Your marketing report is a snapshot of your business. It helps you answer tough questions, like:
- How do you know if the campaign you ran last quarter worked?
- How can you get your boss to approve more budget for certain tactics?
- How can you show clients that the work you do for them gets them customers?
- If campaigns are falling flat, why? What might you do to fix them?
Your marketing report tells your marketing department and other key stakeholders where your business is at and where you’re going.
But, what do you put in it?
By the end of this post you’ll learn:
- What is a marketing report?
- 6 things to put in your marketing report (and where to find them)
- 4 things to remove from your marketing report
- How often you should make a marketing report?
- How to save time creating a marketing report
- Who should get the report?
What is a marketing report?
A marketing report is a collection of data from different marketing sources. It presents the performance of your business’s marketing efforts.
Marketing reports include information on:
- Marketing strategy
- Market research
- Ad and email campaigns
- Expected outcomes
Good marketing reports give you all the data you need to make a decision and take action. The information needed to make a decision is (usually) less than the amount of data that you actually have.
In other words: you don’t have to include everything.
Before you start to compile marketing info and create the report, stop and ask yourself:
What is the purpose of this report? What are we trying to get out of it?
The information you include in your report will shape your marketing strategy – so it’s crucial to think about which metrics are tightly connected to the success of your business.
A marketing report without a purpose is just a set of lonely numbers.
“The most important thing you can do to avoid misjudging something’s importance is to avoid lonely numbers. Never, ever leave a number all by itself. Never believe that one number on its own can be meaningful. If you are offered one number, always ask for at least one more. Something to compare it with.” – Hans Rosling in Factfulness
Some reasons to put together a marketing report are to:
- Justify marketing expenses
- Advocate for more marketing budget
- Figure out which marketing channels work, so you can focus on them
- Explore the allocation of resources for marketing purposes
- Find holes in your marketing strategy
There’s a fine line to walk. You need to include data that gives good, digestible insight. Information that you can use to tweak your existing strategy. But you don’t want to add every metric you have.
You want your team to view the report and have clear next steps. You don’t want them to be scratching their heads in confusion.
Simple is better.
6 things to put in your marketing report (and where to find them)
Even after you’ve decided to create a marketing report – what information should you put in it?
And once you’ve decided which numbers to include – where can you find them?
Every marketing tool you use probably has its own “reporting,” and the list of metrics you could include is a mile long. Which metrics you choose depends on your goals, but there are a few must-have metrics that are a good idea for any business.
The marketing report must-haves are:
- SEO data
- Email marketing data
- Leads and customers
The marketing report maybe:
6. Social media data
Begin with a reminder of what you’re working towards. Starting with the marketing department’s role in achieving the greater business goals gives the report a focus. It also gives your team some perspective. They’ll have something to compare the actual numbers to.
Be clear about your goals, and everything that follows will have more meaning. You’ll have a lens to see how each section fits into the bigger picture and contributes to the end game.
In each report, compare your progress towards your goal to the end goal. Possible goal targets include things like:
- Monthly or annual revenue
- Monthly traffic to your website (bonus: break it out by source of traffic)
- Your CSAT (customer satisfaction) score
- The number of leads you bring in each month
- Your conversion rate from new lead to new customer
Understanding where you are relative to those numbers will help you make adjustments to your marketing – before you fall too far behind to catch up.
Let everyone know why they’re doing what they’re doing, and then follow up with how they’re doing it.
2. Website analytics
Website analytics and SEO data give you the foundation to answer questions about your marketing strategy and website performance. It helps you understand how many people you reach through your website, and what they do on your website once they get there.
Here’s a good place to start:
- Your website traffic numbers – they tell you how many people are coming in contact with your business. Total site traffic numbers help visualize the size of your reach. The total traffic number gives you a frame of reference for your business’s position.
Then break it down further into the different types of traffic:
- Unique visitors – the number of individual people coming to your site, not total visits
- Paid vs. organic traffic – how many people are you driving to your site through ads, and how many are coming there naturally? If you’re paying for ads, how has the return on investment (ROI) been for them?
- Blog traffic – If you have a blog, how many people are reading it? Subscribing?
Once you have your traffic numbers laid out, shift to a different point of view. Zoom out for each of the current numbers and add a little context to the situation.
- Trends – What are the numbers like compared to last week? Last month?
- Areas that are performing well and areas that aren’t
- Which pages are attracting the most visitors?
- Where are visitors consistently landing?
- Where should you double down to continue success?
- What needs to change to improve unperforming pages?
Each business is different. Your business might not do any search engine marketing (SEM). You may not be advertising so you have no paid traffic. Some businesses don’t have a blog.
You can include and exclude metrics as it makes sense.
Other SEO data-points you might add to your marketing report are:
- Average visit duration – how long are people spending on your site? Several factors go into this metric:
- How engaging is your website?
- How long does it take to load?
- How well does your site match the intent of each visitor?
- Pay-per-click (PPC) – if you’re running ads, how much are you spending per engagement? This metric is a way of measuring the efficiency of your advertising.
- Page rankings – where does your business appear in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher you rank, the more visible your website is and the more traffic you can expect from organic search.
- Attribution– attribution measures where your visitors are coming from. Attribution uses utm parameters (special codes added to a website URL) to identify the source of the visitor. Attribution is important when you:
- have different sources of web traffic
- advertise across several channels
- want to know which channels perform best
- want to know which channels need improvement
But where do you find these measures in the first place?
There are several website-traffic measuring services. One of the most popular (and also free) services is Google Analytics. Google Analytics gives you access to thousands of metrics for your website, and any pages associated with your domain.
This is the weekly acquisition chart from the Google Analytics homepage. All your traffic numbers for the week in one place!
The homepage dashboard of Google Analytics shows you:
- Active users right now
- Active users in the last week
- Bounce rate
- Session duration
- Traffic by channel
- Trends over time
- User retention
- Time of day of visits
- Sessions by country
- Sessions by device
- What pages users visit
- Performance against goals
- Ad performance
And that’s just the homepage! You’re able to drill into all of these metrics as well as many others, adjust the date range, and segment your audience.
Google Analytics also gives your traffic trends in an easy to read graph.
These tools give you the information you’ll include in the SEO data section of your marketing report. All you have to do is determine which data you want, find it, pull it, and put it in your report!
3. Email marketing data
SEO and website traffic metrics show the total number of visitors to your site. But what about the people who are actively engaged with and subscribed to your content?
The email marketing section shows how your web traffic converts into subscribers and leads. It lets your team know:
- How your outreach is going
- What messages are resonating
- Engaged contacts
- Popular products and services
The numbers and stats to include in this section are:
- Emails sent
- How many emails did you send out to your subscribers or contacts?
- Email delivery
- The percentage of emails delivered into your contacts’ inboxes
- Email open rate
- The percentage of sent emails that your contacts opened
- Bounce rate
- The percentage of undelivered emails due to temporary (soft email bounces) or permanent (hard email bounces) issues
- Click-through-rate (CTR)
- The percentage of sent emails that your contacts clicked
- New subscribers
- The number of contacts you added to your email lists
- The number of contacts that unsubscribed from your email list
Use these measurements and see which email campaigns had the best numbers. From there you can determine the types of messages that resonate with your audience the best.
- Are they about a certain product or service?
- What type of email created the most activity?
- Which email resulted in the most leads or new customers?
This information is especially valuable to the sales department because these emails impact the sales pipeline. If you learn that your audience is particularly interested in a product or service offering, your sales team can find new ways to work it into their conversations.
Where do you find this information?
You can find stats on your email campaigns through your email service provider (ESP). ActiveCampaign offers in-platform reporting on several aspects of your email marketing activity:
ActiveCampaign gives you both the hard numbers as well as the calculated rates for each campaign and automation you send on the platform.
Every ESP is different and offers different levels of reporting. But each should have access (and give you access) to your stats.
4. Leads and customers
How do the metrics in your marketing report become leads and customers?
In other words, how does all this stuff turn into $$$?
This section of the marketing report should include:
- Number of new marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
- Engaged contacts that are more likely to become customers than other contacts
- Number of new sales qualified leads (SQLs)
- Contacts that show high levels of engagement and are ready to speak with sales
- Number of new customers
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
- The dollar amount needed to add a customer
- Cost per action (CPA)
- Dollars spent divided by customer actions (download gated content, form submission, signing up for a trial, etc.)
- Which sources are the leads coming from?
- Where are the quality leads coming from?
- Which channel brings in the most customers?
This section has the biggest connection to your business goals.
These numbers show what’s working and what isn’t. You’ll see the sources that are producing leads and customers for you (and you’ll see the channels that aren’t). Double down on those that are working, and figure out how to improve the sources that aren’t.
Where do you find this information?
To calculate MQLs and SQLs you’ll have to define what an MQL or SQL is for your business.
You can define MQLs and SQLs by:
How does a contact become a lead? How does a lead become a customer? What is the average level of engagement needed for each? When you define these, you have a method to measure how many you create.
In ActiveCampaign, you can set rules for contact scoring. When your reach a certain level of engagement, ActiveCampaign automatically labels them as a lead.
To calculate CAC – divide your total sales and marketing expenses by your number of new customers.
To calculate CPA – divide your total sales and marketing expenses by the number of conversions.
This section functions best at the very beginning or very end of the report. There are benefits to each. If you lead with this section then the sections that follow serve as an explanation. If you close the marketing report with it, it’s easy to see how these numbers came to be.
5. Explanations of the numbers
“Just as I have urged you to look behind the statistics at the individual stories, I also urge you to look behind the individual stories at the statistics. The world cannot be understood without numbers. And it cannot be understood with numbers alone.” – Hans Rosling in Factfulness
Add some context. Don’t let the numbers hang out on their own, especially if they’re open to interpretation. You don’t want anyone to assume anything that’s incorrect when there’s more at play than meets the eye.
- Did you see a dip in organic traffic this month because of a holiday or a site issue? Explain that.
- Was there an email offer sent out that spiked your CTR? Let them know!
- Did you get a shout-out from a news site or an influencer that led to a flood of MQLs? That’s an important detail you should share with the class!
Written explanations of your metrics can help key stakeholders (your boss, executives, your peers) understand what’s really happening. Explaining interesting spikes or fluctuations helps them form an accurate impression of your marketing.
The worst case scenario? You put all this work into pulling numbers and people get the wrong idea from them. Explanations prevent that.
6. Social media data
When should you include social media info in your marketing reports?
You should include social media in your reports if:
- You have brand awareness goals that social media reach is a part of
- You convert customers directly from social media (most commonly this is Instagram + an ecommerce business)
Social media platforms give great insights and analytics for your profiles:
- Ad performance
- Audience demographics
This data helps you see how your audience responds to your message. The audience demographics information is especially valuable. You might find that your perceived target audience isn’t the audience that’s actually engaged with your content.
Instagram gives you demographic information to see who your audience is, and helps in refining your target audience
Where do you find this information?
Social media information is available from each platform in the insights or analytics tabs in your home dashboard.
Facebook provides a breakdown of your business page and how it’s performing with several metrics
4 things to remove from your marketing report
- Metrics not tied to core values or goals
- Visuals that don’t add context
- Irrelevant data
1. Jargon works when two experts are talking and both know all the terms, acronyms, and subtleties. But most of the time it confuses people.
Merriam-Webster defines jargon as “obscure and often pretentious language marked by circumlocutions and long words” or “confused, unintelligible language”.
Don’t confuse your audience. Remove jargon from your marketing report.
2. Metrics not tied to core values or goals have no place in the report, either. They muddy the waters and take away from the numbers and figures that matter. Your audience can only hold so much in the brain at once.
Don’t take up valuable real estate with numbers that don’t mean much of anything.
- Every search engine ranking for every post
- Search engine ranking changes for keywords
- Website bounce rate
- CAC of a certain channel that isn’t designed to add customers (podcasts, welcome emails)
We’ve covered a lot of metrics in this post, and you don’t need to include all of them. Choose the metrics that make sense for your business. What metrics tie back to customers for you?
3. Visuals that don’t add context do the opposite and remove context from the audience.
Graphs, charts, and other visuals are more memorable that simple text. They’re a great way for your audience to remember information. But if you toss them in without explanation they do more harm than good.
Visuals are valuable tools, but can also confuse your audience. We’ve all seen a line graph with 100 different lines on it. That doesn’t help anyone understand anything (except maybe the 14 variations of blue).
They will remember the graph but not the reason why or the information it presented. If you plan to use a visual, give it the appropriate context and make sure it applies to your goals and objectives.
4. Irrelevant data frustrates your audience and lowers the quality of your marketing report. Good reports tell a story and give clarity. Irrelevant data makes the report harder to understand.There are a ton of marketing metrics available to you. But just because you have them doesn’t mean you have to put them in the report. Click To Tweet
Keep your purpose in mind and choose the data that tells the story and keeps it simple.
How often should you create a marketing report?
For the most part, a monthly marketing report is the best indicator of your marketing department’s performance. Monthly reports use a solid data set and show how you’re pacing towards your goals.
The different frequencies of reporting give you different advantages.
- Weekly marketing reports are good for individual teams within the larger marketing department.
- Team reports and updates are more granular than general marketing reports. They get further into the details, and not everyone has to see them.
- Weekly updates make teams aware of goal pacing.
- Monthly marketing reports are the most effective and helpful for most organizations.
- Goal tracking is easy to understand month over month
- Comparisons to previous months, or the same month from past years
- The data set is big enough to give an accurate projection for the future
- You can see trends and significant changes in context
- Quarterly marketing reports are valuable from a review standpoint. A larger data set reveals long-term trends and helps to make accurate projections. Quarterly comparisons also help to set expectations and plan for the future.
- Your business might stagnate in the summer but spike in the winter
- You can prepare for historically busy or slow times by analyzing the data
To save yourself time: Make a repeatable process for your marketing reports
Nobody wants to spend hours writing a marketing report every week, month, or quarter. And you don’t have to.
The process becomes repeatable once you know what you want to get out of it.
Follow these steps and you’ll have a repeatable process for how to write a marketing report:
- Determine the purpose of the report
- Ask what you want to learn from it
- Define your marketing goals
- Identify the information that will tell you what you want to know
- Assemble the marketing data in an order that tells the story
- Use the order as a marketing report outline for future reports
- Iterate and repeat
- Make changes to the marketing report template as needed
Who gets the report?
Beyond the marketing department, who else benefits from this information?
Two groups in particular will benefit from the information in the marketing report.
1. Sales – Marketing data is valuable information from the top of the funnel. Marketing efforts bring in the prospects and leads. Eventually some of those turn into SQLs for the sales team.
Sales benefits from the marketing report data in a few ways:
- Knowledge of how many leads come in
- Awareness of trends in lead flow as they happen
- Knowledge of what to expect and prepare for changes
- Recognize which messages, features, or products are generating the most interest
In a perfect world, the sales department takes the marketing report data and changes their pitch to match the marketing message that brings in leads. They’ll use marketing assets in outreach and conversations with prospective clients.
Aligning marketing and sales has huge benefits to your business.
2. Executives – key stakeholders learn where the business is headed from the marketing report. It’s a snapshot of the business. They can see the numbers of leads and customers that are coming in and evaluate the performance.
Executives don’t care about clicks, blog reads, or CPA numbers as much as the marketing department. If they’re involved in the marketing report presentation, it’s important to get as close to the $$$ numbers as possible.
Conclusion: 6 things to include in your marketing reportA marketing report works best when you have a defined purpose before you start. Keep it simple, keep it straightforward, and tell the story. Click To Tweet
These 6 items help you create an effective marketing report:
- Website analytics
- Email marketing data
- Leads and customers
- Explanations of the numbers
- Social media data