marketing reports are icebergs

Marketing Reports are Icebergs

If you are like me, you may have made the mistake of thinking that the larger the report, the more value it provides. What a crock.

Very early my career, I remember creating massive reports that included every possible data point, consisted of multiple pages, provided ridiculous quantities of charts/graphs/wayward stick figures, and hopefully passed some supposed weight test.

In truth, good things come in small packages, especially if you are the executive, chief marketing officer or other head honcho-type who is tasked with reading marketing dashboards and digesting all that marvelous data.

Every marketing metrics report you create must answer three simple questions:

  1. What happened?
  2. Why did that happen?
  3. What are we going to do next?

That is all. And if you can pull it off, try to keep reports to a single page. Here is a sample:

sample analytics report

Just One Page, Huh?

When I give that “one page only” directive to corporate and agency folks during the web analytics trainings I provide, you can almost witness a happy glow arrest their senses.

“Did you say…one…page…reports?! You just made all my marketing measurement dreams come to life. It’s a new dawn! A new day! A new…”

Not so fast, chief.

Just because your reports may only consist of a single, albeit riveting, page, does not mean they require any less effort.

Marketing Reports are Like Icebergs

Only the top-level stuff is visible to your client, but there are massive amounts of information below the surface that make your report and the insights found within it tenable, viable and worth every penny.

Above the Surface

Here are some items you may wish to include in your one-page marketing dashboards and reports:

Goal-Oriented Metrics
How well is your program, website or campaign performing against core business objectives? Visually demonstrate where your program lies on the scale of success and failure. This may take the form of one or several graphic elements (line graphs, column/bar charts, etc.)

Campaign-Oriented Performance
If you are running a campaign, a temporal program or if a new initiative is particularly hot among those who will be reading your report, you may wish to include related performance metrics.

This is the written portion of your report and probably the most important piece. Insights allow you to interpret the pretty charts and graphs you have created and bring to light other pertinent findings that will inform your next marketing move, whether that be a new content execution, testing program, a page alteration, advertising initiative, and so on.

Below the Surface

All of the outstanding numbers and provocative insights you have provided in your single-page report are only possible because of the efforts you have made to explore the depths of your marketing program. Marketing analytics reporting is not merely an exercise of encountering and regurgitating the news. You must also spend the time to examine and diagnose problems. You must seek out crucial communications mistakes and recommend a means for correcting them. You must uncover the unsightly, lagging metrics and suggest methods to improve them.

Like the weirdo janitor in “The Breakfast Club”, you must be the eyes and ears of this institution. To do that job right requires time. Some of the effort you expend may be worthy of including in your report insights. Other findings may not make the cut. No matter what, respect the process.

marketing report iceberg

If you are looking for a few sample problems to solve and questions to peruse as you develop your next analytics report, here are 52 of them.