Best Practices for Building Reports for Executives, Clients, and ICs

Everyone needs reports, but not everyone needs the same report. Too much information will overwhelm your reader, while too little data only produces more questions than answers. Find the perfect balance by following these best practices for building reports for anyone.

Reporting Best Practices (for everyone)

  • You can’t build a report without knowing what you’re supposed to measure. Check back with your marketing strategy, the brand’s business and revenue goals for the time period.
  • Try to include as few metrics as possible. Too much information or irrelevant information will only serve to confuse and cause questions.
  • Put analysis, next steps right in your reports with media widgets.
  • Schedule automatic reports, but check in before you send to update your media widgets, highlight next steps, and discuss options for improvements.
  • Don’t just show the good stuff: keep your report metrics consistent, and don’t hide the bad news.

Reports for Executives

Executives are busy and don’t need all the same information you would give an individual contributor. Keep these reports short and simple, and focus on the big numbers and trends rather than minutiae.

Who gets them: CEO, CMO, VP of Marketing, anyone who manages a lot of moving parts and needs to hear the high (and low) points.

What data to roll up: High-level, focused on revenue and growth.

Possible metrics: CPA, Total leads, funnel breakdowns.

What to leave out: Campaign by campaign breakdown, vanity metrics like followers and impressions.

Reports for Clients

Clients need information that helps them decide whether to approve or deny your plans. This report should strike a careful balance between giving enough information that the client feels like they can make an informed decision and leaving enough data out that they don’t get overwhelmed or distracted.

Who gets them: Brand marketing managers, client executives, advertising managers, project managers.

What data to roll up: High and mid-level focus, revenue and campaign health.

Possible metrics: Totals for all campaigns, revenue numbers for individual campaigns (top 5, bottom 5), competitor comparisons.

What to leave out: Detailed vanity metrics like impressions and email open rates.

Reports for Individual Contributors

These are your boots on the ground, and they need detailed information so they can act quickly. Include the individual contributor’s job description and performance metrics with these reports to keep the focus tight and avoid confusing the argument with too much data.

Who gets them: PPC, SEO, development, and web design specialists, content writers, link builders, individual advertisers and marketing specialists.

What data to roll up: Do a drill-down instead with detailed revenue-growth metrics for each campaign the IC contributes to. These are your specialists who will understand the connection between impressions and click through rate.

Possible metrics: These are your specialists who will understand the connection between impressions and click through rate, so details count here, but don’t forget to include goal metrics as well.

What to leave out: Everything that doesn’t relate to the IC’s specialty. Don’t include PPC numbers for content writers, or give a detailed site audit to a link builder. You’re going to have some overlap between what ICs do, but it’s best to build a report for each individual based on their title’s goals, rather than just chuck all marketing-related data into a single 85 page report.


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