If you’ve been providing paid marketing services to clients for any extended period of time, you know that every person you work with has a different level of online marketing knowledge. Some people might be experienced account managers, others might know basics, while others still might not know the industry at all. It can be easy to overwhelm and confuse your points of contact with too much data or jargon outside the realm of their experience. That’s why providing a personalized, concise, and streamlined method for reporting on the successes (or failures) of your hard work is foundational to building a long-lasting client relationship.
Creating personalized reports will also cut down the issues in client communication and make your check-in calls go more smoothly. Regardless of your client’s size or how long you have been working with them, providing improved reporting will always strengthen your relationship. In this post, I’ll walk you through some of my favorite tools and methods that provide superior paid channel reporting so that you can make your value clear to your clients.
The first step in generating compelling reports for clients is to use the right tools to pull and translate the performance data. If you’re used to using spreadsheets for this data, you may be reluctant to switch to something else that requires additional investment. But you could be spending way too much time pulling and presenting data weekly or monthly—way more time than you would using real-time technology to do the same thing faster and better.
There are a variety of tools out there to help make pulling and translating performance seamless and aesthetically pleasing. I’ll walk you through a few that I use myself, as well as a few that I’ve heard great things about from other agency owners.
I am somewhat biased here: Databox is my personal favorite reporting tool. I’ve mentioned Databox in some of my other posts, but the sheer versatility it provides both the agency and the client is worth talking about again. Connect multiple data sources for a complete performance overview. Create templates that can be duplicated and personalized for each client. You can also invite your clients to their own portal where you can assign them specific dashboards just for them.
Specifically tailored to agencies, NinjaCat is a great tool that is similar to Databox in many respects. It allows you to create personalized client reports and dashboard across 750+ data sources. Additionally, NinjaCat gives you the ability to monitor budget and KPIs to stay on top of your accounts, call tracking for paid search, and all of the native integrations you could ask for.
This is another great option for reporting and monitoring performance. And in addition to reports and dashboards, ReportGarden has a plethora of features related to franchise marketing, proposals, budgeting, invoices, as well as an SEO audit tool. Some agencies might find these additional features as a selling point to cleanly operate their agency. I would suggest comparing ReportGarden to the other tools listed to determine which features are the best fit for your agency’s needs.
What’s better than automated reporting? How about a platform that allows you to streamline Google Ads, Facebook, and Bing workflows, recommends optimizations across platforms, and allows you to share success reports with clients? For PPC agencies, there really is no better complete offering than WordStream Advisor for Agencies. Outside of the robust optimization and budget monitoring features, WordStream’s platform makes it easier for you to demonstrate your value to clients with customizable Success Reports that allow you to share performance results across every campaign. Not only would you eliminate spreadsheets in the process of adopting WordStream, but you would also streamline numerous other time-consuming aspects of running your agency.
There isn’t going to a one-size-fits-all report: Each client you have is going to have unique reporting needs regardless of the particular niche that your agency operates within. Because of this, it’s important to make general reporting templates for basic performance data and then customize these templates to be specific to the client that you’re making it for. The best way to do this is by focusing on each client’s business goals.
The tracking of tangible results is the common thread for the vast majority of paid acquisition clientele, so creating a report or dashboard related specifically to conversion activity over time is a great way to prove that your actions are visibly impactful on your client’s bottom line. Time frames for presenting such data vary from client to client, but I typically choose to display this information both monthly and quarterly. With advanced reporting tools, your clients will have the ability themselves to expand the date ranges to view trends if they so desire.
A great method for presenting this information is to run through conversion trends via screen-share with your clients. Allowing your points of contact to view (hopefully improving) trends within conversion volume and CPA will give them an immediate insight into overall performance as it is related to their goals. This will allow you to later supplement this information with supporting evidence via other metrics that indicate a healthy improvement of their overall account. The strategy here is this: Show your clients what is most important and easily digestible first.
As mentioned, you’ll want to present the goal-centric information first. This will allow you to show the client where they were previously and where they currently stand from a general performance standpoint. From here, you will be able to concisely convey the reasons behind the trends in the broader scope with the supporting data related to them. Some clients may be more interested in impression and click-related data, as that may in fact be one of their goals.
A great feature that these reporting tools have gifted agencies is the ability to track performance throughout the funnel. You aren’t limited to only displaying the surface-level metrics of Google and Facebook, for example; you also have the ability to connect HubSpot, Salesforce, Google Analytics, or others. The clear advantage to this is the fact that you have real-time access to how things are performing further down the funnel. This allows you to make more informed adjustments to the campaigns based on how the leads driven from them are performing on the backend. This also makes the job of presenting this information to the client much easier. Instead of reporting on the surface metrics within each channel and having to ask them to pull the information on their end, you both can have this information in one place. Reporting capabilities on how your ads are affecting your client’s bottom line will grant you undeniable value and proof of a job well done.
If you’re using the right tools—like the ones I mentioned earlier—you can create single dashboards that compile all of the channels together. Unless the information is very high-level and straightforward (budget pacing, for example), I would argue against trying to jam everything into one report or dashboard. Instead, break out each individual channel (Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc.), and give each its own series of dashboards that effectively break down the layers of metrics. In addition to giving you more room to display supporting KPIs, breaking out the channels will prevent the client from being distracted by poor performance in one channel versus another. The last thing you want on a call is the client ignoring the good performance while obsessing over the bad.
The inherent differences between paid channels is another good reason to do this. Your strategy between Google and Facebook is most likely going to be very different. The simple fact that these channels serve ads and optimize via their algorithms differently is reason enough to keep the information separate. I would suggest keeping the data all in one place if the client is small enough and the performance data is fairly straightforward. Otherwise, take the time to make channel-specific dashboards.
In addition to breaking out reports by channel, I suggest creating multiple reports for each of these channels. As I had mentioned previously, you’ll want to start simple but have the option to display more complex information depending on the client and the evidence you need to present. Compiling all of the necessary data within one report may sound like the best option, but it makes more sense to create reports with varying degrees of detail and complexity. A main dashboard that addresses high-level metrics related to budget pacing, impressions, clicks, and conversions is a good place to start. From there, you’ll allow your client to take a look into some of the details of the paid campaigns, such as targeting, keywords, and impression share.
Paid search alone has so many data points and moving pieces that are a part of the whole puzzle that it makes sense to create templates for these. You may never need to use these templates for some clients, but for others you will—and with templates, when the time comes you will be able to quickly duplicate the report and connect the necessary data sources. This will save you hours of time in the long run because you won’t have to build entire reports from scratch every time.
These tools are great for clients to get a real-time look at how things are performing, but there is additional value in being able to compile important information into one dashboard for yourself. You’re likely spending hours a week logging into your respective channels just to determine your next plan of action. The beauty of these platforms is that you can make separate dashboards or reports for you and your team to stay on top of the most important aspects of running an agency. Spend pacing per client, conversion pacing towards goals, and dips in KPIs can all be monitored quickly. This will save you time when making your optimizations and prioritizing which client accounts need your immediate attention.
Reporting is the most important factor in client satisfaction outside of your expertise and ability to run successful paid marketing campaigns. Giving your client an easy, great-looking way to understand a report or dashboard could make a world of a difference. If your client is relatively new or has had bad experiences with other agencies, your ability to be a cut above the competition in the customer relationship department will go a long way.
Brett McHale is the founder of Empiric Marketing, a digital marketing agency dedicated to scaling startups through paid search and social.
See other posts by Brett McHale
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