Marketing Reporting 101, Part 1: Introduction

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Every executive demands it.
Every marketer produces it.
Almost no one loves it.


Reporting is in a confused, bad state today. We drown in data daily. We create reports of stunning complexity and detail. Yet when we talk to our stakeholders and fellow marketers, very few people love the reporting they receive or generate. When I asked some of our fellow marketing managers what they disliked most about the reporting they receive, they said things like:

  • Lack of insights. Reporting is just a “data puke”, a term coined by Avinash Kaushik.
  • Lack of next steps. Reporting, even if it does contain any insights, isn’t prescriptive.
  • Lack of context. Reporting isn’t only just a pile of numbers, but even the numbers have no context. Is the number good? Bad?
  • Attribution problems. Reporting struggles to sew together disparate data to tell a single, coherent story. Instead, we end up with silos of reporting data.
  • Data quality problems. Reporting often contains deep inconsistencies from tool to tool when measuring the same data.

In this series, we’ll tackle the basics of marketing reporting, from what good reporting is to how to construct a simple report with the time-honored 6W framework in mind:

  • Who: We must know who the report is for in order to construct a useful report
  • What: What metrics and analytics should we include? What shouldn’t we include? What data should we draw on?
  • When: What cadence should our reporting take? What timeframe should it address?
  • Where: What format, tools, and technology should our reporting use? Dashboards? Longform? Slides? Where will our audience consume our report? Where else will our report go?
  • Why: Why does the report exist? What business goal does it advance?
  • How: How do we address the issues raised in the report? What’s next?

When we’re done, we should be able to produce reports that provide the data, analysis, insights, and strategic recommendations our stakeholders care about most. Stay tuned!

Reporting 101 Series

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