What Makes a “Good” Report?
Creating digital marketing reports is easy, but creating ones that your clients find useful is a different story. The goal of external reports should be: (1) to keep your clients in the loop (on their campaign and in the online marketing industry), (2) to prove to your clients that your services are worthwhile and generating results, and (3) to point out weaknesses and areas to improve.
If your reports meet these goals, you already have a head start for making them jump out. In order to craft monthly, quarterly, or annual reports that are useful, interesting, and easy to read; consider the guidelines below.
The Best SEO Reports:
- Color Scheme: Using a branded set of colors may not be the most practical idea. Instead, pick colors that are easy to read as good and bad. For instance, use green for increases or positive results and red for poor results. Good in between or neutral colors are orange and yellow. Blues or purples also carry positive connotations. You can also use separate colors to clearly organize reports into different categories. See my example below:
- SEO Industry Updates: Use your reports as an opportunity to inform clients of industry changes. What is the latest algorithm update? Are people searching differently this year? Most importantly, tie these updates into explaining how they will affect or change campaigns. That way, you justify making adjustments that make your life easy and gain better results for a website. Whether or not your client reads/understands these updates, providing insight builds trust and a sense that you are an authoritative voice in the industry. Show that you are doing your research and know your stuff.
- Client Industry Tie-ins: Remember that as a client’s industry undergoes seasonal or radical changes, your strategies will change and results will fluctuate. Stay up-to-date with your clients’ industry and include insight in your reports. For example: As gluten free foods become an increasingly popular trend, we find more people to be landing on the /allergies page of your bakery’s website. In response, we added a link to your gluten free menu on this page so that it is easier to find. We are also researching new keywords to target that are related to gluten free foods and celiac disease, which we will be implementing in your campaign.
- Amount of Data: There is a fine line between overly-simplified, bare reports and overly complex, too-detailed reports. It’s impossible to gauge the right amount of data to display to your clients. The challenge is, some clients are more interested in the details of their campaigns than others. Additionally, some have more complex understandings of the data than others. The best way to standardize reporting and cater to both groups is display larger points (in larger fonts) with sub details (in smaller fonts). For instance, you may have 3 standard metrics: traffic, conversions, and rankings. You can use generalized metrics for each, but include a subcategory below with further details for those who are interested.
- Time Comparisons: Year-to-year improvements paint a great picture without the nitty gritty monthly details. If you don’t have enough data for year over year analysis: start with monthly improvements, then jump to quarterly, then jump to annually.
- Avoid Data Manipulation: Don’t waste time (and dishonesty) manipulating data to paint a perfect picture. Instead of omitting the bad results and only showing positives, include explanations of how you will improve upon the unsatisfactory results.
- Don’t Send Too Many: Constantly pushing out reports is more than a waste of time – it is stealing valuable time you should be spending working on a campaign. If you feel your clients would like more frequent updates, very simplified monthly reporting mixed with less frequent complex reporting may be a balanced solution.
- ROI is #1: Never underestimate the power of ROI – it is equally as important as seeing improvement. If you see a drop in results, but a client is still making more than their investment, it’s okay. Diagnosing the drop is important, but this is hardly an emergency situation.
- Measure Reports’ Success: We all hope that clients are reading and understanding reports, but it’s hard to know without testing to measure success. First of all, sending out surveys to clients for feedback on reporting is a direct way to see how they feel. Secondly, track emails to see where people are clicking and which reports were actually opened.
In the end – a well-categorized, visually-appealing, and well-focused report is sure to satisfy your clients. Providing your clients with the best reports is an important component of an SEO campaign to provide some tangibility to an intangible concept. It makes your clients feel safe and secure and gives you the opportunity to stand apart from competition.