Components of a Successful Marketing Agency Reporting Call
Communication is the most important aspect of working with a marketing agency.
It’s how you ensure you’re not wasting any ad spend and getting the optimal performance from your ad campaigns.
Marketing agencies take different approaches to reporting calls—how do you know what is right for you?
Ingredients of a successful marketing agency reporting call
Let’s dive into what makes a reporting call successful.
1. Updates and housekeeping
Since the monthly reporting call is the main time you get to communicate with your marketing agency, there likely be some business to catch up on before diving into the meat of the call.
You’ll want to chat with your contacts at the agency and get to know them and connect with them on a more personal level. You may want to decide on a time to schedule your next call, talk about out-of-office times coming up, introduce new members joining the team, give updates from your business like new products being launched soon, and talk about marketing industry updates that may impact your accounts.
Updates may take different forms on each call. The important thing is the opportunity for both teams to talk about anything from the last month and what needs to be prepared for the next month.
This section is essential to maintaining the business relationship and communicating important information. It’s wise to tackle this before diving into the rest of the call.
2. Performance reporting
Your agency should walk you through performance reports on each reporting call. The strongest marketing agency relationships are built on data transparency.
Ideally, your agency will create a central marketing dashboard that consolidates information from many sources including Google Search Console, Analytics, multiple ad platforms, and your CRM database to show you performance along all parts of the marketing funnel.
On your reporting call, your marketing agency should walk you through the important performance trends that they have seen in the last month in your campaigns. They should have some possible causes for the trends and what exactly was affected. Data should be compared both month over month and year over year to tease out seasonality in performance.
Trends and data should be discussed at a level that all people on the marketing call can understand. The insights need to inform upcoming decisions.
In most cases, super-detailed information at the keyword or landing page level does not need to be covered on a reporting call. Those are more important to day-to-day optimization that the team will be making regularly.
When possible, visualize data with graphs to better illustrate the impact of trends over time.
3. Reporting insights and implementation recommendations
Additional reports may also be presented on the call with detailed recommendations. For instance, things that should be updated on the website or in marketing campaigns.
These may be presented just for visibility or need approvals from the marketing leader or may be to instruct another team on how to implement the changes. These are often much more detailed than dashboard performance reports because they go step-by-step through individual optimizations.
It’s not always important to go through this type of report in a detailed manner on a reporting call. Speak briefly on the biggest callouts and trends found when creating the report and then leave it to the marketing leader to read it in depth later. It may spark discussion about larger strategy decisions on the call.
4. Strategy planning and testing discussions
Strategy and testing discussions should take up most of the time on your marketing reporting call. In this section, you take what you have learned from performance and other reports from the last month and make decisions about what you want to change for the upcoming months and where you can expect to see the impact.
Strategy talking points include things like new campaigns to launch for paid marketing, new A/B testing, new pages to focus on for website optimization efforts, new content focus topics, and other large shifts requiring approval from the marketing leader.
Everyone in the discussion needs to understand why a new strategy is recommended, recent performance trends, how the new strategy is expected to influence performance, the timeframe, and everything needed from each side for implementation.
Since strategy and testing have unknown outcomes, all parties need to understand the options and the pros and cons before deciding on how to focus resources.
Tapping into previous experience
The expertise of the marketing agency will shine through on this part of the reporting call. Agencies have already tested strategies with similar clients. They will make recommendations based on industry experience about what works well for your business and unique circumstances. Agencies can also tell you what is needed to implement the new test and give it the highest chance of success.
Marketing leaders will also have their own ideas of strategy, from things they have tried themselves in the past, have heard about in their industry, or have heard from others. An expert marketing agency has experience with the strategy. If not, they’ll have the expertise to research new strategies and the know-how to implement the new plan successfully.
Marketing test reminders
Reporting call discussions should cover new strategies, review past tests, and decide whether to continue.
Tests and new strategies should be treated as just that—a test. Define a time frame, budget, and separate reporting from other established campaigns.
It’s not a complete failure if a test doesn’t perform as well as you expected. The learnings you gain about your audience help you make decisions in the future. If a test isn’t working, use your findings to pivot to something more promising.
5. Next steps for both teams
A successful marketing reporting call will wrap up with clear tasks for both sides.
Everyone should know what to expect from others, what they are to do, and the deadline for each task. Without this being clear, changes will not happen on time.
An email should come after the meeting with responsibilities and deadlines spelled out in writing and someone to make sure everyone is held accountable.
Otherwise, important action items for tests and strategies won’t be implemented in time to have enough meaningful data to report on in time for the next monthly reporting call.
Ideal frequency and length of reporting calls
For most marketing campaigns, a reporting call once a month is ideal for reviewing performance and making decisions informed by strategy and testing.
Frequent changes to marketing strategy interfere with the learning process and prevent you from achieving meaningful results. Test results after only one or two weeks are typically skewed from the learning period after making the campaign change.
The length of reporting calls will depend on the complexity of your campaigns and how many services your agency is handling for you. For instance, a reporting call for relatively simple paid search campaigns takes 30 minutes, while a reporting call including both PPC and SEO campaigns takes a full hour.
Reporting calls should have enough time to comfortably and thoroughly discuss monthly performance trends and insights at a high level and any upcoming strategy and testing decisions for the next month.
Calls should never feel rushed or like they’re wasting time. They should be productive and filled with valuable information.
Check-ins between reporting calls
Many marketing leaders feel the need to “check in” on the performance of smaller optimizations more often than once a month. This does not require a reporting call. A weekly update via email or a quick call can give you an idea of the performance trends for the week along with the top day-to-day optimizations made in your accounts.
Plan extra time for special projects
The ideal length and frequency of reporting calls can also depend on rapid changes or large projects happening.
If a site migration is coming up, it may be necessary to have calls with the search engine optimization team more often to make sure tasks are completed and implemented promptly.
If an important deadline or event is approaching, meet more often with your paid advertising team to improve final event campaign performance. This lets you pass along vital enrollment information for daily budget, bid, and targeting decisions.
Informative and useful dashboards and reports
Marketing leaders should have all the information they need to understand trends in their accounts and make decisions at their fingertips in a centralized location.
Data should be easy to understand at a high level but also break down to more detailed levels when diving into issues. Agencies should also make all data from marketing accounts available to marketing leaders at all levels. They shouldn’t present high-level information without supporting details explaining the cause of each performance trend.
Marketing data should not be proprietary to the agency or only accessible to agency analysts. Data should be owned by the company paying for the ad campaigns so they can use the information in the future even if they choose to leave the agency.
Dashboards that import information from multiple sources into a single set of tables and visualizations in close to real-time are essential to both marketing leaders and marketing teams. They pull in information from Google Analytics, Google Search Console, your CRM, various ad platforms, and other sources.
The goal is to consolidate the data in one place so you can see the high-level trends along the entire marketing funnel. Then use filters to break down areas of concern to find solutions.
Manually-pulled Excel reports from each platform take time to create and make it harder to see the entire funnel. However, they can be useful when you have already identified the problem campaign and want to see the many different factors influencing performance.
Because dashboards consolidate so much data from different sources, they have a harder time drilling down the specific dimensions and metrics a single source may contain. In those cases, Excel reports frequently work better to identify optimizations.
Data-driven strategy and guidance
Each report should not contain only charts, tables, and graphs, but also identify trends, possible causes, problem areas to focus on, and suggested strategies to improve performance. Data without strategy doesn’t serve much purpose.
It is important to not only understand your performance but also know the causes and effects of changes in your campaigns in addition to the actions that may improve performance in the future.
When working with a marketing agency or any outside team, communication is the most important driver of success.
Marketing leaders need to understand performance trends, causes, and effects, and be able to constantly test new strategies and ideas. Agencies need to get buy-in from clients to make performance-improving changes and try new things.
This will only happen if there is clear communication on both sides and effective reporting.
Contact us to learn more about our reporting calls, dashboards, testing strategies, and more.
Emily Lutz is from Kalispell, Montana and has been camping more times than she can count. She geeks out over musicals and the TV show Firefly (yes, she’s on some chat sites). Before joining Perfect Search, Emily was a zookeeper for ten years.