Five Steps to Effective Reporting

Five Steps to Effective Reporting

August 2018 | Marketing Operations

It's the most important part of marketing operations, yet also the most difficult. A holistic approach to campaign reporting is key to getting the right numbers.

It's the most important part of the marketing operations role, yet also the most difficult. Comprehensive reporting that correctly tracks activity and attributes responses to the right campaigns is the foundation by which marketing activity is evaluated. All of the many KPIs and metrics that marketers are judged by depend on the right leads being tied to the right campaigns. If this doesn't happen, budgets are cut and otherwise successful programs are cancelled.

For too many campaigns, reporting is an afterthought. Sometimes quite literally so because no one involved in designing or executing the campaign will consider reporting requirements until after the campaign has launched. By that time, it's too late. You can only report on an activity, if you have data about it. If you want to monitor visitors from a specific site, or see detailed information about form submissions then you need to ensure that you've configured the relevant tracking or data capture points prior to the first live visitor arriving. Marketers tend to assume that all this configuration happens automatically, and get understandably upset when they discover that there are manual setup steps involved.

To ensure that everything is working smoothly it's important to be prepared, and to consider the end to end journey using the following process prior to launching a campaign.

Know the campaign objectives

No one is expecting you to have detailed revenue or MQL targets for every single activity. However, it's important to make sure you're clear on what story you'd like to tell your boss at the end of the campaign, and what metrics that might require. If you're not clear on what success and failure looks like then no one else will either. Make sure that the execution team is clear on this too, so that they can make sure the right numbers are available during their testing phase.

Consider the entire journey

A good story has a beginning, a middle and an end. It will have a number of interesting events that happen along the way. A user journey is the same. When designing the campaign, you'll have all these journey points and user actions mapped out as part of your campaign design. Even if you're not interested in the numbers for each asset and user action now, you will be when the time comes to actually present the campaign results to the wider team. List out the key actions that a user might take, and check that there is reporting in place for all of them. Make sure the execution team are aware of the entire end to end journey too. If they know there's going to be social or paid advertising, then it can be considered as part of the tracking setup prior to launch.

Define your own benchmarks

Industry benchmarks are great. However, they vary wildly in both quality and actual numbers. They also tend to be targeted at very broad industry categories. It's rare to come across a company that fits a benchmark perfectly. Habits differ depending on the profile and location of the campaign audience. Within Europe, email open rates vary significantly by country. This means that the most reliable benchmarks are those that break down results into country or regional figures, with the industry categorised by the industry of the target audience, rather than the industry of the company running the campaign. Without these, benchmark against your past performance. The aim should be to get better results compared to previous campaigns. Compare against benchmarks to ensure you're matching industry trends, but don't worry so much about the actual numbers as they may be for a completely different audience type.

Keep your eye on the prize

The ultimate goal of any marketing campaign is to generate leads and drive revenue. Even if the campaign isn't expected to be lead generating, it will still have an influence on those who do subsequently convert. So always make sure that form submissions and key downloads appear against leads in CRM either as activities or as campaign history. Sales will want to know about any relevant marketing activity as it gives them something to talk about with the prospect, so make sure that campaign responses are visible to reps with context. This data will form the basis of your ROI reporting too, so it's important to get this right for every campaign. It may not matter to you whether the campaign membership history in CRM is complete, but it matters a lot to your boss. Every user activity should tie back to a marketing campaign with an appropriate status. Then make sure that the lead creation process is tested for every campaign, to ensure that leads generated appear in revenue reporting with the right source and campaign details.

Use the right reporting tool

Everyone always wants all reporting in one place, including both the campaign funnel metrics and operational statistics. That place is a BI tool using a dashboard created by a data analyst who can pull together data from your CRM, Marketing Automation and Web analytics platforms and combine into a single view. If you're not lucky enough to have one of those, then you'll need to extract the relevant numbers from each system separately and combine them in Excel or PowerPoint. Marketing Automation tools are great for email statistics and contact level reporting, but are highly unreliable sources for website visit numbers. They can be used for ROI and lead funnel reporting when setup correctly if opportunity data and campaign costs are available in the system, but in most cases Salesforce reporting will be more comprehensive.

Written by
Marketing Operations Consultant and Solutions Architect at CRMT Digital specialising in marketing technology architecture. Advisor on marketing effectiveness and martech optimisation.