Modern marketing is all about data. As it should be. Because so much of today’s marketing happens on tiny computers we carry in our pockets and on our wrists, nearly everything we do is trackable. But what does that really mean? Better yet, where can you get ahold of some of this data and use it to your advantage?
The answer is twofold. First of all, data is everywhere. You probably know this, but Google, Facebook, Amazon and other digital giants have made shopping, searching and connecting easy. In exchange, they’ve amassed a lot of data and tools to seamlessly track everything we do online. This is potentially annoying to individuals, but it’s beneficial to businesses that want to know how they are doing online.
At the very least, make sure that you use some form of tracking on your website. Google Analytics allows you to track website performance for free. If you are sending emails, you should have access to a variety of metrics there as well. And just by looking at your social media accounts and the number of followers, views, likes, shares, etc., you can deduce engagement rates.
When it comes to using analytics to your advantage, the answer is a bit trickier. Most analytics tools are not intuitive, even though they feature aggregate data and dashboards. Unfortunately, most metrics are meaningless unless you know how to put them into context and give them meaning.
For the data to truly tell you what your marketing efforts are doing, you need detailed digital marketing reports. In our opinion, digital marketing reports are much more than screenshots and percentages. The reports should make sense after your digital marketing manager leaves the room or the call. Good digital marketing reports provide data and insights and evaluate all of your efforts in one place, including web analytics, SEM, social media advertising and email marketing.
If your reports leave you wanting more, see how they stack up against this list of six things every digital marketing report should include.
1. Industry Averages
Context is key to understanding analytics, and one of the most important pieces of information is industry averages. After all, how can you make sense of your marketing performance unless you know what to expect from both the channel and within your industry? Here are a few examples of channel and industry averages to consider.
- If you advertise on social media, all channels have industry averages and benchmarks that include click-through rates, cost per click, cost per thousand impressions, conversion rates and engagement rates.
- If you send email, your email client should offer averages for opens, click-through, bounce and unsubscribes.
- To find out how your organic engagement compares to your industry, you can look to social media analytics companies for engagement rates by industry.
2. Historical Data
Digital marketing reports are a snapshot of time but should provide historical context. Typically, we provide monthly reports to our clients during the first week of the month to allow time for changes and new data capture before the next report. These reports include historical data provided by tools that collect it, such as email open rates. They also include manually recorded metrics that aren’t automatically generated, such as tracking hero image clicks in emails to help improve our understanding of compositions our audience prefers. It’s important that reports aren’t limited by what is easy to grab and include what is valuable. And data can only reveal performance when viewed over time.
We have one client who relies heavily on email, for which we track performance beyond the individual send but with insights over time. This includes engagement rates, content and visual asset performance. The results have provided critical information needed to improve email templates, product assets and content strategy.
3. Multi-Channel Comparison
Most marketing plans include somewhere between three and five social channels to distribute diverse content to their audiences. We’re talking about Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok and Twitter. Your reports should not only tell you how each channel is performing, but they should also provide you with an ongoing comparison to indicate how they are performing in relation to one another.
For example, B2C home improvement brands see higher engagement rates on Instagram than Facebook and Twitter. Meanwhile, the few that are on TikTok are seeing even higher engagement rates. B2B brands, on the other hand, have more success on LinkedIn. However, the key is to test and measure over time.
4. Business Insights
Any good marketing plan worth its salt includes variety. You could be highlighting different products, focusing on different features and benefits, using a variety of content or a diversity of language. The tactics and focus of your content should be considered as data. A good marketing report will provide insights around what the best and worst performing content is, and what this means for your business.
5. Competitive Analysis
Because this is retail, we care a lot about the competition. Our eyes are always looking to see what the competition is doing. As such, a good digital marketing report should provide competitive analysis showing how your marketing stacks up against that of the competition. Every month, your reporting should include intel from direct and indirect competition. This helps you to understand what platforms the competition is using, what type of content they are promoting, what their engagement rates are and how they are, or are not, evolving the industry.
One thing that marketing reports often leave out is advice on what to do with the information in front of you. This type of information is especially critical if you have hired someone to help with your marketing. In addition to paying for the hands-on creation and deployment, you are paying for expertise. If your marketing reports don’t include recommendations around content, spend, frequency and other key metrics, perhaps you can do better.
It’s worth noting that digital isn’t the only marketing that can be validated with quality reporting. Print marketing and merchandising reports are valuable, too, particularly if you have a merchant meeting or PLR in your future. If you’re looking for help with your print marketing reporting, check out this article on Research or our Store Walk White Paper. There’s also an article on Nailing Your Next Merchant Pitch. Each of these Porchlight Insights provides actionable ideas for collecting, comparing and validating performance in the home improvement retail industry.