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Marketing reporting automation: Why and how to start

July 4, 2022
4 minute read

Marketing reporting automation can be a game changer for digital marketers. It can totally change your perspective on what’s possible in your role, reduce time spent on tedious tasks and allow you to provide more value to your organization. But what is marketing reporting automation, what are its benefits, and how can you start automating your reports today?

So, let’s start off by defining exactly what we’re talking about. The good news is that this one is pretty self-explanatory. Marketing reporting automation is the act of creating a workflow that automatically generates marketing reports on your behalf, without any manual work. 

Workflow of automated marketing reports

Of course, there are multiple steps of creating digital marketing reports, and you can automate each step. Some companies are able to create one workflow that contains all the steps, which might look  something like this:

  1. Collect relevant marketing data from one or more connected data sources 
  2. Clean, transform and blend data as needed 
  3. Push the blended data to a visualization tool 
  4. Automatically create  reports to be exported on a regular interval
  5. Schedule automated reports to be sent to clients or stakeholders

As you may be able to tell, each of these 5 parts of a basic workflow could take a long time to perform manually. Even by automating the connection between each point for the flow, you can imagine that you could save a lot of time and energy. Think, then, about how much time you could save by automating the entire process. 

What are the benefits of marketing reporting automation?

Time savings is one of the biggest benefits we see for automating your marketing reports. It can literally mean hundreds of hours in monthly time savings — as our customer Power Digital can attest

While they are a digital-first marketing agency, their data collection and management system wasn’t effective and required loads of manual manipulation to get their reports functioning properly. However, with the help of Funnel, they were able to securely automate the entire reporting process. 

And that time savings has allowed them to enjoy a high-level benefit of marketing report automation: the ability to grow their data team and capabilities. Over the past few years, they’ve been able to grow that team from 2 to 12 people. 

This blogpost is a part of our ongoing series about digital marketing reporting. Discover more.

 

Beyond expanding the size of your data team, it can also open up new possibilities and revenue streams for your business. 

Our client Arm Candy experienced such a journey. Once they were able to implement marketing reporting automation, their analysts suddenly had a lot of “free time” on their hands. That time and energy now goes into providing higher level insights to the clients, which leads to better marketing strategies and stronger client relationships. 

The cascading effect of smoother operations and client management has allowed them to begin building a proprietary media planning tool that will generate additional revenue for the agency. 

As you can see, just by saving time, report automation can have ever-expanding ripple effects that have the capacity to transform and grow your business. 

How do you start automating your marketing reporting?

With such enticing potential benefits, you may want to already jump head first into marketing reporting automation. The good news is that it may be easier than you think. 

1. Start with a tool you like to work with

Let’s start with a simple tool like Google Data Studio. As we’ve covered previously, this tool is a great option for those just getting started with data visualization and marketing reporting. To get started, you’ll need to log into the platform, connect the data source you want to report on and confirm the connection. 

2. Use a template (or start from scratch)

From there, it’s time to set up the report structure. You can either choose one of their templates, one of our templates, or create a new report from scratch. With the report design selected, you’ll need to ensure that your data connection is then added to the report. You may need to configure a few options (i.e. confirming which tab in a Google Sheet to pull data from), but that will depend on your specific needs. 

3. Add relevant data

Next, you’ll need to create and add visualizations to the report. In Data Studio, this can be done in a few clicks. Don’t forget to confirm date ranges for any time-related metrics. 

Some ideas of data to add:

  • Google Analytics data about website usage
  • Google Search Console data 
  • Data from social media platforms
  • Marketing data from advertising channels, like Instagram / Facebook, Google Ads, or LinkedIn

Just like that, we have created a report in Google Data Studio. One of the benefits of your new report is that you can schedule automatic email delivery of the report to your key stakeholders with Google Data Studio Automation. 

4. Automate email delivery

When logged in with editor access to your report, you just need to hit the “Share” button in the upper left corner. From here, you can enter your recipients email addresses, a subject line, and any sort of message you would like to include. Next, you’ll need to enter the data and time that you want the report to be sent out. For instance, you could schedule the report to be sent out every Monday at 10:00. 

Step 1:Step 1 of Data Studio Reporting automation

Step 2:Step 2 of Data Studio Reporting automation

Step 3:Step 3 of Data Studio Reporting automation

 

Our conclusion about automated reporting

It’s important to keep in mind that while it is a simple way to implement marketing reporting automation, Google Data Studio does have its limitations (it’s free after all). For instance, it can only fetch data from a single source at a time. If you have data across multiple platforms as most digital marketers do, you’ll need to either collect it in a Google Sheet (the more manual option) or use a solution like Funnel to collect and blend everything together for even greater automation. 

Also, it might not be wise to fully automate everything. The data in itself is valuable, but more valuable insights can be found by analyzing, comparing, and in depth analytics. Try to find a way to use automated marketing reports in combination with your own expert eye. 

To discover which data sources we can help you connect to and blend, check out our ever-expanding list of data connectors