How to Get the Most of Your Marketing Reports

by Jul 24, 2019Blog, Marketing

There’s an endless supply of metrics you can report on – from the number of visits to your website to the number of prospects identified from different campaigns or channels. 

The best decisions are informed by data. But with so much data available, it can be tough to know what metrics matter most and should be included in your marketing reports. 

A shared characteristic of results-driven marketers is their ability to read and analyze reports. That way, they can see what’s working and isn’t working. It also helps them ask better questions and hold their marketing partners accountable. 

Here at 30 Lines, we want to help you understand and use your marketing reports to make better business decisions. We’ll start by correcting the four mistakes marketers often make when diving into their data. Then, we’ll define and share the importance of key metrics mentioned. 

4 Mistakes Marketers Make When Reading a Report

You can make more informed decisions by understanding what’s in your marketing reports and how the metrics fit within the context of your business goals. That’s easier said than done.

The following represents common faux pas marketers make when reading their reports. Recognizing and correcting these errors can help you interpret data and make more strategic recommendations. 

1. They focus on a single metric.

Numbers need context. No single metric will tell you how well a channel is performing. Instead of focusing on a single data point, think about why you’re seeing what you’re seeing.

For example, let’s say your marketing report shows 5,000 clicks in the last 30 days. You notice this is an increase of 25% from the previous period.

These sound like incredible results. But when you take a more holistic view, you may find your total impressions also went up 50%, and your click-through rate (CTR) decreased significantly. This instance may indicate a broader approach was taken with keyword bidding for an online advertising campaign.

In theory, an increase in clicks may seem like a good thing. In reality, you need more context to understand what the data points mean. In this case, and most others, a single data point can’t tell the complete story. Instead, it needs a buddy.

That’s why you’ll often hear us refer to related data points as “buddy metrics,” or associated metrics that pair up to explain the reasoning behind changes in data.

Some standard buddy metrics we use are:

    • Clicks and Click-Through Rate (CTR)
    • Click-Through Rate (CTR) and Conversions (CVR)
    • Impressions and Cost Per Click (CPC)
    • Cost and Conversions (CVR)
    • Sessions and Bounce Rate
    • Sessions and Page Views

If you find the increase in clicks pairs with a decrease in CTR, you may find a broader approach was taken for keyword bidding. We’ll explore below how that may not translate into better performance for your business.

2. They think a bigger number is better.

The marketing metrics you measure need to align with real business goals.

In the example above, you see a larger number of clicks and impressions. But bigger doesn’t always mean achieving better results across your organization.

That’s why you’ll often hear us refer to related data points as “buddy metrics,” or associated metrics that pair up to explain the reasoning behind changes in data.

This is particularly true in multifamily, where leasing professionals are performing a multifaceted job that pulls them in many different directions. Their time is valuable, and we want them to spend their time on the most interested prospects.

Allow your team to work smarter, not harder. That means small numbers might be better when you’re reading a report. But keep in mind, that’s not always true. It all depends on the context. 

You can gain insight into context by reviewing buddy metrics. If clicks go down but conversions go up (or even stay the same) chances are your marketing team has successfully narrowed your audience to reduce spend and maximize results. More often than not, this is achieved by carefully choosing select keywords to deliver your campaign to a specific audience – unlike the broad approach taken in the first example.

3. They’re alarmed by immediate fluctuations.

The value of marketing reporting is less about the numbers and more about the “why” behind the numbers. Data can tell a story, but it’s our job as marketers to make sense of that story and translate it into thoughtful action.

When looking at a marketing report, it’s easy to be alarmed by sudden spikes or steep drops in metrics. However, these fluctuations can sometimes be explained by simple adjustments. This is especially true with audience targeting.

In the image below, you’ll notice a significant drop in clicks around May 1st.

But you can see around that time we adjusted the campaign strategy to optimize for the maximum number of clicks versus the maximum number of conversions. 

Now, this doesn’t mean you should ignore fluctuations. It just means you should avoid entering panic mode right away. First, dig deeper and remember to look for the buddy metric. Every metric has at least one or two critical secondary metrics also to consider. 

4. They lose sight of the big picture.

A marketing report should offer an accurate depiction of what happened in your campaign and share the end result. It can be easy to get caught up in the intricacies of the campaign, such as precisely which keywords you’re targeting or the phrasing on the call to action.

In all this analyzing, don’t forget to look ahead to the end of the tunnel. Your campaign may fluctuate, and adjustments can be made throughout the process, but conversions remain one of the key indicators of performance.

And if you find good numbers are coming through but you still aren’t seeing that translate into sales, remember that digital is only a component of your sales and marketing strategy.

Think about what other buddy metrics you can pair up with digital to tell a more complete story and ultimately make better business decisions.

The “What” and “Why” Behind Buddy Metrics

Before you dive into interpreting data, it’s helpful to know the purpose of common buddy metrics and how they can make your marketing reports more meaningful.

The following represents the “what” and “why” behind the buddy metrics we shared above. Have a question about another metric you see often that you’re unsure of? Just ask. We’d be happy to help you dig deeper into understanding your data.

Clicks

What is it?
Every conversion starts with a click. The click count increases every time someone clicks on your ad.

Why does it matter?
Clicks are a great metric for a mid-month account performance checkup; however, the success of a campaign shouldn’t be determined solely by clicks.

 
Click-Through Rate (CTR)

What is it?
Measured by dividing the total number of clicks your campaign got in a reporting month by its total impressions.

Why does it matter?
Benchmarking and improving CTR of different campaigns is important not just as a measure of success, but also because it can affect other key performance indicators (KPI) like quality score.

 
Conversion

What is it?
A conversion happens when an individual takes a desired action, moving them closer to making a purchase. In multifamily, an action for a potential renter could be Contact Us, Apply Now, Request to Hold, Reserve Now, etc.

Why does it matter?
You don’t just want to attract visitors to your site from search engines. You also want to generate leads that will help convert into qualified sales or leases. To improve results for this KPI, put focus on conversion rate optimization and user experience. Is your website easy to navigate? Is the call to action (CTA) prominent and clear? Is the content trustworthy and persuasive? Can users move through the conversion funnel in easy and expected ways?

 
Conversion Rate (CVR)

What is it?
Measured by dividing the total number of leads your campaign got in a reporting month by its total clicks.

Why does it matter?
Benchmarking and improving CVR of different ads is the true measure of the success of a campaign.

 
Impressions

What is it?
An impression is registered whenever your campaign appears for a user. But it doesn’t guarantee the person saw your campaign or indicate they interacted with it. For example, an impression would be registered if a web page appears in a search result for a user. That impression would be recorded whether or not the link was scrolled into view by the user.

Why does it matter?
Impressions should be considered a secondary metric. They’re not a primary indicator of performance. However, they can give insight into potential views and gauge how an ad or social media strategy is progressing. 

 
Cost Per Click (CPC)

What is it?
This metric defines how much money you spend on a click. Obviously, lower is better.

Why does it matter?
Each search term is different, and competition varies. Certain terms are highly sought after, and will cost more money to get results for.

 
Cost

What is it?
A reflection of the amount that is paid or spent on marketing initiatives. 

Why does it matter?
Unfortunately, you probably don’t have an unlimited budget. That’s why it’s important to consider the amount you’re spending to get a prospect to convert. In some cases, can you reduce your spend and still convert? Should you increase your spend on online advertising during specific seasons when more customers are seeking out your product? Those are questions you can answer when considering cost. 

 
Sessions

What is it?
Sessions measure earned visits to your website within a specific time frame. 

Why does it matter?
Organic sessions, or visits earned without the direct influence of paid advertising, is the single most important KPI for search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. That’s because it most clearly aligns with the objective at the heart of SEO: getting more eyes on your website.

 
Bounce Rate

What is it?
This metric indicates the percentage of people who land on one of your web pages and then leave without visiting another portion of your website. 

Why does it matter?
This is an important metric because a huge priority for search engine algorithms is satisfying the user’s search query. When users bounce back to the search results page it can indicate that the ranking page is not relevant, frustrating to navigate, or may not be trustworthy. Routinely audit pages on your website with high bounce rate and A/B test different approaches to see if you can get that number to improve.

 
Pageviews

What is it?
Pageviews are registered by Google when a web page is loaded (or reloaded) in a browser. It’s the total number of pages viewed. 

Why does it matter?
It’s important to note, pageviews don’t indicate how many visitors saw the page. So, one visitor can be responsible for a lot of pageviews. With this in mind, pageviews can give an indication of the popularity of a web page or post. That’s why it matters.

Choose Your Course of Action

Now, what do you do with all this information? Once you feel comfortable determining which metrics matter most to your organization, it’s time to turn that data into action.

Start with a specific metric or subset of metric buddies that you want to improve. Your reports can help you make an informed hypothesis on what could be changed or improved upon. Then, make the change and track the progress of your experiment.

Your course of action should follow these steps:

  1. Determine your business objective or question you’re trying to answer
  2. Decide which metrics directly impact that objective or question
  3. Create your hypothesis
  4. Make the change
  5. Use your reports to determine if the change worked
  6. If it works, then copy that action 
  7. If it doesn’t work, do another test to decide what will work


What metrics are you eager to improve? We’re eager to learn more. And remember, if you need help developing or digesting your marketing reports, we’re here to help.

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