Why Off the Shelf Agency Analytics Platforms Aren’t Enough and What You Can Do About It
Marketing Report Standards and Limitations
Marketing performance reports provided by agencies typically provide a snapshot of the previous month’s performance. Sometimes, comparative analytics highlight changes from the previous month, or the same month from previous year. While marketing report tools let you see gains or losses from the previous month or year, they don’t provide insight into trends over time. To make truly informed decisions about your marketing, you need more information than these reports provide. Read on to learn how you and your marketing team can improve reporting and take it to the next level.
Why Marketing Report Data is So Limited
Most marketing clients expect reports to be provided on or close to the first of the month. Manually compiling the necessary information is a time consuming process, which gave rise of numerous analytics reporting companies that provide both agencies and internal marketing teams with tools that automate the process. The most cost effective agency analytics platforms only provide reporting for a single period, with some offering the option to compare previous or year over year periods. While there are some marketing analytics and CRM platforms that report side-by-side, month over month, results for multiple periods, this feature is only available with more expensive platforms. Not surprisingly, the less expensive platforms became industry standards, and past month reporting is the norm.
More Data and Less Insight
Marketing analytics software programs use APIs to pull in and roll up data from external sources including Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Facebook. APIs give marketing platforms easy access to a huge amount of data. This has led marketing platform companies to add more details to reporting which is great for marketing teams with time to process them, but overwhelming for time-strapped customers who in some cases are unclear what they are looking at in the first place. In response to data overload, it’s reported that 42% of all small business owners don’t even review their marketing reports.
Alternatives to the Previous Month Reporting
Depending on your needs, one or both of the following strategies can be deployed to make your reporting more insightful and accessible.
- Use Data Studio Set Up Week by Week or Month by Month Reports. If you would like to understand how your results ebb and flow, having reports that provide you the ability to visualize month over month or week over week results is a must. Google Data Studio is a free platform that can be used to aggregate and present your marketing results. Like other platforms, Data Studio uses APIs to connect to your third party data. It requires some skill to set up a Google Data Studio report, but once it’s done, it will update automatically, so you will always have access to data trends. You can create Data Studio reports that show the exact data you want to see, and you can set it up to see daily, weekly, or monthly data trends.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). If you want to understand how you’re marketing is performing but your team doesn’t have a lot of time, reporting on a handful KPIs, can help you keep tabs on what is happening without spending much time. Although it is always preferable to automate reporting when possible, sometimes the data points you most care about are not easily accessible. In these cases, don’t rule out going old school and creating and manually updating a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets to track KPIs . Since you will be relying on staff to manually compile the reports, we would advise limiting the data points you track to truly meaningful metrics such as how much you are spending on paid campaigns, how many conversions you are getting, and the cost per conversion. Not sure what KPIs to track? Contact us and we will help you out.
Reporting the previous month’s results gives you basic information about your recent marketing performance, but for more insight, talk to your marketing team or agency about using Google Data Studio to create reports that will help you evaluate marketing trends. Also consider tracking a small handful of KPIs for each of your marketing campaigns so you can quickly see side by side results over time.