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Are You Making the Most of Reporting Tools? 5 Questions to Ask

by: Bryan Brown (@getvision)
13 July 2011

Used effectively, reporting tools give you valuable insight into your email campaigns and lead-management efforts that enable you to better strategize, tweak future initiatives and connect your program to bottom-line results. But time constraints, budgetary limitations and the overwhelming mass of data at marketers’ disposal can cause even the heartiest of marketers to give pause before delving into online marketing reports.

Don’t fall victim to the dreaded “paralysis from analysis” syndrome. Instead, simply ask yourself the following five questions to help you make the most of your reporting and analytics tools:

1) Am I measuring the right things?
Many marketers focus on “process metrics” such as open and click-through rates, bounce percentages and unsubscribe rates. These are valuable metrics for determining how individual elements of your email campaigns and nurturing programs are performing and even where individual buyers may be in their buying cycles. But don’t forget to also track output metrics such as revenue, cost savings, customer retention and leads generated—data points that can help you evaluate how your initiatives are contributing to your company’s overall strategic marketing and business goals.

2) Am I digging deep enough?
Slicing and dicing your list by segments and your email by attributes can uncover hidden trends, such as whether certain segments are generating higher response rates, what offers are most compelling at certain stages of the buying cycle and which message characteristics are leading to conversions. In addition, today’s robust reporting capabilities can provide even deeper insight into where leads are coming from (e.g. Google PPC, Twitter, banner ad) and what offer enticed them to provide their contact info (e.g. product demo, Webinar, white paper).

3) Am I considering the long view?
By viewing data trends over time, you can account for outliers and anomalies and fix any problems before they can damage your program, or conversely, build on any pleasant surprises or successes you discover. For example, analyzing the call-to-action response on steps in a nurture campaign during the last 12 months might reveal that one step in particular isn’t getting as many conversions. Digging deeper might reveal that the call to action for this step is a Webinar that’s now 12 months old and is no longer relevant. So, you could then swap in a new content offer and improve your results.

4) Am I forgetting about social?
With the popularity of social media continuing to rise, don’t forget to monitor this medium. Track how many mentions your company and products are getting in the blogosphere and on social sites compared to your competitors—and whether the buzz is positive or negative. Monitor what messages and content are being shared and who’s talking the most about your company, your competitors and the industry in general—and consider reaching out to these potential brand ambassadors. Finally, always tie social activity back to your stra­tegic goals. That means monitoring impact and ROI by keeping tabs on sales, brand awareness, leads, reduced calls to call centers and cost reduction in addition to the number of followers you’re racking up.

5) Am I communicating effectively?
Don’t forget to share reports with others in marketing, sales and the C-suite. To help ensure this happens, consider scheduling delivery of your favorite reports to select email addresses on a recurring basis. In addition, use marketing tools that enable you to easily report data in real time and remember to present data in a format that others are comfortable with, such as Excel.

By asking yourself these questions and adjusting your approach to reporting accordingly, you’ll be able to better analyze results, improve future campaigns and more easily demonstrate ROI.

For more information on reporting and metrics, check out these resources:


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