If you manage PPC accounts for clients, reporting plays a crucial role in your work process. According to this survey by Wordstream, 93% of agencies prepare some sort of regular reporting for clients, with 37% spending over an hour weekly per client. (And the 7% of agencies who admitted they “don’t do reporting” should be doing it!)
But are you just cranking out monthly reports because it’s part of your client contract, or are you thinking about how well your reporting communicates the work that you’ve done? In this article, we’ll share three tips to improve your client reporting.
Know Your Client
While reporting software can save time and make data look beautiful, it can also encourage temptation to use the same template for every client. Every client has a different level of technical understanding and concerns about unique data points. Ideally, you should be taking the time to customize reports on an individual client basis.
At the onset of a client relationship, ask questions to determine the best approach for reporting. Who will be reviewing reports? If an experienced digital marketing manager is the only person directly reading reports, you can likely keep reports more technical, possibly sticking with a spreadsheet format. However, if C-level executives will be reviewing reports, you’ll want to keep high-level data points front and center, provide graphs and visuals where possible, and explain any metrics they might not understand.
Next, ask what key metrics are of concern to your client. These may be overall metrics (such as ROAS, CPA, or total monthly signups) or metrics tied to select products of concern. For instance, a SaaS client with multiple software offerings may especially focus on free trial signups for a brand new product, or a candy retailer may want to focus on sales of gift baskets. Be sure to highlight these metrics clearly in your reports. If you think your client isn’t focusing on the right metrics, don’t be afraid to educate them, as well.
Regular Reporting Matters, but Regular Communication Matters More
You could be sending daily reports to a client, with the most comprehensive data possible, but if your client isn’t reading those reports, the data won’t make a difference. In addition, even if your client does read the report, they may misunderstand some data points or focus on metrics that don’t matter. Write a summary to provide context for the data, and take the time to review the report via a call or in-person meeting.
When putting together the report, watch for any red flags your client may notice, and be the first to call those out. Sometimes, a simple explanation can clear up concerns before they happen. For instance, CPC may have risen, but this increase may have happened in line with pausing low CPC keywords that weren’t converting, ultimately resulting in a lower CPA.
If you identify truly negative performance, don’t hide it from the client! Transparency is always the best policy. If conversions are down and CPA has risen, look for factors that may have contributed. Is seasonality affecting performance? Were you testing new ad copy that underperformed? Simply providing a viable explanation shows that you’re on top of the account and working with the client’s best interests in mind.
Also, take the time to highlight tasks you performed for your client during the past month (or whatever reporting period you use). Let them know how busy you’ve been on their account, and don’t give them the chance to wonder if you’ve been neglecting it. Remind them about regular recurring tasks, such as search term review, as well as individual tasks, such as launching new campaigns.
More Data Doesn’t Equal Better Reporting
Following up to the previous two points, understanding your client and communicating with them regularly will help you learn the data that your reports should focus on. Showing your client every possible data point is not a strategic approach to reporting. If you show a CMO a 20-page report detailing every ad and keyword that ran, but he can’t clearly see if conversions are up or down vs. the previous month, your report isn’t communicating well.
Pick the metrics that matter most for your client’s business and highlight them at the beginning of the report. For instance, free trial signups and cost per free trial are often important metrics to a SaaS client. Clicks, impressions, CTR, and CPC are secondary to conversion metrics.
In addition, breaking down data too granularly is often not necessary for every client. Instead of showing performance for every single keyword and creating extra pages of data to wade through, show the top 20 converting keywords.
Go Forth and Report!
Effective PPC reporting comes down to both good client relationship management and a solid understanding of data. Take the time to know your client’s technical abilities and key concerns. Maintain clear, regular communication in line with regular reporting. Boil reports down to the data that matters most to your client’s bottom line.
What tips do you have for improving client reporting? Share in the comments below!