There seems to be a misconception among some agencies and analysts that the more widgets a report contains, and the more complex those widgets are, the better the report.
This affliction is particularly egregious in the Paid Search (PPC) industry, where information abounds. Segments, Data, Charts- oh my!
In our humble opinion, every aspect of a report should serve either or both of these functions:
- Easy and quick to digest for the stakeholder
- Actionable for the account manager
That’s it, right there.
Here is what a report should not do:
- Contain so many metrics as to be immediately nauseating, even to an advanced Excel user or data geek
- Chart or graph data that no one cares about (ie. does not serve one of the two aforementioned functions)
- Be visually overwhelming with no clear draw for the eye – even if it turns out that the data is meaningful
- Dump a bunch of data from some third-party source without any refinement
If you’re an accountant detailing a profit and loss statement for a financial audit, by all means, be as thorough as possible. But that is not the purpose of most digital marketing reports. The purpose is, again, one of the two functions mentioned above (or both).
Look – really look – at each section/chart/graph of the report you are providing, or the report you have requested, and ask yourself whether it matters as per the litmus test above.
If you have multiple stakeholders, consider making two dashboards, or different sections of dashboards, intended for the various audiences.
Otherwise you may find yourself taking a quick, meaningless glance over the report every week without gleaning anything actionable or insightful – and isn’t the the point of the report?
Or was it just to make everyone feel like something has been accomplished here?
Sometimes, it really feels that way… 🙂
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