Eight Steps to Insightful Reporting, Part II

by: Tom Senn, Vice President, Client Insights and Analytics

Last week, I shared the first four steps in YA’s approach to best-in-class reporting and analytics: 1) understand marketing objectives, 2) define the target audience, 3) design strong metrics and KPIs, and 4) show the big picture first. This week, I’ll be covering steps 5 through 8 of our reporting process.

Step 5: Use supportive visualization

It’s important to pick the right visual to convey the information you are describing. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But, a visual that doesn’t effectively match its message will take away from the meaning and take more time for the marketer to understand. When we create reports, we consider details like chart type, colors and fonts to ensure that they are always used in ways that support and enhance the meaning of what is being conveyed. When should you use a pie chart vs. a bar chart? Do the colors make the message easier to understand? For example, using a red, yellow, green approach to indicate alert, warning and on track? There are many elements of good graphical display that needs to be utilized.

Step 6: Build context

When you present data and reporting without context, it’s difficult to understand how to interpret and act on the information. YA’s experience in the promotional marketing industry and the millions of consumer interactions we manage annually, allows us to create program benchmarks by program type and industry. We also leverage the program goals from step 1 in the process to create context. We know it’s critical to present comparisons, goals and benchmarks to make the data meaningful to different audiences.

Step 7: Support prompt action

Step 7 is critical because it focuses on the importance of delivering the right data vs. all the data available. Making determinations about what data is meaningful and actionable vs. all the data available ensures time is spent on the most critical information that will drive future decisions. When information is in the right format, it’s much easier to understand which items need immediate attention to ensure the success of mission-critical marketing objectives.

Step 8: Drive the story and provide useful analysis

The payoff to all of this effort — setting objectives, being mindful of audiences, providing context — is being able to determine what to do next. Once our team determines the key points we want to convey in our reporting and analytics, we find the most effective way to use data is to illustrate the results. We make the data part of the story by explaining not only the numbers, but also the rationale behind presenting them and the recommended next action to improve program success.

Let’s talk

Would you like more reporting and analytics to help you manage your promotional programs more effectively? If so, it’s time to talk to YA. Feel free to contact me to begin the conversation.


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