Jul 4, 2024

Marketing agency client reporting: How to create actionable client reports more quickly 

5-MINUTE READ | By Milja Nevalainen & Rosanna Campbell

Marketing Analytics

[ Updated Jul 12, 2024 ]

Your top priority as an agency is to win and retain clients. And effective marketing reporting is key to both goals. 

In this guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to set up your client reporting, including:  

How to use reporting to build trust and transparency with clients

Can we be real for a minute? Many agencies neglect reporting—especially if you’re working on multiple brand campaigns (vs. performance marketing, where you’re more incentivized to keep on top of reporting.) 

Even if you’re monitoring campaign performance with a dashboard, you might still overlook proactive reporting—after all, the client can just look at the numbers themselves, right? 

Well, yes—but many of them don’t bother. They forget to look, you forget to report, and that’s a pity because great reports can make all the difference to your client relationships. Detailed, actionable marketing reporting can: 

  • Show clients that you understand their goals and are actively contributing to them 
  • Create opportunities for feedback and improvement 
  • Help clients understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it 
  • Build trust by showing transparency about your activities, what worked, and what didn’t 
  • Establish a sense of shared accountability and collaboration 

💡 Of course, not all clients want reports. If you’re struggling to convince your clients that marketing reporting is key to getting the most out of working with you, take a look at our guide: How to convince your agency clients that they desperately need marketing reporting

Types of marketing reports that your clients expect

Depending on your client, market, and service offering, this will vary, but we’d expect a data-driven marketing agency to be providing, at a minimum: 

Weekly reports

This is how you provide a quick update on the most critical metrics, ongoing campaign performance, and tasks. You can send them an email, or if you have a shared Slack/Teams channel, you can share the recap there. 

If you’re handling the full marketing mix, you can include:

  • Top-level KPIs—like impressions, clicks, conversions, click-through rates
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA) for paid campaigns 
  • Web analytics—weekly traffic numbers, traffic sources, average session duration
  • Social media metrics—reach, engagement rates, post performance
  • Email marketing—open rates, CTRs, list growth 
  • SEO metrics—top keyword rankings, organic search traffic, best-performing pages in organic search
  • Content—most viewed blogs or videos, highest engaging social media posts

Don’t forget to include links to important docs like your dashboards or the media plan.

Campaign performance reports 

Depending on how many campaigns you’re running for a client, you might either want to report on each campaign or just an overall monthly update on all the campaigns. 

Either way, you’d probably want to include: 

  • An overview of what worked and what didn’t, plus insights for future campaigns
  • Campaign performance metrics—impressions, reach, clicks, CTR, conversions
  • Audience insights—behavioral and demographic data
  • Channel performance—breakdown of campaign performance by channel 
  • Creative analysis—top-performing content, engagement metrics
  • Financial metrics—spend, cost per click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA), return on investment (ROI), budget pacing 
  • Comparative analysis—benchmark the campaign against past campaigns and/or competitor campaigns and/or industry benchmarks 

Channel performance reports

This could be a monthly or quarterly report, depending on your client’s needs and preferences. The goal is to help the client make decisions about budget allocation and monitor channel performance. So, your channel report should probably include: 

  • An overview with your insights into which channels are working best and why, and which channels are underperforming and why 
  • A side-by-side comparison of the overall performance of each channel during the reporting period
  • A breakdown of results by each channel (social media, email, SEO, PPC, etc.) – including traffic volume, conversion rate, CPA and/or return on ad spend (ROAS), impressions, clicks, actions, and campaign performance by channel
  • Benchmarking data, at the beginning, you may look at the industry average numbers. However, as you’re running more campaigns, we suggest you use your client’s own data for benchmarking.

Annual marketing report 

For long-term client engagements, you’ll also be expected to provide a detailed annual report. The goal of this report is to help your client make long-term strategic decisions about next year’s budget allocation and marketing strategy. 

We’d recommend you include: 

  • An executive summary—an easily digestible overview of your insights and recommendations for the year ahead
  • A yearly performance summary—an overview of all KPIs and overall ROI 
  • Financial overview—budget allocation, marketing spend, ROI of each marketing campaign, and channel 
  • Strategic insights—changes in customer demographics or behaviors, changes in market positioning and market share, industry trends that impacted the previous year or might impact the following year 
  • Traffic and conversion trends—like year-on-year traffic growth and overall conversion rate trends 
  • Email marketing results—e.g. overall list growth, open rates, and CTR
  • Social media results—total followers, engagement metrics for the year
  • Content marketing results—total leads, total CTR
  • SEO results—such as changes in keyword rankings or domain authority 
  • Recommendations for next year

How to choose KPIs

As an agency, the brief from your client is going to heavily inform your choice of KPIs. Start from their top goals and priorities, and work backward to figure out the KPIs that are going to show progress towards those goals most clearly. 

For instance, if your client wants to drive web traffic, then all your reporting should be oriented around that goal. Each report, whether it’s a channel breakdown or a campaign report, needs to headline web traffic right up top, with your comments and insights on what worked and what didn’t. 

To choose the right KPIs for your client, work through the following steps: 

  1. Understand their business goals— Are they focused on increasing sales, brand awareness, customer retention, or something else?
  2. Choose the right marketing targets to deliver on those goals—For instance, if they want to increase brand awareness, then goals around reach, traffic, and social media engagements might be the most relevant.  
  3. Then either:
    1. Define KPIs for each relevant channel—For instance, if your clients’ top objectives relate to social media reach, your KPIs would relate to reach or video views, for example. OR 
    2. Define KPIs for each stage of the customer journey—For instance, awareness KPIs might be branded search, impressions, or web traffic. OR 
    3. Choose KPIs that are specific to the client’s industry—For instance, an ecommerce store might want to track average order value or conversion rates. 

For more detailed guides to choosing and measuring the right KPIs for each type of client goal, take a look at our resources: 

How to build a client report

Clients don’t need a data dump—they need crisp, actionable insights. To get there: 

Start at the top, then go into detail 

Start with an overview of your findings—specifically, what changed? Where did traffic/engagements/conversions increase? Where did they decrease? What went well? What didn’t? 

Give the top-level numbers first—and bear in mind what the client sees as their top priorities for the project. Why did they hire you in the first place? That’s what they’ll want to see on the first page. 

Couple the data (your top KPIs) with qualitative insights. What stood out for you, as the industry expert? Where should they focus their attention as they read the report? 

Automate client reporting

If you’re collecting data manually from each member of the team, you’re going to struggle to pull together a useful report. To make the report actionable, the client needs to be able to compare results. Which channel performed better? Which creative performed better?

Of course, you could do this manually—but it will quickly become unmanageable as you scale. If you’re copy-pasting data from multiple sources, it will take you hours to put together a single report. Not to mention it becomes dangerously easy to introduce errors into the data, which you’ll then have to spend more time tracking down and fixing. 

Instead, you can use a tool like Supermetrics to automatically integrate your marketing data and pipe it into your favorite reporting platform. No more chasing down colleagues for data, no more manual copy-pasting, and more time to spend on actually pulling out relevant insights to dazzle your clients. 

Essentially, we were doing 360 days a year of manual reporting and we wanted to automate that low-level reporting. With Supermetrics, we saved 240 days a year, which would allow us to increase efficiency and have more time to focus on adding value to our clients.

Simon Barks,  Director of Analytics, McCann Central

Make your reports actionable 

That brings us to the most important point—your reports need to be useful to your clients, which means they need to include your original insights rather than just a description of what happened. 

Your clients are paying you for your expertise; your reporting is the perfect moment to showcase that expertise. To make your reports actionable: 

  • Keep it simple—one channel per page or one KPI per page 
  • Tie each page of the report to an action step—what do you recommend the client does next? 
  • Start with a general overview, then drill into the detail 
  • Add an insight section to each page of the report, flagging up data anomalies, adding recommendations, or putting the data in context with industry benchmarks or comparisons with previous performance
  • Use visualizations to increase the impact of your report, and keep the design simple (no page numbers, watermarks, or company logos on the data slides.) Every visual element creates visual noise, making it more difficult to digest the actual data.

See our deep-dive guide to data visualization for marketers for more tips. 

Tools for automating client reporting

We hope by now we’ve made the case that it’s worth automating your client reporting as much as possible, so you have time to analyze the data and surface useful insights and recommendations. To automate your reports, you’ll need access to your client’s channel data (such as their Google Search Console, Facebook Ads, and so on). 

You’re also going to need: 

Data integration software 

You’ll need to connect that data to your reporting software with a tool that automatically pulls it in and prepares it for analysis and visualization. 

That’s what our platform, Supermetrics, is for. It pulls data from different sources into destinations like Google Sheets, Looker Studio (formerly Data Studio), Excel, or a cloud storage platform like BigQuery and Snowflake.

It does this by connecting to a data source’s API and then pulling the data from that API on demand. You tell us which accounts to use, what data to pull, and where to pull it to. We do the rest.

Explore our connection guides to learn how to connect your data sources to Supermetrics.

Data visualization and BI tools 

You’ll also need a platform to analyze and prepare the data for reports. Here are a few options: 

  • Looker Studio—Google’s free analytics tool. Here’s a guide to Looker Studio for marketers, if you need it. 
  • Power BI—this is suitable for those who want to do advanced data transformation before visualizing data.

Learn more about the best tech stack for agencies in our guide to marketing reporting software. You can also read an in-depth comparison of Looker Studio vs. Power BI for data visualization.

Best practices for marketing agency reporting

Here are a few expert tips for nailing your client reporting, every time: 

  • Have frequent check-ins

Reporting isn’t just about the numbers. It’s your chance to get on the same page as your clients. While most clients aren’t going to want weekly meetings, we’d recommend that you aim to meet with them once a month. 

  • Let them self-serve reporting

Create a dashboard they can access themselves, so they can check in whenever they want. Just remember to also send them a reminder to check the numbers on a regular basis. 

Also, make sure that you send them a shareable copy of the report (in an easily accessible format like a PDF) so they can share the report around themselves.  Include an explanation of the report at the very front and also in each section so stakeholders who weren’t part of the original briefing meeting can still understand what they’re looking at. 

  • Don’t just describe the data 

To be effective, your reports need to contain your original insights. Don’t just tell your clients what happened—explain why you think it happened, share your opinions, and illustrate what that means for their business in the future. 

  • Standardize the reporting process 

Don’t try to handle your client reporting manually (pulling .csv files from each channel, copy-pasting data, tidying it all up, and then repeating the process for every new client.) Instead, use data automation, integrations, and templates to standardize and scale client reporting so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. 

  • Use templates 

Similarly, create a customizable template for your client reports instead of creating a new design each time.  You can find a whole ton of free templates for client reporting in our template gallery. 

Over to you

Done right, client reporting can be your secret weapon—the key to stronger client relationships, close alignment with your client’s goals, and great marketing results. To make it easier on yourselves, aim to: 

  • Automate your data pipeline so you’re not copy-pasting data manually 
  • Use customizable templates to standardize and scale your reporting 
  • Use the time you saved by automating and standardizing to share your unique insights and recommendations
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About the author

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Milja Nevalainen

Milja is a Data Analytics Consultant at Supermetrics. With her in-depth marketing analytics and dashboarding knowledge, she's helping Supermetrics clients build impactful dashboards in Looker Studio and Power BI. Besides, she hosts multiple training sessions and webinars to help our audience learn how to use data to improve their performance. Before Supermetrics, Milja honed her skills in the biggest agencies, for example, GroupM Finland and OMD, where she was involved in strategic online media planning, project management of online ad campaigns, and account management across various markets in Europe and the Middle East. She's proficient in conducting competitive analysis, audience segmentation, and campaign evaluation using analytical tools such as Netbase, Tubular, TGI, GWI, and Brandindex.

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Rosanna Campbell

Rosanna is a Freelance Content Writer who writes non-boring content for B2B SaaS clients like Lattice, Dock, and monday.com. She lives in Spain with her husband, her son, and a beagle who eats her furniture.

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