Providing customers with proper reports is an integral part of any digital marketing service. And they are a fundamental part to structure our actions inside the agency. Clients need to feel that we are accountable and we need structure to our processes. Reports allow us to do that.
In this article, we will analyse the fundamentals of our Digital Marketing Reporting strategy.
Identifying the Goals
When starting a project, we need to understand what its main goals are. And when thinking about achievable goals we need to contextualize this topic with the buyer’s journey.
Any buyer, before he/she makes a purchase, goes through a number of steps. First, they need to have some need for a product or a product, then they will research and compare specific opportunities. During this process, they will have a number of key selection criteria that will make them choose one option over another. These criteria may include: sentiments about a certain brand, emotions that they may feel, price, the quality and distinctive features of the product itself (its colour, size, etc). After they take this into consideration, they eventually decide to buy a product.
So, as we can see, brands need to work on a number of different psychological triggers to attract clients. These triggers can be summed up in three goals: create awareness, generate traffic and convert the traffic into a sale. In other words, awareness, traffic and conversion are our top three goals.
Of course, all brands want to have conversions as their key goal. Companies invest in marketing teams to deliver results, and, most of the time, results are measured in terms of conversions. Conversions can be further unpacked between lead generation and sales.
But of course, we also need to take into account that brands need to cultivate clients and embed themselves into the market. Creating a brand is more than just thinking about conversions. We need to contextualise this effort with the goals of building awareness and generating traffic to a particular online platform. Conversions rule, but they need to be understood as a result of a broader framework.
Here at JMarketing, we aim to deliver conversions to our clients; that’s what matters in the end. We do, however, contextualize this effort in broader marketing.
Conversions are king. But how can we track them? Data gathering should be a key component of any digital marketing project, and we go to great lengths to start any of our projects by having coherent conversion tracking systems in place.
As suggested, we need to start by identifying what the main conversion goal is. There are mainly two conversion goals: lead generation and sales. They relate to different projects: lead generation is normally associated with brick and mortar business or online consultancy, and e-commerce is connected with online shops and online courses most of the time.
The first step to correctly start tracking conversions is to go to the digital platforms (normally a company’s website) and understand what the end destination is when someone either submits an online form or makes a purchase.
We need to use online tools such as Google Tag Manager or Google Analytics to properly track these results.
Google Tag Manager is, however, the platform we like to use here at JMarketing. The main advantage when compared to Google Analytics is not only that it doesn’t require a lot of technical skills to execute the tasks but, and most importantly because it is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) friendly.
Google Tag Manager allows us to track conversions, not only on the website, but also across a number of platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Set Target Cost per Conversion on Short, Medium and Long-Term Objectives
The first thing we need to understand - and discuss with the client - is what the target cost per conversion is. We need to have a clear understanding of how much we are willing to spend per new conversion. This will give us a financial objective to aim at.
After this is decided, we need to have a short, medium and long-term view of any project, especially when your project is new or needs a complete revision of the digital marketing strategy you have been using.
With the short-term view, we need to analyse and launch a new approach. For the medium-term, we need to start seeing improvements in conversions and overall performance. The sustainability of any project is only really verified after a period of more than 6 months, and there are a few reasons for this.
As suggested, buyer’s have a journey when they want to acquire a new product or service. They need to get accustomed to the idea of the purchase before they actually acquire something. Awareness is a key stepping stone of this process.
So what is to be expected is that with time, you will start seeing improvements because of the consistency of using a professional approach to your digital marketing efforts.
The Conversion Funnel: Drill Down the Goals by Digital Channel
We suggest having a top down approach to reporting. By this we mean a report should start by emphasising what really matters - conversions. Once you correctly track your conversions, it is time to look at overall performance by channel. Google Analytics is a great tool to do so. There are two main aspects, we normally stress in our reports.
First, we need to have an overview of how different channels contribute to the targeted conversion goal. This is done by going to Google analytics and selecting Acquisition - All Traffic - Source/Medium. You can go into and select which specific conversion goal you want to track under “Conversions”. And then see how many conversions you got from each digital channel.
Once this is done there is a second aspect that needs to be emphasised in the report. This relates to specific conversion paths. The problem with the report above is that it will not show you how organic contributed to direct conversions or how google ads contributed to direct conversions for example. That’s why you need to support this information with an understanding of conversion paths.
If you go to Conversions - Multi-Channel Funnels - Top Conversion Paths, Google Analytics will give you this information.
The Fundamentals of SEO Reporting
There are three things that are important when developing an SEO report. First, we need to understand if there was an improvement in overall traffic to the website; second, we need to understand keyword fluctuation and see how we are doing in terms of keywords rankings. Finally, we need to focus on the contribution of organic traffic to conversions..
Keyword Improvement. An understanding of what is going on with keywords is fundamental for any project. Here at JMarketing, we focus on delivering results for our clients so this takes center stage in our reports. With a clear plan to start with, we can target specific keywords that are of key interest to your business. The goal of the first part of the report is to focus on this evolution.
Traffic. Once we start working on specific keywords, the second part should focus on demonstrations of the evolution of overall organic traffic. As a consequence of improvement in keyword rankings, the reports should show an increase in overall organic traffic. Google analytics is the most efficient tool to use to verify the data.
Conversions. Finally, the third element that needs to be incorporated in reports are illustrations of how organic traffic has contributed to key conversion goals. As suggested at the beginning of this article, defining goals is the foundational step of any solid digital marketing project and the SEO report should incorporate this element as well.
The Fundamentals of Google Ads Reporting
Google ads have distinctive characteristics and a good google ads report should incorporate them. We need to look at two key data points when developing a google ads report: quality score evolution and conversions.
Quality Score. As suggested in a previous article, google ads core metric of efficiency is quality score. Quality score was a metric developed by google to position your account in a value-scale. The higher its perceived value, or, in other words, the higher your quality score; the less you will pay for your ads.
To have a good quality score, your account should follow google’s rules and recommendations as tightly as possible. Discounting the technical details that need to be used, everything can more or less be summed up to the metric of expected click through rate. This is a good soft indicator of how good your quality score will be.
Expected click through rate is basically the value that gives you a hint of how well your ads are being assimilated by the audience. If the audience clicks on the ad, this ad is being delivered with the proper keyword, and if the user has a great experience on your landing page, your quality score will be high.
Therefore, any report needs to place its attention on the evolution of quality score. It needs to describe what this evolution is and what needs to be done to improve it.
Conversions. The second aspect a report needs to focus is on conversions. It needs to describe how many conversions there were on the website and what the cost per conversion was. Conversions can be understood as either a new form of submission or a new sale.
Quality score and conversions are key components of well-developed google ads reports.
The Fundamentals of Facebook Ads Reporting
We are focusing here on Facebook ads and not on Facebook itself. Facebook is a tool that can be used to create a lot of engagement and traffic to your website. It’s the most popular social media platform today. And this places it as one powerful tool to leverage your brand.
Of course, insights can be taken from the functionalities of Facebook as a brand awareness/traffic platform, but here we will be focusing on what we here at JMarketing are most concerned about: conversions. And in this dimension, we need to focus on Facebook ads.
There are soft metrics and hard metrics to look at when developing a solid facebook ads report. We will turn to these two now.
Traffic. The first element to focus on any Facebook ads report is the traffic generated by the different campaigns. And here we need to be very strict about the type of traffic metrics we look at. We want quality traffic and not just all traffic.
We select unique link clicks as our initial soft traffic metric to look at. Unique link clicks are the ones that actually delivered landing page views. They include clicks that resulted in a landing page view - and not clicks on your ad as a whole. They are also unique - if a user clicked twice it will only count as one click. They are, therefore, the most reliable soft metric to look at and to include in your report.
Another option is to look at landing page views. This will give you the number of people that clicked on your ads and went to your landing page. The cost per landing page view is a key metric to analyse here. And again we have clear objectives when looking at these numbers.
Finally, you need to include Click Through Rates (CTRs) numbers. They will give you a sense of how good your ads are and how efficiently they are being delivered to your audience. You need to control CTR numbers and should definitely be a part of any report.
Conversions. If unique link clicks, landing page views and CTRs are soft metrics to look at, we also need our conversion metric. Depending on what type of campaign you are running, these will vary.
For example, for lead generation projects they can come in the form of a message, a lead generation form submission, or even a form submission on your website. For e-commerce projects, you need to include Add to Carts, Registration Page and Sales if you have an online store or track any other steps of the funnel if you have an online course.
A useful tool that needs to be used - if you are not tracking conversions via Google Tag Manager - is UTM parameters. UTM parameters will let google analytics tell you what links came from social media and will let you have a clearer understanding of the contribution of Facebook ads to your overall conversion funnel.
In this article, we aimed to focus on the fundamentals of any good report. A good report needs to get its foundations right: it needs to track conversions correctly and it needs to understand what the target cost per conversion is. At the same time, it needs to show that as with any buyer’s journey, the effectiveness of a professional digital marketing strategy is a short, medium and long-term plan.
Once we have our foundations right, we can look at conversions. Here, we adopted a top-down approach starting from looking at reports that allow us to see how different channels have contributed to our conversion goals, and then drilling down specific channels in detail. We have emphasised how to elaborate professional SEO, Google Ads and Facebook Ads reports.
What we didn’t do here was highlight how to properly automate this system. You can use tools like Google Data Studio to do it. We will come back to this issue.