Eight Steps to Insightful Reporting, Part I

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

At YA, we believe that good reporting doesn’t just happen — it has to be carefully planned to ensure that the data delivers meaningful, actionable information to our clients. To that end, we have a team of insight-driven experts who make sure that every report we deliver helps our clients gain a deeper understanding of the drivers and metrics behind their promotional marketing activities.

Program reporting is certainly part of what we do, but several other steps are needed in the process to understand program effectiveness and to drive future decision-making. Here are the first four of eight steps total that form the foundation of our reporting and analytics philosophy. I’ll share the final four next week.

Step 1: Understand your marketing objectives

As a program is developed, it is important to define the program goals so that we know what needs to be measured. That’s why we begin the planning process by ensuring that we understand our clients’ marketing objectives and what decisions need to be made. Are they introducing new models? Do they want to acquire new customers? Are they hoping to enhance CRM data? Establishing a foundation at the start makes the job of answering important questions about program performance, return on marketing investment and what the next promotion should be that much easier.

Step 2: Define the target audience

When it comes to reporting, there are a multitude of audiences that may need access to in-flight program metrics and post-program analysis. Likely, the various audiences need different information at different points in time for each set of decisions. Once the objectives are confirmed, the next step in the process is to define who will be using the reporting, for what and when. How and when are they making decisions? What data is needed? And what format do they want the data? And for what time period? How would they like to receive or access information? We make sure that our clients have access to the information they need, when they need it.

Step 3: Design strong metrics and KPIs

Two key objectives for our reporting are that it must be relevant and meaningful. That seems like a basic concept, but unfortunately, many marketers don’t receive useful, actionable information that helps with the “business today” objectives as a standard practice from their promotional partners. One practical example of our objectives in action is our Sample 2.0 product, which replaces the “put it out there and hope it works” mindset of traditional sampling programs and creates a traceable digital trail. With Sample 2.0, the brand learns important data about the consumer: such as when and where they tried the product. This information gives concrete inputs to measure program effectiveness and the data captured sets the stage for future decision-making and communication.

Step 4: Show the big picture first

We always focus on a high-level objective of overall performance before going down into the detail. It’s an important “check in” step that allows us to see which aspects of program performance are meeting expectations and alerts us to dig in where we need to understand more. Our dashboard includes a quick red light/green light visual that allows us to drill into actionable issues, while keeping a more topline view of areas where everything is moving along as it should. It’s a 360-degree view of everything that’s being measured, so our clients know where to spend their time without having to comb through every detail.

Let’s talk

Would you like great 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. And be sure to check back next week for Part II of my thoughts on insightful reporting, in which I’ll cover steps 5 through 8 of YA’s reporting best practices.

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