Marketing Report Automation: How to Build Better Reports Faster
Report automation isn’t a quick fix to all analytics problems. It’s a way to turn a time-consuming chore into a streamlined process that doesn’t eat away half of your workweek.
The choice is huge. From becoming a data guru juggling with data storages and dashboarding tools, to being more realistic and finding the right report automation solution tailored to your use case. We’ll cover every possible way in this post.
What is Report Automation in Marketing?
With detailed and well-drafted reports you can take a different view of your marketing performance, find the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing campaigns, and adjust your marketing strategy.
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.
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?
A marketing report is the only precise way to monitor the effectiveness of your advertising efforts and the value generated by your campaigns.
It helps you with the following tasks:
- Convey the value of your work to external and internal clients.
- Highlight all strengths and weaknesses of your campaigns.
- Identify top-performing channels to allocate budgets effectively.
- Detect poorly performing experiments to avoid overspending.
- Make informed decisions that boost your revenue.
Tracking hundreds of metrics across tens of channels manually to draw reports is a waste of time and resources.
The truth here is obvious — the wider your scope of marketing activities is, the more resources you spend on manual reporting.
Report automation saves you time, money, and increases the accuracy of your reports.
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.
Here's a high-level overview of issues caused by manual reports and how report automation can solve these issues:
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 reporting solution, teams get analysis-ready insights and effortlessly share them with all stakeholders.
In addition to collecting data, a reporting tool also cleans, standardizes, and validates marketing data, which was previously possible only with complex spreadsheet formulas or SQL.
The data update frequency is also worth mentioning. For example, Improvado, a marketing analytics platform, supplies dashboards with new data as often as once per hour. It’s impossible to achieve such a frequency with manual reporting because data collection takes much more than one hour.
Four 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 Marketing Attribution
Marketing attribution is a crucial aspect of any marketing strategy, allowing marketers to understand which touchpoints in a customer journey contribute to conversions. In essence, it's connecting the dots between marketing, sales, and finance data to identify revenue-generating channels and campaigns.
An attribution report is a tedious task, even for expert analysts. Teams must collect data from all marketing platforms, apply suitable attribution models, and manage substantial multi-channel data. The choice between a mass of attribution models adds to this complexity.
A report automation solution makes attribution a breeze. By collecting data from different sources automatically and letting users choose which model they’d like to apply, these solutions provide a flexible and time-effective approach to recreating customer journeys. Ultimately, a well-thought attribution enables marketers to allocate budgets across well-performing channels, optimize ad spend, and make confident marketing decisions.
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 500+ 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.
Setting up an SEO reporting process might be complicated without the right tools and expertise. If you're planning to set up SEO analytics, we've got you covered with a dashboard template.
This report template shows you top landing pages by traffic, how many keywords are covered by each website page, the total number of backlinks, and many other crucial SEO metrics.
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.
For example, this dashboard shows a breakdown of your email campaigns by every individual list sent. You can track the open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, and other metrics.
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.
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.
Reporting automation: best case studies and use cases
Automated reporting has been implemented by various companies to streamline routine data processing tasks and take the burden off marketers and analysts.
In this section, we'll review successful examples of report automation by different companies.
Asus unleashed the power of automated reports and saved 100 hours per week
Asus searched for an efficient solution to aggregate their marketing data and automate the manual reporting process. The company had to align data across dozen channels manually and this process was incredibly time-consuming.
Asus picked Improvado to streamline all marketing data and keep it in one place.
After the integration of an ETL system into their data infrastructure, the ASUS team enabled scalable data analysis over petabytes of data, aligned all disparate insights, and achieved more visibility into their marketing performance.
Besides, Asus saved around 100 hours per week with automated reporting and achieved highly granular data for marketing analytics.
PicMonkey uses automated reporting to drive growth
PicMonkey had to track Active Subscriber Count (ASC) to measure the health and growth of the company.
The real challenge is that ASC is constantly changing. Continuous sign-ups, cancellations, pricing changes, and user reactivations influence this metric, making it hard to track.
Factors such as churn rate and trial period length only made it harder to achieve a holistic view of ASC. That's why PicMonkey's analysts needed a report automation tool that could automatically pull data from BigQuery and calculate ASC.
PicMonkey collaborated with Blast Analytics to create automated reports. With real-time dashboards for all strategic KPIs, including ASC, PicMonkey now can fine-tune its campaigns and improve marketing efforts.
You can learn more About PicMonkey's reporting system by reading this case study.
Illy syncs marketing data to build comprehensive reporting dashboards
Illy, a prominent Italian coffee company that distributes a range of products across 140 countries, needed to synchronize and visualize marketing data across a variety of channels. Their workflow relied on manual reports which took a long time to gather the required information and compile it. That's why Illy started to search for report automation tools. Their choice fell upon Improvado.
Given that Illy is an international brand, its marketing campaigns and tools vary in different regions. The global pool of data gathered from various regions was hard to aggregate and centralize.
Improvado designed a data pipeline to help Illy generate reports automatically. The tool extracted data from Facebook Ads, Google Ads, TikTok, Instagram, and many other data sources to consolidate actionable insights in a centralized data warehouse and streamline all data to business intelligence tools.
With Improvado, Illy reduced the time spent on manual data aggregation and reporting by 30% and significantly improved a decision-making approach for data analysts and C-suites.
The Best Ways to Automate Marketing Reporting
The main step to automating your reports is to find or develop an automated reporting tool and integrate it with your existing 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 effort. 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, you have to keep in mind the maintenance costs too. So, if you’re looking for something more scalable and easier to deploy, 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.
Report Automation Platforms
A report automation platform is a sweet spot when it comes to marketing reporting. It covers all the analytics needs, from collecting your data to visualizing it.
These platforms connect to your existing marketing stack to get all the data you need for marketing reports. What would take days to accomplish, report automation platforms can do in minutes.
Picture a content marketing team updating hundreds of content pieces to increase revenue generation. Each team member should track tens of metrics across numerous URLs to see how the performance of each page changed after the update. This kind of performance tracking might take up to several hours a day and distract the team from the primary goal — updating content pieces.
A report automation platform allows you to display all the metrics you need across all channels (website pages, paid ads, email campaigns, etc.) in an easily digestible dashboard. For example, Improvado offers dashboard templates designed to fit any marketing use case and help monitor the performance across all channels in a single view.
We’ll dive deeper into the best report automation tools in the next section.
Best report automation tools for marketing analysts
Here’s a rundown of the best report automation tools on the market:
Best overall: Improvado. A marketing analytics platform that automates all aspects of marketing reporting. Integrates with 500+ marketing and sales platforms. Works best for large marketing agencies and brands.
Best BI tool: OWOX BI. A business intelligence tool with highly customizable visualizations and over 150 supported marketing platforms.
Best solution for small businesses: Supermetrics. The best tool in terms of value-cost ratio for small companies. Around 100 supported marketing platforms. Focuses mainly on data extraction and doesn’t provide data cleaning or transformation features.
Improvado is a marketing analytics tool that automates reports on marketing and sales efforts. The platform integrates with 500+ data sources to automatically extract raw metrics and turn it into analysis-ready insights.
Improvado automates all aspects of marketing reporting, including:
- Data export. Marketing teams no longer have to collect data manually, Improvado streamlines data export from 500+ platforms.
- Cleaning data. Improvado automatically aligns disparate naming conventions, validates the proper use of UTM tags, and gets rid of duplicates. Without any SQL or data engineering.
- Automated visualizations. The platform pushes analysis-ready data to any BI tool where you can choose pre-built dashboard templates tailored to various use cases. Start analyzing without wasting weeks setting up dashboards.
- Marketing attribution. Improvado connects all dots between marketing, sales, and finance data to show you the true value behind each customer interaction.
Besides, Improvado provides all kinds of customization services. If your team requires a custom connector for platforms that go beyond Improvado’s library, pull additional metrics from your platforms, or create custom dashboards, Improvado got you covered.
In addition to that, Improvado provides data warehouse management services. The warehouse is run on the client's end, and the client company reserves full control of its data.
Improvado's DataPrep module automatically cleanses and normalizes data from disparate sources. Different ad platforms have different names for their marketing metrics, so it's important to align all insights before drawing up reports based.
However, Improvado isn’t the best platform for small businesses with basic marketing analytics requirements. The platform is designed for large teams, with a lot of attention to data governance, compliance with security protocols, and so on. In most cases, small teams only want to extract data, and there are alternatives on the market that can do just that.
DashThis helps marketers create eloquent reports without manual efforts. The platform takes care of fetching data from one data platform to another.
Users can create reports from scratch or choose one of the preset templates to start right away. With DashThis, analysts can display all their favorite KPIs and configure the layout of the report in any convenient way.
Another notable feature of DashThis is that it can send email reports to any receiver every month with the platform's email dispatch feature. Reports are also available to any user that has a link to this report.
Finally, the platform is customizable in terms of design. Designers can create the layout that suits your company to make day-to-day analysis workflow more colorful.
#3. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is one of the most popular free automated reporting tools in today's market. It collects data about website visitors, cookies, browsers, devices, and transfers this data to the Google Analytics server as a list of parameters.
You can integrate Google Analytics with other Google's marketing solutions such as Google Ads or Google Display & Video 360. However, Google Analytics can't be integrated with non-Google products without third-party platforms. So, you won't be able to connect Google Analytics to your CRM without additional tools.
Overall, Google Analytics is a must-have tool for all digital marketers. However, to unleash its full potential and get a cross-channel view of the marketing performance you need to integrate it with other solutions.
Supermetrics is an ETL platform that helps marketers generate reports automatically. The platform extracts data from 70+ data sources and sends it to the destination of your choice. Marketers can integrate data with Google Sheets, business intelligence tools, data warehouses, and other solutions.
However, Supermetrics doesn't provide a wide choice of integrations with visualization tools. Google Data Studio is the only tool you can use for visualization with Supermetrics. So, if you use Tableau or looker you'll have to switch to Data Studio or connect your current tools to the data warehouse on your own.
Plus, Supermetrics doesn't monitor data quality, so you'll have to create automated tests or double-check your data manually.
Still, it's a decent tool for small businesses to automate extraction from one or two data sources and reduce the time spent on routine data operations.
Funnel is yet another ETL platform that allows you to automate the collection, cleansing, and organization of your marketing data. You can use it to create reports and dashboards with standardized metrics. All the data is stored in Funnel's data warehouse and can be streamlined to visualization tools such as Google Data Studio or Looker.
However, Funnel doesn't support dynamic UTM parameters and requires the knowledge of SQL in case you need to create complex reports with data from tens of data sources.
#6. OWOX BI
OWOX BI platform is a suite of tools for data analysts and marketing managers. It helps them collect, process, analyze, and report on the performance of online marketing channels. OWOX BI integrates with Google Sheets, BigQuery, Data Studio, and other solutions.
According to user reviews, the tool is intended for professional analysts. Because of the steep learning curve, this tool won't suit regular marketing and sales managers. So, if you don't have a dedicated analytics department, you need to search for another solution.
Whatagraph is a cross-channel marketing reporting system that helps analysts track and measure marketing performance in a straightforward way. Agencies can set up automated email distribution and send reports to their clients.
Besides, Whatagraph, as the majority of other automated reporting tools, offers ready-to-go reporting templates and widgets that minimize time-to-value and make reports more comprehensible.
However, Whatagraph has a limited pool of integrations. The platform streamlines data from 40 basic data sources such as Google Ads, Instagram, Google Search Console, and others. It doesn't make reports based on data from DSP platforms such as Amazon DSP or analytics platforms such as Mixpanel.
Since Whatagraph doesn't go beyond marketing departments' basic needs, it might be useful for small businesses or serve as a temporary report automation solution for primary ad platforms. Medium businesses and large enterprises should search for diverse solutions that support more sophisticated ad platforms.
Integrate.io (previously Xplenty) is a data integration and ETL platform that offers solutions for marketing, sales, and software development teams. The platform delivers automatically generated reports with business intelligence tools such as Tableau or Power BI.
With 100+ connectors Integrate.io opens new opportunities for marketing report automation. By extracting business data from HubSpot, Mailchimp, Marketo, and other sources analysts can significantly save time on manual data operations and achieve easy access to all required data.
Even though the platform demonstrates great performance and powerful features, the pool of marketing connectors leaves much to be desired. Since Integrate.io works with data sources for finance, product, support, and software development, the choice of marketing connectors becomes very limited. From over 100 data sources, only approximately 30 sources are tailored to marketers' needs.
So, if you need an automated reporting solution with a focus on marketing, you should probably search for alternatives.
Convert raw marketing metrics into insights that drive value
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.
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