As direct marketers, we’re on a constant quest for reliable intel to help make each new campaign more effective than the last. Response rates. Offer. Mailer format. Contact frequency. These are just a few of the many reporting elements we slice, dice and obsess over to try and move the proverbial needle.
In search of better results.
All that obsession is worth the effort, though. Solid reporting can prove or disprove a hypothesis, and can actually help predict campaign performance. Solid reporting eliminates guesswork and lets us proceed from a position of confidence. In short, good, accurate reporting is the ever-elusive proof we’re looking for!
Mind the many pitfalls.
But accurate reporting is far from easy. It takes much more than just crunching numbers and building PowerPoint® presentations. In many respects, it also means avoiding the myriad pitfalls that can turn an otherwise professional report into an inaccurate, misleading pile of numbers.
Here are just a few:
- Invalid sample sizes
- Antiquated or cumbersome CRM systems
- Data siloing or incompatible file formats
- Inconsistent inbound data capture
- Ill-defined nomenclature (i.e., responders miscounted as leads, conversions counted as sales)
Know before you go.
The good news is that each of these challenges can be mitigated and/or overcome. How? By troubleshooting, socializing and resolving them before you begin developing the campaign strategy.
DM Reporting Checklist
Here is a checklist to help make sure your next reporting cycle is a stand-out success.
- Understand how campaign data is captured
Meet with department managers—IT, Marketing, Sales, Accounting, Administrative Assistant—whoever is responsible for capturing inbound data.
- Set expectations with all stakeholders
Socialize the insights you’ve gathered with all stakeholders, particularly the people doing the work. Poll executive leadership as well to determine potential “fixes” or acceptable reporting alternatives if needed.
- Determine reporting metrics
Make sure all stakeholders agree on what campaign elements need to be reported—typically things like response rate, conversion, cost per response, etc.
- Get the nomenclature down pat
Have everyone agree on what constitutes a response, lead, conversion, sale and so on. Otherwise, you could be arguing into the wee hours of the morning, or drawing conclusions that are flat-out wrong.
- Establish performance objectives
Start by setting a baseline; or utilize maximum cost-per thresholds in the absence of baselines (i.e., leads at <$100 are profitable if they convert at 25 percent).
- Work with your agency partner to build the right reporting format
Poorly formatted reports, or overly complicated and confusing summaries, can obscure even the rosiest results.
Lay the groundwork for greatness.
By reducing guesswork and errors, and getting everyone literally “on the same page,” accurate reporting frees you to pursue your overall objectives confidently, test aggressively to improve campaign performance, and use your boundless imagination to achieve your highest goals.
Stay tuned for the next blog in the series on digital reporting—coming in 2015!