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How to make reporting more valuable

Reporting can feel like a bit of a drag. Pulling dozens of different data streams together is time consuming, and then you have to get all that data into a consistent and readable format, only to send it off and have no idea if anyone’s reading it. Don’t worry, we understand – our podcast was actually born from that very feeling (find out more here!). 

But, reporting can still be valuable if it’s approached correctly. We’ve pulled together some top tips to help make reporting easier, more productive, and fun! Ok, maybe not fun, but certainly less ‘not fun’. 

Be intentional with your data choices

There is a lot of power in monitoring tools, and they can give you stats for pretty much everything – but do you or your customer actually need it all? Paralysis by analysis is a real thing, and you can spend all your time pouring over stats that aren’t directly actionable or informative. Effective reporting is about giving timely, necessary information to help assess what impact previous decisions made, and what changes need to be made going forward. 

Think also about the audience for your reports. You might be generating reports for a number of different departments, and they’re unlikely to all need exactly the same information. Increase the likelihood that people will actually read your report by only including the relevant information to their workflows. 


If you take onboard the above advice around tailoring your reports to specific audiences, you might be thinking, ‘this was meant to be making reporting less tedious, now you’re telling me to do more?’. Valid criticism, but have you factored automation into your assessment. 

Automatic dashboards are exceptionally powerful tools that take a lot of the effort out of reporting. It requires a bit of up-front investment to get the dashboard created and the data sources all pulled through, but once that’s done you are able to generate reports with just a few clicks. Work smarter, not harder. 

Make your expertise the added-value

Numbers are great, but they’re not the whole story. Having set up your automated dashboards, you have freed up valuable time you can then reinvest in providing contextual analysis to the reports – supporting your team and customers to make better informed decisions. Look for the trends that might go unnoticed, or see if there are tweaks to the marketing strategy that you can recommend based on your past experience. This is your domain, feel empowered to make that known. 

Don’t use data to obfuscate

It is all too easy to find a stat that shows x% change, or presents really impressive – but meaningless – growth. Unless it’s directly related to your bottom line, why does it matter if, for instance, you’ve seen a 43% increase in visitors to your website from people in Birmingham, or Italy. It sounds impressive, but it’s doing nothing for your business, and as a result is just obfuscating the more important fact that your core target audience isn’t seeing your product. 

Know the limitations

Done well, reports can be an excellent indicator of your relative performance as a company. As we’ve said, they can pull in any metric you might possibly want – and more. Coupled with your own industry expertise, they are a valuable resource to evaluate prior decision making and inform future strategy – but they aren’t infallible. 

Bad data in will result in bad data out, and in a more privacy-centric environment, it is now harder technically and legally to gather unending reams of data about users. Google Analytics 4 was created in response to that change, but it’s still not perfect. The slow death of tracking cookies, and the baked-in privacy protection features modern operating systems and browsers have, means there is a bit of a question mark over how accurate any data is.

These kinds of reports also fail to take into account offline marketing efforts, so only provide you with part of the wider picture, and typically completely ignore qualitative data – something that we strongly encourage you to consider when evaluating marketing performance. 

This doesn’t invalidate reporting, after all any information is better than operating blind, but always be cognisant of its limitations, and don’t be afraid to interrogate the data to see if it correlates with real-world observations. 

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