How to Build Comprehensive Annual Marketing Reports
Marketing reports are a pretty standard part of the yearly progress update for any company with a marketing department.
They’re a jargon-free synopsis of the marketing team’s achievements for the year. They’re usually created and shared by the marketing team to and for the benefit of the wider organization and its various departments.
The main objective of the marketing report is to show other teams what marketing has gotten up to in the last year: what strategies it has applied, what plans were made, and what the results were.
Marketing reports are usually created and delivered in a user-friendly way for folks who aren’t necessarily in the know about marketing and the relevant terminology. They show the achievements of the past year in simple terms, with nice graphics that are easy to understand.
What are the benefits of yearly marketing reports?
The benefits of creating yearly marketing reports include:
- Better communication
Annual reports allow marketing teams to communicate clearly with the rest of the organization to share their progress in a way that isn’t confusing and full of jargon.
- Useful information
The information contained in a marketing report can help shape policies and plans in other departments, as well as the overall company strategy.
- Enhanced cooperation
Sharing a yearly report can bring teams closer and create an atmosphere of transparency and openness.
Marketing reports can compare progress to the goals set for the marketing team at the start of the year, so the business can see if these were achieved or not.
Marketing reports also demonstrate the importance of the marketing team’s efforts with regard to the company’s goals as a whole.
- Budget evaluation
The report gives an insight into the budget and resources spent in the year previous and how much will be required for the upcoming year.
What information should annual marketing reports contain?
A marketing report benefits from having information about the following areas included in it:
For example, you might want to look at visits to your website compared to previous years (examining variations by month, week, or some other timescale), length of time spent on your site, and the SEO performance of your landing pages. You could also include traffic sources in your report. Google Analytics offers a plethora of useful data to include.
You could also include information on how the current year’s KPIs compare to last year’s, as well as making recommendations for any changes to enhance your performance even further.
How different marketing channels performed
In addition, which of your marketing channels enjoyed the most traffic? Which delivered the greatest engagement and interaction with customers? Which led to the most sales? You can look at your email campaign, SEO efforts, and social media and compare these.
You might also want to focus on the number of visits to your call center IVR systems and explain any reductions or increases in call volume. For example, has the number of people phoning reduced since you added certain self-help documents to your site’s FAQ section?
Look at how much you budgeted for paid search advertising and how much you gained in terms of engagement and sales, both direct and indirect. Platforms like Google, Etsy, and YouTube have in-built analytics tools that you can use to compare them against each other, as well as evaluate your performance over time.
Summary of specific metrics you can include
If you’re looking for ideas of specific metrics to include in your report, think about incorporating the following:
- Traffic to your blog or website
- How many leads were generated
- Cost per acquisition i.e. how much it cost the company to get each customer on average (ideally by channel)
- SEO stats i.e. how search engines helped garner traffic
- Your year-on-year performance i.e. how this year’s marketing strategy compared to last
- ROI (net profit vs net cost of investment)
- Return on ad spend i.e. money earned compared to money spent
- Areas for improvement
- Examples of AB testing and how you used this to refine your strategy
Your report should also contain the following:
- How the marketing plan worked out this year compared to last year across every front
- A clear analysis to explain any changes
- Strategy recommendations for next year e.g. how you will use digitalization to improve team communication and gain a competitive advantage
- Projections and goals for next year
- Visual data such as charts and graphs
- A summary of the report with key takeaways
Building your marketing report
Now we’ve covered the nitty-gritty, let’s delve into how your report should be structured.
1. Summarize at the start
While we may have been taught to keep summaries for the end, it’s a good idea to provide one at the start of your report. Why? Because that’s when people’s attention spans are still existent.
You should include the most important takeaways from the report at the beginning, like how social media ads helped or hindered, and save the detailed explanations on topics, such as data discrepancies for down the line.
Cover your biggest achievements, main lessons learned, what your KPIs showed, overall trends, and how this year compared to last.
2. Explain your approach
Once you’ve laid out the most exciting and interesting things you will cover in the report, delve into the strategies you used to achieve those. Explain what worked, what didn’t, what you would keep the same, and what you would change.
You should also include the goals you didn’t meet. If phrases like “what is task management” didn’t work for your SEO strategy, address why that is. It’s often our failures we learn the most from, so this is not something to ignore but rather to use as a tool for improvement.
If you want to impress stakeholders and managers, be sure to explain why things went wrong and how you can avoid the same pitfalls in the future.
3. Make it visual
Use graphs and charts to illustrate data rather than just numbers. Much like user-centric analytics are important in marketing, taking a user-focused approach to your report is a more effective way to convey information, especially for those who aren’t overly familiar with marketing jargon. It’s also a good way to make your report more interesting and faster to get through.
A quick glance at a chart should give readers all the information they need on revenue growth without having to sift through a lump of text. Make sure to also use gentle colors that don’t look overly similar to each other to convey information and a font design and size that’s dyslexia-friendly.
You should also make sure to space out information with frequent breaks in the paragraphs and use headlines and bold to make it easier to skim through.
4. Make it easy to follow
Avoid acronyms you haven’t explained. Talk about “key performance indicators” before switching to “KPIs” and “search engine optimization” before “SEO”.
Be sure to include a list of acronyms and their meanings in the report to save people from being confused and also a description of what they entail if the name isn’t explicit enough. A simple and short explanation will suffice.
You can also offer digital reports for easier perusal and a word search feature to allow readers to skip to the most important/pertinent information.
5. Develop a logical flow
Writing a good report is a skill, and it’s one anyone can learn. You’ll want to structure your report in a way that makes sense to the reader. It’s a good idea for it to be compiled by one person, edited by another, and then proofread by a third.
Too many cooks spoil the broth, so you don’t need everyone giving feedback on it, but it’s wise to get a few different people to check if the data is correct.
You essentially want to make the report audience-centric both in style and content. Include only relevant information that will be of interest to your audience and any stakeholders.
6. Mention the competition
You can also add a brief section about how you compare to the competition in your field. While the main focus should be on how you’ve performed in comparison to last year, you might wish to show your audience how you stack up against other organizations to provide context for the data and any goals you wish to set.
7. Focus on the future
As well as going over the achievements and events of the past year, this report is a good opportunity to discuss possible options for the future of your marketing strategy. You can spend time discussing predictions, as well as proposed changes to your strategy going forward.
This is an opportunity for your audience to think about things such as how software development intersects with business practices and marketing. A lot of this will be separate from the report, but it’s worth mentioning in general terms the things you could do differently in the upcoming year and the resources you’ll require from colleagues.
You can talk about things like the budget you require, KPIs you plan to use, or tools you want to leverage, like marketing automation.
Wrapping it up
Writing a good report is a skill anyone can develop. It’s not about having tons of data or only positive results. It mostly comes down to presentation skills and using clear, attractive graphics to present your data.
You can use this report as a springboard for the future, but to do this, you first need to know not only the voice of the customer but their interests. By getting to grips with these, you can develop an improved strategy moving forward, and harness your marketing report to share these insights with the rest of the company.