There is nothing more infuriating to a professional, reputable, marketer than seeing reports from so-called “colleagues” that are incomplete, misleading, and/or flat-out useless. We've seen examples of this sort of shoddy reporting in all sorts of industries and it’s totally inexcusable.
Here are items you should look for from your marketing reports – if you’re not getting access to all of this, you absolutely should – upon request if not on a monthly basis.
1. TRACK WHAT YOU WANT TO TRACK
Clicks are not sales. Impressions are not leads. Time spent on a website does not equal a conversion.
If you have an e-commerce or lead generation site, your sales, leads, and other conversions (phone calls, email sign ups, or whatever is you’re trying to accomplish) should be at the very top of your advertising reports.
Yes, keeping track of supporting metrics such as impressions (the number of times your ads appear), clicks (the number of times a user interacted with your ad) and other data can be useful to help gauge the effectiveness of individual ads, keywords or the entire campaign – but those metrics should be considered secondary tools of the trade, and only considered in service to your KPI.
2. LOOK FOR UNIQUE USERS
The metric that most accurately conveys how many people visited your website is Unique Users (or Unique Visitors, or other synonym that has “Unique” in front of it). That figure will tell you how many individuals have come to your site. “Total Sessions” or “Total Users” generally refers to how many total visits your site received, regardless of how many times an individual user came to the site over the period in question. These figures have some value, but if you want to know how many people are coming to the site, knowing how many individuals (or Unique Users) came to the site is a better, more specific metric to look at.
Looking at page views in a vacuum can be confusing, even looking at that figure month over month only tells a portion of the story. A “page view” is registered any time any user looks at any page on your site – regardless of how many times they visit your site or what their activity is once they’re on your site. If you have a multi-step e-commerce process on your site, you’ll inherently have more page views than if you have a single page micro-site. Therefore, looking at that massive “page views” numbers without supporting context of number of unique visitors communicates very little about the success or failure of the campaign.
3. WITHOUT CONTEXT, REPORTS ARE USELESS
Are 300 clicks good? What about a 71% Bounce Rate? What has the effect of your advertising campaign been on those figures? Looking at any of the above statistics in a vacuum, as opposed to with relevant comparisons, hides the true effect of your marketing campaigns on your website. Without comparisons for context there’s no way to tell.
When looking at your data, you should be able to assess effectiveness based on at least three parameters:
- Month over Month (MOM) – this compares the most recent month of data to the previous month
- Year over Year (YOY) – this compares the most recent month of data to the same month last year
- Period over Period (POP) – this is where your marketing consultant should help advise a specific time to compare to provide insight as to the effectiveness of your campaign. This can be Year-to-date (Y2D), Campaign Period YOY/MOM, etc.
It is certainly possible that your marketing consultant is running these reports but simply not burdening you with all of this data (we do this for the benefit of our clients) – but we always make that data available upon request, and often share multi-parameter updates on a quarterly or annual basis. If your consultant isn’t tracking the progress of your campaign against at least two of these three metrics, they are doing you a disservice.