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Client Reporting: How to Demonstrate the Value of Your Agency’s Services

client reporting

After you’ve signed a new agency client to your marketing agency and have all the necessary information to start working on their campaigns, it’s common that the majority of your communication will come through periodic a periodic analytics report.

The frequency and format of your reports may vary from client to client, but there’s no question that client reporting is one of the best ways to demonstrate the value of your services. It can also be one of the most marketing reporting tools your agency will use. A good client report allows you to clearly highlight all the work you’ve been doing behind the scenes, the results you’ve achieved, and your plans going forward.

Client reports are not only crucial in retaining clients over the long run, but they also give you an opportunity to present new opportunities to existing clients and potentially upsell them on additional services.

While custom client reporting is an essential part of running a successful marketing agency, there are also several common pitfalls that you want to avoid.

In this guide, we’re going to break down exactly what to prepare, what to avoid, and what to include in each client report.

The guide is organized as follows:

Why Client Reporting is Essential for Reducing Churn

We mentioned that reporting is critical to demonstrate the value of your services to clients and reduce churn. Let’s look at the underlying reasons for this in more detail.

A Framework for Regular Interaction

The first reason client reporting is so important is that it provides a framework for regular interaction and client communication. If you’ve ever purchased a service before and then had radio silence from the service provider, you know that even if they are working hard for you, it doesn’t always feel that way. By clearly establishing a periodic reporting timeframe, for example, sending reports monthly or bi-monthly, you can avoid these awkward client-agency misunderstandings altogether.

Reporting is Your Chance to Educate the Client

As we’ll discuss below, many clients that you’ll encounter are not tech-savvy marketers, which is why they came to you in the first place. While the client is likely not looking for a marketing lesson from you on a day-to-day basis, your client report is the perfect place to educate them on the work you've been doing and the results they've achieved.

Client Reporting Keeps Both Parties Accountable

Another key reason custom client reporting is so important is that it keeps you and your client accountable. As you probably know, oftentimes, it is not just the agency who will work on the marketing campaigns-- you'll usually need some input from the client, too. With each client report, you can clearly lay out what you need from the client for the next reporting period..

Client Reports Present an Upselling Opportunity

Of course, this isn't always the case, but when it makes sense, client reports are a great place to present new opportunities to your existing clients. It could mean showing them where their competitors are ranking in organic search, resulting in an upsell for SEO services, or any other number of marketing services. In the same vein as educating your client, a client report is a perfect place to highlight the costs and potential benefits of pursuing additional marketing strategies.

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How to Prepare for Client Reporting

Before you start building out a client report, it’s best to have a preparatory process in place. While the details of each client will change, it’s generally recommended to make this a standard operating procedure so that it's repeatable and scalable.

The preparatory client reporting steps that we’ll cover include:

  • Client onboarding questionnaire

  • Identify the KPIs and metrics that matter

  • Choose between dashboard or periodic reporting

  • Determine your reporting frequency

  • Client Onboarding Questionnaire

As discussed in our 6-Step Onboarding Checklist guide, a client onboarding questionnaire is not only a great way to gain a better understanding of your client and their goals, but it’s also a helpful way to know exactly what to include in your reports.

If you want to see a copmlete list of questions to ask to improve your client relationships, check out this list of 90 questions from HubSpot, but here are a few that most agencies will benefit from:

  • What are your monthly marketing goals? It is an obvious first question, but it helps you understand the client's previous marketing performance and goals.

  • What values and beliefs define your brand? An example of a question that helps you understand your client’s business strategy.

  • Who is your target audience? Do you have a buyer persona for each target customer group? This type of question allows you to understand the brand's audience and industry better.

  • What made you want to hire our agency? This question allows you to understand their motivation and goals for making a change in their business.

Of course, these are just a few questions to ask your clients, and you’ll probably want to ask more, but spending the time to do this can make your custom client reporting and marketing efforts much more efficient and effective.

Identify KPIs & Metrics

Next, before you start any type of marketing campaign, it’s important to know precisely how you’re going to define the success of your performance. Before we continue, here’s an excerpt from our article on the difference between a KPI and a metric:

A business metric is a category of quantifiable data relevant to the organization’s standard business processes. One key difference between a KPI and a metric is that metrics don’t need to be tied directly to a strategic objective. On the other hand, a KPI is a performance metric that is directly related to business objectives. This could be revenue growth, user acquisition, and so on, but the key point is that the KPI is tied to a specific goal.

Of course, the KPIs and metrics you use to measure your marketing efforts will change based on the type of campaign you’re running (i.e., SEO, PPC, email, etc.), but regardless it’s crucial to have these in place before you create a client report. Often, you’ll be able to identify the KPIs and metrics that matter to your clients in the previous step of interviewing the client.

Dashboards vs. Periodic Reporting

The next step in preparing for client reporting is to determine if you want to use a live dashboard or send periodic reports. If you choose to go with a dashboard, the client will have 24/7 access to the marketing data you choose to show them.

Read More: 15 Marketing Dashboards To Help Your Marketing Agency Scale

On the other hand, if you decide to send periodic reports, the client will receive a PDF report covering the reporting period.

If you want to get a better idea of what each type of report would look like to your client, look at our dashboard templates and our report templates.

dashboard templates

Determine Your Reporting Frequency

Finally, it's vital that both you and the client know exactly how often you will be sending reports. Even if you use automated reporting software to automate your reports, you'll want to allocate some time each reporting period to provide personalized insights and commentary with each report.

If you choose to send a static report to clients, you can easily provide additional commentary in the Report Summary section at the beginning of the report. On the other hand, if you choose to use dashboard reporting, you can simply add a text widget to add your comments, as shown below:

marketing report

What to Avoid in Your Client Reports

Now that we’ve discussed why reporting is so important and how to prepare for it, let’s discuss a few things to avoid in your client reports.

Avoid Creating Overly Technical Reports

The reality is that many of the clients you’ll encounter don’t necessarily care about the technical details of a marketing campaign. For example, if you’re running an SEO campaign for a client, it may not be wise to use overly technical jargon such as redirects or canonical tags, even if these things are second nature to you.

Instead, the majority of clients want a simple and intuitive report that covers the basics. After that, you can add more information to the report on a case-by-case basis, depending on each individual client’s goals and level of technical expertise.

Aside from a report summary, another useful technique to simplify marketing performance into an easy-to-understand format is with data visualization. As you can see below, with a few widgets you can easily communicate a lot of information in a way that anyone can understand:

web analytics

Avoid Making Reports Too Long

Along the same lines as creating reports that are too technical, making your reports too long is another common mistake to avoid.

Since you're using automated reporting software, you may think that you should include every metric and KPI possible since it doesn't require much more effort from you. Instead, the report should be clear and concise and highlight the overall achievements.

This is again where a Report Summary comes in handy. The purpose of your client report isn’t necessarily to show your client everything that happened; instead, you want to summarize what you’ve been working on, the results you’ve achieved, and how you’re progressing towards helping the client reach their goals.

Not Automating the Report Generation Process

As discussed in our Automated Reporting guide, the labor costs associated with manually tracking data and generating reports each month adds up quickly.

Since you’re likely dealing with multiple data sources and marketing channels, regardless of the type of campaign you’re running, this is where using reporting software to automatically track data on a daily basis means you can focus on higher-value, revenue-generating activities.

Instead, the report generation process should be a front-end loaded activity where you set everything up for each client initially and then use reporting software to replicate the process. As mentioned earlier, however, you don’t want to 100% automate each report, and instead should always take the time to personalize each one. This process of providing your own insights and commentary doesn’t take too much time on your end and goes a long way in terms of adding value and simplifying your client's lives.

What to Include in Each Client Report: Reviewing a Real-World Example

Now that we know what to avoid in your custom client reporting process, let’s review a few of the key pieces to include in each client report. While the details of each report will change based on the type of marketing activity you’re doing, the overall concepts will largely remain the same.

To get a better idea of what to include in each client report, let’s look at what’s included in our digital marketing report template. This type of report is an excellent template to review as it covers a variety of marketing activities, including web traffic, conversions, SEO ranking, and paid advertising performance. In particular, the seven sections that we’ve included in our digital marketing report include:

1. Monthly Summary

We’ve mentioned this several times so far, but it is likely the most crucial part of the entire report. Since the client may not be very technical in marketing, this is your chance to write out your analysis of the past month’s performance in plain English. Also, since the report includes data from several different sources, it’s important to provide an overview of the overall changes associated with each platform. As you can see below, the main sections of the report summary include a brief overview, the work done this month, a recap of the target KPIs.

digital marketing report

2. Google Analytics - All Channels

The next section in the digital marketing report template tracks how many people are visiting your client's website due to your marketing efforts. Again, this is a great place to highlight precisely what actions are currently working well and which may need additional effort next month.

In this section, you want to include the total number of visitors to the website and then break down each channel's traffic, including social media, organic search, email, and so on. This is also a useful section to highlight more detailed metrics such as bounce rate, average session duration, etc., which may indicate that your marketing efforts are improving the website's user experience.

marketing reporting tools

3. Google Analytics - Goals

The following section in this template is the number of conversions completed on the website, as this is one of the most important KPIs for clients. As you probably know, a "conversion" will often be different for each client, although, at this point, you've likely already identified what that means to each client and have them set up as "Goals" in Google Analytics.

In addition to the total conversions, this section gives you a few more detailed metrics such as conversion rate, goal value (if applicable), and conversion metrics for each individual conversion type.

marketing reporting tools

4. SEO Rankings

If you're running a more broad digital marketing campaign for your client, you've likely included SEO in the service offering. Tracking changes in a website's SEO rankings is a crucial part of demonstrating the campaign's progress. In this section, the report displays metrics such as the overall rank changes for each day of the month and the actual rank of the client's website. Aside from demonstrating the progress of your SEO efforts to clients, this section is a great way to internally identify which areas of the campaign need more focus to achieve the target performance.

seo analytics

5. Social Media Overview

The Social Media Overview section allows you to aggregate data from multiple platforms into a single section. It gives your client an overall perspective of the engagement on each platform and how it's changing over time. Engagement breaks down into total followers and total post engagement. In this section, you can also track the feeds of each social media platform so that you can show your clients what you've been posting for them each month.

social media analytics

6. PPC Overview

If you're running paid ads for your clients, there's no question they're going to want to know exactly how the budget was spent and the results it achieved. When it comes to PPC reporting, the metrics you can include here are entirely customizable, although a few standard metrics include total ad costs, cost-per-click, conversions, impressions, and more. This section also allows you to track your paid ads across multiple platforms, so it is a great way to demonstrate the overall Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) on your PPC budget.

ppc dashboard

7. Email Overview

Finally, although it can often get overlooked for newer forms of digital marketing, email remains an essential part of many businesses' marketing stacks. For example, if you're sending emails to your clients, you want to know precisely how many people are opening them and how effectively they drive conversions. It includes tracking key email metrics like open rate, click-through rate, and the change in email subscribers throughout the month.

email analytics

While we just covered the sections that we've included in our digital marketing report template, keep in mind that you can easily add new widgets to your report with our drag and drop editor if you want to customize any of this.

social media dashboard

Summary: Client Reporting for Marketing Agencies

Client reporting is one of the essential parts of running a successful marketing agency. From SEO reporting, to their email marketing and call tracking metrics, digital agencies need to gather metrics from various marketing platforms to puts together all their clients' metrics into one intuitive, understandable format.

After you’ve signed a new client and put them through your onboarding process, client reporting is the best framework to regularly communicate the value of your services and set your pricing right. Aside from highlighting your achievements each reporting period, good client reporting software is valuable to save time, educate, and potentially upsell your clients on additional services.

Before you start creating a client report, it’s vital to have a standard operating procedure that you can follow with each new client so that reporting becomes a repeatable and scalable process.

Also, before you start each report, remember that your clients hired you to simplify their lives, so creating overly technical reports that are 50 pages long should generally be avoided.

When you’re finally ready to start creating your custom reports, using an automated reporting platform offers several advantages, including the ability to track data across multiple platforms in real-time and present that data in the most professional and efficient way possible.

Written by

Peter Foy

Peter Foy is a content marketer with a focus on SaaS companies. Based in Toronto, when he’s not writing he’s usually studying data science and machine learning.

Read more posts by Peter Foy ›

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