How to Create Client Reports: 8 Tips for Success

Starting a marketing agency is a dream of many marketers working for others. After all, what’s not to like? You get to pick the amazing clients you work with, you get to hire other people to do the work and of course, you make more money. But no one talks about the agency life that is not so glamorous. The admin work takes up a good chunk of your agency’s work, and the main culprit - client reports.
Mile Zivkovic

Jul 07 2022 10 min read

Table of Contents

    They’re necessary to show your results and they let you create and maintain great relationships. Do your reports right and your clients will love you. Do them the wrong way, and you’ll have to replace good clients with new ones all the time.

    So, what is the secret to creating great client reports? We’ll show you today, with some great examples.

    What is a client report?

    A client report is a document that marketing agencies or freelancers use to update clients about the progress of their work. The report contains information about the client’s marketing campaigns, the metrics and KPIs your agency delivered, and insights about what went wrong and where you succeeded.

    In essence, a client report shows your clients why you’re the right choice for their digital marketing needs.

    Some types of client reports include:

    • PPC report
    • SEO report
    • Email marketing report
    • Ecommerce report
    • Website analytics report
    • Social media report
    • Cross-channel report

    Depending on the work you do, you’ll choose a different type of report. If you’re looking for inspiration, you can take a look at some marketing report templates to get started.

    Why 42% of businesses are not happy with their client reports

    We recently did some research to find out what businesses in general think about the reports that they get from their marketing agencies. Surprisingly enough, 42% of clients are not happy with the reports that agencies send them.

    Here are the most common reasons:

    • Lack of performance breakdown by marketing channel
    • No clear overview of top-level KPIs
    • Not enough insights on market segmentation
    • Not enough comparison against industry benchmarks
    • Not enough recommendations and next steps
    • Not enough explanations for non-marketers

    So, if you want to improve your agency-client relationship, create better reports and improve your bottom line, these are some of the things you should pay attention to. Let’s see what that looks like in practice.

    8 Tips to Create Amazing Client Reports

    To help you with the client reporting process, we asked some marketing agency owners about their tips for creating amazing custom reports and improving client communication.

    1. Segment your channels for an easier overview

    According to Karl-Viktor Jorkby of MarketSolutions (a marketing agency based in Sweden), the one thing that blows tier clients away is when the report data is segmented by channels.

    They create their marketing reports in Whatagraph and for each channel included in the report, they have different colors. Here is an example of their segmentation:

    Each platform has its own icon and color, helping customers see which data source they are reading about. Also, all of the platforms get grouped in a single place for an easier overview. So, if they’re doing social media and display ads for the same client, these would get split up in different places in the report.

    2. Add an explanation about the key performance indicators

    MarketingSolutions goes one step further to make clients love every monthly report they get. For every source that they discuss with the client, they add the segmentation AND an explanation of the numbers they got for that month:

    This gives them a chance to explain why certain KPIs are up or down and what the results of the campaign really mean for the client’s business. It’s a great practice and doesn’t take a lot of time compared to the impact that it can have on the client.

    Once the report is finished, they take these comments from each of the sources and put them together at the beginning of the report as an executive summary:

    This is an excellent way to present a high-level overview of the results every month, without the client digging deep into graphs, bars, charts and more.

    3. Start from a master template

    If you’re already using reporting tools like Whatagraph, you know how useful report templates are. They can significantly cut down the time it takes to create individual reports, as they come pre-loaded with the most important KPIs.

    Still, you can make your job even easier and quicker by using your own template. As Cheyenne Smith of BLK Hive Media says, they create one master report template with all the KPIs they use for their clients.

    That way, when they need to create a new report, they can just trim the fat and remove the items that a specific client does not need. As Cheyenne said, it’s far easier to remove widgets that you don’t need than add new ones.

    4. Always include visualization

    At the end of the day, every client is interested in one thing: how much you helped them grow their bottom line. One of the easiest ways to track your client’s goals is to report on KPIs. For example, a 20% increase in click-through rate is a great result. However, your client can get the same number by opening their email marketing tool. Our advice - don’t just send an Excel sheet and call it a day.

    According to Tio Zarnadze of Hans and Gruber, the one thing that wows every new client is data visualization. Besides the results, they use the client’s data in combination with Whatagraph’s widgets.

    For each KPI such as bounce rate, conversion rate, cost per click, and more, they use interactive visualization elements such as bars, pie charts and graphs. As Tio says, the best part is that you can set these visualizations up once and then have the report go out every month with fresh, real-time data.

    This not only makes it easier to interpret new results, but it also sets clear expectations for what they will receive each month.

    5. Explain performance against industry benchmarks

    Telling clients that their cost per acquisition (CPA) is $80 is good, as it tells the client about their performance and shows them where their marketing budget is spent. What’s even better is telling them whether that result is any good or not compared to others in the industry.

    Your average client only knows their own past performance and they will rarely have information about their industry benchmarks. Based on the example above, you can easily tell them that $80 CPA is okay but far from excellent. Many sources state that the average CPA across industries is $59.18, putting your client in the red zone.

    Whenever you can, explain to your client what the benchmarks are for their industry and beyond. That way, they can see their own performance in comparison to the KPIs they should be aiming for. If you have your own personal experience in a specific industry and you can give your own numbers, that’s even better.

    6. Add recommendations for the next steps

    One amazing way to make your reports stand out from the rest is to spend just a few extra minutes on them on a regular basis. In the research that we ran, we asked 42% of clients why they were unhappy with their reports. One of the main reasons was that agencies failed to brief them on what happens next.

    Imagine you’re a client who gets a search engine optimization report from an agency, saying that their organic traffic tanked by 30% in one month. And that’s it. That’s all the agency sends with their reporting software, a graph that goes into the red with no explanation.

    You can make this infinitely better than your regular reporting by including an explanation on what might have caused the drop. Even better, you can include a short section on the next steps, explaining what you will do to rectify the problem.

    7. Add explanations for non-marketers

    One of the most common complaints that agencies get from their clients is that they cannot understand their reports. Sure, client reporting tools have tons of great visualizations but that doesn’t explain what a ROAS is and what their increase in CPC actually means.

    While you shouldn’t give each client a crash course in digital marketing, you can make basic marketing education a part of your client onboarding process. You can also add explanations to each marketing report that you send out.

    8. Let your clients see real-time reports

    When it comes to the time frame that your clients want their reports delivered in, it’s about an even split between monthly and real-time reports. While monthly reports are the standard nowadays, real-time reporting can make for very effective client communication.

    Reporting tools like Whatagraph let you send a link to your client report that can be accessed 24/7. Every time that clients access the link, they can see real-time status updates about their target audience behavior, website traffic, Facebook ad performance, and more.

    Wrapping up

    Creating amazing client reports is not rocket science. If you’re already using reporting software, all it takes is a little bit of effort to make your reports stand out from the rest of the boring and bland agencies out there.

    Wondering how to get started? Sign up for Whatagraph and embrace the power of report automation. With 40+ integrations and data points, you can report on literally any marketing discipline out there. Create stunning white label reports, say goodbye to spreadsheets, save time with a client report template for every occasion and see what it’s like to be loved by your clients. Sign up for a free trial today to get started!

    Published on Jul 07 2022


    Mile Zivkovic

    Mile is the Head of Content at Whatagraph. With over 7 years in the SaaS industry, he developed a love for writing about all things marketing.

    Read more awesome articles

    Enter your email and get curated content straight to your inbox!

    Only the best content & no spam. Pinky promise.
    By submitting this form, you agree to our Privacy policy