Is Your Marketing Agency Blinding You With Analytical Reports?

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...

Martin Woods By Martin Woods from Join the discussion » 0 comments

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!

Martin Woods

Written by Martin Woods

SEO Consultant,

Specialising in search, Martin has worked as an SEO Consultant at some of the biggest SEO agencies in the UK, helping big brands achieve success online through sustainable organic search. He has a passion for helping in people in difficulty suffering from Google penalties, and has removed over 130 Google manual actions for link spam to date. When he isn't glued to his smart phone, he enjoys traveling, music and cats.

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