Automation is a must-have for most of today’s businesses. In fact, 66% of organizations have tried or integrated automation in their business processes.
Is your agency one of those companies?
If you’d like to try automation or add more automated processes to your workflow, automated reporting is a great starting point for agencies. We consulted 16 agency professionals about their experiences with reporting automation.
In this blog post, you’ll learn more about automated reporting and how our respondents benefit from it.
Let’s get started.
What Is Report Automation (And Why Does It Matter?)
Report automation, also known as automated reporting, is the process of automatically generating and sharing reports at specific intervals.
Let’s say you need to report on the number of projects you complete per client every month. Without automation, you’d add the project totals for each client to your report manually. Meanwhile, automated reporting software would automatically track those numbers for you and generate a monthly report in a few clicks.
Many data and analytics programs have built-in automated reporting features, but you’ll get the most in-depth capabilities from dedicated reporting software like Databox. These platforms combine data from multiple sources to generate more complex reports.
Why should you care about report automation? The professionals we surveyed ranked four main benefits:
Our respondents mainly value reporting automation for its time and cost savings. They also appreciate its increased data accessibility, potential for growth and support for real-time decision making.
Agency professionals also mentioned the perks of automated reporting in previous surveys we conducted. When we asked them about the best ways to improve profitability, some of them mentioned automating regular tasks like reporting.
Related: Google Analytics Automated Reports: Everything You Need to Know
5 Benefits of Automated Reporting for Agencies
The experts we surveyed brought up five additional benefits of reporting automation when we asked about its influence on their businesses. Before we dig in, let’s give those answers some context.
Most of these respondents come from marketing agencies, while a few work in dev agencies. Many of their answers, however, can apply to agencies of all types.
Most of the pros we consulted have a lot of experience with automated reporting, with 81.25% stating they’ve used it for three or more years. They can back their answers up with years of use.
Since most of the respondents come from marketing agencies, their preferred tools lean toward an advertising and SEO focus. More than 3/4 use Google Analytics, while more than half use Google Search Console. But, at least 25% use reporting-dedicated platforms like Google Data Studio and Databox.
It’s also worth noting that all of the platforms mentioned in this question have free versions, so you can try them yourself.
Keeping these factors in mind, respondents named five major benefits of reporting automation:
- Saved Time
- Better Data Accuracy
- Enhanced Competitor Analysis
- Improved Client Collaboration
- Compounded Benefits
1. Saved Time
Many of the agency professionals we surveyed valued the time savings they got from automating their reporting. In addition to becoming the top-ranked benefit among the choices we provided, saved time also came up often in open-ended answers.
Matt Arceneaux of 301 Digital Media says, “Automated reporting has influenced our agency business for the positive. Since embracing automated reporting through a combination of off-the-shelf tools and custom integrations with marketing data sources, we’ve been able to not only increase the speed of delivery on reporting and insights to our clients but have been able to spend less time aggregating the quantitative data to allow for more time to analyze and provide deep, qualitative analysis to our clients — allowing them to extract the maximum value from their marketing and media insights.”
Matt Weber of Weber & Co adds, “Automated reporting has tremendously influenced my agency business. I used to spend hours manually updating client reports every week, but now I can do it in five minutes by plugging in the data into an automated program that automatically updates everything for me. This has allowed me to save both time and money that otherwise would have been spent on hiring someone else or outsourcing the task to another company.”
Weber also noticed a similar benefit to Arceneaux’s: “In addition, I have been able to increase the quality of my client communications by being able to provide them with more detailed and accurate reports. In general, automated reporting has made it easier for me to grow my agency business because it offers a robust solution that really reduces administrative time spent on client reporting.”
In other words, when you save time on your data reporting, you’ll get more time to analyze that data. The parts of your schedule dedicated to data can go toward drawing conclusions from your reports instead of building those reports in the first place.
2. Better Data Accuracy
When you’re digging through data manually, it’s easy to miss a figure or accidentally add a zero. Agencies have a lot of numbers to work with, and humans can only keep up with so much.
Since automated reporting platforms pull data directly from their sources, you get a much lower risk of human error.
“With automation, the accuracy of our marketing data improved significantly,” says CocoFinder’s Harriet Chan. “We have reliable data pipelines taking care of customer data from various channels, and they produce insights that we can use to formulate strategy. The system operates on its own, and we do not need a team of analysts to check its accuracy. The good thing is that it presents data in an organized manner with clear insights for action.”
Charles Demarkles of Demarkles Digital considers data accuracy one of the two main purposes of automated reporting. “It ensures data integrity, in that, you can put a batch of data into your tools and know that there is no risk of human error in writing calculations, etc., which can help especially when training junior staff.” (The second purpose? As you might guess, it was time savings.)
PRO TIP: How Well Are Your Marketing KPIs Performing?
Like most marketers and marketing managers, you want to know how well your efforts are translating into results each month. How much traffic and new contact conversions do you get? How many new contacts do you get from organic sessions? How are your email campaigns performing? How well are your landing pages converting? You might have to scramble to put all of this together in a single report, but now you can have it all at your fingertips in a single Databox dashboard.
Our Marketing Overview Dashboard includes data from Google Analytics and HubSpot Marketing with key performance metrics like:
- Sessions. The number of sessions can tell you how many times people are returning to your website. Obviously, the higher the better.
- New Contacts from Sessions. How well is your campaign driving new contacts and customers?
- Marketing Performance KPIs. Tracking the number of MQLs, SQLs, New Contacts and similar will help you identify how your marketing efforts contribute to sales.
- Email Performance. Measure the success of your email campaigns from HubSpot. Keep an eye on your most important email marketing metrics such as number of sent emails, number of opened emails, open rate, email click-through rate, and more.
- Blog Posts and Landing Pages. How many people have viewed your blog recently? How well are your landing pages performing?
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Analytics and HubSpot Marketing experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template that contains all the essential metrics for monitoring your leads. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your HubSpot and Google Analytics accounts with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
3. Enhanced Competitor Analysis
Agency data analysis doesn’t involve only information from your team and clients — it also uses competitor data. Data-driven competitor analyses help agencies find opportunities to improve. Automated reporting makes those analyses more efficient with predictive analytics.
While most respondents refer to reporting and analytics platforms in their answers, David Farkas from The Upper Ranks commented on CRM platforms’ automated social listening reporting. “We acquired crucial competitor information and kept on top of social conversations as well as industry trends. It has been critical to leverage social listening features in CRM solutions,” Farkas begins.
He continues, “In truth, social listening is a relatively recent practice that is quickly gaining traction among businesses looking to acquire a competitive advantage. Given the significant rise in CRM usage over the years, it’s critical to employ AI-based predictive analytics to better plan for growth and adversity.”
When you perform social listening manually, you have to look through search results for multiple platforms. Meanwhile, automated social listening platforms generate reports for you from across the web. This automation makes it easier to perform social listening for competitor names to see what your audience thinks of them.
4. Improved Client Collaboration
When you automate your reports, your clients benefit from them, too. Your client reporting will become much more efficient and transparent, helping your clients work with you effectively.
At The Hawker’s Club, Hannah Blackburn experienced faster data feedback loops and new considerations for automation overload when working with automated reports. She expected that benefit and drawback, but something else happened that she didn’t expect.
Blackburn explains, “The availability of metrics meant that both agencies and brands were better informed about each campaign. This led to more talking (and less wondering or questioning the data), which ultimately created a very collaborative blue skies approach.”
By making your data more accessible, automated reporting simplifies client reporting. Just make sure to follow the best practices so you don’t confuse your clients with too much information.
5. Compounded Benefits
When commenting on their experiences with automated reporting, many respondents couldn’t list just one benefit. Instead, they saw many interconnected benefits happening. These advantages built on each other to improve their overall data efficiency.
Flywheel Digital’s Michael Steele noticed how many of the benefits we covered today lead from one to another. “Shifting from manual to automated reporting has positively influenced my agency because it has resulted in a massive amount of time saved. My team is able to spend less time collecting data and more time analyzing it!” Steele says.
Steele continues, “Plus, with all the time saved, we’re able to generate more reports in less time and get more valuable data to more clients each month. Automated reporting also eliminates human error and makes the data more accurate, allowing us to view useful information from various sources in one centralized location.”
Dan Ni from messaged.com also saw the connections among saved time, cost efficiency, and data integrity. “Delivering quality work to clients and creating value for them is and always has been one of our main goals, and hence to better optimize this we transitioned to automated reporting. And with that transition came not one but various benefits,” Ni says.
“Firstly, it saved our time and increased our efficiency by eliminating the multiple steps needed in manual report making to a mere single click with the perfect report at the ready. And since with saving time comes saving money, with employees focusing more on more productive tasks we were able to save money from that. And most importantly for our clients, it becomes much more convenient and efficient to gain secure access to reports and since we already work in email automation we further added ease by sending the reports periodically through an automated email.” Ni explains.
Automate Reporting for Your Agency with Databox
Now that you are well aware of all the benefits of automated reporting for your agency, all that is left to do is to choose a reporting software that will help you streamline your reporting processes.
With Databox, you can automate reporting for your agency in just a few clicks.
Connect your data sources to visualize your most important data in one place, build dashboards quickly with our large palette of free templates, and customize the flow of your report so your clients get a fully personalized experience each time you share a report.
Interested? Sign up for Databox now to get started.