Video Series: Managing a Remote Marketing Team

Day 3 - Reporting


Marketing is an iterative process that involves continually adjusting course. Making the right decisions at the right time requires accurate real time reports and insights.

Therefore, reporting is an essential part of the marketing process. And yet I’ve encountered countless marketing teams that have overcomplicated and mismanaged their reporting process, rendering it ineffective.

So today I want to share with you an effective reporting process that uses just three stages, status, insights and actions.

The status stage has to do with the raw data, the numbers. You can think of this like the key performance indicators. What is the data? Nothing more, nothing less.

In the insights phase, we’re trying to learn what the bigger picture is, what the real story is by drawing insights from the data, looking at different segments, et cetera.

And in the third stage, actions we want to decide and prioritize what actions we will take or won’t take based on the insights that we’ve gathered. So now let’s take a deeper look at these three stages and see how we can implement them for your organization.

The first stage is status. And again, in this stage we’re looking at the raw numbers, the real data, nothing more, nothing less.

You may already have a report for key performance indicators. That’s a great example of a status report. All status reports should be simple, self-explanatory, and shared by everyone.

This brings visibility and transparency, and also will give everyone in the future the ability to draw their own insights from these reports and from the data. Status reports also need to be as real time as possible and ideally should be automated.

Data by itself is useless. What matters is what we can learn from that data. So in the insight stage, we want to draw all the insights that we can from the data that show the bigger picture or tell the bigger story.

This is the most time intensive and laborious of the three stages, but it’s also the most important. That means that it also requires collaboration. Multiple people in your team from different disciplines will have to work together to draw all these insights in order to tell the bigger story.

In addition, unlike a status report which just shows numbers, the insights should be a written report or should be a simple slide presentation that summarizes the insights.

Insights can’t be represented as numbers. Typically you want to use bar graphs, charts, et cetera, and also words to tell the story.

Insights almost always involves segments. You don’t want to look at all users or all customers. You want to make comparisons.

For example, looking at the performance of current customers or looking at the performance of new customers, or comparing mobile versus desktop or one advertisement versus another. Segmentation is essential and it’s one of the foundational elements of useful insights.

Insights alone aren’t enough. You have to take action, and this is where the action stage comes into play.

Actions is about deciding what you will do and also what you won’t do. This requires prioritization and planning because you will be limited by things like capacity, time and other resources.

You’ll have to prioritize based on cost, effort, and expected return. And when you take action, you need to make sure that you have it scheduled, assigned and have outlined responsibilities, otherwise it most likely it won’t happen.

In addition, this whole process requires a cadence. Most organizations use a weekly, biweekly, or monthly cadence to go through these three stages, but it’s important that you decide what cadence will work for you and then stick to that cadence consistently.

Here’s your action item for today:

Take some time and review and evaluate your reporting process.

Share this three stage model with your team and help them to decide which stages they need to focus on either creating or improving.

In addition, it can be beneficial to create templates for the status stage, creating dashboards and report templates that can be used for key performance indicators.

For the insights stage, creating a simple slide deck that can be populated based on the insights from the different team members, disciplines or channels.

Likewise for the action stage, having a slide deck or a written document that has all the outline already set so you can populate in what actions you’ll take by who, by which team, et cetera.

When you have an effective, repeatable process for reporting, you can make decisions more quickly and with confidence, and that will drive results and performance for your organization.