Jun 19, 2024

How to scale and standardize your client reporting

10-MINUTE READ | By Kathy Murillo & Rosanna Campbell

Marketing AnalyticsMarketing measurement

[ Updated Jun 20, 2024 ]

Many agencies still handle client reporting manually—pulling .csv files from each channel, copy-pasting data, and trying to make it look pretty or at least comprehensible…. And then repeat it for every new client. 

That might be doable when you’re starting out, but what about when you’re scaling up? Your team will be wasting time on reporting and have less time to do the job you were hired to do. 

So, this article will explain how to get out of reporting chaos. We’ll look at:

Why is standardized and scalable reporting important for agencies?

Data-driven marketing agencies are expected to provide a lot of client reports. That’s why you need to find a way to scale and standardize the whole process. It’ll help you: 

  • Save your team hours of tedious manual grunt work every week so you can spend more time on more meaningful tasks 
  • Improve your reporting efficiency so you can brief your clients and showcase your results consistently on a comfortable weekly, monthly, and quarterly cadence
  • Ensure your reports are sufficiently comprehensive and cover all the KPIs and metrics your clients need to know about 
  • Increase your reporting accuracy and allow you to produce reports that are actionable and useful, not just data dumps

Since we have such a big media budget, we end up with a huge amount of data. Manually pulling this into a spreadsheet was a huge pain, and it took our 3-person team an hour and a half each morning. And that was on a good day when there weren’t any issues.

Alexandre Piron, Digital Media Specialist, Accenture Interactive

How to develop a standardized reporting framework for your marketing agency

When you start to scale your client reporting, you’ll need two things: 

  1. Ready-made report templates, so you aren’t reinventing the wheel for every new client. 
  2. Automation that pulls the data from the various marketing channels into your reports, so you aren’t stuck doing it all by hand.

But to ensure every report you create is meaningful and actionable, you’ll need to follow a good framework.

1. Select typical client goals and reporting cadence

Don’t fall into the trap of reporting for reporting’s sake—instead, outline your objectives. Chances are, your clients come to you for a narrow range of reasons. Perhaps they want to increase web sales, cut marketing spend, or increase average customer value (ACV). List out the most common client goals. 

If you work with diverse clients, you can create a separate list of goals for each of your main buyer personas. 

Next, choose how often reports will be generated. Typically, we see agencies aiming for monthly and quarterly reporting. If you need to report more often than that, you can create a self-service dashboard for your clients instead. Your clients can then access it at any time—and you can send them automated emails to remind them to check it. For example, if you’re using Supermetrics, here’s a guide on how to create and manage scheduled refreshes.

2. Select relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 

For each goal, identify some quantitative metrics that will help you show clients your progress toward those goals. Depending on your clients’s preferences, as well as the focus and strengths of your agency, these might be: 

  • Strategic KPIs—like revenue or return on spend (ROAS) 
  • Operational KPIs—like leads or pipeline
  • Tactical KPIs—like web traffic, web conversion rate, or cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Optimization KPIs—like bounce rate, time on page, or click-through rate (CTR) 

Tip: The types of marketing decisions and KPIs will affect the tools you use for reporting. For example, if your client wants to look at historical benchmarking data to guide their strategy, you’ll need a marketing data warehouse to store that huge amount of data.

3. Select tools for creating standardized reports for multiple clients

If you want to be able to scale up your reporting to handle the needs of a growing number of clients, you’re going to need some software to help you out. You’ll likely need a tech stack that includes: 

  • A marketing data platform like Supermetrics helps you collect, transform, and manage data from different sources.
  • A spreadsheet tool like Google Sheets or Excel is good for ad-hoc analysis and campaign optimization.
  • Marketing visualization and BI tools, like Looker Studio, Power BI, or Tableau, are great for presenting client-facing reports.
  • For better performance and more use cases, a data warehouse like Google BigQuery, Snowflake, or Azure Synapse. It’s a more scalable solution to speed up reporting and provide more advanced analytics for your clients. If your team has the technical expertise in-house, then setting up a marketing data warehouse is the best next step. But, if you don’t have one, you can still get started with data warehousing through Supermetrics Storage.

4. Create your report templates

You’re now ready to build your templates. Here are a few quick tips: 

  • Tailor your reports around your clients’ usual key objectives—those top-level metrics should be front-page. 
  • Include an executive summary with information about progress towards goals, wins, losses, opportunities, challenges, and next steps. (You can automate this with Supermetric’s generative AI feature in Google Sheets and Excel
  • Provide high-level numbers first before you go into more detail in other tabs. 
  • Add graphs and charts to increase the impact of your reports, break up the raw data, and make them easier to understand.

Here’s a real-world example. Our customer, Webprofits, is an Australian digital growth consultancy with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, and Los Angeles. The team at Webprofits uses Supermetrics to build automated and customized reports for their clients in Google Sheets and Looker Studio.

Then, they integrate Google Sheets with Google Slides to pull graphs and charts into reporting decks for each client. From that point, it’s easier for them to customize the reports based on their needs. Some examples include:

  • State location breakdown report
  • Funnel breakdown report
  • Ecommerce report
  • SEO report
An example of funnel breakdown report in Google Sheets

Read the Webprofits case study.

If you use a Supermetrics for Google Sheets dashboard like the one Webprofits used (shown in the image above), you can re-use it with other clients with our template feature. To start, create a new Google Sheets file, then go to Extensions-> Launch Supermetrics. Once the Supermetrics sidebar launches, click Custom Template.

Supermetrics sidebar in Google Sheets displaying how to create custom template

Follow the instructions to paste the link of the original template and connect to your client account. Your new file will populate with your template and client’s data just with a few clicks. 

If you’re looking for inspiration, feel free to browse the templates in our gallery.

  1. Establish a process for customization 

While the framework remains standardized, you’ll want to decide when to customize your reports to address specific client needs and preferences. For instance: 

  • Include a section for client-specific KPIs and goals.
  • Decide if you’ll use your own branding or the client’s branding. Generally, having your color scheme and logo is a great way to gain visibility for your agency, especially if the reports are shared across the client’s organization. However, if your client has a specific request, it’s better to follow that.
  • Provide context to how your marketing efforts directly impact the client’s business objectives.

Trouble-shooting standardized client reporting

When you first start to standardize your client reports, you may run into a few headaches along the way. 

Problem #1: You’re not sure what to include in each client report

It’s all well and good saying that templates are a good idea—but what if you aren’t really sure what should go in those templates? Perhaps you’re used to your clients leading the discussion on the metrics they want to see. Or perhaps your clients aren’t very data-savvy and get confused by complex reports. 

Either situation can end up with your team creating a totally new and different report for each client—a massive time suck and probably unnecessary. 

Solution:  Create a set of standardized templates

We’ve got dozens of free, done-for-you reporting templates in our marketing report template gallery.

Or, if you’d like to build your own templates from scratch, check out our ultimate guide to marketing reporting. It will give you a clear understanding of how to prepare your reports so they’re meaningful, actionable, and consistent. 

Of course, not all clients will need the same set of metrics, but having a stack of templates that you can quickly modify will save you hours. 

If you have two (or more) very different client profiles, it’s best to create two separate sets of templates. For instance, if you work with ecommerce businesses and B2B brands, you can have one set that reflects on-site purchasing metrics (average order value and cart-to-purchase rates, for instance) and another set that focuses exclusively on performance marketing results (e.g., leads generated). But you shouldn’t need to start from scratch every time. 

Problem #2 : Populating your reports manually takes too long

Maybe the problem isn’t that you don’t have templates but that adding the data from all your clients’ different channels (and then spotting and fixing the errors introduced when you copy-pasted) is taking too long

Solution: Use an automated data pipeline

If that’s the case, you’ll need to automate your marketing data pipeline, so the data is prepared and loaded from your clients’ various channels into your report automatically. 

That’s where a tool like Supermetrics can help. It connects with your marketing data channels, so you can automatically pull the data from your sources to your reporting tool.

When your data is this big, client reporting by copy-pasting becomes seriously tricky

Problem 3: Updating each template takes ages

So, you’ve got your template stack, and you’ve got your automated data pipeline. The problem you’re still left with is keeping things up to date. Let’s say you built a beautiful campaign report template. Then, you customized it for Client A, saved the new version, and repeated that process for Clients B through N. 

But now you’ve decided to add a new field—and suddenly, you’re looking at diving back into each customized reporting template to add it to each one. 

Sounds pretty time-consuming and tedious, right? 

Solution: Create a single template and use row-level security 

Our advice would be to use a single template. Don’t save each new version as a separate file. Instead, use security settings so your clients see a different version of the template. (See the next section for a quick tutorial on how to do that with Looker Studio and Google Sheets. ) 

How to use row-level security to centralize agency reports, using Looker Studio and Google Sheets

In this example, we will apply row level security to data from Google Analytics 4. Let’s start by creating a Google Sheets file. In one column, add the ‘Property ID’ or ‘Account ID’ for each client. Add the email addresses that can have access to the report for that ‘Property ID’. You’ll need to repeat the ‘Property ID’ for each related email address. For instance, here, Sussy and Pekka have access to the same ‘Property ID’:

Creating a property ID for each related email in Google Sheets for row-level security

In the Looker Studio’s connector gallery, search for ‘Google Sheets’ to connect this spreadsheet to your dashboard.

Once you see the Google Sheets data in Looker Studio. Click ‘Blend data’. Click ‘Join another table’. Add a second data source — the information you want to show in the report. If you’re using Supermetrics, you can select several client accounts in one data source—so the data from all your clients will be fetched with the same connection. If you aren’t using Supermetrics, make sure the table you’re using contains data from all your clients. 

For example, we’ll query website data from the Google Analytics 4 connector by Supermetrics.

Make sure that the Google Sheets data source is the leftmost table, then click ‘Configure join’. Select ‘Left outer join’ and use the ‘Property ID’ as a join condition (this could be an ‘Account ID’ in other marketing platforms). Click ‘Save’ and finalize the blend.

Go to edit the Google Sheets data source, and click ‘Filter by email’.

filter by email within the data blending feature in Looker Studio

Select the ‘Email’ dimension. Now, when using the blended data source, the user can only see data they’re allowed to, based on the email address they use to log in to the report. 

In other words, when you use this template to make a report, each client will get a report with the information that relates to their data only, and not see anyone else’s data. Note that the user will be asked to grant Google access when using this feature, so they will only be able to see data when they’ve accepted those permissions.  To check you set this up right, put the data from the data source (in this case GA4) together with the result of the blend to make sure the numbers are correct.

A report with the information that relates to their data only, and not see anyone else’s data.

Once you confirm everything went well with the blend, you can add the other dimensions you need to the blend example while keeping the join condition the same.

Now, use the blended data source to create your report and share the report with your clients. Anytime you want to add a new client, add them to the Google Sheets and update the connection to include their data. They will only see their own data, and you will be able to keep this dashboard updated for all your clients at once. 

A word of caution: the more data you pull into a single template using direct connections to Looker Studio (ie. Supermetrics for Looker Studio), the more the report may slow down. It’s best to use this feature on simpler high-level templates and test how many accounts you can include without compromising performance. Be careful when using this feature with clients that run many campaigns. To avoid running into issues, connect Looker Studio to your data warehouse and use a pipeline tool to get your data there. 

For example, you can use Supermetrics to bring your client data to BigQuery, connect the Google Sheets file with the client’s account list to BigQuery as well, and then join those 2 tables there using SQL with the same logic we used in the previous example. This will produce the same result, allowing you to use the Row Level Security feature in Looker Studio without compromising on speed. For more information about row-level security for multiple emails, see Google’s support documentation: Filter by multiple email addresses per row.

Over to you 

If you’re ready to scale up your reporting efforts for your agency clients, you’ll need: 

  • A standardized reporting framework
  • Customizable, visually appealing templates
  • An automated data pipeline to populate your reports with clean, accurate data
How Webprofits standardized and scaled client reporting
We talked to Ben Fitzpatrick, Head of Strategy at Webprofits, to learn their tips for creating highly customized reports for each client using Supermetrics.
Read more

About the author

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Kathy Murillo

Kathy is a Marketing Analyst Consultant at Supermetrics. She’s helping thousands of Supermetrics customers get a unified view from multiple marketing data sources. She's specialized in building data warehouses and dashboards. Additionally, Kathy contributes to multiple articles about marketing analytics, measurement, and tools on the Supermetrics blog. She recently participated as a panelist in a LinkedIn-sponsored event about marketing measurement.

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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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