Marketing Report Automation: How to Build Better Reports Faster
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 an automated method of creating and updating digital marketing reports with the help of software. Data from reports can be later accessed by team members through visualization dashboards.
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.
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 300+ 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 the number of backlinks gathered by your pages, how high your page ranks for particular keywords, bounce rate, 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 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.
Best report automation tools for marketing analysts
Report automation systems enable marketers to gather insights from different channels more quickly than ever before while delivering actionable recommendations on how to achieve marketing KPIs. We'll consider the best automated reporting software on the market, and take a closer look at their features, and benefits for marketing teams.
Improvado is an ETL platform for revenue data that automate reports on marketing and sales efforts. The platform integrates with 300+ data sources to automatically extract raw business data and turn it into valuable insights.
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.
After the normalization, Improvado stores analysis-ready insights in a data warehouse. From there, data can be streamlined to any visualization tool to create visualized marketing and sales reports.
The platform offers ready-made dashboards to jumpstart your marketing analytics or augment your current analytics efforts. Once the dashboard is configured, analysts don't have to perform any additional actions. With Improvado and visualization tools such as Google Data Studio or Tableau, analysts achieve a real-time view of marketing campaign performance with a data sync frequency of up to one hour.
Improvado is not just a report automation tool. Since it's an ETL solution, it helps to remove data silos across your organization. Every employee, from C-Suite to junior marketers, will have access to reports. Having sales and marketing data at the foundation of your company enhances the cooperation between departments and helps employees make data-driven decisions faster.
However, the platform 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.
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.