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Gathering marketing analytics and trend data is a pretty basic skill that all marketers should have. Standing out from the crowd requires the ability to see those metrics from the client’s perspective.

Almost all clients are mainly concerned with generating leads. But there’s a chance that even giving data that suggests lead generation is increasing won’t be enough.

The way we report out to our clients is crucial for holding successful report outs. In fact, I’m going to make the argument that the client doesn’t care as much about the numbers but the meaning behind them.

It’s critical to be able to use these numbers to tell a story. So, how do we do that?

Let’s review how to position this conversation for success.

First and Foremost, Identify Seasonality

When the client shares access to their analytics program look at a year to see if there are any easily identifiable trends. I would even plot each channel to see if anything sticks out.

You’re looking to identify places where traffic dips, spikes, and look for any annotations to give context to these trends. If you don’t see any annotations ask the client to talk about what’s going on around these different seasons. In most cases, they’ll know, but sometimes they might not know.

Screenshot of Google Analytics

If they can give you answers to these trends make a note of them, you might even build out your monthly report out folder structure and add these trends to a document in each month’s folder for capturing notes.

You’ll refer back to these notes when you report on traffic trends in each month.

Use These Trends to Tell a Story

Now you’re armed with a list of months and annual events that happen within them. Great. Use this list to tell a story.

There are a lot of numbers and techy functions in marketing. That said, it can be easy to lose focus of who we’re marketing to. Additionally, we can get wrapped in automated functions, conversion rate optimization, etc etc.

Frankly, to a client, this is usually a bunch of boring jargon. They might enjoy seeing you exercise your expertise, but only as long as it’s being tied to real life users and their trends.

People usually think in terms of events and interactions.

For example, if I asked you what you did this morning you’d probably respond with something like “I had a bagel and some coffee after going for a short jog. Then I hopped in the shower and got ready for work.” You probably wouldn’t break down the coffee you drank into the molecules that made it up or the exact amount of calories you burned off in your jog.

If you can explain marketing metrics in your report outs using that same kind of storytelling, albeit maybe a little more compelling, you’ll have much more impactful report outs.

Instead of reporting on how we had 45,000 sessions this month, which was a 10% increase over last month, discuss the story first.

We expected to see a small increase in traffic this month vs last because a lot of our current customers were coming to the website to renew their accounts. So, no surprise here, about a 10% increase.

This does two things:

  • Proves that you’re familiar with regular seasonal trends in their company, which means you’ve listened and onboarded them well. Good job.
  • Opens up the opportunity for seasonality to be broken.

This is where things get interesting.

As you engage in regular marketing, especially in a retainer, your efforts are pretty much constant month over month. It’s uncommon that regular marketing initiatives will suddenly stop working in one month.

More often than not, negative trends can be explained with seasonality, news, or something else outside of a marketers control. I mean it can happen, a marketing campaign might not be a home run, but having this lead to a huge shift in website analytics is uncommon.

So, good news, you probably won’t have to report out on negative trends in a way that leaves you looking responsible. Unless you forgot to do something, or something broke, but I wouldn’t consider these regular marketing initiatives. More like an irregular marketing hiccups.

Seasonally, we expect a small increase in traffic around this month due to people gearing up for budget season. It looks like we saw a 26% increase from last month and our conversion rate stayed about the same. So we also saw an increase in total conversions resulting in more leads. About 35% more when compared to last month, and about 50% more when compared to last year.

The client should be excited to hear this information. Not just because the numbers look good, but because they are above and beyond the normal seasonal increase. Tying an uptick in leads to the overall success will be music to their ears.

As the month’s pass keep note of these gains and the credit that lead to them and after six months or so summarize them to the client.

If you’re using point-based pricing, this could be a good opportunity to present the option of investing more in these channels or types of campaigns that are driving the most return.

The client might say they understand the reasoning behind the recommendation but would like to keep their marketing plan as it is. That’s fine. It’s good to make a sound recommendation and be heard, then to not say anything and get asked why no recommendation was made.

Positioning marketing reports this way will help clients identify with the numbers you’re sharing. Consequently, you’ll have more productive conversations about marketing metrics, and a firmer foundation upon which to base recommendations.

Happy analyticating everyone!