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Custom Report Requests Can Be Time Eaters

Marketing managers like you have the opportunity to be surrounded by so many metrics from a range of platforms. The use of these metrics should aim to gain insights that can drive positive action.

However, let us stop and think about the requirements and benefits a custom report is going to provide before the next request to your team or external consultant is made to spend valuable time and money pulling custom data from a marketing platform.

As the name suggests a custom report is bespoke, one-off and often a unique report needed only once to show insight. Even with the snazziest of automated systems and APIs, there will still be a cost and time to create the report. Could this time have been spent more productively taking action on campaigns or strategic thinking as to where our marketing efforts should be placed in the future?

Here are some simple checks marketing leaders and requesters of marketing metrics can test against to ensure that time is not being eaten up and wasted on the requests for a bespoke report of little value.

What is the report to be used for?

A report to give a quick summary of something is very different from a report that is going to
end up on a slide-deck to the board of directors. Clearly communicating the reports target audience and requirements are essential to the person tasked with the job. It can define how accurate the data needs to be, how it should be presented and also offer opportunities to suggest alternatives that might better suit the target stakeholder.

What do you want to learn?

Be clear here it can sometimes help to pose this as a question or to have a statement you’d
like to test, for example:- “Are our European Google Ads search campaigns performing better than North America on cost per Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) this quarter?” Notice it also helps to be specific if you’d just asked if it’s performing better, what does that mean, better on what metrics? What time frame? Ambiguity can lead to the person creating a report that is not fit for purpose leading to rounds of time-consuming communication and amendments to get the detail needed or going off and generating additional metrics that are not needed.

Do we have the metrics already?

Is the data we need already held within a report we have. Maybe the request is to have the
data presented in a certain way or with segments. But could you get the answer you need via an existing report or very close to the answer we need to move things forward? Could the use of filters or pivoting the data provide the needed insights?

What’s the potential value of the insight?

The exception to the rule:- sometimes additional insights that did not initially appear to be of value can lead to great savings or opportunities. However, these should be balanced out with the opportunity versus the cost of the time eaten up creating the report. Having people with experience is a key factor in knowing the likely level of detail required.
Take a Facebook campaign spending thousands of pounds a week, if an insight that a particular targeting or ad copy does not effectively drive results and could save tens of thousands of pounds over a year, the half a day creating the report would yield a good return for the time taken to create.

To the creators of the reports, be ready to push back when needed, ask the right questions to help produce a report that does not take an excessive amount of time to produce only to find out it’s not going to provide the required information.

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