Utter the word “reporting” in a group of PPCers and you’ll likely hear some groans of frustration. On the surface, it should be an easy task. You think to yourself “sweet, let’s throw some tables and graphs in a Data Studio report and call it a day.” But as you start to piece together metrics, dimensions and goals from different platforms, campaign types, brands, etc. you realize that things aren’t coming together quite so easy, and now you have a bunch of messy graphs that don’t provide anything truly useful.
Let’s talk about how you can avoid this situation! Below are some common reporting blunders that I have encountered over the years.
The report doesn’t have a clear purpose
Before you even create your report, nail down its purpose. Determining this upfront will help you choose the proper tables, graphs, metrics, and so on.
A report should do at least one of the following:
Help the account manager make strategic, informed decisions
- Ex: A report detailing top performing campaigns & underperforming campaigns will help the account lead decide where to cut budget or push for volume
Show the “what” and the “why” behind performance
- Ex: A one off report exploring the reasons why performance changed over the last six months
Provide critical information to the client
- Ex: Client A needs to see a certain set of metrics every Monday morning before their weekly meeting with the CMO.
- Ex: Client B needs data from all social platforms aggregated and cleaned to be used across multiple divisions
Reports without clear direction are often cluttered and jammed with useless graphs, tables, scorecards, you name it.
You focus on reporting for the sake of reporting
Let me be clear, your report should be easy to look at and read. However, reporting is not a beauty contest. You can have the most beautiful graphs in the world and your report can still be useless.
I have also seen (and built!) my fair share of reports that are filled with a bunch of “fluff”. These are things that look good, take up space, but ultimately aren’t providing anything of value. Remember, every piece of reporting should provide something insightful or critical. Many times reports are created just to check off a box on a to-do list, and no time was spent actually thinking about what should be included or excluded.
If you need help getting started with Data Studio – check out our two part series:
You’re spending too much time on reporting
Reporting can be a huge time suck, especially if it’s a complicated client. The good news is that there are some things you can do to make it less of a time consuming endeavour.
Start with a simple template and only customize as needed
To save time, copy an existing report and swap out the data sources.You’ll still need to go through it and QA and make small adjustments, but this should save you from creating a new report from scratch every time.
While we’re on the subject, a quick note about customization – not every report needs to be crazy customized! If you are customizing a report, make sure it’s for the right reasons. That is, it adds tremendous value or the client has a high need for it.
Set yourself up for success
Reporting is easier when your accounts are structured properly and naming conventions are consistent across campaigns, ads, etc. Doing this upfront will make the entire reporting process a lot smoother, and your data transformation and cleaning will be a breeze. We typically recommend something like this –
You can learn more about naming conventions from our Complete Guide to PPC Naming Conventions.
Automate what you can
Automation is your friend! If your report has a bunch of manual data imports, downloads, or data cleaning, it’s worth investing some time in setting up some automation. This is where we highly recommend using a tool like Funnel to help streamline the process and aggregate your data. Setting up custom dimensions and metrics is a breeze, and automatic aggregation makes it super simple to report on multiple platforms at once. Custom data source integrations also allow for an automatic import from platforms that don’t have a built in connector.