How to Get Better Reports From Your Marketing People
Author: Jeremy Harrison
“That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.” – Karl Pearson
Are your marketing reports giving you the information you need to make good decisions? No matter how pretty they might look, or how fast those bar graphs are climbing up and to the right, most marketing reports are really not all that useful.
To help illustrate the problem, let me introduce you to three people. Perhaps you can identify with one of the characters in this story:
Meet Julie. Julie is the Director of Marketing at a growing company. She is smart and savvy, and she has rightfully earned the trust of Jim.
Meet Jim. Jim is the President and CEO of the company, and Julie reports directly to him. Jim knows there’s a lot on Julie’s plate and that she can’t do it on her own, so he encourages Julie to seek the help of Jon.
Meet Jon. Jon is a freelance digital marketing expert who helps Julie with the digital portion of her marketing strategy.
At first, things are going well—their ads look sharp and web traffic is up! Julie and Jon are both feeling great about how everything is running.
Meanwhile, Jim hears from the sales team that they aren’t getting enough leads. He hears rumors of a new competitor in their space. He starts to feel the impact on his bottom line. He’s stressed. Jim emails Julie and asks for a meeting tomorrow. He wants her to bring ideas about what can be done to generate more leads.
Now Julie is stressed too. She pulls the latest report from Jon. There’s a ton of digital marketing stats and graphs, which all look positive, but it’s kind of confusing. It doesn’t say anything about the trends they’ve noticed with their competition or the decrease in leads they’ve seen.
Julie realizes the report isn’t going to help her during her meeting with Jim, so she scrambles to try to figure it out on her own. It’s been a few months since she started working with Jon, and it occurs to her that the reports he sends are always filled with good news. As more months go by, she realizes she never bothers to share the reports with Jim; they don’t seem to reflect the reality of what he’s experiencing and end up causing tension between Jim and Julie. Julie finds herself disregarding the reports altogether and hunting for her own data to help her and Jim make good decisions.
This seems to be the norm. Here are four ways marketing reports can go wrong:
The report may have pages and pages of beautiful charts and data, but it has no bearing on what your organization actually cares about. In fact, all of the metrics were set by the marketing vendor, not you. Irrelevant data might look pretty, but it doesn’t help you make key decisions about your business operations.
Every metric on your report has a green light, thumbs up, or smiley face next to it, designed to make you feel good about what’s happening. As a result, the reports ignore or gloss over issues instead of drawing attention to them.
Too Much Data
There are hundreds of ways to analyze digital marketing data, and your report includes all of them. This is a case of information overload: every metric is reported on with so much techno-babble that none of it even makes sense.
Not Actionable Data
Your report shows that activity is happening, but it doesn’t tell you what to make of this activity. Based on the data, there aren’t any useful next steps to improve and solve the company leader’s most pressing issues.
The bottom line is this:
Most marketing reporting serves the marketing vendor, not you.
“Jon” created the marketing report to show “Julie and Jim” why they should re-up and keep working with him. The report itself is a marketing tactic to retain Jon’s customers.
What does effective reporting look like?
As part of your company’s attempt to build, measure, and learn, reporting is vital. Effective reports should address these questions:
- What metrics really matter to me (not to my marketing vendor)?
- What is NOT working right now?
- What can I do to improve? (Or, what will my marketing vendor do to improve?)
- What is currently on our unresolved issues list?
Spire’s approach to marketing is rooted in the practice of open, real communication. We decide on and set metrics upfront that matter to our clients. Then, we design reports based on those metrics that tie to their goals, not ours.
We treat every business like it’s our business and take ownership of results. Your success is our success. When we share a common list of issues we know are important to our clients, we can work together to address their most pressing issues and arrive at solutions.
When clients work with Spire, they come to expect no sugar-coating in reports. If something isn’t performing the way we hoped it would or even needs to be eliminated, our clients know about it. Using actionable data, we provide a clear recommendation for what we believe will help them get better results.
At the end of the day, your reports should reflect what’s actually happening in your business, not project some fantasy that makes things look better than they are. If your reports are just one more sheet of paper you toss directly into the recycling bin, give Spire a call.