Anyone coming from the exciting yet often turbulent world of digital marketing knows that the underbelly of this niche hides some rather tedious, menial tasks that tend to make the entire experience feel, well, less exciting. Client reporting often falls into the category of those recurring menial tasks that can be somewhat detrimental to the levels of enthusiasm one has for their job. This is especially true for those catering to dozens or hundreds of clients that require weekly or monthly updates depicting their KPIs and the overall performance of their campaigns in 2019.
But this isn’t the only pain point attached to client reporting.
Not only does assembling pertinent metrics and creating comprehensive marketing reports take a lot of time, it can easily be done poorly, resulting in inadequate proof of your hard work, thus creating – you’ve guessed it – even more work.
Some low-quality reports may even cost you your clients.
In order to prevent your customer-relationship management reputation from depreciating, you must make sure that:
- Your reports are not too complicated and overwhelming in terms of data
- You’ve chosen the right goals for them
- You’ve focused on the right KPIs
- You’ve chosen the right way to track and measure those KPIs
- The very process of gleaning metrics and creating reports is not too time-consuming
All these potential mistakes can be obviated through:
- Grasping why and how all these elements factor into proper client reporting
- Learning the systematic process of making informative, effective, high-quality marketing reports and dashboards
Let’s start with the basics.
Understanding the Difference Between Reports and Dashboards
The main difference between reports and dashboards dwells in their purpose. To put it simply, the purpose of a report is to assist you in realizing where exactly your efforts require a different approach, help you make informed decisions that would improve your work and ultimately help you achieve better results. The purpose of a dashboard, however, should be measuring key goals over a certain period of time and comprehensively portraying them to your customers.
Let’s take a social media management example here:
- A report should tell you what factors are hurting your user acquisition and community growth efforts
- A dashboard should depict how many new members and users your online community snatched over the last month
Once you have a firm grasp on the concepts of reports and dashboards – it is time to:
Understand Who The Target Audience Is For Your Reports/Dashboards
Much like you probably wouldn’t ask your grandma to go to a Metallica concert with you (though this does sound like fun), and would instead ask one of your peers, sending right reports to wrong people could end up being quite counterproductive.
Context is everything. It is oftentimes just as important as the content itself.
In order to make informed decisions on which data to include in which report and which dashboard to send to which executive, one must know:
- Who their target audience is
- Which metrics are pertinent to which niche and sub-niche
- What type of data is crucial (or isn’t) for this particular client
- Which executive level seeks what type of KPIs
- Learn which metrics this particular client finds important
Contrary to Kanye West’s popular rubbish-packed quote that went viral a few years back – everything in the world is NOT exactly the same. Digital marketing agencies catering to hundreds of clients know this quite well. Clients are like snowflakes – they are all different (at least they like to think they are). And to be able to assemble perfect dashboards for them, you must learn what type of report works best for each of your clients.
Ideally, this is done either by asking them directly about the metrics and goals they prefer in their reports and dashes, or by learning this organically along the way.
Let’s say you are creating a dashboard to report about a LinkedIn Social campaign you are running for a certain client. The metrics for this type of campaign are manifold and some of these include: Impressions, Clicks, Comments, Page Views, Engagement Rate, Unique Impressions, Likes, Shares, Share Mentions, etc…
Of course, you can include all of them, but finding that sweet spot combination for each client separates great reports from mediocre ones.
Note: Dashboards and reports that feature an overwhelming amount of data can be too hard to follow at a glance.
- Learn which audience level seeks which KPIs
Each company has a chain of command and different staff levels for a reason. Mixing these levels is not a good idea. Don’t include trivial data in the dashboard you will be sending to a CEO or a CIO of a company you are catering to (unless they specifically ask you to do so).
Different decision-making levels require different KPIs and goals.
A CEO of a company doesn’t necessarily care about how many Comment Mentions their LinkedIn profile has. Their Social Media Manager, on the other hand, probably does.
- Help your client understand which data is relevant for them
Client reporting is a two-way street. Teaching your target audience which KPIs should be in focus is just as important as you finding out what they seek. If they won’t stop fixating on the wrong metrics, chances are your reports won’t be properly accepted, even though your dashboards and efforts might be spot on. Teach them how to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of metrics and KPIs.
How to Create Informative, High-Quality Reports and Dashboards
1. Choose the Right Goal(s)
This is where the magic happens. The first step should be figuring out the overarching goal of your dashboard that would pose as the main indicator of your progress. Then later, accordingly, you should opt for the right KPIs.
The goal should answer the following type of question:
~~ Have our efforts in ______(General Goal)______ been successful? ~~
Since we’ve opted for a social media related example throughout this article, the goal can be: “reaching 1000 members for your Facebook group” or “reaching 1000 fans on my Facebook page.”
Once you have a clear goal to portray the progress of your campaign, it is time to gather all the metrics that are closely related to the goal you have chosen. Then, from that huge basket of KPIs, you should come up with the optimal combination of the most paramount ones.
2. Carefully Cherry-Pick the Right Metrics
Metrics are the main building blocks of your dashboard.
Think of them as players for a basketball team, and you are the coach. In order to win the game (i.e. show your client the progress through proper reporting) you must assemble an all-round team with strong players in all positions. You can’t exactly win a game with 5 point guards.
Implementing this logic is crucial for making comprehensive, high-quality dashboards. Showing only the Fans Count metric, for example, won’t really do the trick. You will probably need to include some of these as well:
- Organic Page Impressions
- Page Reach
- Age & Gender
- Engaged Users…
Only then will your client get the wider picture on their campaign progress and a better grasp on their target audience.
Important: Choosing a goal is closely related to deciding which metrics would define it. The trick is, certain metrics may potentially send you deep into the weeds later on should they start to decrease. Ideally, none of the metrics you choose to include should be completely outside your control.
Let’s say you are creating a dashboard for your client’s Facebook Ads campaign. The number of metrics you can include in this type of report is astounding, and including too many of them will most likely confuse the client. Generally speaking, most pertinent metrics for FB Ads would include:
- CTR (Click through rate)
- CPC (Cost per click)
- CPM (Cost per mille/1,000 impressions)
- CPA (Cost per Action)
- Ad Frequency
However, as we mentioned before, each client is different and will probably require unique approach when it comes to which KPIs work for them.
The key purpose of the KPIs you choose for your dashboard shouldn’t be “this is why your performance was sub-par,” but rather: “here’s the performance of your goal over this particular period of time and it requires (or doesn’t require) action.”
4. Create Informative/Comprehensive/Concise Dashboard Layouts
If you are not using a client reporting tool to help you build your own dashboards and widgets, we recommend following these instructions:
- The content should be in focus, so don’t over-embellish in terms of style, color or design.
- Make the question each graph is answering visible.
- Find the perfect ratio when it comes to graph sizes and styles. Put prominent KPIs in focus by making larger and more conspicuous graphs for them.
- If possible, organize your report so all metrics are visible on a single screen.
5. Find an Intuitive, User-Friendly Client Reporting Tool
For those using a client reporting tool like Reportz, tracking/assembling key data and creating high-quality marketing dashboards is an automated process that reduces the time needed for client reporting to mere minutes.
The main tasks that are automated by utilizing a tool like Reportz include:
- Gathering pertinent real-time metrics for each of your clients individually
- Choosing which KPIs to include in your report
- Finding niche-based templates that will cut the process even shorter
- Arranging and organizing them the way you and your clients want, through custom-made dashboards and widgets
- Keeping track of KPIs in real time and for any date range you prefer
- Making informed decisions on what needs to be done to improve the overall performance of your campaign
Here’s how Facebook Ad template dashboard and widgets may look like should you choose to deploy our easy-to-use white label reporting utility. Below you can see almost all the metrics available for FB ads dashboards. All you have to do is click on SET DATA, connect the data source and the widgets will provide appropriate graphs for these KPIs:
Once Reportz finishes retrieving data, the dashboard and its widgets should look something like this:
We hope that you are now a couple of steps closer to creating informative, concise, comprehensive, high-quality reports and dashboards. Just like with almost any aspect of digital marketing, the perfect symbiosis of quality content (in this case the right metrics) and comprehensive yet cool design of your dashboards is what you should aim at.
And remember, great reports and dashboards should not only be passive portrayals of your past efforts. They should instead be active checkpoints that will help both you and your client avoid making previous mistakes. They should serve as dynamic incentives for making better decisions in the future and should thus help you boost your overall progress.
To experience all the advantages of automated client reporting, try Reportz for FREE.