By Amy Hebdon
“Getting great results” and “creating great reports” are very different skill sets. If you’re like most marketers, you’d rather sharpen your subject-matter expertise than spend time in PowerPoint.
The result is that reporting becomes an afterthought rather than an opportunity—a “necessary evil” with imperfect solutions:
- Manual reporting is too time-consuming, but it’s been the only way to report on the right platforms with the right analysis.
- Automated dashboard reports save time but bring limited functionality and don’t help clients understand the story behind the scorecards.
Fortunately, Google Data Studio can automate the time-intensive tasks of data compilation and report building without sacrificing important context and insights.
While Data Studio gives you an ideal platform for report creation, there’s a final step to transform data into a story that drives your clients to decision and action (such as pivoting strategy, approving new resources, or simply choosing to retain your services). That step is not so easily automated.
So before you start building your Data Studio report, make sure you know what to include—and what to leave out—to create a compelling client report.
Clients need stories, not just data
In data-driven industries, it’s easy to imagine that we can “let the data decide,” but that’s actually not the function of data. It’s our job to help our clients interpret the data so they can approve recommendations and take action.
While dashboards and data snapshots bring value to marketers and analysts, they’re usually insufficient for clients. A Deloitte Canada study revealed that 82% of CMOs surveyed felt unqualified to interpret consumer analytics data.
As Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik explains:
People who are receiving the summarized snapshot top-lined have zero capacity to understand the complexity, will never actually do analysis and hence are in no position to know what to do with the summarized snapshot they see.
To build useful reports, we need to move beyond simply summarizing performance with quick charts. We need to help clients understand the story.
The benefits of data storytelling
If “storytelling with data” sounds both vague and intimidating, you’re not alone. Storytelling evokes ideas of creativity and even fiction, a sharp contrast to the left-brain data and analysis tools we’re accustomed to using.
Telling a story in a report doesn’t require a cast of characters, anecdotes, or plotlines. Essentially, you need to follow the same UX advice you’ve been giving your clients for decades: don’t make them think.
Your readers need more than features (facts and figures) to take action. Story provides context so that they understand where to focus their attention. Storytelling also heightens emotions, which is vital because decision-making is driven by emotions, not logic.
Make your data storytelling emotional
The words emotion and motivation are derived from similar Latin roots. The more your clients can feel something, the more motivated they’ll be to act.
Marketers may be tempted to highlight wins and gloss over losses in reports to nudge their clients to feel joy (or at least satisfaction). But this strategy can backfire.
Your clients need to know about what’s not going well—even …read more
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