Once you’ve signed a new client and have all the necessary information to start working on their campaigns, most of your agency-client communication will likely come through periodic client reporting.
While the frequency and format of your reports may vary from client to client, there’s no doubt that actionable reports and insights are the best way to demonstrate how your agency contributes to your clients’ bottom line.
Client reports are crucial in retaining clients over the long run. When done right, they allow you to present new opportunities to existing clients and upsell your services. However, there are also several common pitfalls to avoid–including spending too much time on your client reports–that can hinder your agency’s growth.
In this guide, we’re going to break down exactly how to create great client reports in less time and provide you with loads of client reporting templates to get you started.
The guide is organized as follows:
What Is Client Reporting
Client reporting is a periodic presentation of your agency’s marketing campaign results. It shows what you’re doing to drive results and reach your clients’ goals. Ultimately, client reports are critical to demonstrating the value of your services.
Let’s see just why.
5 Reasons Why Client Reporting Is Important
Client reports may be one of the most important marketing agency tools your agency uses. A good analytics report clearly highlights all the work you’ve been doing behind the scenes, the results you’ve achieved, and your plans moving forward.
1. Client Reporting Reduces Churn & Retains More Clients
The first reason client reporting is so important is that it clearly shows the value of your services, provides open communication and transparency, and builds trust between an agency and its clients.
By scheduling regular check-ins with a client through informative client reports and suggesting ways to improve their business, your agency positions itself as a valuable resource that has a positive ROI.
Monthly reports tell our clients that what they’re paying us to do is actually worth the money. - Michael Gasser, Co-Owner & Partner of Squeeze Marketing
Using a client reporting platform like AgencyAnalytics enables you to see when a client has opened a report. If you notice your clients aren’t interacting with your agency as much, it’s a sign of potential churn and a good opportunity to hop on a call with them to see what’s up. After all, we all know that it costs more to acquire a new client than to keep one.
2. Client Reports Are a Framework for Regular Interaction
If you’ve ever purchased a service before and then had radio silence from the service provider, you know that even if they are working hard for you, it doesn’t always feel that way!
Client reporting provides a framework for regular interaction and client communication.
By clearly establishing a periodic reporting timeframe, whether you choose to send reports monthly or bi-monthly, you can avoid these awkward agency-client misunderstandings altogether and maintain a positive relationship.
However, client reports don’t need to stand on their own. They are a springboard for productive conversations, providing the basis for face-to-face or virtual meetings about a client’s marketing performance. Some agencies also give access to dashboards so clients can check in on their results in the interim:
AgencyAnalytics has that client account feature where you can add a client and give them visibility of just their own dashboard, not your entire professional dashboard. And for those clients that are into the data and like to check on stuff every week or every day, it saves us a ton of time. - Michael Gasser
3. Client Reporting is Your Chance to Educate the Client
As we’ll discuss below, many clients that you’ll encounter are not tech-savvy marketers, which is why they came to you in the first place. While the client is likely not looking for a marketing lesson from you on a day-to-day basis, your client report is the perfect place to educate them on the work you've been doing and the results they've achieved.
We love to use report templates to provide a consistent experience for everyone, which allows clients to become familiar and comfortable with our reporting. I have found that over time this reduces client frustration on reporting calls. -Lorianna Sprague, VP of Marketing at Trusted Search Marketing
The goal is to reduce the need for back-and-forth phone calls and emails and instead use your client reporting to have productive interactions that improve your overall strategy–while saving time.
4. Client Reports Manage Expectations
Oftentimes, it is not just the agency that will work on the marketing campaigns–you'll usually need some input from the client, too. With each client report, you clearly lay out what you need from the client for the next reporting period and show them how you’re meeting their expectations.
Choose from over 15 report templates on AgencyAnalytics that already lay out the KPIs that matter, including a:
5. Client Reports Are an Opportunity To Upsell Your Services
When it makes sense, client reports are a great way to upsell clients. By presenting new opportunities to your existing clients and pointing out areas of need, you’re offering useful services backed by actual data and anticipating your clients’ needs before they do.
In the same vein as educating your client, a client report is a perfect place to highlight the costs and potential benefits of pursuing additional marketing strategies. For instance, you could show how their competitors are ranking in organic search and offer your SEO services.
When we raise our service prices and the clients are happy to pay that price, that means we’ve communicated effectively the value we bring to the table. And that’s one of the most difficult things to do in any creative agency. -Michael Gasser
Build an SEO Proposal template to easily run site audits, check backlink profiles, and analyze keyword performance for your clients. New to AgencyAnalytics? Try it free for 14-days–no credit card required.
Client Reporting Best Practices
Create Cross-channel Marketing Reports
A data point in isolation is just that. A data point. However, when you present your marketing metrics alongside other marketing channels, you show the bigger picture, such as:
The effect your social media campaign is having on web traffic
The overall return on ad spend (ROAS) across all your PPC channels
Revenue from your organic campaigns
AgencyAnalytics makes cross-campaign client reporting easy by combining metrics from over 70 marketing channels, from PPC to SEO, Call Tracking, Social Media, Email, and more!
Simply drag and drop your widgets into your marketing report and save it as a preset template for that client:
Create custom client reports in minutes with AgencyAnalytics’ all-in-one reporting platform. Try it free for 14 days.
Put Your Agency’s Brand Forward
Since client reporting is your #1 communication tool with your clients, put your name to it with client reports that look like they were built in-house. Use our white label reporting software to make the platform truly your own.
Showcase Your Successes
At the end of the day, your clients are looking for revenue metrics. Take advantage of the easy drag and drop features of your client reporting platform to highlight what matters most to your clients, including: ROI, ROAS, and Revenue.
Track progress against your goals to ensure your team is on track as they go, and show just how you’re reaching your goals with intuitive widgets and custom goals bars built into AgencyAnalytics’ client reporting platform.
Visualize Data In an Intuitive way
Easy to analyze and even easier to report on. Get instant insights with your choice of bar charts, graphs, pie charts, and more.
Automate Your Reporting
Schedule your reports beforehand, and never worry about another deadline. Use the report scheduling feature to automate your reporting–the metrics will populate your report templates for the time period of your choice and send them out automatically.
Automatically Track & Report Your Client's Marketing MetricsStart Your Free Trial Today!
If you want to give your report a final look, add a report approval process to give your report that extra eyeball and get the chance to add your personalized commentary with annotations.
We always intercept the automated reports to review prior to sending, which allows us to stay on the pulse of a client's account and to pivot as needed to address any negatives we are seeing, and to call out positives. -Lorianna Sprague, VP of Marketing at Trusted Search Marketing
4 Things To Do Before Setting up a Client Report
Before you start building out a client report, it’s best to have a preparatory process in place to ensure you’re tracking the right metrics.
While the details of each client will change, make this a standard operating procedure so that it's repeatable and scalable.
It's essential to show value to clients with key metrics that matter, business owners & marketing managers want to see the results simplified to measure marketing against business growth/sales. - Pat Akkawi, Director at The Marketing Co
Here’s what to do before setting up your client reporting:
Use a client onboarding questionnaire
Identify the KPIs and important metrics
Choose between marketing dashboards or periodic reports
Determine your ideal reporting frequency
1. Gather Intel With a Client Onboarding Checklist
As discussed in our 6-Step Onboarding Checklist guide, a client onboarding questionnaire is not only the best way to gain a better understanding of your client and their goals, it sets your client relationship on the right foot, and helps you decide what to include in your client reports.
Here are some questions agencies should be asking new clients:
Spending more time at the beginning of your client relationship will ultimately make your client reporting and marketing efforts more effective and save time in the long run.
2. Identify KPIs & Important Metrics
Next, before you start any type of marketing campaign, it’s important to know precisely how you’re going to define the success of your performance. Before we continue, here’s an excerpt from our article on the difference between a KPI and a metric:
A business metric is a category of quantifiable data relevant to the organization’s standard business processes. One key difference between a KPI and a metric is that metrics don’t need to be tied directly to a strategic objective. On the other hand, a KPI is a performance metric that is directly related to business objectives. This could be revenue growth, user acquisition, and so on, but the key point is that the KPI is tied to a specific goal.
Of course, the KPIs and metrics you use to measure your marketing efforts will change based on the type of campaign you’re running (i.e., SEO, PPC, email, etc.), but regardless it’s crucial to have these in place before you create a client report. Often, you’ll be able to identify the KPIs and metrics that matter to your clients in the previous step of interviewing the client.
3. Choose Between Real Time Dashboards vs. Periodic Reporting
The next step in preparing for client reporting is to determine if you want to use a live dashboard with real time metrics or send periodic reports.
Using custom marketing dashboards gives clients 24/7 access to the marketing data you choose to show them.
Read More: 15 Marketing Dashboards To Help Your Marketing Agency Scale
On the other hand, if you decide to send periodic client reports, the client will receive a PDF report covering the reporting period.
Choose from over 15 dashboard templates in AgencyAnalytics, including:
Marketing dashboards give you access to all your clients’ marketing metrics under one roof. Try AgencyAnalytics free for 14-days.
4. Determine Your Client Reporting Frequency
Finally, it's vital that both you and the client know exactly how often you will be sending reports. Even if you use automated reporting software to automate your reports, you'll want to allocate some time each reporting period to provide personalized insights and commentary with each report.
Our clients understand (through setting expectations) that a monthly frequency is the default. Although each client is different, a higher frequency of data reduces the ability to deduce trends and evaluate effectiveness. It can also lead the client to making hasty decisions, which can throw off measuring evergreen campaigns. - Terrence Gordon, CEO of 214Interactive
What To Avoid in Your Client Reports
Now that we’ve discussed why reporting is so important and how to prepare for it, let’s discuss a few things to avoid in your client reporting.
❌Creating Overly Technical Reports
The reality is that many of the clients you’ll encounter don’t necessarily care about the technical details of a marketing campaign. For example, if you’re running an SEO campaign for a client, it may not be wise to use overly technical jargon such as redirects or canonical tags, even if these things are second nature to you.
Instead, most clients want a simple and intuitive report that covers the basics. After that, you can add more information to the report on a case-by-case basis, depending on each individual client’s goals and level of technical expertise.
Aside from a report summary, another useful technique to simplify marketing performance into an easy-to-understand format is data visualization. This allows you to easily communicate a lot of information in a way that anyone can understand.
Here’s a monthly marketing report example that streamlines your client reporting process. Try it with your clients’ live data during your 14-day free trial!
❌Making Reports Too Long
Along the same lines as creating reports that are too technical, making your reports too long is another common mistake to avoid.
Since you're using automated client reporting software, you may think that you should include every metric and KPI possible since it doesn't require much more effort from you. Instead, the report should be clear and concise and highlight the overall achievements.
This is again where a Report Summary comes in handy. The purpose of your client report isn’t necessarily to show your client everything that happened; instead, you want to summarize what you’ve been working on, the results you’ve achieved, and how you’re progressing towards helping the client reach their goals.
❌Using Spreadsheets for Manual Reporting
Regardless of the type of campaign you’re running, you’re likely dealing with multiple data sources and marketing channels.
This is where using reporting tools to automatically track data from multiple integrations like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Facebook Ads come into play.
Instead of long Excel spreadsheets, the best alternative to Google Data studio is to house all your marketing data in a streamlined client reporting platform. This means you can focus on higher-value, revenue-generating activities instead of clicking between your clients’ different marketing platforms.
Automated reporting cuts through the limitations of Google Data Studio and reduces the labor costs associated with manually tracking data and generating reports each month. This saves you countless billable hours every month and allows your agency to focus on results-driven activities.
If there are data points that are only available in spreadsheets, use the Google Sheets reporting tool in AgencyAnalytics to automatically include them in your client reports. Try it free during your 14-day free trial.
The reporting process should be a front-end loaded activity where you initially set everything up for each client and then use reporting software to replicate the process. Automating your client reporting goes a long way to adding value and simplifying your clients’ lives.
As mentioned earlier, you don’t want to 100% automate each report. Take the time to personalize each report by providing your own insights and commentary. This reporting process doesn’t take much time on your end, and the results are well worth that added personal touch.
What To Include in a Client Report Template (With Examples)
1. Monthly Summary
Believe it or not, your executive summary is likely the most crucial part of the entire report. Since the client may not be very technical in marketing, this is your chance to write out your analysis of the past month’s performance in plain English.
Also, since the report includes data from several different sources, it’s important to provide an overview of the overall changes associated with each platform. As you can see below, the main sections of the report summary include a brief overview, the work done this month, and a recap of the target KPIs.
2. Google Analytics - All Channels
The next section in the digital marketing report template tracks how many people are visiting your client's website due to your marketing efforts. Again, this is a great place to highlight precisely what actions are currently working well and which may need additional effort next month.
In this section, you want to include the total number of visitors to the website and then break down each channel's traffic, including social media, organic search, email, and so on. This is also a useful section to highlight more detailed metrics such as bounce rate and average session duration, which can indicate that your marketing efforts are improving the website's user experience.
3. Google Analytics - Goals
The following section in this template is the number of conversions completed on the website, as this is one of the most important KPIs for clients. As you probably know, a "conversion" will often be different for each client, although, at this point, you've likely already identified what that means to each client and have them set up as "Goals" in Google Analytics.
In addition to the total conversions, this section gives you a few more detailed metrics, such as conversion rate, goal value (if applicable), and conversion metrics for each individual conversion type.
4. SEO Rankings
If you're running a more broad digital marketing campaign for your client, you've likely included SEO in the service offering. Tracking changes in a website's SEO rankings is a crucial part of demonstrating the campaign's progress. In this section, the report displays metrics such as the overall rank changes for each day of the month and the actual rank of the client's website.
Aside from demonstrating the progress of your SEO efforts to clients, this section is a great way to internally identify which areas of the campaign need more focus to achieve the target performance.
5. Social Media Overview
The Social Media Overview section allows you to aggregate data from multiple platforms into a single section. It gives your client an overall perspective of the engagement on each platform and how it's changing over time.
Engagement breaks down into total followers and total post engagement. In this section, you can also track the feeds of each social media platform so that you can show your clients what you've been posting for them each month.
6. PPC Overview
If you're running paid ads for your clients, there's no question they're going to want to know exactly how the budget was spent and the results it achieved. When it comes to PPC reporting, the metrics you can include here are entirely customizable, although a few standard metrics include total ad costs, cost-per-click, conversions, impressions, and more.
This section also allows you to track your paid ads across multiple platforms, so it is a great way to demonstrate the overall Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) on your PPC budget.
7. Email Overview
Finally, although it can often get overlooked for newer forms of digital marketing, email remains an essential part of many businesses' marketing stacks.
For example, if you're sending emails to your clients, you want to know precisely how many people are opening them and how effectively they drive conversions. It includes tracking key email metrics like open rate, click-through rate, and the change in email subscribers throughout the month.
While we just covered the sections that we've included in our digital marketing report template, keep in mind that you can easily add new widgets to your report with our drag-and-drop editor if you want to customize any of this.
Summary: Automate Your Client Reporting To Scale Your Agency
Client reporting is an essential part of any successful marketing agency. After you’ve signed a new client and put them through your onboarding process, client reporting is the best framework to communicate the value of your services on a regular basis, set your pricing right, and improve your client relationships.
Save countless hours each month and improve your agency-client relationships with client reporting software. Start your 14-day free trial today!
Aside from highlighting your achievements each reporting period, client reporting software is valuable to save time, educate, and potentially upsell your clients on additional services.
Before you start creating a client report, it’s vital to have a standard operating procedure that you can follow with each new client so that reporting becomes a repeatable and scalable process.
Once you start each report, remember that your clients hired you to simplify their lives, so avoid creating overly technical reports that are 50 pages long.
When you’re finally ready to start creating your custom reports, use an automated client reporting platform to track data across multiple platforms in real time and present that data in the most professional and efficient way possible.