Attractive Reporting: The Final Step in Your Integrated Marketing Communications
So you want to add some credibility to your marketing department? It’s always been easy to set marketing objectives, but in the past marketing has been a difficult department to report on, mostly due to the fact that the work was deemed intangible, and so as a result marketing reports fell between the cracks. However, things have changed. Today it is simple enough to collect data and tie dollars earned to marketing initiatives. This gives marketers the chance to prove their worth, but also demands accountability. Marketing reports are not only of use to senior management, but can also be used to great effect within their own department. So how do you provide information in a way that’s going to stand you in good stead? It’s actually simple enough and as a result can be done on a regular basis. Here’s a four-step guide to creating the perfect monthly report:
1 Make it Appealing with Monthly Highlights
I’m not saying fabricate the truth or cover up the negatives, I’m saying lead with the highlights. Have you ever heard the maxim; First impressions last? Well,assume the same thing applies to your report. You wouldn’t wear the worst sweater your Mum ever made you to a business meeting, so why would you open a report with boring, unflattering facts? It’s not trickery or a con, its simply using your strong points to peak the interest of the reader. People do this everyday and it’s something you can capitalize on at the start of your report. Engage the reader with growth statistics. Some good highlights to use are:
- Website visits % increase
- Reach and exposure % growth
- Customer % increase through marketing
- Leads % increase
- Leads to Customers increase
It’s important not to inundate the reader with too much information. It’s a monthly report not an annual shareholders report. Show how you’ve met marketing objectives but don’t go into heavy details. Be sure to reference everything with your marketing metric. This way if someone outside of your department is reading the report, they can evaluate the monthly performance against organisational goals.
2 Keep it Simple with Graphs
The beauty of graphs is in the simplicity. Not only are they simple to understand, they are simple to create. This step complements the monthly highlights well, as you can show off not only short-term achievements, but long term ones too. And lets face it, it is important to show the boss that your department is meeting marketing objectives on a monthly basis. When information is displayed in graphic form, it becomes easier to interpret, therefore making your report much more effective. Using dashboards to organise and present makes this process all the easier and ensures good presentation quality. Graphs also show historical trends, which means rather than having to explain growth trends using overly detailed wordy explanations, the information is there in plain sight. Remember this is a monthly report, not a thesis. The information should be readily available and easy to interpret. Mass communications are very effectively represented by graphs.
Tracking reach across social media platforms in particular, can best be communicated by a graph. Here is this example graph used in a recent HubSpot slideshow. It perfectly captures all the necessary elements, gives a good historical view of reach by channel and most importantly looks smart.
3 Inspire with Feature Campaigns
This step gives you an opportunity to point out specific marketing campaigns and give praise to particular individuals or teams. This can be done by simply identifying the most exciting campaigns for the month or even ranking the top 3 campaigns. This type of appraisal works well for large marketing departments, where success is driven by competitiveness. For the featured campaign you could look at; the campaign itself, give a brief description of the marketing objectives set to the campaign, show the outcomes and growth, and finish with a brief pat on the back for the team leading that campaign.
4 Leave Them Wanting More With Your Summary
Another incredibly basic step, but still important to your report. The report so far has been entirely based around data collected in the past, now you look to the future. The key to a good summary is not going into too much detail. You know the ins and outs of your future marketing objectives e.g. how they are going to be achieved, what resources are being used where. Your boss, although interested in what you’re doing, probably doesn’t need to know the key functions and daily activities of your whole team. Use the summary as a way to identify your department’s goals for the next month and leave the reader interested as to whether those goals are reached. Discuss how much you expect your mass communications to grow and across which social media platforms, but it’s not necessary to discuss by what means you hope to achieve this growth. Again try mentioning your marketing metric in this section to provide the reader with some reference points for the future.
It’s easy to not report on you marketing achievements. It’s also very easy to do it poorly. The key is to keep the information concise, direct and interesting. If you stick to these four points, your marketing reports will prove to be an effective source of communications across all levels.
5 Keep Sales in the Loop
Don’t give the sales department an inch to complain and remember they need to be accountable to their actions too. You are both the revenue generators for the company so stay close! A well defined “Smarketing” structure as discussed on Monday outlines how to maximize success here.