Marketing reporting is essential for any business trying to scale and succeed by better understanding the impact of their marketers’ initiatives. Developing a comprehensive reporting workflow enables you to quickly and easily track progress, measure campaign effectiveness, optimize your SEO strategies and identify areas for improvement.
In essence, having reports readily available for team members and stakeholders is one of the best ways to begin enhancing your marketing efforts. Without access to in-depth data, your team is effectively operating blindly on instinct without really understanding which tactics work and, more importantly, which ones don’t.
This article will take you through the process of identifying relevant goals and KPIs for any marketing team as well as the marketing tools that can help you identify tools and strategies to embrace – and avoid.
Marketing reporting basics
Marketing reporting goes beyond just aggregating marketing data for businesses. It encompasses the process of collecting, analyzing, and presenting data that intertwines marketing with sales, service, and product development. Reporting helps maintain crucial alignment and synergy between these critical departments.
There are a range of powerful apps and tools designed to help you get the most in-depth. real-time insights into user behaviour. One of the most popular, of course, is Google Analytics which recently launched its latest iteration, GA4.
If you haven’t yet made the switch from Universal Analytics to GA4, here’s our guide to migrating over to Google Analytics 4.
Here’s how to track a marketing campaign in GA4
The evolution of marketing reporting
Over the past few decades, marketing reporting has undergone a significant transformation, evolving from simple spreadsheet tabulations to sophisticated, real-time analytics platforms. In the early days, marketers relied heavily on manual data entry and analysis, often resulting in delayed reports that impacted the agility of marketing strategies.
The introduction of Google Analytics in 2005 marked a watershed moment, democratizing data analysis and allowing marketers of all sizes to track and understand user behavior online. This period also saw the rise of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems that helped tailor marketing efforts to individual consumer needs.
In 2015, Harvard Business Review published a study on marketing reporting to quantify its impact. At the time they found that companies were spending 6.7% of their marketing budgets on analytics.
In 2023, Winterberry Group found that the total cost of marketing analytics and data infrastructure in the US, UK and EU exceeded $22 billion USD at the time, estimated to grow beyond $32 billion USD by 2026.
Cross-departmental collaboration, insights and initiatives
Today, marketing reporting technology is deeply intertwined with AI, providing real-time data streams, comprehensive dashboards, and the ability to parse huge datasets for granular insights. This evolution has not only empowered data-driven decision-making but also paved the way for highly personalized marketing strategies, profoundly shaping the marketing landscape into a dynamic, responsive, and user-centric domain.
Marketing data simply can’t be viewed in isolation, but must be cross-referenced with insights from other areas and teams, enabling a more comprehensive understanding of business dynamics.
Today, professionals across the business spectrum approach marketing reporting with the goal of not just tracking the campaign performance or strategies, but also to understand how these marketing elements interact with and impact other departments.
Unified business intelligence
The objective is to create a unified view that drives more cohesive and effective business strategies, aligning marketing goals with broader company objectives and ensuring every department contributes to and benefits from the insights gathered.
When we talk about marketing reporting, we’re referring to the process of collecting, analyzing, and presenting data in a way that is easy to understand and actionable for marketing teams. Reports are often delivered or views in comprehensive marketing dashboards can be used to track the performance of individual campaigns, as well as your overall marketing strategy.
Marketing professionals and stakeholders always have a number of key objectives and goals in mind when they begin their journey into marketing reporting. This is true whether you’re the Chief Marketing Officer, a Marketing Director, Data Analyst, Copywriter, SEO Specialist, or another role. The key for any good reporter is to define your goals in advance and those of your manager so everyone’s expectations can be met readily. Here’s a guide to marketing data and analytics for beginners if some of this is new for you.
What are the specific goals of a good marketing report?
Before crafting a marketing report, it’s crucial to have specific, tailored goals that align with your team’s needs. The following goals are designed to be a foundation, which should be refined to fit the unique context of your marketing team.
1. Measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns with concrete metrics
Focus on quantifying specific aspects of your campaigns. For instance, break down your analysis into campaign types such as:
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Sales enablement
- Market research
Then track detailed metrics including click-through rates, engagement levels, lead quality, or direct sales conversions to evaluate each campaign’s success accurately.
Reporting on the effectiveness of each marketing campaign can then be used to identify which strategies or tactics are working well and which ones need to be improved or abandoned.
2. Track progress towards clearly-defined marketing KPIs
Clarify what your objectives actually are in tangible terms. Are you aiming to decrease Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) or improve Lifetime Value (LTV)?
Set clear targets such as increasing organic website traffic by X%, boosting lead conversion rates by Y%, or achieving a Z% increase in customer retention. Use marketing reporting to monitor these KPIs and adjust strategies accordingly.
If one of your goals is to increase website traffic by 10% over the next quarter, you can use marketing reporting to track that progress and ensure you’re on track to achieve that goal. Web analytics synced to your marketing dashboard can tell you which pages are generating traffic, which ones are underperforming and so much more.
Want to create a custom marketing dashboard?
3. Identify and pinpoint areas for improvement through data-driven analysis
Examine specific operational metrics. For example, if conversion rates are dwindling, look into which particular stages of the sales funnel are underperforming. Use segment-specific data in your marketing reporting to understand the behavior of different customer demographics or product categories. Here’s a guide to setting up your segments in GA4.
Think of marketing reporting as a guardrail in this case, or the canary in the coal mine to warn your team in advance when there are red flags to address.
4. Adjust your roadmap based on data from digital marketing tools
Detailed and data-driven reports can help you to make informed decisions about future marketing efforts and let you know in advance if your roadmap is working as intended.
For example, if lead gen campaigns are outperforming brand awareness campaigns in terms of ROI, consider reallocating budget accordingly. Use data from digital marketing tools to make these decisions, ensuring they’re based on measurable outcomes rather than assumptions.
5. Communicate the value of your marketing efforts to broader stakeholders
Understand the interest levels and knowledge areas of key stakeholders you report to. For instance, present executive metrics including: marketing ROI, cost per acquisition, or the impact on overall revenue growth to the C-suite.
By showing executives, investors, or board members how marketing is contributing to the company’s bottom line, you can build support for your initiatives and secure the budget you need to be successful.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in your marketing reports
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are specific metrics derived from your marketing reports. You’ll use KPIs to make decisions and adjustments – where to focus more of your marketing efforts, how to adjust your sales leads, what kind of social media channels to spend money on, and much more.
What are some typical KPIs for marketers?
Awareness metrics (also referred to as vanity metrics)
This refers to the traffic, or number of visitors to your website. It can be broken down into organic traffic, unique visitors, referrals (which websites are sending people your way?), and direct traffic (visitors who simply type your URL into their browser).
- Number of unique visitors
- Page views
- Bounce rate
- Average session duration
This KPI can have varying definitions depending on how you structure your marketing funnel. Typically it refers to the percentage of visitors who take a desired action on your website: signing up, making a purchase, submitting a form, etc.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
This is the total cost of acquiring new customers, with consideration for marketing and sales expenses.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
This measurement calculates the revenue your business can expect from a single account or customer. Read more about customer lifetime value.
Social Media Engagement
Think clicks, shares, comments, retweets, followers, etc. This is a metric covering all visitor interactions with your organization across social media platforms. Here’s a list of 10 customer engagement metrics you should be measuring.
Email Open and Click-Through Rates
A measurement of how many recipients open emails you send them and how many then click on a link within.
Click-through rate is a percentage used to determine how many visitors click on a piece of marketing content after seeing it. Here’s how it’s calculated: Number of clicks ÷ impressions = CTR
Return on Investment (ROI)
How profitable are investments in marketing investments? This is a calculation of just that so that senior leadership can have a sense of your campaign’s value to the company. Here’s how to turn insights into ROI with Google Analytics.
This is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after only viewing one page. As a content marketer, try to keep this as low as possible.
Lead generation is the process of capturing and nurturing interest through your organization’s sales funnel. Typical KPIs include:
- Number of leads generated
- Cost per lead
- Lead-to-customer conversion rate
- Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
- Sales qualified leads (SQLs)
- Forecast management
- Pipeline management
- Deal management
- Social media followers
- Website traffic from organic search
- Net promoter score (NPS)
Return on investment (ROI)
- Marketing ROI
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
- Customer lifetime value (LTV)
How should I present marketing KPIs in my data reporting?
It’s important to note that not all of the KPIs listed in this article are relevant to every business, and there are certainly more KPIs to consider than we’ve mentioned so far. But this is a good place to start thinking about KPIs and setting a standard for your digital marketing reports. We recommend choosing the KPIs that are most important to your organization’s specific marketing objectives.
KPIs can be used to measure the performance of a variety of marketing and PR campaigns and channels, including:
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Event marketing
By tracking these KPIs over time, marketers can identify which marketing or PR campaigns and strategies are working well and which ones need to be improved. This information can then be used to make informed decisions about future marketing efforts.
Some of the top digital marketing reporting tools in 2023
There are a wide range of tools digital marketing teams use in their day-to-day for market reporting, social media analytics and more. Here are just several recommendations to help you get a sense of what’s out there from free marketing reporting tools to extensive, enterprise-level resources. Here’s a more comprehensive guide to the best apps and tools for marketing reporting.
Find a tool that best suits your budget and the level of marketing reporting detail that you need. It can be overwhelming to manage all the data that’s available, so keep this in mind and don’t go overboard!
This popular web analytics service tracks and reports on user behavior and website traffic. It is one of the most popular marketing reporting tools available with a wide range of features, including:
- Website traffic analysis
- Goal tracking
- Funnel analysis
- Cohort analysis
- Ecommerce tracking
- Custom reporting
Here’s all you need to know to set up an effective marketing dashboard in GA4.
This free data visualization tool, formerly Google Data Studio, allows you to create custom dashboards and reports. It integrates with a variety of data sources, including Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Search Console.
Here’s a paid marketing reporting tool that offers a variety of features, including:
- Customizable dashboards
- Automated reporting
- Real-time data updates
- Team collaboration
- Integrations with over 70 marketing data sources
Agency Analytics is a paid marketing reporting tool that is specifically designed for marketing agencies. It offers a variety of features, including:
- White-labeled reports
- Client management tools
- Proposal generation
- Competitive benchmarking
- Integrations with over 50 marketing data sources
If you’re looking for a paid marketing reporting tool that’s easy to use and offers a variety of features, you could consider Whatagraph. Features include:
- Customizable dashboards
- Automated reporting
- Pre-built report templates
- Team collaboration
- Integrations with over 40 marketing data sources
Marketing reporting templates to get you started
While there are dozens – ok hundreds! – of templates to get you started in marketing reporting, here are 10 that cover a number of the KPIs that we mentioned above:
- Improvado: Marketing dashboard template
- HubSpot: Marketing automation report templates for Excel, PowerPoint, and Google Drive
- Agency Analytics: Email marketing report template
- Slide Team: Email campaign reporting templates
- Mailchimp: Email marketing performance report template
- Hootsuite: Social media marketing report template
- Unito: Monthly reporting templates
- Unito: 5 Free SEO reporting templates
- Sprout Social: Social media analytics report template
- Later.com: Instagram marketing report template
- Facebook: Meta ads marketing report template
- Ahrefs: SEO report template
Marketing reporting and Unito
By now you know that marketing reporting is an important part of any marketing strategy. By using the highly effective and informative tools and apps available today, you can take your organization to the next level. Here’s a quick summary of the main benefits of marketing reporting:
Identify what’s working and what’s not. By tracking your progress, you can see which campaigns are generating results and which ones need to be tweaked. This information can help you make better decisions about how to allocate your marketing resources.
Understand your customers to gain insight into their needs and behaviors. This information can help you create more targeted and effective marketing campaigns in tools such as Facebook Insights or Google Analytics.
Prove the value of your marketing efforts. Marketing reports can help you demonstrate the ROI of your marketing investments to senior management and stakeholders. This can help you secure more funding for your marketing initiatives.
Keep in mind, these are just a few of the advantages. By using Unito to improve project reporting, team collaboration, accountability, and efficiency by connecting projects across different work management tools, you can extend your results even more.
When is it time to automate or integrate my reporting?
If you’re thinking about automating or integrating your reports, make sure you have a workflow you’re happy with in each tool, first. Then it’s time to decide where you want to sync (or export) your data, and how you want each tool to interact with another. It also depends on your industry and how familiar your colleagues are with the various automation and integration options out there. Here’s a guide to SaaS reporting essentials for our colleagues in the tech industry.
That’s where an iPaaS solution such as Unito Sync Platform can help you get started. Here’s our ultimate guide to automated reporting to give you a sense of how Unito can optimize your reporting workflows.
Try syncing your marketing reports to a spreadsheet with Unito to enhance your workflows
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