A simple framework to unlock value from your marketing reports

Neil Pursey

How you market your business is a key factor in determining if your venture will be successful or not. One document that holds the key to a business’s marketing efforts is the humble marketing report. Yet, here’s the thing: the majority of reports don't focus on the metrics that matter

Reporting, in general, has too much data and is too confusing to understand. This leaves marketing leaders in the undesirable position of not being able to take valuable insights – and therefore make actionable decisions – from their reporting.

Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to overcoming this common dilemma. In this article, I’ll reveal the simple, three-step process you should apply when reviewing marketing reports to establish clarity and unlock significant insights.

Step 1:

Is the data confusing or clear?

To achieve valuable data storytelling in your reports, you need to be clear on what is really important in the context of true performance.  

When looking at a marketing report from a data visualisation perspective, the first thing you must look at is whether the data is clear or confusing. Start by highlighting data that contains clarity using a blue marker, while any data that seems confusing should be highlighted using a red marker.

Once you’ve gone through the entire report using this process, assess it as a whole to determine if there is simply too much confusion among the data for the report to be useful. If so, it may be time to move onto a different report and repeat these steps again to see if you can gain more clarity from your data.

If, however, the report contained data that was clear and easy to decipher, then it’s time to move on to the second step.

Step 2:

Is the clear data also interesting?

This next step requires you to examine the data you marked as clear and determine if it is also interesting. After all, just because data in your marketing report is clear, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s also interesting.

Ask yourself:

  • Are there any emerging patterns or trends?
  • Is there specific information that makes you want to delve deeper?
  • Does the data answer a specific query, or make you want to ask additional questions?

Once you get to the point where you can start identifying interesting metrics, it’s time to move on to the third and final step.

Step 3:

Is the data telling a story?

If the data is clear and interesting, then we have to make sure there’s a very good story to be told from that data. Ask yourself, is there an insight? WHY is it interesting? You need to be able to find really valuable insights or observations off that data if it is to be deemed successful data storytelling. 

When you can combine clear and interesting data with a narrative, that data suddenly has the ability to enlighten, engage, and influence change. If an insight isn’t understood or compelling, however, no one will act on it and no change will occur.

How this system was developed

This three-step system was originally inspired by Chris Do, the founder of The Futur, who uses this process to create storytelling out of design work. We have found a parallel to data and data visualisation and have tailored the approach, thus assisting marketers to stop producing low quality marketing reports.

Try this approach yourself or reach out to us to find out how we can help your agency or marketing team.

Original video from our YouTube Channel: