How do you check off all your reporting needs?
We’re pretty big on reporting over here. Not that we spend big on it, but we do put a lot of emphasis on the importance of reporting. So much so that we rely on our own, custom-built reports rather than anything we’ve been able to find out-of-the-box. Sure, we start with a template, but it comes off those rails pretty quick. We rely heavily on custom reports that are not one-size-fits-all out of the box solutions. We just don’t feel like there is a one-size-fits-all solution for all of our clients or for our own company.
Here are 3 of the biggest things to think about with reporting.
Price: Much like marketing automation software, the budget seems to do most of the convincing when it comes to marketing software and reporting software – especially when you are doing your reporting in a marketing automation software. High-end reporting solutions are really great. They do a lot of work for you. They give great data and great advice. They are expensive. Like, really expensive. While vetting a reporting solution for a client recently, I was pretty shocked to find out a single month subscription was just a hair under our own yearly income. But here’s the kicker, the value was there! It was worth all the dollars they were going to spend on it! It checked all of the boxes and even added a few boxes that we didn’t know that we wanted to begin with (we love learning new things!). Message us if you want to know how this story ended.
Also, the price is rarely what you see up front. The baseline price might get your attention, “that’s in the budget” you’ll say, but every seat at the table can cost more. Then you may have to pay extra for service, support, and setup. The sticker price might look doable but pretty soon you realize that you’re paying so much for your reporting there’s nothing left to market with.
Many of our clients don’t have this kind of budget.
It can go the other way too. It can be inexpensive because it does less with less, and maybe that’s what you need. I have yet to encounter this scenario but these providers are still running so I’m sure they’re right for many.
Features: This one can be tricky. Rarely have we seen an out-of-the-box reporting solution that just did what our clients needed. Usually, they checked off some, maybe even most, of the boxes. They also miss some key needs while adding a ton of clutter. The purpose of reporting is to give you the information that you need. The information might be there, but it’s crowded out by unnecessary (to you) features. You immediately feel the frustration of having to dig too deep, but the frustration you don’t realize is distraction. The stuff you’re digging through are the other features that you don’t need. They’re new and shiny and so you end up spending more time setting them up and seeing how they work and trying to fit them into your reports and pretty soon you realize you forgot what you were looking for in the first place. Features can be a bug, not a feature.
Integrations: You need a report to work with the tools you have. Early in 2021, we were asked to clean up some marketing issues for a new client. They had a ton of tools but they didn’t all work together. At the core of their marketing system they were using a big CRM and marketing automation system: Salesforce/Pardot but several of the tools they added along the way didn’t integrate together. We ended up cancelling a handful of their existing software providers, migrating a ton of information, templates, reporting, etc. We helped them procure new ones that would integrate better with their core marketing systems and strategies. Their previous marketing systems were just too spread out and had software that would never speak to one another as they hoped.
It’s super important to go into reporting with as complete of an idea of what you need as you can. You really want to lay the best foundation possible so that this report can support you long enough to have value. However, your needs will change over time. So make sure that you have something with the flexibility to grow with you over time.
Our custom reports are the closest thing to the “goldilocks” report we’ve see so far. In fact, our report building process was born out of a need to cross exactly the right boxes while maintaining the flexibility to grow and change when we need to. Feel free to reach out if you want to know more about our custom report