“What to include in a marketing report” is an age-old question that has challenged marketers since before the dawn of digital advertising.
Luckily for modern marketers, we can narrow down all of the options a bit and begin to answer this question. In this blogpost, we will discuss how you can make your digital marketing reports comprehensive and clear.
Types of digital marketing reports
As we’ve covered before, there are 7 main types of marketing reports including everything from email marketing reporting to general overviews of the entire organization’s marketing efforts. That means your first step toward deciding which elements to include in your digital marketing reports, you must first determine the style or report type you are trying to create.
Also make sure everyone working on the report agrees on the scope. Is this a monthly report, or a weekly report? Is it for all the marketing efforts, or only for a specific website or campaign? It is important that every stakeholder agrees on the scope of the digital marketing report, so you will have a smooth reporting process.
With the type of report and the scope decided, it’s time to think about your audience. Generally speaking, you will probably be trying to answer 4 questions for them:
By focusing on these 4 questions, we can easily identify what to include in your report.
1. What did you do?
This one should (hopefully) be a pretty easy question to answer. A good place to start is a summary page or section that highlights the activities that you or your team took. This summary could encompass the last weeks, months or quarters.
This section will serve as a brief overview and set up all of the elements of your marketing report. As such, it should be brief and high level.
Also, if you’re part of a particularly technical team, and you are speaking to a non-technical audience, it is probably a good idea to highlight some key terms and their definitions in this summary section.
Digital marketing tip of the week: Schedule time in your calendar to review your analytics.— Shama Hyder (@Shama) February 16, 2022
Analytics are easy to overlook, especially if you're not naturally a data person. Block time out in your calendar on a monthly basis to review your reports. 📈
Next, it’s time to identify the project scope you were working under. Here, it’s a good idea to highlight the target audience, the channels used, budgets and other “guardrails” for your initiatives. This way, everyone reading your report has a clear idea of exactly what you were tasked to do.
By clearly defining the scope of the project, it also helps guide conversations of your report’s audience to ensure that there aren’t any misguided expectations. For example, your audience doesn’t expect a national 360-degree campaign with a city-wide, digital-first budget.
That means we now have a quick summary of our activity as well as the project scope that informed and guided it. Great!
2. What were the results?
Here comes the meat and potatoes. The nuts and bolts. This is the time to unload the data.
When speaking about the results of your efforts, you want to ensure that you include as many relevant KPIs as possible. While you can always access our KPI Cheat Sheet, we’ll run through a few of the main categories here.
Conversion metrics are probably one of the first pieces you think of when asking yourself, “What do I include in a marketing report?” And it’s a great place to start.
You may want to include lead generation metrics. This could include month-over-month analysis or even on a weekly basis. You will also likely want to include some sort of breakdown between paid and organic leads, since this can be used to derive insights on the effectiveness of your paid outreach. Cost rates are another valuable metric that can help define your cost per lead, cost per conversion, etc. Speaking of conversions, you may also want to include conversions per channel in your marketing report.
All of those conversion metrics are great and incredibly valuable, but maybe your focus is on web traffic optimization. In this case, you will have different key performance indicators and will need to include other data to your report.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Website marketing metrics
For web-focused reporting, website traffic metrics are critical. KPIs like sessions by source, bounce rates, top pages and engagement rates can all drive critical web flow insights. Plus, with the roll-out of Google Analytics 4, there are a huge range of custom metrics and dimensions that can help drive your web performance forward.
If you want to learn more about Google Analytics 4, also see our video Benefits of GA4.
It can also be interesting for your audience to read about the different sections of the website. For instance: did blog traffic grow? Or was it an increase in traffic to product pages that lead to the overall increase in traffic and sales?
More marketing data to add
While conversion and traffic metrics are great examples of what to include in a digital marketing report, there are loads of other options to choose from. You may want to include any of the following:
- Sales revenue
- Google ads performance
- Customer acquisition cost
- Search engine rankings
- PPC performance
- Social media traffic
- Brand awareness
- ROAS or ROI (Return on Ad Spend & Return on Investment)
When in doubt, bring yourself back to your marketing goals and your audience. What results will they be most interested in seeing? Let that be your guide in selecting your core KPIs. This will also prevent you from sharing too many metrics.
In most cases, people don't want to know all the data, they want to be updated on the most important numbers.
3. What do the results mean?
Time to get a bit cerebral. Here, it’s all about identifying what insights and trends are evident in the data. The person reading the report should get a good understanding: are we heading in the right direction?
Perhaps you found a correlation between an increase in leads generated on one channel and increase in overall conversions. That may suggest that the leads from that specific channel are higher quality. In turn, you may want to run a few experiments on that channel by increasing budgets.
Alternatively, your data may show a growing trend engagement rate for your content marketing pieces. It may be worth drilling down into the data to see if there are certain specific content topics that drive that engagement.
With clear marketing data and trends in hand, you may even want to build some marketing projections. While this section will always include a certain margin of error, forecasting can help define future sales and lead generation goals.
4. What is planned now?
One of the final critical elements of a marketing report is the 'What now' or 'What's next' part. This will drive the conversation (and your work) forward.
Here, you will share the next steps, future campaigns and any new ideas for initiatives.
At this point in the marketing report, we understand the activity highlights and project scope, we have reviewed the most important KPIs, and we identified the most interesting insights and trends.
Now, it’s time to inform your audience what you need from them. That could include approval of a concept, an “ok” to change course in long term marketing strategy, or even a request for bigger budgets. Remember that additional budgets can be used for more advertising spend (paid media), but also to create a new specific marketing campaign with an agency, or to hire a freelancer to help support the marketing team. It all depends on what you see fit in the current situation.
Let's recap for a moment here:
What to include in a digital marketing report:
- Information about what you worked on, for instance marketing campaigns or optimizations
- The results of your work and the general marketing performance
- Insights about what that means (what is going well, what should you change in the marketing strategy)
- What you planned to do next week or month
While we’ve included a lot of options to choose from, our KPI Cheat Sheet can be a great resource to refer to. Download it here. And make sure to read our Ultimate Guide To Digital Marketing Reporting for more tips.