min read

Client Reporting Best Practices

September 27, 2021
November 22, 2021

Imagine spending an entire quarter executing an account's media strategy, delivering a spreadsheet with all the data they could ever imagine, only to learn your client 'never saw a return on investment.' Is this a familiar scenario at your agency? It's not that the return wasn't there; it was buried in the data. As the common phrase, "less is more," client reporting is important, but high-quality data storytelling is essential. 

In this guide, we will walk you through the best practices for building a better client reporting experience. Our goal is to help you prove not only the ROI of your advertising but also the value of your agency’s time and effort. 

Before building your report, there are a few key components you'll want to consider:

  • Your report recipients and their appetite for data
  • The overall story you are looking to convey
  • How you’ll deliver the report 
  • Key takeaways and next steps

Once you have an idea of who your recipients are, what their expectations are, and how your data is going to be conveyed, it's time to build your report. Now, let's talk about best practices.

Data Storytelling vs. Data Deluge

A spreadsheet filled with rows and rows of data, unique naming conventions, metrics, and cost might make sense to you if you're the person who was intimately involved in the campaign. But what does it tell your client? Our guess is it's teetering between 'not much' and 'too much.' 

Consider the planning and creative problem-solving you've put into your campaign strategy and all the optimizations implemented throughout the campaign. You'll want to convey all of these details in… well, story form. Guide your client through the journey. That's why we recommend Data Storytelling vs. Data Deluge. 

And, we recommend mapping out the story you want to tell first and foremost. Once you’ve considered how to tell a story with data and analytics, you’ll be well on your way to share meaningful results, discoveries, and what drove ROI with your clients. By providing clarity of results backed by data, you'll be in a position to definitively prove why they should not only continue doing business with you but the potential of how they can grow their business with you as well.  

Structure, Structure, Structure

There are three essential components to producing a high-quality report: The executive summary, the strategic and tactical deep dive, and next steps and recommendations. 

First things first: we mean it when we say nailing your executive summary is key. Think of it as the first impression of the results and story you're about to share. The executive summary is where you will tout aggregate KPIs across channels, overall spend, and ROI. Set the stage for what comes next, and make it enticing. 

The second, the more strategic layer of this structure is where you dive deeper into the campaigns and tactics that contributed to the already mentioned KPIs. Note: relating to our consideration #1, understanding your audience's appetite for data will help you decide at what levels of granularity you need to deliver. This may be where you share and compare which ads, keywords, or audiences are performing and which are not. 

And finally, conclude your report with recommendations and next steps and how you plan to create more success for your client moving forward.

*Pro-tip: Pull your actual ad creatives into the report via NinjaCat! By incorporating ad creatives, you're able to help your client better visualize the campaign while you convey the strategy and the resulting impact.  

Clear Metrics Are Key

Now that you understand the value of your report's positioning and necessary components, it's important to build your story upon a robust foundation: clear data and consistent metrics. 

Like any well-told story, consistency is key. And in data storytelling, consistent metrics will help you tell a more cohesive data story. By incorporating the same metrics throughout your report, you'll not only be able to analyze independent channels but compare them against other tactics. Blended data across multiple channels can provide valuable insights for attribution and where to allocate future budgets moving forward.

*Pro-tip: It's always best practice to work off a consistent naming convention structure when trafficking your advertising. This will allow you to group and categorize your data appropriately as you merge multiple data sources. Need to merge multiple campaign names into one line item? We can do that too! By simply adding a filter in the NinjaCat platform, you can customize any combination of datasets as you see fit.

Visualizations (are worth a thousand words)

Graphs are your best friend! This one should be pretty clear at this point, but for the sake of driving it home, we recommend utilizing graphs instead of tables whenever possible -especially in your Executive Summary. Tables have their place and value, and don't get us wrong; we fully support tables - primarily when slicing data and diving deep into analysis. But for the sake of effective client reporting, graphs and charts tend to tell a stronger story in a much simpler manner. 

Use colors and graphics to draw in your audience and visually guide them through your data story. Curated, bold graphs offer both quick (or 'snackable' as we like to say) insights throughout the report and keep your audience engaged.  

*Pro-tip: With NinjaCat’s Template Design Elements, you can customize graphs and images in your own or your clients’ brand colors to create a personalized, immersive brand experience.

Push Reports vs. Dashboards

When it comes to expertly showcasing your ROI to your clients, we will always recommend push reports and delivering your data story in a static (yet highly informative!) format. This allows you to be in complete control of the story you're trying to tell.

What’s the difference between the two?

Push reports are template-based, beautifully designed reports that are built and scheduled to send within NinjaCat. Based on your client's data granularity preferences, as the expert, you are able to decide what's most valuable to share and drive the discussion of performance and recommendations. 

Dashboards are live, interactive views of campaign data that can be accessed at any time. These real-time snapshots can be handy for internal performance monitoring or communicating with your clients- especially when your client is looking for full transparency (something we fully support at NinjaCat!). 

But, like any tool, the user needs to understand the best ways to utilize their dashboard for it to be most effective. 

As a digital marketer, you fully understand how to manipulate, analyze, and attribute value to your tactics. However, those conclusions may not be communicated via live dashboards, mainly when attribution and data latencies may occur. As the digital marketing expert, it's up to you to effectively educate your clients on using their custom dashboard and understanding the relevant use cases. And while many clients think they need a dashboard, we have measured activity across hundreds of thousands of clients here at NinjaCat, and we have found that less than 10% actually log into their dashboards. 

For these reasons, we recommend dashboards be primarily utilized for internal monitoring and team collaboration purposes. And when it comes to data storytelling and building strong, trusted client partnerships, push reports remain a best practice. 

Reporting Level: Ninja

We hope you find these best practices useful and that they will level up your agency’s client reporting experience. And remember, a well-crafted data story is your opportunity to spotlight the value you provide to your clients. If you have any questions on building an out-of-this-world data story or how better reporting leads to higher client retention, connect with one of our expert NinjaCats today! 

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