How to Automate Marketing Reporting to Put Your Strategy on a New Level
Every marketer and marketing analyst knows the difficulties caused by marketing reporting. Manual data extraction, cleansing, and aggregation for further analysis take too much time and distracts from primary objectives. Besides, it can be really hard to compile a flawless report when it covers tens of marketing metrics.
To deal with this problem, companies that take marketing seriously turn to report automation. There are some outstanding tools that can help you draw up insightful reports without spending the whole working week over unstructured data. In this post, you’ll learn everything about report automation, how to make your automated marketing reports more detailed, and what impact they have on the outcomes of your campaigns.
What is Report Automation in Marketing?
Report automation is a process of compiling and updating digital marketing performance overviews with the help of software. Reports are based on the results of your data-driven marketing campaigns. With detailed and well-drafted reports you get more understanding of your marketing efforts and a look at your campaigns from a different perspective.
However, to build a successful marketing strategy you have to target several channels at the same time. It’s no secret that the more channels you’re using to promote your product, the more data you’ll aggregate. Gathering social media, web analytics, demand-side analytics, and metrics from other sources manually may result in human mistakes and low productivity.
Automated marketing reporting solutions use APIs to gather data from all required channels. Whenever it’s time to refresh data, the software automatically triggers the data source’s API and extracts recent insights on the marketing performance.
Without this feature, marketers would have to invoke APIs manually each time they need data. This requires marketers to have engineering skills or involve software developers, thereby distracting them from their direct duties.
By removing manual labor from the reporting process, marketers and analysts get more time to research acquired insights and concentrate on decision-making. For example, our recent partner saved around 60 working hours per week by streamlining analysis-ready data to their dashboards.
Why Report Automation is Crucial for Businesses?
Marketing report automation is an integral part of a healthy analysis process. Basically, marketing reports are the way to monitor the effectiveness of your advertising efforts and the value generated by your campaigns. If you run a marketing agency, reports help you to communicate the value of your work to clients. In case you’re running any other business, reports highlight all strengths and weaknesses of your campaigns and help you make informed decisions that boost your revenue.
Tracking hundreds of metrics across tens of channels manually is a waste of time and report automation helps to save this time for more valuable tasks. What’s more, it also saves you money. According to our recent research, the average hourly rate of a marketing analyst in the USA is around $45/hour. If your analysts spend 60 hours per week compiling reports, it results in $10,800 per month spent on repetitive data operations.
Of course, it’s an abstract sum and a precise spending estimate depends on the report frequency, number channels and metrics, and other factors. But the number one truth is obvious -- the wider your scope of marketing activities is, the more resources you spend on manual reporting.
How Report Automation Helps Regular Marketers?
As we’re clear with high-level benefits, it’s also important to understand how marketing report automation accelerates the employees’ workflow.
We can highlight several fundamental benefits of report automation for marketers:
- Data granularity
- Faultless data
- Higher frequency of reports
- Higher focus on primary tasks
With an automated data pipeline, analysts get granular insights right in their dedicated warehouse. Data normalization algorithms transform raw information into detailed insights and depict insights in a clear and concise way. A combination of these factors lets analysts focus on the extraction of new prospects’ behavior patterns and analysis of the customer funnel.
Furthermore, data from connectors can’t be spoiled with human mistakes and improper SQL queries. Every connector is configured beforehand, so you always get the right data without any inaccuracies. This means a lot for the quality of your reports.
When manually entering data into simple spreadsheets, the probability of a human error is between 18% and 40%. In complex spreadsheets, that probability increases to 100%
Additionally, analysts can generate new reports as often as they need. For example, Improvado supplies dashboards with new data as often as once per hour. It’s impossible to achieve such frequency with manual reporting because data aggregation itself takes much more than one hour. With higher reporting frequency, analysts always stay on top of the latest trends and can research even the slightest changes in the campaign performance.
Finally, automated reporting systems deal with all types of marketing channels. That means you can gather your Facebook Ads performance data and Google Analytics insights on a single dashboard. With manual data aggregation, cross-channel analytics might be counter-intuitive. However, when all data comes to dashboards automatically, it’s easier to discover all touchpoints with your brand and track users’ interactions across different channels.
Three Types of Marketing Report Automation
Report automation can be divided into several types depending on what marketing channels you use to extract data. Cross-channel reports give a holistic overview of your advertising performance. Single-channel reports allow you to dive deeper into the performance of each marketing platform and identify all possible improvement opportunities and obstacles. Let’s dive deeper into different automated report types.
Automated Social Media Reporting
If you promote products or services via social media, you probably face common issues with marketing reporting.
The first one is a vast amount of metrics to gather from disparate sources. Indicators, such as CPC, CPA, CPL, impressions, views, clicks, and many others help you assess the effectiveness of the advertising spend across the channel. This isn’t that much of a problem when you run ads only via Facebook or Instagram. However, when promoting your product via tens of platforms across different regions, manual reporting becomes a complete mess.
Data discrepancy is also a problem that follows social media marketers. The same metrics may have different names across channels. It’s hard to keep an eye on each performance indicator when normalizing data manually. Thus, overlooked inconsistencies may lead to inaccurate analysis results.
Automated social media reporting solves all problems with harmonization algorithms. Automated reporting systems can standardize all metrics based on predefined criteria given by marketing analysts. After the normalization process, raw data turns into actionable insights that may be used for further research.
Besides, an all-in-one automated reporting software integrates with all possible social media platforms, so that analysts can get all required data without additional manipulations. At Improvado, we integrate our clients with 200+ data sources to help them extract, transform, and store all marketing data in a unified warehouse.
Automated SEO Reporting
Generating organic traffic and establishing online visibility always implies running your website and optimizing it for search engines. Today, the market is full of different platforms that help you analyze your website performance and create outstanding content.
With the increasing number of pages, links, and elements on your website it becomes difficult to track the user path and realize what exact components lead to a conversion. Here’s where automated SEO reporting and web analytics tools can help.
There are numerous ways to utilize automated SEO reporting. For example, you can merge the number of sessions from Google Analytics with impressions, CTR, and keywords from every page in Google Search Console. This report will help you understand what search requests bring the most traffic to your website without going through each page manually.
Another use case is to quickly analyze the quality of backlinks leading to your website. By extracting data from tools like Ahrefs you can see your domain rating, the total number of backlinks, and even see broken internal links. This report shows what resources refer to your website, so you can potentially get new backlinks from these kinds of sources. Moreover, you can increase the health score of your website by fixing links issues to rank higher in search engines.
Automated SEO reporting is crucial because crawling through a massive website and analyzing each page manually will take forever. Instead, SEO specialists can quickly go through a report, find all weak spots, and proceed to fix issues. You can find more examples of automated reports here.
Automated Email Marketing Reporting
Email marketing helps you reach out to your prospects and customers, notify them about new products, updates, discounts, and so on. Email campaigns have their own metrics that demonstrate the ROI, performance of each email sent, and revenue generated by emails. If you use emails as one of the main means for lead generation, it’s worth automating reports for this activity.
With report automation, you can track the number of purchases made after opening an email, conversion rate, revenue generated by each campaign, and more. With information about the number of subscribers, bounce rate, and the total number of emails you can identify the best performing emails and base your campaigns around them.
Email marketing tools provide built-in campaign statistics. However, to get more visibility into the customer journey, you can combine in-built reports with Google Analytics, CRM systems, call tracking software, and more. That’s how you can see not only basic email-related metrics but also understand how customers interacted with your brand after they clicked the link in the email. You can get a detailed email marketing dashboard here.
There’s truly an unlimited amount of strategies to use report automation for your marketing campaigns. The only stumbling block is to find the most effective combination of metrics and use it in the favor of your marketing strategy. Experiments are the key to success. Fortunately, automated reports free up resources for the exploration of new opportunities.
The Best Ways to Automate Marketing Reporting
The main step to automate your reports is to find an automated reporting tool and integrate it with your marketing ecosystem.
Today you can find various types of report automation systems that have their upsides and drawbacks. Some of them automate reporting only partially while others provide you with ready-made reports without additional efforts. We’ll go through each type and find out which of them works best for marketing analysis.
Self-Built Report Automation Software
We’ll start with custom report automation solutions. The main factors that make custom software stand out are its flexibility and personalization. Developers can build a solution tailored to your marketing needs. It integrates with all your marketing tools including CRM systems, web analytic tools, advertising platforms, and so on.
Having a fully-integrated software means that you can build all possible reports across all metrics that you’re currently tracking manually. With a proper feature set and execution, custom report automation tools significantly increase marketing analysts’ productivity.
However, the main drawback of such tools is that they require a lot of time, effort, money, and human resources. You’ll have to gather a large team of developers which is a challenge itself considering today’s demand for engineers. Also, you’ll have to pay salaries for the development, maintenance, and upgrades of your software.
A self-built solution is a no-brainer for companies that have a lot of spare time and resources. However, if you have more important tasks to focus on, our advice is to search for alternatives.
Business Intelligence Tools
Our next stop is BI tools such as Tableau or Google Data Studio. You don’t have to build the tool on your own, it’s available by subscription. Business intelligence software offers broad calculation and visualization features. It’s a powerful option to build actionable reports and dive into your marketing efforts.
However, BI tools themselves don’t extract data from marketing sources. They also don’t normalize your raw information. Without additional automatization, your analysts still have to fill in tables with data manually. That’s why it might work out only for small marketing departments that deal with a few data sources.
ETL Report Automation Software
An ETL system is a middle ground for all companies looking to fully automate marketing data processes without spending a fortune. ETL stands for extract-transform-load. Such software helps analysts automatically extract data from all required sources and transform it into analysis-ready insights.
Let’s consider Improvado as an example. The system automatically extracts data from 200+ marketing data sources for further analysis. Then, an automated normalization algorithm aligns disparate insights and creates a single source of truth for marketers. When all insights are ready for analysis, the platform pushes them into a unified data warehouse where they can be easily accessed by any marketers, analysts, sales team, or a C-Suite for further research.
Improvado’s storage is based on a high-performance database management system, that allows to seamlessly transfer data to any business intelligence tools. All users have a set of prebuilt dashboard templates for different cases allowing them to set up marketing analytics in several minutes. In combination with a straightforward user interface, extraction templates, and frequent data updates the software becomes a universal tool for marketing analysis.
The platform was designed to provide analysts with comprehensive reports and shed more light on previously overlooked insights. However, it still requires you to have a basic knowledge of business intelligence tools to get the most out of your data. If you have absolutely no experience with data analysis, you should probably search for alternatives.
Make Marketing Data Work for Your Revenue
Now, you should have a better understanding of the types of report automation and the best ways of automating your reports. The streamlined analysis process opens new opportunities for lead generation, client retention, and company growth. So, don’t miss out on the opportunity to increase the ROI of your campaigns and get granular insights into your marketing performance.
If you want to learn more about how automated reporting systems work and what benefits they can bring to your business, don’t hesitate to book a call.