Iterative Marketing Podcast Episode 8: The 4 Elements of Effective Reporting

Reporting is an effective way to prove marketing’s value up the organizational chart. But many of us don’t know what to report on and choose “vanity metrics,” which often sell our teams short. Listen to learn four elements to add to your reporting.

Episode Show Notes

Introduction to Reporting

(0:00 – 2:06) Introduction To Iterative Marketing Podcast: The Iterative Marketing podcast provides actionable ideas and techniques for marketers to improve their results. Hosted by Steve Robinson and Elizabeth Earin, resources discussed on the show can be found at, which includes a blog and a LinkedIn group for community interaction. Today’s episode focuses on the topic of reporting. 

(2:06 – 4:59) The Importance of Reporting Marketing Results: The focus of today’s episode is on the reporting of marketing efforts and the challenges faced by marketers in proving the value of their work to the organization, and how many fall into the trap of using vanity metrics. It is important to prove the value of marketing efforts to move up the org chart and understand the impact of their strategies and campaigns. A study from 2011 found that 69% of marketers surveyed felt that their strategies and campaigns were impacting the company’s business, but they had no way to prove it, which highlights the need for effective reporting on marketing efforts. 

Effective reporting helps in demonstrating the ability to meet or exceed the objectives set for marketing and establishing the credibility of marketing as a force within the organization. Good reporting leads to rewards in the form of more budget and resources for marketing.

Elements of Effective Marketing Reporting

(4:59 – 6:25) Four Key Focus Areas: When reporting on marketing efforts, it is important to focus on four key areas:

  1. The first is ROI, which ties the direct investment back to projected revenue. 
  2. The second is assets built, which sets the company up for future success. 
  3. The third is improvements made, which demonstrate the progress and success of marketing efforts. 
  4. The fourth is insights generated, which come from experiments and can be applied to other areas, such as personas and customer journeys. 

These four components provide a comprehensive view of the value and impact of marketing efforts.

Reporting on Return on Investment (ROI): Challenges and Solutions

(6:25 – 8:57)  Addressing the Challenges of Proving Marketing Impact: The challenge of proving ROI in marketing is a top concern for marketers. Two main issues make it difficult to attribute marketing activities to specific purchases or new clients. The first issue is that not all marketing activities can be linked to a specific outcome. The second issue is the matter of timing, as there can be significant delays between marketing efforts and actual returns. In industries with long buying cycles, this problem is exacerbated. It is important to overcome the challenges in attributing specific marketing activities to sales and revenue, as well as finding a solution for proving the direct impact of marketing efforts on financial outcomes.

(8:57 – 11:26) The Power of Leading Indicators and Historical Analysis: Measuring the ROI of marketing can be a challenge, especially when dealing with trailing indicators like revenue. To overcome this hurdle, it’s important to consider leading indicators such as appointments, leads, free trials, and downloads. These KPIs help measure future success in revenue and offer a more reliable metric than trailing indicators alone.

To establish a direct correlation between leading indicators and revenue, historical data analysis is essential. While this process can be difficult, it’s achievable for most companies. By leveraging leading indicators and historical analysis, businesses can optimize their marketing efforts, drive revenue growth, and make data-driven decisions for long-term success.

Charity Outreach

(11:26 – 12:20) Charity Break: United Way

Reporting on Assets

(12:20 -15:39) Balancing Immediate Returns and Long-Term Assets: The second key area of reporting focuses on long-term investments in marketing assets that contribute to future success. These investments may not immediately generate revenue, but they are crucial for setting up the company for long-term success. For example, a factory analogy illustrates the difference between investments in raw materials, which have a direct correlation with output, and investments in machinery, which improve efficiency for future production. In marketing, raw materials are ads and content, while long-term investments include databases of prospects, cookie pools for better ad targeting, and the goodwill of the brand. 

It is essential to report on these investments to demonstrate progress and justify budgets for future success. Including these investments in reporting helps decision-makers understand where marketing budgets are allocated and their long-term impact on the organization’s growth.

Reporting on Improvements

(15:39 – 17:04) Tracking Marketing Progress with Improvements and Optimizations: The third area of reporting is improvements. As marketers, it is crucial to demonstrate added value to the organization by reporting on improvements and optimizations made over time. There are two primary ways to show these improvements: by documenting the optimizations made based on data from experiments and by reporting changes in metrics over time. Comparing current performance to past performance helps put the numbers into context and shows progress, even when there isn’t a direct connection to revenue. This approach highlights the marketer’s commitment to continuous growth and improvement, which is essential for the organization’s success.

Reporting on Insights

(17:04 – 19:37) Leveraging Experiments to Boost Company Performance: The fourth area of reporting focuses on the importance of generating insights through thoughtful marketing experiments. These insights can reveal key information about target personas and their buying journey preferences. For example, a lawn care company discovers the value of timeliness for a specific persona. Using this insight, the company can incorporate this value into their brand and service promises, ensuring consistency across the organization. Reporting these insights can help other departments, like sales, R&D, and customer service, better understand customer needs and expectations.

Consistency in Reporting

(19:37- 20:33) Demonstrate Effectiveness Through Consistency: It is important to be regular and consistent in reporting in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of marketing efforts. By showcasing the value of marketing activities in terms of ROI, assets, improvements, and insights, marketers can gain access to larger budgets and position marketing as a driving force within the organization. 

This consistent reporting ultimately increases the marketing department’s value to the C-suite and decision-makers, leading to more opportunities for growth and success. 

Join Us Next Time

(20:33 – 22:33Conclusion: So far, in this podcast series, we have covered various aspects of the six actionable components of marketing, from defining a brand and persona to experimentation, optimization, and reporting. With marketers juggling numerous tasks and objectives, the next episode will focus on practical ways to start applying iterative marketing principles in a busy marketing environment. By providing actionable tips for immediate implementation, we aim to help marketers integrate these key components into their existing strategies and workflows for a more effective and efficient approach. 

Have a great week and we’ll see you next time. This concludes this week’s episode. For notes and links to resources discussed on the show, sign up to the Brilliant Metrics newsletter.

Iterative Marketing is a part of the Brilliant Metrics organization. If you would like more information on the marketing services provided by the expert team at Brilliant Metrics, reach out today for a free discovery call.

The Iterative Marketing Podcast,  a production of Brilliant Metrics, ran from February 2016 to September 2017. Music by SeaStock Audio.

Learn more about Iterative Marketing and listen to other episodes on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

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