Best Reporting Practices – A Guide To Creating An Effective Report

There is no denying the importance of data.

There is no denying the importance of data. However, having a multitude of data can feel overwhelming at times. You’re left with the daunting task of how to gather the data, formulate a report and tell a story that compliments your efforts. By establishing thorough reporting practices, you will ensure that the output to your clients is standardized and consistent. Keeping this uniformity is pertinent for your organization to prove its value as a resource and to show an effective use of budget.

Five key reporting practices that you should implement:

1. Establish a main objective

Regardless of your initiative, identifying a main objective is the first step to starting a report. After determining the main objective, establish three to six consistent Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will measure how your objective is performing. This could be anything from impressions for a brand awareness campaign to tracking sales from an ecommerce site. With KPIs identified, you now have a foundation for every report. Before moving on, ensure that you have a benchmark to measure against in order to make your KPIs more impactful.

2. Streamline your data input

One of the most time-consuming parts of reporting is inputting data. Setting up a consolidated metrics tab that automatically pulls from your exported data may take time in the upfront to set up, but it will create a much more streamlined process for the future. Not only will you save time and energy by doing this, but this practice will also help avoid human error in reporting. Another option worth looking into is the Google Data Studio. Google has created an in-real-time reporting system that pulls data from any of the Google owned platforms and many social media platforms. It even has the option to upload data from Google Sheets, so you can include traditional metrics as well from data input through Google Sheets.

3. Simplify your reports

For those of you that are accustomed to a 20 page deck, filled with repeated metrics, added verbiage and pretty header slides, it’s time to seriously overhaul your reporting practices and cut that report into one or two pages. Unless specifically requested, most clients don’t want to spend hours thumbing through a massive report when the main metrics they are interested in can be condensed into a one-sheeter. There is not a specific magic formula for what should be on a report, but a report should include these three components:

  • Metrics on your KPI’s
  • Written insights on you data
  • Recommended next steps based on the data and insights

4. Button it up

This is where you can get creative with your reporting. Make your report visually appealing to those who will be looking it over. Keeping a report clean, with graphs that are easy to read and attention-grabbing stats will help the reader of the report better digest exactly what it meant to be conveyed.

5. Be thoughtful in your insights

Here is where your story telling ability will truly shine. It is time to take all the data points and explain why they matter. That being said, don’t just state numbers, identify why that number is significant. Did it increase from the previous period? Is it higher than industry benchmarks? Did it surpass your planned goal? Whatever the case, the more you have to say about a specific metric, the better. Tell the story behind the data and how your efforts have affected those outcomes.

Now that you are familiar with these best practices, it’s time to incorporate them. Before you create your beautiful, thoughtfully planned out report, ensure that your team and your client are all on board. Ask your client what metrics they value most and want to see in your reports. The last thing you want is to catch anyone off-guard!

Interested in learning more about ANDERSON Advertising and our reporting process? Visit our website or connect with us at