organization might regularly generate and distribute timeline reports that are disengaged to align teams and update team members on the progress in certain initiatives - or marketing teams might generate regular campaign reports to keep track of a specific campaign they’re working on. Organizations also may use budget reports that look at the spending of different marketing efforts.
There are a range of frequencies at which reports can be generated, which can be an important factor informing the nature of different types of reports. Some common frequencies for marketing reports include:
Marketing reports can be used for a wide range of specific purposes, but regardless of its intended specific purpose, marketing reports typically aim to offer useful information that’s relevant to the audience. In order to ensure that that data is useful and relevant, it’s important to align the type of report to its intended purpose.
The frequency of a report can both inform and be informed by the goals and data of marketing reporting. For example, a daily report might focus on immediate changes, and include metrics that track daily changes — website traffic, sales closed, or even newly arisen issues. In a daily report, it may make more sense to discuss immediate day-to-day changes and only long-term outlook as it pertains to daily operations. However, in a quarterly marketing report, it may be crucial to focus on the big picture and paint a picture of progress toward long-term goals over time.
Marketing reports might be used to update a COO about the performance of a new digital marketing strategy designed to foster growth on a monthly basis, but they can also be used to align operations and marketing teams on a weekly basis. In both cases, marketers may be generating reports toward the same goals, but the different audiences can make a significant difference. The intended audience can inform the style of language used on a report, what highlights are included, the data that’s focused on, and how regular reports are.
What type of data might be included in marketing reports? The contents might vary a lot, and can depend on the intended audience, what type of report it is, and what the goals of the organization are at the moment. Success metrics and key performance indicators can be highly effective when they’re consistent, established early on, and tweaked if necessary.
But which ones should be included? Success metrics and KPIs should be relevant, helpful, and consistent.
For example, a weekly marketing report that specifically looks at pay per click advertising, or a PPC report, might include metrics such as cost per click, (CPC), number of clicks, conversions for the week, and the ROI of ads. However, a monthly general marketing report that looks across different marketing channels for a month might focus on metrics such as ROI per channel, leads generated, and sales closed.
Marketing reports can take various forms and approaches depending on their intended purpose - but there are some key components that are often used regardless of what type of marketing report it is.
Here’s some of the components of a marketing report that can be essential to include:
Through accurate analysis, marketing reports can offer actionable insights and help relevant audiences better understand the report. It can also be helpful to visualize data. For example, by charting out conversion rates, a marketing campaign report may be able to better paint a picture of how well a particular campaign is working.
For example, a monthly pay-per-click report that shows a clear trend of increasing costs per click without corresponding returns may make a recommendation that the issue be addressed.
In order to create effective marketing reports, it can be important to adhere to certain common best-practices. It can be crucial to ensure that marketing reports are consistent, efficiently generated, well-organized and easy to understand, and actionable. In order to do so, here are some important steps:
It’s essential to ensure that marketing reports are generated and disseminated as regularly and consistently as possible. Consider the most important goal in making any marketing report: being helpful. Just as it’s important to include relevant information and actionable insights, it’s essential that audiences can expect reports consistently. It can be helpful to create a schedule so that recipients will be informed ahead of time when they can expect reports.
In order to ensure that reporting is accurate and consistent, it can also be essential to make reporting sustainable and achievable. Creating efficient workflows for creating reports, whether through reporting solutions, or through the creation of templates, the utilization of software, and an internal standard operating procedure, it can be essential to find ways to streamline the process of reports in order to ensure that they’re consistent and high quality.
It’s often helpful to prioritize the most important information first and offer key takeaways as soon as possible. Offering the most relevant and important information first enables audiences to quickly find what they need, making the report more overall accessible.
Just as it’s important that reports are well-organized, it’s also important that they’re accessible and easy to understand. There are a few ways to do this, starting with ensuring that formatting is clear and legible. It’s also important to organize the data itself, both for driving actionable insights, and creating visualization when possible and applicable.
It’s important to consider what KPIs or success metrics one uses when creating marketing reports. The audience and goals of a report can influence what metrics might be important to include. Here are some examples of a few different types of reports and corresponding KPIs which may be appropriate:
A social media report is an important part of tracking social media marketing efforts. Social media marketing reports can be used to derive a general overview of social media marketing efforts across different platforms over time.
Here are some KPIs that might be particularly relevant in a social media marketing report:
Advertising marketing reports are often another important way to track online efforts. These, however, may focus even more on cost-effectiveness, as advertising generally represents a monetary investment.
Some KPIs that can be particularly relevant and useful include:
Specific advertising report types may include distinct metrics. For example, PPC or pay per click advertising marketing reports may include the following metrics:
And, display advertising marketing reports might include the following metrics:
SEO reports will often look at the performance of the organization’s web site itself. This can be particularly important for ecommerce businesses and other organizations that rely heavily on traffic to their website.
These types of reports will often look at metrics specifically relevant to search engine performance, such as:
Email marketing is an important marketing channel, even as online users increasingly opt to communicate via alternative means.
Importantly, email marketing reports will look at similar metrics to other reports, but specific to email marketing, such as:
Ecommerce marketing reports might look at an organization’s e-commerce efforts, whether or not the organization is primarily an ecommerce business.
These reports may look at a specific campaign or long-term trends, but metrics will generally be those which are relevant to ecommerce, such as:
General marketing reports often look at the total of all marketing efforts; this will often include all marketing channels, and anything else relevant to marketing.
General marketing reports are often aimed at providing a comprehensive look at an organization's marketing efforts, and as such, can include a range of relevant metrics, such as:
Narrative BI offers the capabilities and tools required to make reporting simple. For instance, Narrative BI can be used to easily create automated reports for Google Analytics 4 (GA4) mobile app data - helping provide insights into key metrics such as user engagement, retention, and conversion.
Google Analytics 4 can be a valuable source of insights, especially when used with mobile apps, enabling teams to better understand their customers’ behavior, derive actionable insights that can help predict future trends, and more. In addition to Google Analytics 4, Narrative BI also offers the ability for organizations to easily generate automated reports from Facebook Ads, and Google Ads, and - in the near future - will offer Hubspot and Salesforce reporting as well.
Narrative BI makes it simple to create automated reports and integrate powerful data, enabling teams to approach reporting in a more efficient and sustainable manner. With powerful features like slack integrations, sharing reporting is easier than ever. To learn more and get started, be sure to sign up today!