Top 5 Marketing Reporting Best Practices

Reporting and analytics, while absolutely essential to any marketing strategy, can be overwhelming and tedious. Deciding on what metrics matter is just the tip of the iceberg—add teammates and media partners to the mix, finding the right solution for creating and sharing reports, validating that the data is correct… It can be a real headache. To truly support a data-driven strategy, reports require clean data, a careful selection of metrics that matter for your brand, and storytelling elements to tie it all together.

Wherever you are in your reporting and analytics journey, consider these best practices for getting to reports that deliver the business-building insights needed to grow your brand.

1. Good, clean data foundation

Structured, accurate, accessible data is essential to getting trustworthy, insightful
marketing reports. Troublingly, 84% of CMOs still worry about the quality and accuracy of their data. If the data is unreliable, the reports it generates will be too. Before kicking off any dashboarding or reporting project, establish a trustworthy foundation by uniting data in a single source of truth. Once you’ve cleaned the water, you’re ready to hand out cups.

2. Don’t report, answer business questions instead

Clean, accurate data is just the beginning. So many marketers get stuck peeling through an endless array of metrics and dimensions, trying to decide what really matters, and what’s just noise. Then, with all the potential visualization and report iterations, it can be dizzying. Done right, performance reports artfully blend metrics and dimensions, working in harmony to answer critical questions about how marketing’s performing, and how to improve efforts. But too often, marketers (or their agencies) throw up dozens of metrics with no context, and your questions go unanswered. Instead of starting with metrics, charts, and reports, start by writing down all of the insight you hope your data can help uncover. Only then can you map out the right KPIs for the job. Still getting stuck? Our integrated marketing analytics guidebook or one of our recent webcasts can help you get there.

3. Context is king

By now you know what you want your reports to answer, but the answer to a performance question is rarely “47.” How well you did depends on what you set out to do. One of the most common mistakes marketers make is reporting on metrics without contextualizing what good or bad performance looks like. Add perspective by comparing performance to industry benchmarks, plans or goals, previous performance, and more. Benchmarks make reports insightful, actionable, transparent, and hold all stakeholders accountable for driving business growth.

4. Weave in storytelling elements

Numbers alone fail to tell the full story of marketing performance. Incorporate images, video, the voice of the customer, and other creative embeds to bring your marketing data to life. Seeing creative or what customers are saying about your latest campaign alongside KPIs delivers the quick context and perspective needed to take action. Unleash your inner Shakespeare, the possibilities are endless.

5. Share far and wide

Beautifully designed marketing reports are meant to be shared. Align internal collaborators and media partners to review performance together. A robust marketing intelligence solution will provide fully customizable permissions and sharing capabilities, giving your stakeholders flexible, secure access to whatever reports or data they’re granted, with reports continuously updated as changes are made or new data comes in. With everyone on the same page, you can test, learn, and optimize in real time, across it all.

Voilà! You and your partners are ready to do meaningful and trusted analysis, make better, faster decisions, and (finally!) demonstrate marketing’s impact on the business.