How to Create Marketing Reports That Engage

Every time that we speak to an agency, we ask the same question:

“Do your clients read your reports?”

And the answer is almost always:

“We have no idea, it doesn’t seem like it.”

These reports typically contain loads of marketing performance data, but we believe that a client’s main agenda is to see how their business is performing.

Ian Lurie, CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink, recently wrote an article called: “Creating Kick-Ass Marketing Reports Through Progressive Detail” where he says:

“Stop dumping data in the client’s lap. Use progressive detail.”

We were intrigued by this. Someone else is voicing exactly how we feel about marketing reports. So what does he mean by “progressive detail?”

Ian continues:

“Progressive detail is layered. The top layers show metrics and KPIs most directly connected to overall business performance. Deeper layers get more and more tactical. They show metrics that support day-to-day decision making but may not mean much to executives who spend their time looking at overall business performance.

Progressive detail creates this layered presentation with multiple formats:

  1. Dashboards start with the big picture and then deliver increasingly granular summaries
  2. Detailed findings and recommendations explain dashboards and provide specific next steps. This is what usually call “the written report.” After you read this, you’ll know better
  3. Tabular data provide the raw backup to support the rest of the report

Progressive detail helps digital marketers stand out, not as tactical nerds, but as marketers who understand the big picture.”

So it seems that Ian is saying we can’t rely on just one type of format if we want to present the whole picture. Luckily, Ian talks in more detail about the purpose behind the layers:

“A report uses ‘progressive detail’ when:

  • The top layer of the report delivers the information everyone needs
  • The bottom layer gives the super-detailed information individual practitioners need
  • The intermediate layers increase in detail, allowing readers to opt out when they have what they need”

Now of course, Ian is talking about a client with multiple staff reviewing the report. But what about agencies with smaller clients where we’re only dealing with one person (the CEO) reviewing the report? We feel that the same purposes still apply, because when creating a report for a singular CEO it might also behoove one to include:

-The top level most engaging important performance data

-The super detailed information as well in case they ask about it

We really enjoy articles like Ian’s that focus on providing marketing reports with true business value.

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