The word ‘reporting’ is usually met with a collective shudder by many in the business world. Weekly reports, monthly reports, yearly reports—they all stack up to become what often feels like an insurmountable and excessively boring mountain of paperwork.
Unfortunately, when it comes to your internet marketing campaign, reports can make or break your business. Why? Because it’s one of the primary ways that you can show your client exactly how worthwhile you are. After all, this is your monthly report card…
Reports That Evolve With Your Company…
Here at Fannit, we do a lot of evolving—not just personally, but as a team. After implementing Agile project management systems, we set out on our next endeavor: reinventing our client reporting systems.
A transparent client reporting system is possibly the most important part of a successful marketing campaign. While reporting won’t bring you more leads or traffic, providing clear and accurate reporting is your ethical responsibility as a marketer, and it drastically affect your client’s view of your campaign as well as your grasp of future steps that will need to be taken in order to build your client’s business. With this in mind, I think it is safe to say that no revenue marketing campaign is complete without an effective client reporting system.
Why do we report for clients, anyways? At Fannit, we have several reasons for creating visually engaging, clear, and informative reports. Not only do we believe that it’s a good principle to abide by, it is a practical business decision. Keeping clients in the loop when it comes to your marketing strategies, you marketing wins and fails, will help them to realize exactly how much labor you pour into their business—which we all know is a lot.
Here are a couple principles we seek to abide by:
- Accountability – we are fulfilling our work obligations
- Transparency – we are working in an ethical manner
- Efficiency – we are continually seeking to maximize ROI
These are the principles by which we run our team internally, and we want our campaigns to reflect that.
What about you? What are your marketing principles that you want to communicate to clients? We would love to hear your comments!
Communicating With Your Clients
Just like in any relationship, it all comes down to communication. You could be doing incredible things for your clients company, increasing their ROI 1000% and generating 200 leads an hour, but if it’s not being communicated to the client, they’ll never recognize your work or their investment in your services.
- Reports give us a chance to communicate with clients about their felt needs
- Reports allow clients to assess our effectiveness
- Reports help both parties build more effective strategies
Creating the Correct Focus
Understanding exactly what reports are supposed to communicate is critical, because that is the difference between useful reports and useless ones. We need to talk about what your reports should contain and the tools that we use to create them.
At our most recent juncture, our focus has shifted from general website metrics such as traffic and engagement to actual return on investment (ROI). In order to measure ROI, we need to focus on leads delivered and the quality of those leads. After all, quality leads are what it takes to build a business online, right?
Secondarily, we focus on future lead and conversion potential through site health metrics. The end goal of improving rankings is a future improvement of leads and ultimately increased sales. A website with a healthy increase in search engine traffic, conversion rates, returning visitors, and a low bounce rate ultimately serves as a vehicle for more online based business.
Fellow marketers! This is what your clients must understand. No, rather, this is what you must show them.
The final focus within an effective client reporting system should be finding strategic business opportunities through process iteration and learning. Each report gives you a chance to connect with your client to see if their needs are actually being met. Here are a few good questions you can ask them:
- How have your sales been this last month?
- Do you see your website providing more value to your company?
- Is your site attracting the correct demographic?
Now that we’ve covered the “why” of reporting, let’s take a look at how you should report. The following three tools are the primary (not only) ways we collect and interpret data for the client. While we may use other analytics packages like HubSpot for clients with more advanced needs, every client at least gets the following tools.
Where to Find The Data
All our talk about providing the correct data won’t do you much good unless you’re familiar with the tools that we use to collect and analyze the information. Here are our top three sources for website analysis and tracking:
This is one of our primary tools used in monitoring overall website performs and leads. Google analytics is a highly detailed and moldable system that can be adjusted to fit our goals and needs precisely in our efforts to closely monitor website performance.
If you’re unfamiliar with Google Analytics, read ours Beginners Guide. If you’ve got a working knowledge of Google Analytics but would like to develop this to be able to use the tools more effectively, read our Advanced Google Analytics Guide.
We’ve found the ability to track performance and engagement over the course of a marketing campaign to be invaluable during a content campaign. Google analytics enables us to gather and summarize data that can be used to prove ROI to our clients.
In addition, we are able to track the sources of our various leads, allowing us to target more precisely our target demographics. The ability to assess the impact of every piece of content, every webpage, every keyword, are the keys to creating a highly effective, highly specialized SEO campaign. Here are some screenshots of the interface:
Some of the data metrics your can gather from Google Analytics are:
- Search engine visits
- Top referral sources
- Bounce rate (visits to one page)
- User search interests
- Top landing pages
- Conversion rates by source
- Top cities for users
CallRail is one of the most effective tools for measuring ROI that are currently available. It is currently a vital portion of our external reporting systems. CallRail allows marketers and business owners to track all phone call leads, and includes such valuable data as the keywords that drew them to call, the page each caller landed on, the caller’s name, the length of the call, where they are calling from, and an actual recording of the call itself.
Because CallRail gives us the name and details of the calling customer, we are enabled to contact our client and investigate with them whether or not the customer closed, and if so how much they paid in business. That is the revenue we generated.
The recording can indicate incredibly helpful information about the quality of each lead. This assists us in creating comprehensive buyer personas and target demographics for our clients, allowing us to hone our campaign even more sharply for ultimate efficacy and performance. We implement CallRail for nearly every client because we view it as an essential tool for campaign transparency.
Here is a sample of a call report by source. In the top right, you will see that there are two attribution models you can use to determine the source of each lead. This data will differ significantly, so it is really up to your preferences. The point is, CallRail allows functions that make simple attribution easy and visual.
Here is a sample of a CallRail report, which shows the basic information for call leads. From here, you can export the data into a CSV and parse out calls by uniqueness, various sources, keywords, call duration, location, etc.
Other uses of CallRail include:
- Matching callers with sales (either through CRM or manually)
- Call recordings to evaluate things like lead quality, customer service quality, etc.
- Quick CSV reports; these are flexible enough to be integrated into any report template
To learn more about CallRail, visit their site:
The value of Wufoo is recognized in it’s ability to accurately track conversions, both micro and macro through separate forms. The forms it creates are simple and effective, and all tracking is done automatically.
Below is a screen shot of the Wufoo analytics report. The very fact that it is so visual in layout makes it a priceless tool for marketers looking to catch a client’s attention. The scope of data is also extremely helpful for easing the report writing process.
How To Present Data
Creating a dynamic and visualizing engaging report isn’t exactly necessary, but it will go a long way in helping your client understand and enjoy your reporting. Graphs, images, and appealing formatting—clients will thank you for not boring them to tears.
Why use a thousand words to say something that can be communicated with one simple graph? Using visual aids in reporting is extremely helpful in keeping reports understandable and readable for clients.
In our reports, we use various images of our tracking data from Google Analytics and information gleaned from CallRail. These allow us to demonstrate easily trends, spikes and decreases in organic searches, impressions, etc.
Remember, because the purpose of a report is to clearly demonstrate your value, keep you accountable and your marketing strategies transparent, keeping your reports visually engaging will help the clients actually read that report.
In terms they understand
It’s important that your clients are able to fully understand your report. If you hand your client an 18 page report with enormous blocks of text, formatted to look like an attorneys brief you can be quite sure that they aren’t going to read it.
But they need to read it! This report should be designed to plainly display all of the ‘wins’ that your marketing skills gained for them this month. When they’ve finished reading the report, they should have a comprehensive knowledge of their website traffic, how many leads were generated, what content you’ve implemented, how much you’ve increased their ROI, and what the strategy for the following month will be. This strategy, of course, can be subject to change, but it should provide them with a nicely broad overview of all the amazing things your marketing campaign has done for them.
If you think about it, even if you have clients on a 12 month contract, they are still paying you per month. If they are paying you for each month of service, we believe you should be showing them what each month of service is accomplishing for them. This allows complete accountability for your strategy fails (and wins), and a transparency that allows the client to know exactly what went wrong (or right) and how you’re going to fix it (or keep doing what you’re doing).
There are occasions in which some clients will prefer to have reports more frequently than on a monthly basis. Conversely, some clients will want reports quarterly instead. We feel that monthly reporting is the best approach, as it allows a full 30 campaign cycle to be completed. Also, analysis devices, and internal reporting are typically run on a monthly basis.
When writing reports, it is important to remember that what you’re creating isn’t just another document full of graphs and bullet points. It’s a channel of communication between yourself and your clients. It’s a bridge, connecting their world to yours, and your world to theirs. While you, as the SEO/marketer, may feel deeply embedded in every aspect of that clients business, they may not have a clue as to what you’re up to.
Building a relationship of trust, commitment, transparency, and accountability is how we create partnerships with our clients. To stay a team, you have to stay connected.
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