How To Translate Your Marketing Reports Into Actionable Insights15 min read

by Dec 15, 2023Strategy

SEO reports on laptop screen

Ah, reporting! There’s nothing quite like adding a trendline to a graph or calculating conversion rates for PPC ads. While everyone here at DVS is a data nerd, we also know that too much data or not the right data makes it difficult to turn your marketing reports into actionable insights. Here are some tips on how to align metrics with business goals, compare metrics for context, explore anomalies, evaluate performance, and determine next steps.

1. Align Metrics With Business Goals

Metrics are wonderful, but they don’t mean much unless you connect them to specific business goals. Has your website traffic gone up? That’s great, but have those new users done what you wanted them to do on your site? If they haven’t contacted you, downloaded a resource, made a purchase, or done any of your defined conversion actions, then that extra traffic may as well be white noise.

If each data point correlates to a business goal, then every marketing report is an update on how well marketing efforts support the business. Reviewing reports with the team becomes an opportunity to celebrate wins and collaborate on improving things that aren’t working.

2. Compare Metrics for Context

Disappointing numbers in a marketing report can be disheartening. After all, you’re spending precious marketing dollars and not seeing a positive return on your investment.

Looking at a group of related metrics provides extra context and may help explain why something isn’t working like you thought it would. Once you have a theory on what’s going wrong, you can create a plan to improve.

Hypothetical Scenario. Let’s say your website traffic has been trending down for the last six months or so. This is after you’ve rewritten key parts of your website to be more specific to your target audience and the solutions they need. Seeing the decline might make you think your time doing keyword research and writing new content was a wasted effort.

Before jumping to conclusions, your DVS marketing team looks at a few other website metrics for the same time period. (And yes, we are your marketing agency in this hypothetical scenario. It’s a perfect world, after all.) We notice that the average time on page and the average number of pages per user has gone up. The number of people requesting a quote has also gone up. In this case, decreased website traffic could actually mean you are reaching a more targeted audience and the people coming to your site are ready to contact you. Now that we know your website is converting a qualified audience, we can work on ways to bring more of these users to your website.

mapping out a website using whiteboard and string

3. Explore Anomalies

Anomalies are always worth investigating. Unusual ups and downs in your reports often point to undiscovered problems or opportunities.

Here’s a real example from earlier this month. A few of our clients had an uncharacteristic spike in website traffic. We dug deeper using Google Analytics and discovered the source was a traffic generator site. This site used a global bot network to make it look like the traffic was coming from multiple origins. At the same time, we noticed a spike in website login attempts. Someone might have been trying to hide a hacking attempt amidst the noise of 18,000 visits from the traffic generator site. Because we noticed the odd traffic increase and correlated it with other suspicious activity, we blocked the spam site and installed extra security measures.

Not all data anomalies are so sinister! Sometimes, they can help you find people coming to your site from an unexpected, but welcome, source. If an industry publication links to your site and starts sending traffic your way, perhaps there’s an opportunity to partner with the publication on a special blog or downloadable content piece.

4. Create a Rubric to Evaluate Performance and Determine Next Steps

One reason we love data so much is because it offers clear insight into the ROI of your marketing tactics. If an email campaign doesn’t achieve benchmark open rates, we can decide if it’s worth investing in email again or spending our dollars where we know the ROI is better.

A grading rubric is useful for deciding whether to keep or rethink specific efforts. Your marketing rubric should describe the characteristics of a successful campaign and what to do if your grades start slipping.

  • Exceeded goals. The campaign exceeded our stated goals by 10% or more. Let’s explore other ways to use these tactics or incorporate them into future campaigns.
  • Met goals. The campaign met the stated goals. Review performance to see which elements worked better than expected and find ways to apply these insights to future campaigns.
  • Partially met goals (>50%). The campaign met at least half of the stated goals. The next steps are to analyze campaign performance and determine the cause(s). Future campaigns of this type should be put on hold for now.
  • Did not meet goals (<50%). The campaign did not meet the stated goals. Avoid using these tactics or platforms.

You Deserve a Marketing Agency Who Loves Data

We love helping clients set meaningful goals and figure out how to do things better the next time around. Actionable insights start with meaningful metrics and faithfully collecting data every month. You deserve a marketing agency that will help catch bot traffic or rethink PPC keywords if your Google Search ads aren’t performing well. Let us know if we can help optimize your marketing efforts!