So far, we’ve exposed the most common challenges of reporting, showed you how to choose and measure your most valuable KPIs and shared practical methods to help transform your data into actionable insight. In this final instalment, we reveal the core components of a campaign analysis so that you can effectively communicate your impact on wider growth objectives.
So, you’ve turned your data into valuable insight, and now it’s time to translate this into a campaign analysis so that you can report back on your performance.
Today, marketers are responsible for more than just building influential campaigns to drive leads and brand awareness.
Marketers also need to think like data scientists. Thinking analytically to scale performance has always been a sought after skill for many businesses. But, now it’s non-negotiable. With budget cutbacks and unpredictable sales journeys, the ability to analyse data to inform future decisions is more important than ever.
A campaign analysis helps measure the success of your marketing performance, and tells you how (or how not) to run your next campaign.
So, for this final instalment of the fundamentals of a digital marketing report, we’re going to cover the following topics:
Let’s not waste any more time, and jump right into it.
Before we get started, don’t forget to download the Secrets of a Digital Marketing Report to get even more tips from our industry-leading experts on how to create a high-powered digital marketing report.
P.S. As per usual, I have added a table of contents so that you can jump to the topic that is most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
So that we’re all on the same page, I’ll quickly explain the definition of a campaign analysis.
In the most basic form, a campaign analysis is a presentation of your marketing performance. It can help you make budget savings, and ultimately inform decisions that can drive your business forward.
Typically, an analysis is performed after you’ve transformed your data into information. It’s an opportunity to showcase your campaign insights and marketing results to your colleagues, clients and stakeholders in a thorough, but easy to understand presentation.
Our respondents gave great advice on what they include in their post-campaign analysis – as well as what they avoid.
So, with that said, I thought it would be a cool idea to use their advice and put together this section on the “Do’s and Don’ts of a campaign analysis”.
Let’s take a look at what they said so that you can put together a post-campaign analysis that will blow the socks of your readers.
“It’s important that reports are tailored to individual clients’ needs because there is a fine balance between too much information and not enough within data,” says Aliesha Christopher, Marketing Data Analyst at PushON.
Where possible, you should always try and create multiple reports tailored to each persona.
From my experience, you can make more work for yourself if you try and send the same report to a business that has numerous departments and stakeholders.
Before my time at Ruler, I ran a social paid campaign for a client that had 100+ properties across the UK.
This client, in particular, had several departments and stakeholders. At the start of every month, I’d send my report to the assigned marketing manager with insight on what we should do moving forward. On one occasion, I sent a report that had advice on how we could use top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content to drive more traffic to the website.
Shortly after I sent my report, I was contacted by a high-level board member with an enquiry about top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content. I didn’t mind, as I love sharing my ideas with other people. Although, it’s fair to say that this topic wasn’t relevant to this person, and likely didn’t impact their life.
My point is that, if I’d taken the time to replicate a report tailored towards the high-level stakeholders, then this conversation wouldn’t have happened, and I would have saved myself a lot of time in the long run.
Duncan Heath, Strategy Director at Fresh Egg, told me that he “learned the hard way trying to create a single report template that satisfies the needs of all clients” and that “it was a fool’s errand.”
“Different levels and personalities of stakeholders, information presentation preferences and even cultural differences are just a few variables that need considering,” says Duncan.
Duncan, and his team, now ask their clients the following questions during the onboarding phase to avoid any confusion and ensure that their reports hit the right tone:
“All of our reports include details on how we’re doing compared to the previous month, year, and against forecast. This overview allows clients to quickly see how well a campaign is doing, whether it be focused on sessions, page views, enquiries or revenue,” says Victoria Foster, Senior Account Manager at Hit Search.
Date comparisons are a crucial part of any digital marketing report. Adding date comparisons can help you demonstrate your successes, and reveal where you need to invest more resources.
Duncan Heath shared the following quote Maya Angelou quote to help put it in perspective how significant date comparisons are:
“If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”
“Showing recent month-on-month performance, year-on-year performance or even longer time periods that allow for relevant trends will help contextualise current performance. It will prevent an over-focus on, and knee jerk reaction to, granular changes in measurables. It will also give consumers of the report more of an appreciation of bigger-picture fluctuations and overall strategy,” says Duncan.
“For a business who doesn’t really experience seasonality, to compare how sales are increasing month on month (February vs January) is likely a good indicator of growth. However, if one of the busiest times of the year is during your Black Friday sale, then it’s highly likely October will look pretty rubbish when compared with November,” says Beckie Brown, Head of Paid Media at Etch.
Providing granular insights into marketing performance that automated reporting can’t provide, such as seasonality shifts, is a common challenge for marketers.
Most businesses experience seasonal fluctuations in performance, so comparing one month to another is not very helpful unless you also have an understanding of how these months should compare.
Paul Morris, Managing Director at Superb Digital, told me that they “break down revenue, goals and keyword rankings into different sources and look at how they’re progressing month-on-month, but also across the last 12-month and sometimes even lifetime.”
This is because “rankings and traffic can be volatile and subjective to influences outside of our control, such as seasonality and Google updates,” says Paul.
Ideally, forecasts or targets which account for seasonal expectations should be established upfront so that you can set a benchmark of performance which can be reported against in the months and years that follow.
George Onofrei, Account Manager at Broadplace told me that they, “always look to mention external factors that could impact performance for some specific companies.”
“For example, bad weather for a travel company, people will look for getaways to sunnier places. Or, good weather for an e-commerce company, everyone will be outside partying and not shopping. Media mentions specific high ticket products/services that heavily increase search demand and influence costs,” George explained.
“We include revenue information if they’re e-commerce or traffic and goal conversion data if not,” says Paul Morris.
Ok. I’ve already touched upon this a lot throughout this series. So, I apologise if it sounds like I’m repeating myself.
Although revenue measurement is an absolute gamechanger, and it’s the most reliable method if you want to take your marketing to the next level.
Stakeholders, in particular, will expect you to not only grow company revenue but also prove it.
Everything you do in marketing now must have some form of measurable ROI.
Not so long ago, I ran an experiment using our data in Ruler Analytics to demonstrate why the amount of leads generated is usually the wrong number to measure. I took a sample of 20 phone calls from a PPC campaign to track the outcome in our CRM.
Of the 20 calls, 12 were poor quality. That said, 8 of the calls went through to the demo stage.
Three of the leads that sat a demo weren’t a good fit, and sadly, didn’t progress to the next stage of our pipeline. However, the remaining five calls closed and were worth £500+ in MRR.
Now, if we were to judge the performance based on the number of calls generated, there would have been nothing particularly special about this campaign.
That said, from a revenue perspective, I’d say the campaign was a success. And, there’s still room for improvement, as 60% of the initial phone calls went unqualified.
Chris Price, Founder at Ark Advance told me that, “following a marketing sale from start to finish enables us to nicely round off reporting commentary.”
He added, “That’s where solutions like Ruler come into their own. They help us bridge the technology chasm between web and/or phone leads and direct facing sales, so that our dialogue can include customer-friendly metrics such as, “quotes accepted” and “services revenue agreed” and bind these to the detailed digital marketing tactics of paid clicks from Google, Facebook or LinkedIn.”
“A detailed analysis is key, and so is speaking to a client in a language they understand”, says Andy Adams, Paid Media Specialist at Clicky Media.
At its core, marketing is a form of communication.
You and your team, at the most basic level, are communicators.
If you fail to communicate your performance in a manner that relates to your readers, then they won’t buy into your results. And, they certainly won’t approve a budget to support and scale your recommendations moving forward.
So, what I’m trying to say is:
Cut out the jargon!
Interestingly enough, in this study by New York University, they found that the use of jargon led people to think that a company was lying about their performance.
As Albert Einstein once said…
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Hide behind industry-jargon for too long, and there might come a time when your readers call you out on your expertise, which could very well harm your credibility.
With that said, sometimes it is impossible to avoid industry-related language, especially when it comes to KPI tracking.
And, that’s okay!
As long as you provide some guide or explanation to help your readers understand what message you’re trying to convey.
Maria Christoforidou, Inbound Strategist at Fifth Ring, told me that they “always make sure to include a short glossary for clients in order to help them understand terms like CPM, impressions vs reach, etc.”
“I include industry benchmark rates, so clients can understand what they’re competing against and whether the campaign is performing ahead or below target,” Maria added.
“The main idea of the report is to be read and provide valuable insights. The more complex data included, the less likely the report is to be read and understood. To that end, we try not to overload with complex information and only include what is genuinely going to be of use to a client,” says Paul Morris.
As marketers, we can be guilty of including too much information as a means of distinguishing our value.
In this survey by Vermilion, they asked 100 investment management delegates what percentage of their reports they believed were read by clients.
A third of the audience felt that only between 25% and 50% of their reports were being read by clients.
So, with that said, there’s a good chance your clients have only acknowledged 50% of your last report.
Think about how busy you are and then put yourself in the reader’s position. Would you have time to read a 1,000+ word report on marketing performance?
Duncan Heath believes that “there are lots of things wrong with any digital marketing activity and lots of opportunities to improve it.”
“In over 15 years in digital marketing, I’ve always found this to be the case. I guess my career should be thankful for. It’s very easy to overwhelm with a digital marketing report, detailing every little thing that needs doing and providing numerous different approaches to deliver performance uplift. What we find clients really appreciate is where it’s made perfectly clear, via a traffic light or scoring system, which critical issues should be addressed right away, which ideas offer the greatest potential, and where the lowest hanging fruit is,” says Duncan.
To round up this four-part series, we’re going to combine everything we’ve learned from our respondents and reveal the core components of a digital marketing report.
Victoria Spall, Account Director at Browser Media, told me that their “reports always start with an executive summary, to share the activities and learnings from the previous month and confirm the direction going forward.”
“As reports are read by individuals with varying levels of knowledge, presenting the most important data clearly and concisely is crucial. It is important to be able to tell a story and identify opportunities without confusing the reader. A pretty looking dashboard can only do so much. Each report should be tailored to the client’s needs, with insights into performance, as well as being able to inform on future strategies,” Victoria added.
For Nick Handley, Head of Performance Marketing at Fluid Digital, his reporting is built on the mentality of “answer the question before it is asked.”
So, with that in mind, we’ve created a framework to help take your insights to build a systematic and effective digital marketing reporting.
We’ve called it the ‘ANSWERS’ formula:
We’ve already shown you how to align your marketing goals using wider organisational growth objectives in part two of this series. So, we won’t go into too much detail here. Although, before you put together your report, you must acknowledge your existing marketing objectives. Doing this will ensure that you stay focused on what matters most to your audience.
After you’ve reviewed your objectives, it’s time to check your data and turn it into information. Honesty is the best policy. If something isn’t working, say so. Otherwise, your readers will lose faith in your ability to review and scale performance.
“We always start with a written summary. We’ll summarise key stats and results, then move onto highlighting what we’ve been doing in the previous month plus any interesting news or updates clients need to be aware of,” says Paul Morris.
You should always start your report with a summary of your performance. It grabs your readers attention and summarises critical information about your marketing performance. A lot can happen in an allocated time frame. It’s important that you only highlight your significant movements so that you don’t lose the attention of readers.
This is why you need to acknowledge your objectives before you dive into your digital marketing report. It’s a simple reminder of what you’re trying to achieve, and importantly, keeps you aligned with the desires of your audience.
Ted Parry, Director at Amore Digital told me that they, “highlight insights and provide commentary of what was done, and plans for the following month.”
“One of the biggest mistakes I see is marketers sending off complex reports to their clients/leadership team and not giving any background, or explaining what it means and how it impacts their business,” says Ted.
“We include a summary page of the deliverables completed with the next steps to record the work that has been completed,” says Hardeep Matharoo, Head of Digital at Best Response Media.
You must outline the work you’ve completed so that your readers can see how you’ve worked effectively towards your assigned objectives. This doesn’t necessarily require too much detail. Just a couple of bullet points of what you’ve done should do the trick.
Once you’ve highlighted your performance, and explained what tasks you’ve worked on, you then want to connect all this up with a conclusion. Examine your performance insights, and where possible, connect them with any changes you’ve made. Don’t forget to explain what your insights mean and how they impact your readers.
“The purpose of a digital report is to help the audience understand the effectiveness of various marketing channels, highlight efforts that brought success and contextualise the ones that did not. It is important to recognise that the requirements will never always be the same,” says George Onofrei.
Using your insights, you’ll want to list some recommendations. This could be something like, “exploring new channels” or “highlighting successes (and failures) that may require further refinement.”
Nick Handley told me that they, “show clients the type of products that are selling and also attach abandonment metrics which informs the wider business on what is selling and if they need to stock more of certain products due to high performance.”
By now, your readers will be eager to hear what steps you’re going to take so that you can move closer towards your goals. This step demonstrates your dedication to growth objectives and shows your ability to use data to evolve your marketing strategy for better results.
“In a digital report, it is useful to add commentary and analysis. It is important to create written insights to describe the visual trends of a report, but also to justify changes in performance. Depending on the type of report and the audience, it may also be necessary to include recent and future actions in reaction to the noticed trends in performance,” says George Onofrei.
So, what have we learned in part four?
That’s it for this four-part series on the fundamentals of a digital marketing report. I hope you’ve enjoyed it! I want to say a final thank you to all 42-respondents that gave up their time and expertise to help me put this series together. I couldn’t have done it without their advice.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me using my social icons below. And, if you want more juicy insights, then feel free to download the secrets to creating a digital marketing report to get more advice from our industry-leading experts.