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How to analyze marketing reports

Written by Rebecca DiCioccio, member of the Growth team at Paperform.
8 minute read

A question that many business owners ask their marketing team is, “How are we doing?” The marketing team addresses the query with a marketing report. 

Marketing reports sit at the core of the marketing strategy. A marketing report acts as a monitoring and diagnostic tool. It is designed by collecting data from the relevant marketing channels to gain insightful knowledge into the strategy’s performance. 

Here is a guide on how to analyze your marketing reports for success. 

forecasting

Why are marketing reports important?

To use a simple comparison, running a company with no marketing report is similar to driving a car with your eyes shut. You will have no feedback regarding your surroundings, situation, proximity to the goal, direction, or even the state of your vehicle. 

Having marketing reports lets you illustrate the performance of your marketing activities. It is crucial to sustainable business growth. 

Decision-makers use the marketing report to monitor business developments: 

  • Track progress on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis,
  • Address wins and losses in the strategy,
  • Keep an audit history of performance for forecast purposes.

Therefore, decision-makers need to understand how to read a report. To make the most of the insights, you need to identify which type of marketing report you are using, how to use it, and which key performance indicators (KPIs) are meaningful. 

Understanding the different types of marketing reports

There are a variety of marketing reports, each with a unique purpose. Breaking down marketing activities into their own reports makes it much easier to review and take an in-depth look at each strategy. Although there are various types of reports, they typically include the following metrics: 

  • Sales revenue
  • Leads
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Search engine rankings
  • PPC performance
  • Social media traffic
  • Conversion rates
  • Digital marketing ROI

In order to accurately understand the competency of any activity, KPI’s need to be considered. A KPI is a numerical metric that measures specific performance in marketing channels. Marketing reports refer to standard-set KPIs to track progress within a period. Each type of marketing report looks at different KPIs that are relevant to the specific marketing strategy. It is important to recognize that KPIs need to align with specific business goals, which set a clear objective within a time frame. For instance, if you wish to increase lead generation, the business needs to agree on what to achieve, the relevant activities, and the period to see success.

A digital marketing team will generally report on the following activities and strategies:

man looking at business results

General marketing report

The general marketing report provides the big picture, showing an overview of all marketing activities combined. This will show whether the marketing efforts are supporting business goals without showing the details of individual activities.

One of the main inclusions in a general marketing report includes digital marketing ROI. This is an overview of the revenue generated based on the marketing investment. This identifies ineffective strategies and forecasts future marketing activities and budgets. General reports may also look at leads, such as the volume of leads, origin, and the best performing campaign or funnel, and the cost of each lead. It is also common to include information about conversion rates. The conversion rate measures how many visitors perform a valuable action. It is a goal-tracking KPI that identifies the best-performing channels, campaigns, and traffic types for each goal.

Search engine marketing (SEM) report

SEM reporting typically handles SEO and Pay Per Click performance. The report monitors organic and paid-for visits, ranking position and factors in the SERPs, overall keyword strategy, and PPC click and cost performance. 

SEM reports aim to consider how well the website is ranking,  what is helping the business to achieve these goals, and what could be improved upon. 

An important KPI to look at in an SEM assessment is the search engine ranking of the company’s website. Search engine rankings showcase where a website ranks for individual targeted keywords or phrases. Marketers also often include competitors’ positions as well as relevant SEO costs and algorithm updates. 

Digital advertising reports

Companies that diversify their ad management activities with display ads, shopping campaigns, and even video campaigns on YouTube should create a dedicated marketing report for all paid marketing activities. These reports should include detailed information about how well PPC campaigns are performing. 

When assessing PPC, each ad campaign will be broken down and looked into individually. This allows marketers to consider which campaigns are generating results and which are failing. In order to establish this, marketers will track the return of pay-per-click campaigns. PPC reviews focus on the number of clicks and converting clicks, conversion rates, conversion costs, and ad position and visibility. Ad reports are vital because creating paid ads can be expensive, so it is essential to understand which ads are just costing money and not resulting in conversions or leads.

Email marketing reports

track the performance of email campaigns. They monitor whether campaigns reach your audience and fulfill their engagement goals. Most emailing tools, such as MailChimp automatically track campaigns. 

When going over email reports, marketers will be looking at a few main KPIs. This includes how many emails have been sent in a specific time period, how many emails are landing in the recipient's inbox as opposed to their spam folder, the open rate, and the reply rate.

Content marketing reports

Content marketing reports monitor your digital content performance in terms of engagement and brand awareness. They tend to track different channels, such as video, podcast, and blog performance

Some important metrics to track when it comes to content marketing include how many people are visiting the page, how long they stay on the page, and how many likes, shares, and comments each post receives. This information can be invaluable as it allows marketing teams to understand what their consumer base or audience likes, and therefore create future content that is similar in style. 

E-commerce reports

Finally, E-commerce reports monitor the performance of your E-commerce activities. They can be similar to a general report, but they also include transactional data. 

Sales revenue often appears on E-commerce reports and dedicated sales-supporting strategies. It is compared against CPA (cost per acquisition) at a channel level to identify the marketing revenue attribution. 

Each marketing report delves into the relevant data for different activities, providing only the metrics you need to improve individual campaigns and channels. Once you understand which report you are dealing with, you can focus on the relevant KPIs to adjust performance.

Use previous reports for reference

Arguably one of the best ways of analyzing marketing reports is by comparing recent reports to previous ones. While daily and weekly metrics can identify ad-hoc disparities, a monthly report will provide a broader perspective into the strategy progress. 

Marketing reports offer an isolated snapshot in time of your performance. Week-on-week, month-on-month, and year-on-year report comparisons highlight crucial market and activities development. They also paint an accurate story of your marketing progress, showcasing the growth and the apparition of new trends. 

Typically, short-term marketing reports refer to the main KPIs. As these reports are intended for employees involved in marketing activities, they can include detailed and granular information. Monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports will give an overview of metrics and can be adjusted to different board levels. As a general rule, reports intended for higher-ups are much less detailed and instead offer a broader perspective. 

Teams can gain valuable insights by comparing both detailed reports and quarterly reports. 

Weekly or biweekly reports are excellent ways of establishing if short-term or more granular goals are met. It is possible to look at these reports and see if small changes that have been implemented have resulted in positive change. For example, if a team were to notice that a particular blog post was performing better than the others, they may decide to create more content with a similar tone or style. A short-term report can easily show if this has been a success by looking at how many likes and shares the post received in comparison to previous posts. 

Looking at in-depth metrics is one of the best ways of improving intricate tasks. However, it is important to recognize that without regular marketing reports, it is impossible to keep track of these smaller details. 

Monthly, quarterly and yearly reports are also handy to refer back to when establishing business growth and marketing success. Some of the main metrics to consider are business-relevant metrics, such as:

  • Digital marketing ROI overall and per channel
  • Sales and leads overall and per channel
  • CPA overall and per channel 

These larger-scale metrics give an overall picture of how the business was performing at a certain point in time, and can easily be compared to how it is performing in the present. Comparing long-term reports help to plan for the future and ensure that growth is going in the right direction. 

Report comparison does not simply include what the marketing team has actively achieved, however. Aspects out of the control of individuals, such as disparities in strategies, market trends, and budget also need to be considered. Comparing past and present budgets is a great way for marketing teams to establish if a bigger budget means exponential improvements, or if it is possible to lower the budget and still get the same results. It is also possible to establish if seasonality has any impact on the business, and prepare for the slower months in advance.

In order to make the most out of previous reports, both long and short term, it is important to look at both types. By comparing the two styles of reports, marketers will be able to get a detailed overview of what has happened in the past and if previous decisions have made a positive impact. 

Gain a big picture of your overall business

Analyzing marketing reports effectively requires a thorough understanding of how marketing strategies support the business goals. This will highlight the relevant KPIs for each type of marketing report. We recommend using meaningful marketing report frequency and comparison to gain a big picture of your overall business development.