Skip to main content

Hey there! Free trials are available for Standard and Essentials plans. Start for free today.

Marketing Reporting: A Complete Guide for Your Business

Learn everything you need to know about what marketing reports are, how to prepare them, and how they can help your business.

Marketing can sometimes feel like a game of 20 questions. Is your paid advertising reaching the right audience? Are you focusing too much on traditional media and not enough on your digital marketing efforts? Could you increase the number of leads more effectively by using a blog, an email newsletter, or social media? Luckily, modern marketing reporting has made it easier than ever to get the information you need to answer these types of questions.

You may find that there’s an overwhelming amount of marketing data out there or feel unsure where to start. We’ve pulled together the basics of digital marketing reports, campaign performance metrics, and everything else that will give you a clear look at what’s going well and where you have opportunities to find more leads and boost sales!

What is marketing reporting?

Getting a good sense of how your marketing is going is important to building a successful business. A marketing report is a document that provides important information and relevant marketing data to your stakeholders.

The purpose of a marketing report is to analyze marketing campaign performance, compare marketing data to your marketing strategy, and provide useful information and recommendations for marketing goals.

A marketing report can include many different types of information. However, reports are primarily focused on data that can be used to track performance, support summaries of campaign success, and provide a basis for future planning.

Marketing metrics

Marketing metrics are how marketers measure the performance of marketing campaigns, track progress, or monitor data. Metrics can cover all kinds of things—from website visitors to sales leads to social media reposts. Marketing metrics are the heart of any marketing report.

Determining which metrics to include will depend on many factors, like how frequently you put together reports, whether your report is focused on digital marketing or traditional advertising, or if you're just providing an overview of your marketing efforts in general.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are similar to metrics, but they have a different focus—they measure your business's progress toward certain goals, like the number of new customers you add per quarter. Your metrics can be used to support your KPIs and track their performance.

Suppose you're looking to keep an eye on organizational strategic goals and provide information for future decision-making. In that case, KPIs can be useful information not only for your Marketing staff but for anyone involved with strategic planning.

What makes a good marketing report?

Every marketing report is different and there is no standard format or list of things that must be included, but there are a few characteristics that good marketing reports share.

Visual

The amount of information in a marketing report can be overwhelming—key metrics, campaign performance, organic search data. By making your marketing reports visual, you can make it easier for your stakeholders to understand the numbers and their meanings.

Think about ways to help make your information clear at a glance. Rather than just listing the number of website visitors every week, put the information in a chart so your stakeholders can see the trend. If you’re assembling an annual or quarterly report, you may have a few summary items from the past few months or a list of recommendations for your upcoming marketing campaigns. Putting those items in a bulleted list can make them easier to see, read, and understand.

Well organized

Marketing reports—especially those done quarterly or annually—can contain a lot of information. Not every bit of data will be relevant to everyone who reads the report. The more organized the report is, the easier it will be for everyone to find, read, and understand the information that's most useful to them.

Consider using organizational elements like a table of contents, clear headlines and subheads, and hyperlinks for digital reports.

Forward looking

A good marketing report isn't just a list of information. It should be designed to help the organization identify opportunities for improvement. Any aspects of your marketing that aren't performing well can be adjusted. Areas where the data indicate that things are going well may have useful lessons that can be applied elsewhere.

Examine the data that you're including in your marketing reporting for valuable insights. You can also include market research on areas like digital marketing, industry trends, and marketing channels used by your competition. This information is useful for thinking ahead and planning your marketing activities for the next month, quarter, or year.

How marketing reporting supports your marketing efforts

For many businesses, marketing is a significant part of the budget. Finding potential customers and selling your product or service keeps your company growing and earning revenue. So it's worth the time and effort to make sure you're getting as much out of your marketing efforts as possible.

A good marketing report can help justify marketing expenditures and show how effective they are at raising brand awareness, targeting potential customers, and increasing sales leads that bring in revenue.

Analyze your return on investment

You probably don't have an unlimited marketing budget. Knowing where that money is going and how effectively it's being spent is another benefit of putting together a marketing report. Studying the relevant marketing metrics will help you understand whether your marketing campaign or paid advertising expenses are a good use of your funds.

Identify business trends

Your marketing reports aren't just about what your business is doing to market your product; they're also a chance to gain insight into larger market trends. Including all of this information in one place can make it easy to see if your marketing campaigns are on the cutting edge or in need of a refresh.

Improve decision-making

Running a business involves making countless decisions every day. A good marketing report will provide actionable marketing insights that will help you adjust your strategy and marketing expenditures to map out a successful path going forward.

Find areas of underperformance

Regularly collecting and reporting on your data will allow you to look at your marketing performance and find places where you could be doing better. Ask yourself, for example, are you getting as much value from your marketing spend as possible?

Types of marketing reports

Understanding some of the different types of marketing reporting can help you decide which type best serves your needs—whether it's a general marketing report issued at certain time intervals or a report focused just on one area, like paid advertising.

Campaign-specific marketing reports

If your company conducts specific marketing campaigns for different products or events, you may want reports that focus just on that one campaign performance. If you're launching a new service, your marketing team is probably trying to get the word out in a number of ways—through advertising, social media posts, or paid search results.

Consider creating marketing reports that focus specifically on those campaigns so you can study the data independently of your larger marketing goals. Being able to make adjustments quickly or make note of actionable insights for your next campaign will be easier if you have access to a report with a narrow focus.

Channel-specific marketing reports

If your organization has a significant marketing presence with a large marketing team, it may be a good idea to use separate reports for different marketing channels rather than compiling them all into one lengthy report.

It might even be just a couple of reports—a traditional marketing report and a digital marketing report. Or you may break it down even more specifically at different intervals, for example, producing a weekly social media marketing report but only releasing a web analytics report once a month.

Periodic marketing reports

It's a good practice to produce marketing reports on a regular basis. This allows your stakeholders to stay on top of your marketing efforts and to identify trends over time. A one-time snapshot of the number of visitors to your website can give you some information, but monthly marketing reports that show that the number of website visitors trending downward is even more useful. Maybe it's time to refresh your site's look or make sure potential customers know where to find it.

Weekly

Some organizations find that weekly marketing reports are particularly useful to help track performance, particularly internally within the Marketing department. The information contained in these weekly marketing reports is likely to be quite detailed, including things like engagement with social media posts and other data that will allow the Marketing department to react quickly.

Monthly

Monthly marketing reports are also common. Many organizations find that preparing a report on a monthly basis is a useful practice to track the performance of metrics across areas like digital marketing, sales leads, and advertising campaign performance.

Monthly marketing reports offer a good balance of informative summaries and enough detail to support any conclusions about campaign effectiveness and trends. In most cases, monthly reports are frequent enough to allow you to take action and make adjustments based on the data, then see the results in your next monthly report.

Quarterly

Quarterly marketing reports are also quite common. These reports, which cover 3 months, can help spot medium- to long-term trends and look at the averages of and changes in metrics over several months.

Annual

Your organization may produce a standalone annual marketing report or a marketing report to be included as a section of your overall annual report.

An annual report will probably be less detailed than those you prepare monthly or quarterly. Instead, an annual report should focus on overall marketing data, trends, and takeaways from the year. It also presents the opportunity to track trends from month to month or at different times of the year.

Try to ask yourself questions such as: Did the number of website visitors increase during a certain season? Did the number of sales leads drop off the month after you cut back on a certain type of advertising? An annual report can illuminate those useful insights in a way that would be more difficult to see in monthly reports.

Daily

Less common are daily marketing reports. A snapshot of information on a daily basis may not provide a lot of actionable insights, but can still be useful in certain circumstances.

If you're launching a new social media marketing initiative tied into a certain holiday or event, you may want up-to-the-minute information on how the campaign is doing so you can make adjustments quickly. A monthly or even weekly report will give you information that's no longer actionable once the critical date has passed.

A new product launch might be another situation where a daily marketing report would make sense. If you want to track metrics like social media impressions or search engine rankings, producing daily digital marketing reports for the first few weeks of the product campaign can be useful.

Common elements to include in marketing reports

While every marketing report is different and should be customized to the needs of the organization, there are some elements that are commonly included to make your marketing data as useful as possible.

Strategy overview

When most people think of marketing reports, they focus on the hard data—costs, sales numbers, and digital ad impressions. But the first step in understanding all those numbers is knowing what overall strategy they're meant to achieve. For example, if your company has been primarily focused on traditional media advertising, your strategy may be to boost your online presence. Your marketing reports should make that clear and use data to show how well it's going.

Campaign performance

Whether or not you do campaign-specific marketing reporting, it's still important to include information about certain marketing campaigns in more general reports. The information may be less detailed than it would be in a report dedicated to a single campaign. However, it's still important to include a summary and key metrics to demonstrate how the campaign fits into your overall marketing plan.

Website engagement data

Most website hosting services will provide data on website visitors and usage, and sites like Google Analytics can be used on any website by adding a snippet to the website's code. Digital marketing reporting can include large volumes of data broken down in numerous ways. The following are some of the most common and useful web analytics metrics included in a typical marketing report.

Queries and search engine optimization

One of the most informative website metrics is about how people find your site. Unless they have a direct link from another source like an email newsletter or a social media platform, many prospective customers will discover your business by querying a search engine.

An analysis of your website visitors can tell you which search terms eventually led them to your site. Then, you can take the next steps to make sure you're appearing near the top of the search results for the audience you're trying to reach.

Website visits and page views

The number of visitors to your website can give you a good idea of how well you're doing at raising awareness of your brand.

Website numbers can be broken down in many ways—visitors per page, unique visitors, repeat visitors, visitor locations, and more. Which of these metrics you include in your report will depend on your marketing goals. For example, if you are focused on expanding your customer base, you may be particularly interested in the number of new visitors to your site and how that number changes from month to month.

Locations

Where are the visitors to your site located? Depending on the analytics program you use, you may get data broken down by country, state, or even city. Including this information in your marketing reporting is particularly useful if your business targets a certain location, as in the case of a local pizza restaurant.

It's also great data for your Digital Marketing team if you have an international customer base. If most of your website visitors are coming from Latin America, maybe there are additional opportunities for your Marketing team to expand your reach. Or, if your focus is primarily on Europe, but you find that you have significant traffic from Asia, your Marketing department may identify an opportunity for a new customer base.

Keep in mind that many countries and parts of the United States have laws about collecting consumer data like locations, so make sure you're following the rules and letting consumers opt in, if required.

Devices

It may not seem important to understand how customers access your site—just that they do! However, knowing what devices they use to interact with your digital marketing efforts can give you significant useful information. If customers visit your website on their mobile phones, you should make sure your site design is optimized for viewing on a small screen and that it works well for everyone, regardless of what type of device they use.

Users: Overall and by page

Knowing the number of people who visit your website overall can give you a good idea of your brand's reach. Breaking down those numbers by individual page is also a great way to find out which pages on your site are most active and which might need a refresh.

Session duration

How long do visitors stay on your website? Very short visits may indicate opportunities for improvement. If people find your site difficult to navigate, they may not stick around for long. Or if they follow a search engine link to your site only to find that it's not what they're looking for, that may prompt you to evaluate which SEO terms you're using and how effective they are at targeting the audience you're hoping to reach.

Social media

Most businesses have a presence on one or more social media platforms. If you find that your brand's Instagram posts receive more click-throughs when you use video, that's valuable information that can boost your Marketing department's performance. On the other hand, if you compile research in your digital marketing reporting that shows that your target audience is more likely to spend time on TikTok than Facebook, you may increase your number of leads by focusing your digital content marketing on the former.

Blog traffic

Publishing a blog can be a great way to provide your customers with added value. You can write blog posts about new products and services, relevant developments in your industry, or tips to help customers make the most of your products.

Use your marketing reporting to track how many readers your blog posts get and which posts attract the most traffic. In addition to the number of visitors, your blog traffic information can often be broken down further to measure things like new versus repeat visitors, geographic location, or the search terms that brought visitors to your blog.

Paid advertising

One of the most useful metrics to know about your advertising is your click-through rate. This is the number of clicks on your ads per number of impressions. For example, if 1,000 people see your ad and 100 click on it to follow the link to your website, your click-through rate is 10%.

Having a higher click-through rate means that your ads are effective in bringing interested customers to your site or sales platform. The average click-through rate can vary by industry, platform, and numerous other factors. But if you include this metric in your marketing reporting, you can track the performance of your ads from month to month or quarter to quarter and see whether they're effective.

In addition to increasing the number of potential customers who show interest in your product or service, ad services like Google Ads offer discounts on high-quality ads. One of the metrics used to determine quality is the click-through rate.

Some paid digital advertising campaigns operate on a pay-per-click (PPC) model in which the advertiser pays a small fee each time someone clicks on their ad. In addition to being a good way to maximize the value of your advertising budget—only paying to reach customers who indicate an interest—it can also give you lots of information. The PPC model is popular on search engines and social media, and a PPC marketing report can tell you exactly what it's costing you to reach each of those potential customers.

Sales leads

The primary goal of your company's marketing is to turn potential customers into completed sales. Most marketing reports help the reader understand how ads, digital marketing, and other activities are tied to the brand's number of leads.

You probably use different types of traditional and digital marketing in order to get your brand's message out there. Rather than including all leads in a single number, it's often helpful to break them down. The following are some of the categories you may consider.

Paid leads

Paid leads are leads that come from any paid service like print advertisements or pay-per-click ads on search engines and social media platforms. The data from paid leads can be easier to track, which is helpful in a marketing report. But paid leads typically cost more, so analyzing how effective they are can help make marketing decisions.

Organic leads

On the other hand, organic leads come from non-paid sources like web searches, social media posts, or content marketing, which can include blogs, email newsletters, and videos. They’re more cost-effective than paid leads, but creating content that attracts customers can take effort and a solid understanding of your target audience.

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are potential customers who have indicated an interest in your product or service as a result of your company's marketing. This is more than just a potential customer. Because they've taken action in some way, an MQL is valuable. They've already expressed interest in your company, so they're aware of who you are and what you do and may be more likely to be converted into a sale.

What determines an MQL is specific to each company, but some criteria may include the type of marketing messages the MQL engages with, demographic information like location, or whether the potential customer has engaged with your content more than once.

Information about MQLs is particularly useful to include in your marketing reporting because it shows a clear relationship between your marketing and sales performance.

Sales qualified leads (SQLs)

Similar to marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads (SQL) are potential customers who indicate an interest in your product, but they go further and also indicate an intention to make a purchase, giving you a better chance to turn them into actual customers.

Cost per action (CPA)

Your cost per action (CPA)—also sometimes called cost per acquisition—is the amount it costs to generate one sales lead for your business. If a potential customer signs up for your email newsletter, that would be included as one action.

Your CPA is calculated by dividing the cost spent on the marketing activity by the number of actions (or acquisitions) that result. The goal is to spend as little as possible for each lead, and your marketing report can help you decide if you're doing that effectively.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

A customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the total amount that a business spends to get one paying customer. If a first-time customer places an order from your e-commerce store, that is a new customer acquisition. It is calculated by dividing the amount spent on sales and marketing by the number of new customers.

Market research

A good marketing report should include more than just your key marketing metrics. It's also a great place to put your marketing efforts into context and present forward-looking information that can improve your marketing results in the future.

Keep an eye on trends in your industry and among your competitors to make sure you're on the cutting edge. You may discover that your industry is lagging behind others in your use of interactive media marketing. If so, that suggests an opportunity for your Marketing team.

Goals

Including goals in your reports—particularly annual or quarterly marketing reports—is often a good idea. It allows you to make sure all stakeholders are on the same page and also compare your marketing results to the goals you set in previous reports.

What not to include in a marketing report

It may seem like almost any information can be included in a marketing report. While they are often data packed, it's possible to include too much information and extraneous data that distracts your stakeholders from what they're really looking for.

Too many numbers

Most marketing reports—especially those written monthly, quarterly, or annually— aren't aimed at people who need detailed, specific data on your search engine optimization, digital marketing interactions, or paid search metrics. Including too many numbers will draw attention away from the important information you want to convey, and it may overwhelm people before they get to the useful stuff.

In order to make marketing reporting matter, focus on including just the data you need to support your report's summary information, conclusions, and recommendations. You can also encourage anyone who would find more detailed information helpful to request it as needed.

Distracting visuals

While visual elements are a great way to make the data in your marketing reports easy to understand, don't be tempted to go overboard. A few carefully chosen charts, graphs, or highlighted bullet points are great for focusing your stakeholders' attention, but excessive graphics or an exorbitant number of pie charts can end up pulling the stakeholders' attention away from the most important content.

Jargon

Your marketing reports will probably include some terms that are specific to your industry. Just keep in mind that not everyone who reads them will be familiar with the more obscure words or technical terminology. Your stakeholders may include your Board of Directors or team members from other departments who aren't familiar with the most marketing-industry-specific terms.

In addition, try to avoid corporate buzzwords like synergy, move the needle, and ecosystem. They're often too vague to mean much, and they can be interpreted differently by different people. Instead, try using clear language and specific data to illustrate your points.

Irrelevant information

Your marketing reports should be focused on just that—marketing! If the business had a great quarter, it can be tempting to include information about the growth of the workforce, the expanding product line, or good media coverage. But unless any of those things relate directly to marketing, it's better to save them for a different format like the annual report.

Marketing report examples

There are as many ways to put together a marketing report as there are organizations. You can and should include whatever information makes the most sense for you. But it can help to see a marketing report example that can give you an idea of how to get started. Career site Indeed offers marketing report examples in several different formats.

Seven pro tips for creating the most effective marketing reports

Once you've got the basics down, you can level up your marketing reports by following some of these marketing reporting best practices to boost your marketing activities and your company's sales.

Tip #1: Make marketing reporting a regularly scheduled activity

Don't wait until you sense that there's a problem with your marketing efforts before putting together a report. Doing regular reports will benefit you in a number of ways, including making it easier to see trends and check on the status of marketing goals.

Plus, once you find a format that works, you can just update the information whenever it's time to generate a new one. It's not necessary to spend tons of time redesigning a new report format each time.

Tip #2: Know your objective

Before you write an effective marketing report, it's helpful to know what you're trying to achieve. If you're simply collecting marketing data for your department heads, your work will be different than if your goal is to demonstrate why the company should put more emphasis on its social media presence.

Has your organization launched an innovative new marketing campaign? The Marketing department may be eager to show top management and the Board of Directors that the marketing spend they approved is paying off.

Tip #3: Understand your audience

Who will be reading your marketing reports? If you produce reports often—weekly or even daily—your audience is likely to be members of your Sales and Marketing teams who can use real-time granular data to make changes right away. These stakeholders may be more comfortable with jargon and marketing data presented without significant explanation or contextualization.

On the other hand, a monthly report may go to your company's CEO or other top management. In that case, make sure to include clear, actionable summaries and key performance indicators as they relate to the organization's overall goals.

In addition, the audience for a monthly marketing report may be different than one for an annual report. Take your target audience into account when you're deciding how much detailed data to include and what to cover in your summary.

Tip #4: Use a software program or template

The first time you create a report on your marketing activities, the process can seem overwhelming. Once you settle on a format that works for you, you can reuse the format and replace the information each time, effectively creating your own template.

You can start from scratch, of course, but there are also numerous marketing report templates available online to help you get started. Some are part of marketing reporting software programs, which make the collection and presentation of large amounts of data easier.

  • Design site Canva offers some free marketing reporting templates.
  • Whatagraph promises a user-friendly experience with no need for programming or design expertise.
  • Databox is a robust program that offers the ability to connect multiple datasets into consolidated reports.

Tip #5: Start with a summary

In a busy organization, not everyone is going to have time to read the full report and scrutinize the data thoroughly. When you create a marketing report, it's good to summarize your data so that everyone gets the relevant information.

A summary might include whether or not marketing performance goals were met, which marketing campaigns or channels were particularly successful, and what relevant developments—either internally or in your industry—will inform future marketing decisions.

Tip #6: Explain, explain, explain!

While much of the data in your report may be obvious to marketing professionals, the audience for your report can include many other stakeholders who have a limited amount of time to read and absorb its content.

Make sure you don't just rely on putting raw data in your marketing report to get the message across. Whether it's data from Google Analytics or the number of interactions with your social media accounts, you have to provide context. Ask yourself, What do those numbers mean? Have they changed, and does that correlate with anything you've done differently? If you boosted your spending last quarter on paid search efforts, is that paying off, and if so, what numbers do you have to back that up?

Tip #7: Get feedback

Not everyone who reads your reports is going to be an expert in marketing or your latest digital marketing campaign. Rather than assuming that your weekly or monthly marketing report contains the most relevant information or is easy to read and understand, find out for yourself!

Checking in occasionally with your relevant stakeholders can help you discover if monthly reporting is the best frequency, whether you're including an overwhelming amount of marketing data, or if there are additional KPIs that people would find helpful.

In conclusion, whether you're just starting to monitor your marketing performance or looking to boost your marketing reporting process, putting together a quality marketing report can help improve your marketing performance. A weekly, monthly, or even daily marketing report allows you to take better advantage of your primary marketing channels, and make sure you're getting the most value from your advertising campaigns.

In order to help your Sales team make the most of their efforts, download a marketing report template or use marketing reporting software, gather your data, and get started today!

Share This Article