From Data to Insights: How to Write a Marketing Report That Converts
Whether you work as an in-house marketing manager or within an agency, you probably have to report your work to someone. Unfortunately, just doing great work with your marketing strategy is not good enough unless you can convince others about the progress and value of your marketing campaigns.
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For a long while, writing marketing reports was something considered tedious and time-consuming but thanks to modern tools and reporting systems, you can create marketing reports within minutes instead of hours.
Today, we’ll show you how to write a marketing report, no matter what type of platform or marketing campaign you are working on.
What is a marketing report?
A marketing report is a document that shows the progress of an ongoing marketing campaign to interested parties — clients, managers, and leaders of different departments. A marketing report contains marketing KPIs and metrics that show the progress of your marketing efforts and how they affect the bottom line.
Depending on the person who is the target audience for the report, marketing reports will have different levels of detail. However, all marketing reports have one thing in common — showing what was done, how it was done, and what the results are.
There are plenty of reasons to create and send marketing reports to your clients or managers, but here are some of the most important ones:
- Goal setting
- Progress tracking
- More efficient communication
- Increased accountability
- More transparency for the client on where their marketing budget is being spent
In the old days, you’d send a marketing report using an Excel spreadsheet, a PowerPoint file, or something similar. Nowadays, you can send marketing reports using marketing reporting software such as Whatagraph.
Types of marketing reports
Depending on the platforms, the marketing plan, and the stakeholders reading the report, there are different types of reports that you can create.
Web analytics report
This is a more general type of marketing report where you show the website performance, including website traffic, landing page performance, number of leads, organic search results, and more.
Search engine optimization is important for any online business, and you can report on it with this type of report, with KPIs such as organic traffic, inbound leads, non-branded search traffic, and more.
Social media marketing report
Whether you run Facebook Ads, Instagram, or TikTok Ads, a social media marketing report is a superb way to show clients what’s happening with their ads or organic performance.
PPC marketing is a favorite for many marketers because of how accurate it is and how well you can predict the ROI. Being precise with your metrics (click-through rate or CTR, cost per click, and others) is crucial for this type of report.
Here is an example from our PPC report template:
This way we can quickly compare the cost per conversion for every paid channel, as well as their share in total traffic.
Cross-channel marketing report
If you want to report on different types of marketing, such as email marketing, SEO, and others, you can do it in a single marketing analytics report. Just list the different platforms and key performance indicators, and you’re good to go.
Here’s an example of a cross-channel analytics report template:
What to include in a marketing report
Before you start doing the actual writing, you need to carefully consider who is going to read your report. Depending on the seniority of the person and their knowledge of marketing, the report can have a completely different structure and contents.
At the same time, consider the frequency at which your reports go out. The more frequently you send them, the more details you can cover. For example, a weekly report can cover a wider range of metrics compared to a high-level report you send out per month or let alone an annual marketing report.
With this in mind, make sure that your company’s marketing report includes:
Goals and executive summary
The overall marketing goals should be the first element to include in your marketing report. Whether it’s to increase conversions, lower your cost per acquisition, or something else, you should report on how well your overall marketing department initiatives are contributing to reaching your client’s goals.
Note that a goal is not the same as an individual KPI. For example, lowering ad spend would be a goal while your average CPC is a KPI. If you’re wondering what type of goals to include in your specific report, using a marketing report template is a good idea.
The executive summary is a quick overview at the beginning of your marketing report. If anyone wants high-level marketing insights, this is where they can find them.
Once goals are out of the way, you can include detailed analytics for a specific marketing channel. For example, for SEO/content marketing, you would include:
- Organic traffic,
- Branded/non-branded traffic,
- Average keyword position,
- Keyword movements,
- Conversion rate from organic traffic,
- And many others.
Choosing the metrics that matter is essential, so only list the marketing data that impacts the overall goal. You can display this information in the form of numbers, graphs, bar charts, or similar visualizations.
A client’s website is the most important frontier for their marketing activities, so make sure to cover the most important website metrics and KPIs in your marketing report. Examples include:
- Page views,
- Bounce rate,
- Conversion rate,
- Average time on page,
- Average session duration,
- Traffic sources,
- And others.
Your typical Google Analytics 4 report has all of these and more, so it’s a good idea to link your Google Analytics 4 account to your favorite marketing reporting tool to get this data automatically.
Conversions and sales data
Views, likes, and shares are great for market research, but they don’t pay the bills. A portion of your marketing report should be focused on the metrics that have an impact on the client’s revenue. These include:
- Cost per acquisition,
- The average revenue per user,
- Cost per click,
- Average deal size,
- Return on ad spend,
- The overall return on investment,
- And others, depending on the marketing channel that you’re using.
For company leaders, this is probably the most important portion of each report, so it’s worth your time to make it accurate, actionable, and pretty.
Explanations of metrics, numbers, and marketing activities
We recently ran research to find out what agency clients think about the reports they get. It turns out that many clients lack explanations of what the numbers in their reports mean. For example, you can include:
- A comparison of what a metric means against industry benchmarks. A 5% conversion rate for a website may sound poor to a layman, but in reality, it’s an excellent result.
- An explanation of what has been done in a specific channel. Let’s say you drove 30% more organic traffic in a quarter — explain how this was achieved with your marketing process.
- Explanation of the next steps. Whether the KPIs are looking good or bad, you can elaborate on them and explain what happens next.
Creating a marketing report: a step-by-step process
Now you have a good idea of what a report is and what you should include in it, so let’s create one.
Determine the data sources
Depending on the type of campaigns you’re running and the goals you have for your clients, you’re going to use different platforms. For example, you could be using:
- Google Analytics 4,
- Google Search Console,
- Facebook Ads,
- LinkedIn Ads,
- TikTok Ads,
- Or something completely different.
First, determine which of these you’re using, and then you can collect the data from the dashboards in these tools. Doing this manually will take a lot of time and work, so it’s better to use a reporting tool like Whatagraph instead.
Collect the data and add it to the report
Let’s say you need to report on a Facebook Ads campaign that you ran, with several different ad sets, each with its own creatives and results. Copying these manually to your report can be time-consuming, especially if you must repeat it weekly or even more often.
Instead, use a tool like Whatagraph. Connect your data sources once to your report, and every time a new report is created, the data gets refreshed. You no longer need to spend hours digging through dashboards — just connect your platforms once, and the data gets filled and updated automatically in the future.
Things get even more complicated if you do a cross-channel analytics report, e.g. combining Google Ads with SEO performance data. Whatagraph lets you connect all of this in one place instead of going through different platforms. This makes it easy to create an advertising report and over a hundred other report examples.
Create the report design
Depending on the medium you want to use, you’ll create a different design for your reports. You could create one in PowerPoint or Excel, but this is not the year 2002, so why bother? There are also tools like Looker Studio (previously known as Google Data Studio), but they don’t allow for a lot of creativity in your design.
Instead, use Whatagraph to create a beautiful report in minutes. You can grab a report template (we have 100+ of them) and your report gets filled out with stunning…
- Bar charts,
- Single-value widgets.
- And much more.
You don’t have to bother with the details because the report templates have everything you need.
Once you start creating your report, you change all the details you want, such as the widgets, their placement, the colors of the design elements, and logos (yours and your client's). And for that fully custom feel, you can white-label the report and remove the Whatagraph branding.
Send out the report at your desired intervals
Some clients want to get the data from your marketing team weekly. Others want to see it on a monthly basis. You need to ensure that whatever this interval is, you send the reports out on time and with the most accurate marketing metrics.
No need to worry, as Whatagraph lets you schedule your reports. Once you connect the data sources, the data is updated in real time. So, just set your intervals, and each digital marketing report will be delivered on autopilot.
Common challenges when creating marketing reports
Marketing reporting is essential, yet, large organizations often face difficulties when managing and consolidating their marketing data.
For companies, it’s the vast volume of data and the necessity to integrate data from multiple sources, while for agencies, the main challenge is custom reporting to a large number of clients with specific requirements.
Let’s take the example of Rekom Group, a nightlife industry leader with a presence across four countries and over 200 venues.
This company struggled to track all the assets divided by brand names and custom styles and ultimately bring it all together for both executive- and department-level analytics.
The main concerns were:
Solution: all-in-one data platform
Whatagraph was a natural match for Rekom due to the scalable nature of its reporting infrastructure.
Whether it’s hundreds of venues across multiple countries or multiple branches within one country, Whatagraph makes it easy to connect all marketing data from multiple channels in one report or dashboard.
The data is visualized in cross-channel reports that are easy to build with pre-made or customized widgets, filters, and custom formulas, where anything can be saved as a template for future use.
Here, you can see all Rekom sources and well which channels are connected for each venue. Folders represent different countries, but Whatagraph allows you to create a custom folder structure depending on your business organization.
The success of marketing campaigns largely depends on data quality, which translates to having the right metrics in front of the right people.
Marketers spend a considerable time creating tailored reports for different clients, only to find that they can’t reuse the same report.
On the other hand, agencies that serve clients from similar industries regularly create similar reports which they need to edit one by one.
33social Digital Marketing is an example of a digital marketing agency that faced the same challenges.
At one point, this digital marketing agency from Charlotte, North Carolina, required functions that Looker Studio (Google Data Studio back then) couldn’t deliver.
As the agency grew, it needed flexibility to integrate and compare paid social media campaigns and Google campaigns.
Solution: native integrations and custom API
With Whatagraph, they can easily build insightful reports to compare their lead-gen channels. Such a level of flexibility was possible thanks to Whatagraph’s direct channel integration feature.
Whatagraph has native integrations to connect data from more than 45 marketing platforms, from social media and paid ads to email campaigns and CRMs.
If that’s not enough, users can connect any channel they have using a custom API, Google Sheets, or Google BigQuery.
Through a powerful API, data is pulled into Whatagraph clean, processed, and ready for reporting.
33social drives lead generation with multiple social media.
Apart from creating cross-channel reports with side-by-side metrics comparison, 33social is now also able to bulk edit reports. This feature comes in handy for an agency that focuses on clients within the same industry — in the case of 33social — home services and franchise companies.
Build a marketing report in Whatagraph
Whatagraph gives you two ways to start a marketing report — from a template or from a blank page. Each path is easy to follow and intuitive, whether you have previous experience or not.
Pick a template from our library
It doesn’t get any easier than this. Just grab a marketing report template, add your client’s marketing channels, and schedule sending at the arranged interval.
- Log in to Whatagraph,
- Click on the Create new button in the upper right corner,
- Select Create from template.
Once in the template library, use the drop-down menus to filter the templates into categories to find the one you need more easily.
Start from a blank page
Can’t find a template that fits your use case? Create one for yourself with ease! All you have to do is connect your accounts and drag and drop widgets on the blank report page.
- Log in to Whatagraph,
- Go to Create new button in the upper right corner,
- Select Blank.
Now you can choose the channels and drag and drop the widgets you need. Customize each widget with custom metrics, filters, and separate data sources. You can also change the color and branding for each report you create and save it as a template.
Creating new reports with Whatagraph is really addictive!
But don’t worry — even with the basic pricing plan you can create an unlimited number of reports and dashboards!
Why don’t you try and create one yourself?
Request a free trial of Whatagraph today and get ready to blow your client or manager away.
Writing a marketing report used to be a chore, but not anymore. It doesn’t matter what you’re reporting on or how many reports you need to send out, you can now do it in a matter of minutes.
If you want a second opinion, check out the 10 Marketing Reporting Tools article and compare the best report builders in 2023.
Published on Nov 16 2022
WRITTEN BYMile Zivkovic
Mile is the head of content at Whatagraph in charge of all content and communications for Whatagraph’s marketing data platform. A marketing heavy with almost a decade of SaaS industry experience, Mile has managed multiple content marketing teams without losing an ounce of his writing passion. The author behind some of the most-read pieces on our blog.
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