Reporting often gets a bad rep. Many see it as a tedious, inescapable chore they need to handle every month. But what if it could be more than that?
Educating yourself about client reporting best practices can be the stepping stone towards a smarter reporting process that benefits both your agency and its clients.
This guide will walk you through client reporting, explain why it’s important, and share tips on 5 client reporting best practices for creating reports that your clients will understand and love.
Client reporting best practices
1. Client reporting best practices: getting started
One does not simply start discussing reporting best practices. First, we need to be on the same page on what client reporting is, why it’s important and how it’s done correctly.
1.1. What is client reporting?
As the name itself suggests, client reporting refers to the practice of sending regular reports to clients, as a way to update them on their projects and showcase the marketing efforts invested in these projects.
These reports can be sent weekly, monthly or quarterly - depending on each client’s preference.
Client reports are frequently prepared in Excel, Power Point, Acrobat Reader (for PDFs) and other data visualization tools, where data is shown using graphs, tables and charts.
1.2. Why is client reporting so important?
No matter the frequency at which you report to your clients, communication is key. Proper communication between an agency and its clients builds trust.
Being open to regular discussions, sharing progress and results is seen as a sign of transparency and accountability.
On the other hand, agency client reporting is great for keeping your clients accountable too. In order for you to keep doing a good job, clients need to provide clear directions and set realistic goals for their projects.
Last but not least, client reporting is an excellent opportunity for you and your agency to essentially show off all your good work. Without frequent communication and reporting, your achievements can be taken for granted or neglected.
Leveraging client reports to draw attention to the quality of your work and pinpoint potential challenges lets your clients have a clear view of all the fantastic changes your marketing efforts are producing for them.
2. How to master client reports: 5 client reporting best practices
Reports come in many shapes and forms, depending on the situation. You can only start sending regular client reports when you have a clear idea of what you’re tracking and what you should be showcasing in these reports.
Great reporting starts with well-defined goals and KPIs. Discuss with your clients what information is most important to them and what they want to achieve through the reporting process.
You may have the marketing expertise, but your clients likely have a much better idea of which areas of business growth they want to keep a close eye on.
All this to say that there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to client reports.
That being said, here are 5 client reporting best practices you should keep in mind when building a client report:
2.1. Keep it really simple.
Each time you prepare social media reports for clients, you need to start with why. If you can identify the main reason why you’re creating and sending regular reports to your clients, that will help you build better reports.
You do it to keep clients in the loop, to showcase the progress that’s being made, to shed light on potential challenges. More than that, you’re doing it so that your clients understand the value and ROI of the work you’re putting into their projects.
To make sure they really understand what you’re trying to communicate, keep your reports simple. By that, I mean keep them short and to the point, extremely organized, easily scannable but also rich in insights and additional explanations should they be needed.
Most clients won’t be well-versed in marketing jargon - they have their own area of expertise - so it comes down to you to educate them on important terms and metrics.
2.2. Turn numbers into a story.
When it comes to client reporting best practices, it’s not enough to present some data and let it speak for itself. Storytelling should be a part of any marketer’s skillset, and that includes marketing agency client reporting.
If it helps, think of yourself as a film director. With the right script, actors and stage lighting - you can tell a memorable story that your public (in this case, your agency clients) will not only understand but also connect to.
Unless they have a crazy good photographic memory, people will not remember numbers, they will remember stories. That’s why it’s important to interpret data to the best of your ability and make sure it tells a coherent story for your clients.
2.3. Automate if possible.
If your agency has a lot of clients on its roster, chances are that client reporting does end up being a tedious, time- and energy-consuming task that you need to complete on a regular basis.
So what can you do about that?
Well, automate, of course. Automating reports is the key to optimizing workflows and simplifying the decision-making process. It saves time, effort, it increases productivity and it makes data infinitely more accessible for you and for your clients.
2.4. Be proactive.
It’s important to be proactive when it comes to custom client reporting. That means anticipating your clients’ questions, adjusting goals and timeframes and giving specific, data-driven recommendations.
Don’t hesitate to get really precise with your suggestions; after all, you’re the professional. If you think any changes to the budget or general strategy are needed, speak up during the regular client reporting process.
2.5. Use powerful reporting tools
Client reporting can be a complex and challenging process, but thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone.
There are many tools out there that can help make your life (and job) easier by offering templates, organizing data and automating the reporting process.
As far as client reporting tools go, you have a lot of options to choose from. Most tools will integrate reporting alongside other features, such as analytics, listening and scheduling, to offer a complete social media management solution.
If you’re trying to get started with client reporting, you should start with the best. And Socialinsider is the best social media analytics and reporting tool on our radar.
Our app brings all the social media analytics, reporting, and benchmarking features together in one single unified dashboard.
When it comes to client reporting software, Socialinsider has your back. Inside the app, you can turn any dashboard into a report by hitting the download button up top, setting a timeframe and the desired format (pdf, xls, ppt).
Inside each report you will find specific recommendations on how to improve your performance:
Finally, Socialinsider can help with automated client reporting. To take full advantage of this feature, you need to go to Reports -> Add Autoreport.
Then choose your report type (posts, profile, competitors analysis or cross-channel performance, file extension and timeframe needed.
And you’re done! All your custom client reports will come to you. Hours of crunching data and making it look pretty saved!
If you’re looking for client reporting alternatives to Socialinsider, you can check Social Status, Quintly or DashThis.
Client reporting is a powerful tool for tracking performance and maintaining a healthy level of communication and accountability between agencies and their clients.
Keeping in mind these 5 client reporting best practices, you can create more comprehensive reports that your clients will not only understand, but also, why not, even look forward to.