The typical reporting process will involve a bunch of graphs and statistics being stuffed into a 20 or 30 page PDF and circulated, without any sense of what it is whether it’s communicating, what the story is, or any categorisation or prioritisation of the information within it, and in my opinion this this is just a really ineffective way of going about it for several reasons.

First of all, it’s not action orientated, so maybe there’s a graph that’s telling us the user engagement is stagnating or the average customer value is dropping, but so what? What are the actual implications of that and what are we going to do about it?

Secondly, very often we’ll find that there’s a lot of vanity metrics contained on these reports. By vanity metrics what we mean is those metrics that they might look good and may make us feel good but they don’t put money in the bank. An example would be Facebook Likes or Twitter followers.

Finally, it’s really confusing. Even for an experienced marketer, if you’re presented with just a PDF with all this information, without, as I say, that kind of overarching narrative explaining what it all means, it’s a really daunting prospect to actually digest that information, so just imagine what it’s like for someone who’s removed from that world, such as senior decision makers, who don’t have that marketing expertise. Just imagine how confusing it is for them and ultimately these are the people that we want to understand it the most. So this is why I always encourage companies to boil down these reports to no more than 8-10 headline metrics, and the nice way of categorising it is as follows – so pick a couple of KPI’s that represent the performance of the brand, a couple that represent the performance from an engagement and nurturing perspective, a couple that represent the conversion stage and finally a couple that represent the ongoing customer retention process. Not only does that make it far far easier for the people receiving that information to make sense of it all, but it also gives you far more time back to really focus on what it actually means because after all, that’s what the reporting process is there for – to drive action.