Did you know that mobile devices account for 54.4% of global web traffic and that 45% of emails got shuffled into the “spam” folder in January 2021? Or that email marketing influences the purchasing decisions of 28% of consumers in the UK?
These aren’t just fun facts — these statistics paint a picture of the current marketing landscape.
In 2022, understanding your marketing through data is vital. That’s where marketing reporting comes in.
Marketing reporting is the process of gathering, analyzing, and presenting data on marketing activities and campaigns. Ultimately, marketing reporting helps you adjust your campaigns to fit your audience’s tastes and preferences.
But effective marketing reporting looks different for everyone, so how do you make it work for your business?
This article will teach you everything you need to know about marketing reporting, including which metrics to track, use cases, and how to build a report.
Marketing reporting basics every marketer should know
Marketing reporting is the process of gathering data from your marketing activities, tracking and analyzing specific metrics, and using that data to break down the performance of your different marketing channels and activities. This typically involves tables and graphs that help you recognize patterns across big data sets.
Today, most marketing teams use smart analytics tools and CRMs to create real-time performance reports rather than manually compiling reports themselves.
They may also try to distill the data into a few key Business Intelligence (BI) insights, nuggets of knowledge that impact key business decisions. For example, a brand might notice that the majority of their revenue from email marketing came from a specific type of email, like a case study or how-to guide featuring multiple products. In that case, they could pivot their email marketing to include more content of this style.
Benefits of marketing reporting
The benefits of marketing reporting are valuable:
- It shows you which channels and campaigns drive revenue and which ones you should scale down or avoid.
- It helps you monitor your progress over time.
- It helps you identify patterns so that you can better predict future success.
- It helps you prove the value of your marketing to others (coworkers, bosses, clients, etc.).
- It identifies areas for improvement and new avenues to try.
Different use cases for marketing reporting
Marketing reporting has use cases such as helping you understand your target audience’s behavior on your website, finding the best posts for increasing brand awareness, and identifying what makes an advertising campaign “clickable” enough to increase sales.
Here are common types of marketing reports:
- General marketing reports compare all your marketing channels over a long period.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing reports examine your organic traffic, keywords, backlinks, visitor demographics, and the behavior of your website visitors.
- Paid-Per-Click (PPC) marketing reports cover revenue, engagement, and profitability from your PPC ads. Specific PPC data analytics platforms even allow a selection of personalized dimensions connecting all the sources of the data
- Social media marketing reports cover social media engagement on organic and paid posts, as well as sales and traffic.
- Content marketing reports cover views, clicks, shares, and your click-through rate (CTR) for your content marketing efforts (including video content marketing, podcasts, blog posts, etc.).
- Email marketing reports include open rates, email engagement rates, CTR, your spam rate, and other email-centric marketing metrics.
- User behavior reports analyze how visitors act on your website or app, their preferred pages, and more.
The behavior flow report in Google Analytics is an example of real-time reporting on your website or app user behavior.
We mentioned a few common metrics for each of these report types, but the ideal performance metrics for you may differ depending on your brand, goals, and audience.
The ideal frequency of marketing reporting
Marketing reporting is an ongoing activity, so it’s common for brands to create weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly marketing reports — depending on the report type.
General marketing reports are usually quarterly or yearly, as they focus on the big picture and involve a lot of manual work and analysis.
SEO, PPC, email marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing reports help you make changes in real-time, so you can maximize their value by reporting on them more frequently, like weekly. The brunt of the analysis is also done for you by analytics tools, so they require less work.
How to use marketing reporting and what you should include
Marketing reporting should be like your investment analyst for your marketing campaigns — it explains what works and where you should spend your budget. By measuring real performance metrics, you can see which campaigns, ad groups, and individual ads actually drive traffic, sales, and revenue.
Use this data to double down on what works, divest from what doesn’t, and test and improve your marketing messaging.
Speaking of metrics — here’s a list of common metrics used in marketing reporting:
- Cost per lead
- Conversion rate
- Traffic by channels
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Social media engagement rate
- Email bounce rate
- Open rate
- Customer lifetime value (CLV)
- Average pages per session
- Return-on-Ad-Spend (ROAS)
When it comes time to apply these metrics, you’ll want to compile them into a report — more on this later.
A monthly report is usually shorter than an end-of-year report, and it may only include highlights. An end-of-year report is typically longer and includes big-picture metrics like your
overall marketing return on investment (MROI), your key performance indicators (KPIs), and your year-over-year (YoY) performance.
Marketing activities commonly measured via a marketing report
You can technically assess anything marketing-related with marketing reporting, though the most common activities people measure are:
- SEO efforts
- Social media campaigns
- Content marketing efforts
- Website effectiveness
- PPC campaigns
- Traditional marketing channels
How to build a marketing report
Now that you know the basics of marketing reporting, here’s how to construct a report step-by-step:
Step 1. Choose goals and metrics to track
Without goals, you won’t know what “good” and “bad” performance looks like. Naturally, setting goals is the first thing you need to build a marketing report.
The most valuable goals are SMART goals, meaning goals that are:
- Specific = you know exactly what you are aiming for.
- Measurable = you are measuring progress with a quantifiable metric.
- Achievable = the goal is appropriate for your team and company with your current resources.
- Relevant = the goal is specific to your brand.
- Time-based = the goal has a time limit.
You can set SMART goals with the formula “by the end of (time period), we will (milestone) by (metric).” For example: “by the end of 2022, our sales team will contact 15% more leads daily.”
Next, you need to select specific things to track based on your goals and the category of metrics you need.
Here’s a summary of metrics you could use:
|Traffic metrics = metrics that assess organic or inorganic traffic||Pageviews Traffic by channelTraffic by country or age Bounce rate|
|Engagement metrics = metrics that assess how customers and leads interact with you||NPSCLVAverage pages per session|
|Conversion metrics = metrics that assess when/how leads take a desired action||Conversion rate CTROpen rate|
|Operational metrics = metrics that assess your financial and managerial success||Cost per leadROASMROI|
Step 2. Start collecting data
Next, you need to collect data for your reports.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are excellent options if you are collecting data for traffic metrics. Google Analytics handles marketing data from social media, paid advertisements, and your website, while Google Search Console looks at how people and search engines engage with your website.
If you want to collect social media data, you can use Facebook Pixel, SocialBlade, and native analytics tools like Instagram Insights or YouTube Creator Studio.
However, you need to integrate data from all channels into one platform to make the most of your data. In other words, you need a customer relationship management (CRM) tool like ActiveCampaign. A high-quality CRM will help you automate your marketing workflows, collect data automatically, connect to third-party apps, and provide valuable insights in real-time.
Step 3. Analyze your data and look for BI insights
Once you’ve collected your data, it’s time to look for patterns, trends, and actionable insights that can help you improve your future marketing efforts.
A CRM tool like ActiveCampaign can pull these insights from your analytics dashboard.
You can also break down the data in more detail by using our Microsoft Power BI integration. Or, if you are working with a large data set, you may choose to use a BI tool like ClicData, Fullstory, or Zoho Analytics, all of which ActiveCampaign integrates with.
Step 4. Design your marketing report
Finally, it’s time to compile your findings into a marketing report. Key components of a marketing report include:
- A summary. This section should give the reader an overview of the report, including your marketing successes, challenges you faced, and the following report period’s goals.
- Your marketing strategy. This section should explain your strategy, including the tactics you used and why.
- Your goals, process, and reporting period. This section should state how you define success and what your goals are. You should also clearly define your reporting period and how you collect data.
- Your output metrics. These metrics relate to what you invested during the reporting period. For example, you should account for time, resources, funds, and your workforce.
- Key findings. This section summarizes your metrics. If your report covers multiple marketing projects or campaigns, you could add several subsections.
- Comparisons. This section compares your progress in this reporting period to progress in a previous month, quarter, or year.
- BI insights. This section shares key insights you can use to boost your performance in the future.
You could also include a SWOT analysis of your marketing — looking at your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Note: Don’t be afraid to customize your report to your brand and add/remove sections. Your marketing is unique, and your report should be, too.
Best practices for effective marketing reporting, plus example
All marketing reports aren’t equal. Some reports provide key insights that will transform a brand’s next step, while others fail to deliver any insights.
So, how do you get the most from your report? Follow these four best practices:
Visualize your data
Few people can look at a large dataset and spot a game-changing trend with the naked eye, so it’s best to transform your data into a format that’s easier to interpret — like a visualization.
Visualizations are graphical representations of data. Tables, line graphs, charts, heat maps, pie charts, and maps are all types of visualizations.
Supplement quantitative findings with qualitative feedback
Hard, qualitative numbers are crucial for assessing your marketing success, but it’s a mistake to rely on them without seeking feedback from your audience. Quantitative figures can answer the “what,” “who,” and “how” questions, but not the “why” questions.
To get an accurate picture of your data, make sure you supplement your findings with data about how customers think, feel, and react.
You can collect this qualitative data by speaking with a sample of customers one-on-one or sending out a survey — ActiveCampaign makes it easy to do this at scale.
Account for seasonal trends
Imagine this: a sporting goods retailer measures its conversion rate from December 1 to 31 and discovers it’s 3.6%. This figure is substantially higher than the industry average of 1.5% — so that’s fantastic, right?
For many brands, December is a top-performing sales period as people shop for winter holiday gifts, the New Year, and the end-of-financial-year (EOFY).
Looking at your conversion rate for only December would give you an inaccurate picture of your marketing efforts. To get a clearer picture, account for seasonal fluctuations over major holidays and spending periods.
Integrate data from multiple channels into a single dashboard with a CRM
Finally, measuring progress on multiple marketing channels with different tools may cause you to make mistakes or fail to spot a key trend. Additionally, manually calculating important figures like your MROI or ROAS can get fiddly, so you might accidentally miss something and miscalculate.
Integrate your data into a single dashboard using a CRM to make your marketing reporting process efficient and accurate. Below is an example of using the GreyMetrics integration to visualize data from the ActiveCampaign CRM.
Marketing reporting is the process of collecting, analyzing, and drawing actionable insights from your campaigns. It will track your progress, report your performance to others in your company, and adjust your future campaigns.
Every brand’s reporting looks different, depending on their chosen channels and campaigns. However, most reports include:
- A summary
- An overview of your marketing strategy
- Output metrics
- Key findings
- BI insights
No matter how you structure your report, don’t forget to account for seasonal trends, use visualizations, and seek qualitative feedback from customers. And, of course, use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool like ActiveCampaign to handle your data easily.
ActiveCampaign can automate your marketing activities, report on sales, and analyze your campaigns on multiple channels.
Try ActiveCampaign today by signing up for a free 14-day trial.