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How Reporting Tools are Failing Digital Marketers

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How Brands Can Get the Most out of Their Reporting Platforms

Marketing reporting tools are a dime-a-dozen these days. It only takes a quick online search to see that every tool makes similar promises: save time, improve accuracy, and ease the reporting burden.

Some of those claims might even be true.

However, any experienced marketer knows the proof is in the PDF. When you hit Export, you need to have total faith in your reporting tool.

Brands juggling multiple clients face an added dimension of complexity. The reports need to be accurate, easily understood, and customizable. They also need to be instant.

Time is money.

Companies typically don’t want to overspend on analytics and digital marketing reports.

But let’s take a step back. 

One of the fundamental problems with brands reporting tools is they are just that: standalone reporting tools. The disconnect between media planning, campaign management, marketing measurement and reporting causes a breakdown that leads to inaccurate, disappointing digital marketing reports.

So if you’re looking for a reporting tool that ticks all the boxes, you may not be looking for a reporting tool at all.

What makes a Good Advertising Reporting Tool?

1. Accuracy

First and foremost, your team needs a tool they can trust. High-quality data is the foundation of any effective marketing campaign and the basis of informed decision-making.

How many times have you tried to compare the same data on different tools and found the results don’t match up?

The reason for this stems from the way marketing reporting tools collect and interpret data from different platforms. For example, a web analytics platform like Google Analytics might report a different number of page views than what you’d expect from looking at link clicks on Facebook. 

Tracking down the correct number is frustrating and time-consuming. 

An effective reporting tool can avoid this problem by tracking data from all stages of the customer journey in a single dashboard. With an accurate and holistic overview, you can focus on customer behavior instead of wasting time double-checking data.

2. Flexibility

Finding a fit-for-purpose reporting tool (that doesn’t blow the budget) can be tricky for growing brands. Rather than compromise with software that doesn’t suit your needs, look for flexibility in the features.

For example:

  • Data filters
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Customizable reports
  • Drag-and-drop functionality
  • Easily shareable data

Digital marketing is constantly evolving. For brands to offer value to their clients, they need an agile reporting tool that can streamline workflows.

3. Collaboration

The agency-client relationship is increasingly cooperative. Being able to collaborate throughout the media planning and campaign management process not only saves time but also strengthens inter-office trust.

Part of building that trust is presenting reports that clearly link back to media planning; in other words, establishing the link between outcomes and targets. 

You can do this with complex automations, integrations and gateways. Or you can implement an all-in-one marketing campaign management solution like Mediatool that enables end-to-end collaboration.

4. Privacy controls

Collaboration, however, should not come at the cost of security.

The thought of monitoring multiple campaigns in a single reporting tool might make you break out in a cold sweat. But advancements in data privacy and user access have introduced better segmentation between clients into reporting tools.

Mediatool even enables in-platform collaboration without risking client data. Each client resides in a distinct workspace with customizable user access and client-friendly sharing capabilities.

5. Scalability

Once the foundation is in place with an accurate, flexible, collaborative and secure reporting tool, brands can turn their attention to growth.

Here is where traditional marketing reporting tools really fall short. They might produce good-looking reports in the early days, but the limitations quickly become apparent when brands try to scale up:

  • Data processing limits
  • User limits
  • Inability to create custom reports
  • Limited metric or medium tracking

Standalone reporting tools often fail the future-readiness test because the amount of manual work involved in data analytics scales in line with brand growth. As with any marketing management tool, cost and capability always have a trade-off. The key to growth is planning: rather than choosing a platform that does what you need now, look for one that meets your brands needs 12 or 24 months from now.

6. Integrations

Let’s stick with the changeable nature of marketing to discuss third-party integrations.

As new platforms emerge, brands need to adapt quickly. Audiences aren’t loyal to platforms, so the strategies brands use to reach their clients’ customers are increasingly diverse.

The trouble with traditional marketing reporting tools is that they don’t easily allow this agility. You can usually bring a new data feed into the reporting tool, but quality and consistency are often questionable. Data tracking is messy because there is an intermediate step making things more complicated.

For example, if Google Analytics is your go-to marketing reporting tool, you will miss a wealth of data relating to customer behavior before they reach your website. The solution is to track different channels, usually in spreadsheets, and create manual reports that compare pre and post-click data. Or you could link all the platforms to a marketing reporting tool that shortcuts some of the work – although you’ll still need to manually match data.

The more efficient alternative is to combine all your platforms in Mediatool using third-party integrations. Integrations simplify end-to-end data tracking, giving you a holistic view of marketing performance at every stage of the campaign. 

7. Ease of use

Last but certainly not least, your brands reporting tool needs to be user-friendly. More than just a good-looking UI, this means making key features easy to find and providing valuable feedback to users.

User-friendliness, in our opinion, means:

  • Web-based platform for access anywhere
  • Logical workflows
  • Intuitive dashboard design
  • Customizable views
  • Multi-layered data filters 
  • Simple sharing features
  • Easy report generation

Naturally, any powerful campaign management tool will have a learning curve. If the tool is too easy to use, it’s usually a sign of limited functionality. 

But by the same token, you shouldn’t need to spend days onboarding new team members before they can generate marketing reports.

A high-value marketing reporting tool finds the sweet spot of user-friendliness and functionality, where a little training from the provider is enough to hit the ground running. 

What’s the best reporting tool?

The “best” reporting tool for advertisers is the one that meets your team’s needs now and in the future. Here are a few tips to help you find the best tool for your business:

Think ahead

Like any martech, reporting tools for advertisers are an investment. So make sure you’re gearing up for long-term gains, not short-term fixes.

Trust the track record

Read through the software provider’s testimonials and client case studies to judge whether it’s a good fit, both in terms of similar characteristics and use cases.

Do the math

Most digital marketing tools promise productivity boosts with features like automation and data integration. For example, Mediatool saves around 8 hours every month on routine reporting tasks.

But where Mediatool adds value is in effectiveness. The end-to-end campaign management functionality doesn’t just save time. It also gives you better insights to make business decisions, and levels up the reports you send to clients.

Don’t forget about the bigger picture

Technology is only one part of the productivity equation. You need to balance tech with strategy, people, and processes to get true value from your investment.

Mediatool is the campaign management platform for big-picture thinkers. If you’ve come across Mediatool while searching for the best marketing reporting tool, then you’re in the right place.

But there’s much more our campaign management platform can do for growing brands.

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[2023 Update]
[2023 Update]