3 Ways to Simplify Digital Marketing Reporting

You’ve planned, strategized, and launched your campaign. And now it’s time to tackle a universal pain point for agencies and brands alike: reporting. For the majority of digital marketers, managing cross-channel campaign data is a manual, error-prone, time consuming process.

Data Professionals Statistic

In fact, data professionals––people who have been trained specifically to do this work––spend 40% of their time gathering and cleaning data. That likely means that many digital marketers are spending well over 40% of their time on this process. So how do you make reporting easier? 

Lay the data story groundwork early

In a recent e-book titled “5 Expert Tips for Fearlessly Creating Winning Paid Ad Strategies,” Lumenad Digital Marketing Expert Alexandra Deuel encouraged digital marketers to think across the full marketing funnel when planning campaigns, diversify ad spend, and carefully consider your audience and your competition when it comes to channel and budget strategy. These first three steps, says Deuel, “set you up for success when you get to this stage of the process. Understanding your client’s end goal allows you to make smart, strategic decisions.”

“Agencies that strive to understand that every client is unique will have a better chance of gaining trust and confidence, and help each client feel like their agency is an extended part of their team. Value comes in tailored solutions. Success comes through understanding a client’s business model as well as their goals.”  –Forbes Agency Council

Another key ingredient in setting yourself up for success is understanding how your client likes to tell their data story. A data story includes the metrics that align to the client’s unique business goals and shows a clear progression toward meeting specific, meaningful digital advertising KPIs

“There’s no point taking time to include information they find irrelevant or unnecessary to report on for their stakeholders,” says Deuel. Defining your client’s data story needs early on is imperative to giving them exactly what they need and to avoiding wasting time on either end. By showing your client you care about their needs, are actively working to make their campaign successful, and can align data in a meaningful way for them, you develop trust. 

You also shave time off of your reporting process by having clearly defined reporting parameters set from the beginning.

Develop your digital detective skills

Another important step to facilitating reporting that might not be so obvious is looking outside your immediate ad campaign or marketing campaign data. “Maybe you’re trying to drive sales to the client’s website, but it’s not mobile-friendly, and that’s where most of their traffic is coming from,” Deuel says. “Maybe you’re driving people to a landing page and the load time takes too long, so they leave.” Weak calls to action and ineffective creative that don’t resonate with the audience can also be culprits. 

Digital Marketing Reporting Detective Skills

If you’re just looking at data downloaded from ad platforms, you may be consistently confused by low performance. Spinning your wheels on why you can’t seem to make major improvements in meeting KPIs can lead you down rabbit holes that could be avoided by looking outside your immediate campaign. 

Consider the available technology

While the previous two steps help to clearly define client data needs and find problems outside of campaigns that can affect performance, the process of data gathering, cleaning, standardizing, and analysis is still the biggest challenge to time-strapped digital agency marketers. 

“You have to give reporting the time it needs to be accurate and useful for the client,” says Deuel. “But then you have all your other tasks piling up. It’s not fun.” With data spread across several platforms that define and label metrics differently, it can be incredibly difficult to achieve an apples-to-apples comparison. 

“The focus becomes figuring out how to get all of the data into one place and speaking the same language,” says Deuel. She recommends considering the tech that’s available to help digital marketers save time in the reporting process, so you can spend more time focusing on what your data is saying and optimize your campaigns.

Simplifying digital marketing reporting is really about embracing the challenges proactively during the process of building, launching and reporting on campaigns. Clearly defining the data story you need to tell; knowing how, when and where to investigate when campaign results appear to be coming up short; and utilizing the right technology and tools to make reporting faster, easier, and more accurate are all methods that are well within the reach of digital marketers today.