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7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Marketing Reports

Right Source | December 1, 2017
7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Marketing Reports

Many company leaders are convinced that reporting on their company’s marketing efforts is impossible. Research shows that chief marketing officers across the board don’t know what metrics they should measure, and they’re not confident in their team’s ability to use analytics effectively. But without that reporting, it’s hard to prove that your efforts are contributing to company success (and that your department is worth the extra budget next year).

To the marketers and company leaders that say reporting on marketing efforts is impossible, I say that’s hogwash, nonsense, and mostly hooey. Here are seven easy ways to get the most out of your marketing reports.

Know your data and document that knowledge
You don’t need to be a data expert to generate valuable reporting, but you do need to know which variables give you the numbers you are looking for. To make sure you’re equipped to get the data you actually want from those reports, ask your CRM or marketing automation administrator to arm you with a list of data fields, descriptions, and field types (e.g., picklist, number, or text).

Keep those lists handy, and then match up that list of fields with the reporting that’s most important to your organization. For example, do you know how to find the pipeline values? Booking values? Net new leads? Total cost for a marketing initiative? When you understand how to find those things, your reporting will be much more valuable.

Organize, organize, organize
Data for marketing initiatives is only useful if it’s organized. Make sure your data is available by time period (date, quarter, month, week), type of campaign, vendor, partner, and content. Gathering these data points at the campaign level will help you slice and dice for more robust reporting. For example, by tracking first, last and mid-campaign touches, you can more accurately attribute bookings to specific marketing initiatives — which can help you see the attribution picture as a whole.

Different initiatives = different success metrics
No two campaigns are created equal. A newsletter send may be defined as successful based on the number or percentage of opens, while the success of an event invitation send is typically measured by the number of click-throughs to the registration page. By defining your success metrics early in the planning process, you can optimize your reporting and make sure you track the elements that are most relevant to each campaign.

Standardize your reports
Use your technology to create standard reports with clear, repeatable filters and timeframes that don’t require updating. For example, if you create a report for “last month,” you can run that same report on the first of each month to generate a standard report — without creating it from scratch each time.

In general, avoid granular filtering on fields like record owner name. If your filters get too complicated, consider creating formula fields (available in most CRMs) to help reduce the number of filters. Rather than displaying two numeric fields, for example, you could create one formula field that takes those two numbers and calculates a percentage. These fields can help you and your team see the right data at a glance.

Once you have your reports created, template those reports! One-off reports and dashboards can be great in a pinch, but tend to only be useful once. You’ll get much more long-term value from standard, templated reports.

Know the sales cycle and lead funnel
Determine how long it takes a marketing-qualified lead to mature into a booking. This can provide a standard reporting timeframe for marketing-originated or marketing-influenced bookings. It also helps to understand the steps a lead takes to become a customer — once you know this, you can visualize the lifecycle of a lead. A typical lead funnel shows awareness (site visits) at the top; known leads, qualified leads, leads accepted by sales, and opportunities in the middle; and bookings (customers) at the bottom. From lead generation to closed business, the lead funnel is a great way to demonstrate and quantify the partnership between marketing and sales.

Visualize your message
This can be as straightforward as a simple table showing an increase or decrease in marketing-qualified leads, or as much fun as a picture of your colleagues as a bar graph showing an upward trend in their heights. The point is, visuals help your audience understand the success of your marketing efforts at a glance. Just know who will be viewing the visuals, so you can make it meaningful to them. You always want your audience to “get” the story you are telling — and avoid overloading them with irrelevant metrics or too much complex, hard-to-digest information.

Out with the old
You know that pile of junk in your garage that’s been around for years, growing steadily and providing no value to you at all? The same can happen if you keep your old reports around. Don’t let old reports clutter your system — make sure to archive reports and dashboards that are no longer relevant or aren’t reporting the data correctly.

Marketing reporting will only continue to grow and advance — and it will always be one of the best ways to prove your marketing efforts are working. Learn how to document, standardize, and visualize your data, and you’ll have no problem proving your campaigns’ successes.

Make sure you have all the tools you need to support your marketing efforts by downloading our checklist, “5 Marketing Technology Must-Haves for the Modern Marketer.” If you need more help with reporting, marketing technology, or using your tools most effectively, get in touch.

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About Right Source:

The Marketing Trenches blog provides thought leadership from actual marketing practitioners, not from professional thought leaders. Designed to help business leaders make more educated marketing decisions, our insights come directly from our experience in the trenches. You can find more from Right Source on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.