Let’s be real. Reports are unavoidable. They help you monitor your performance, and most importantly, act as the hard evidence for all your hard work. And we all know, reports is and always has been the best way to communicate to your bosses.
But reporting, frankly, just takes too much time and can even be mundane.
Let’s turn that all around and make reporting easier for you. So you don’t have to drag your feet at the beginning of the month just to create those monthly marketing reports!
Speaking from experience, reports can be fun - it all depends on how you create it. Your process is the key to making it an enjoyable experience.
Here are the 3 steps that you can take to solve your reporting woes.
1. Streamline Marketing Data Collection
Getting data from Google Analytics, Facebook, Hubspot, and 100 of the other marketing platforms you use is no easy task. Normally, you’d go about your monthly marketing reporting by exporting files from each platform, and then entering it all into an Excel spreadsheet one by one. Who has time for this?
Only analysts really, because that's their job. But even analysts aren't doing this, including me!
So the trick here is to get a reporting tool that can collect all your data to one place - whether it’s Excel, Google Sheets, or wherever.
Your goal is to avoid having to export 100 documents at once, and depend on just one program to do it for you. Your Downloads folder will love the extra space.
My favorite tool that helps me achieve this is Supermetrics.
Supermetrics is a simple add-on or extension where you can connect your main web analytics tool (Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics) and all the other digital marketing tools and channels. Once connected, you can easily choose which data you want to export, exactly how you want it. And it’s done with just a few clicks.
This is how I got by without SQL and data warehouses, ha! You can even consider Supermetrics as an imaginary data warehouse where you can pull anything, at any time in one place.
Once you try it, you'll never go back to pulling manual data exports again. Goodbye to those huge Facebook Insights data exports.
If you’re interested, here’s my special link to get you started with SuperMetrics. It doesn’t cost you any more than the normal price, but it’d help me if you enjoy my content.
2. Visualize Your Data
Now this step is geared more towards the “painless” side of monthly reporting where visuals can make data more enjoyable to read. And it’s fun to pick which charts look the best with some color coordination - if you’re into design.
There are many data visualization tools out there where you can drag-and-drop values to create easy and automated charts. I like to use Google Data Studio as it’s easy to access (and free), and already integrated with Google Analytics, which is more widely used by businesses for web analytics.
And I must say, integrating SuperMetrics into your Data Studio reports widens your options of what type of data you can include into a single monthly report, such as social media data.
Most Useful Visualization Charts
There are 3 charts that are a must-have in monthly marketing reports and I’ll tell you why.
Combo Graph (Line + Bar)
You can put as much as two types of values in a combination graph. I like to make the raw volumes like “Total Traffic” and “Total Conversions” as columns for the left axis, while placing “Conversion Rate” to the right axis. Then, of course trend the data from month-to-month on the x-axis.
So you get context and the KPI all in one view. You’ll see how much volume of traffic and conversions, but also see how they relate to each other with the conversion rate - at a glance. A lot of great information in just one visual.
For instance, the traffic bars can have a huge increase month-over-month, but conversions stay the same. Then, you’ll know the conversion rate was skewed by the influx of traffic coming in that didn’t convert.
With a pie chart, you can see which variables take the “biggest piece of the pie” and which ones don’t even show up as opportunities.
My go-to data for a pie chart is channels by conversions. So I can see which channels contributed the most conversions in a given month. An added bonus is adding custom labels (in Excel or Google Sheets) to show the month-over-month percentage change in addition to the current monthly percentage of all conversions.
Bar graphs are great for listicles or comparisons. Visually, you can view from top-down which dimension or category ranks the highest. Heck, throw in a second series to show the previous month’s value as well.
Again, these are just 3 of the most useful charts that I use. But the sky is your limit. You can even create cool designs in PowerPoint and then link your Excel values to it to make even cooler visualizations.
3. Schedule Your Reports
The first two steps are necessary to get you to this last, and final step. Scheduling reports should just be a few clicks. Since I’ve mentioned SuperMetrics a bunch already, they do have a scheduling option to automate refreshing your queries. So all you need to do is open the report and you’re set.
But if you don’t have SuperMetrics, but are still using Google Data Studio or another visualization tool, you can simply add date ranges to automate to the target time frame. So whenever someone opens the report, they’ll see the date range automatically set to, let’s say in this case, the last month.
To do this for Google Data Studio, set each table’s “Default Date Range” settings to “Auto,” then add a Date Range element to the report. Then, all the tables will refresh based on the Date Range element’s choice.
Having tools to help both with data collection and visualization requires just the initial setup. Afterwards, monthly marketing reporting should be easy and painless. You don’t even need to pull the data each month, it’ll all be connected and automated for you.