The vast majority of companies use a marketing agency to either complement, or supplement, their in-house marketing activities to fill knowledge or resource gaps. There are many positives (and negatives) for using a marketing agency, but one of the biggest problems can be understanding and interpreting technical or analytical reports.
Who is reading these analytical reports? A specialist in any field, someone who works in it day in and day out, can easily forget that:
- Not everyone knows the industry terminology.
- Everyone’s knowledge level is different.
- Someone may need further knowledge in a complementary field to supplement conclusions.
Ask Your Agency Questions
This might sound obvious, but over the years I’ve been in many situations when I have presumed that clients and other stakeholders have understood something, but in fact they have been afraid to ask questions. This is common when multiple people are involved. It’s human nature to not acknowledge that you don’t understand something.
I always try to wrap up a meeting, or call with, “Do you have any questions, would you like me to explain anything?”
However, more often than not, the answer is no. I find this odd because, were the shoe on the other foot, even if I did understand, I would still have questions.
Consultants, whether SEO, PPC, analytics, or CRO, want to answer your questions. We work in a services industry, and if we aren’t providing you with the best service/advice (which includes answering your questions), then we aren’t doing our job properly!
Do You Receive Reports That You Don’t Read?
While working in a large agency environment, I produced reports that I knew that no one would probably ever read. I’m not alone. Many other consultants have shared similar stories – my favorite being one consultant who, at the end of a report, stated in big red letters: “If you actually read these reports I write I’ll buy you a steak dinner!”
Obviously this is highly unprofessional, but in this case he was right. No one even noticed it.
I’ve been in a position where I knew the recipient of the report didn’t have the time to read and take in the content of a report. I’d much rather add value to a project than waste my time.
It’s essential to have a top line in any report that can be read and digested within a short space of time. Probably about the same amount of time as it takes to open an email, scan read it, and move on to the next one (sadly).
Reports Should Be Easy To Access
With any PDF, Excel, or other data report I (and many agencies) always send them from a PMS (Project Management System) so that they are easy to find later if required. Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems with this is that attachments often aren’t included with the email. This makes the point of access to the report harder for the recipient.
There are many ways to download the report without logging into the PMS, but any download that doesn’t require a login isn’t secure. If you’re comfortable with using a PMS and don’t mind have an app on your phone/computer to keep you logged in I would strongly recommend using this method for delivery of report. Failing that, ask your agency to always deliver reports by email to make it easier for you – after all you’re the boss!
Items Your Marketing Agency Should Include With Reports
Your marketing agency should:
- Include a glossary for industry terminology.
- Suggest relevant links to other content for further explanation around a subject.
- Provide a layman’s summary for each section.
- Provide an executive summary at the top of each report with the most important metrics and conclusions.
- Provide a concise list of actionable items under the executive summary, both completed and to complete.
- Deliver reports in a way that encourages discussion to clarify points. A project management tool is an excellent way to keep it organized.
- Try to organize a scheduled reoccurring meeting, or call to discuss the top line insights.
Analytical reports should add insight to your business and help you make further strategic decisions by explaining:
- The work that the agency has carried out.
- The affect it has had on your business.
- The difference it has made to your bottom line.
And when in doubt, ask questions!