Goals Based Reporting: Everything You Need to Know

Author's avatar Reporting UPDATED Apr 9, 2024 PUBLISHED Sep 22, 2023 11 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    You already know how to organize your data in a traditional report.

    “We did this in July, and in August, our numbers are looking much better. The CTR is higher than the industry average, and we have a more engaged audience than our main competitor.”

    This information will help you paint an overall picture of your performance in the past month, but your client might ask:

    “Are we closer to reaching the goal we’ve set?”

    Oops! You may not have thought about that while writing your report. You’ve focused on your market benchmarks and being better than your competition. And what about the objectives your client wanted to accomplish?

    Enter goal-based reporting.

    Keeping your client’s objectives in mind when reporting on your efforts is critical for maintaining a good relationship with them. Goal-based reporting can be an excellent supplemental report that helps you stay on the right track with your strategy and proves the value of your work to the client.

    If you’re wondering what goal-based reporting includes and how it improves the collaboration between you and your clients, this article will help you clear all your doubts and learn how to create effective goal-based reports.

    Let’s dive right in.

    What Is Goal-Based Reporting?

    Goal-based reporting refers to writing reports in which you highlight only the most relevant data (KPIs, metrics, suggestions, etc.) closely related to your client’s goals.

    Although you typically state the report’s goal in each one you write for your clients, goal-based reports are a tad different. You’re focused on your client’s goals and developing a story around them, which affects the report’s overall structure and contents.

    That’s why a goal-based report can also look different from a conventional business report or marketing report. Traditional reporting typically focuses on how you’re performing compared to the industry benchmarks, your competitors, or your past month’s performance.

    In goal-based reporting, you’re paying more attention to how you’re progressing towards your goals and how many goals you’ve managed to reach – you’re more future-oriented.

    Goal-based reporting resembles creating campaigns on social media or setting up marketing reporting software to track your performance: in many of them, you can set different goals and then measure goal completions as one of the most important metrics that indicate how successful you are.

    This type of report gives you a pretty straightforward illustration of how much progress towards the client’s goals you’ve made, which strategies worked, and which didn’t as you’re simply answering one question – did I reach the goal?

    Why Is Goal-Based Reporting Important?

    There are several reasons why goal-based reporting can be effective and important for maintaining good relationships with your clients.

    It Provides Clarity

    Agency reports sometimes contain data that the client doesn’t understand or consider important. On the other hand, goal-based reports give the client a clear picture of what’s been done during the previous week, month, or year, depending on how often you present your reports.

    In client reporting, one of the most important goals an agency may have is to create streamlined, understandable reports. When you align your report data with the client’s goals and use the right benchmarks, your client will be able to follow the report and understand the results you’ve achieved.

    It Enhances Trust

    Showing your client that you understand exactly what their goals are will enhance the trust they have in you. Creating understandable reports will help them have confidence in your work because they will be able to see what you’re doing and how it pays off.

    Also, when a client trusts you’ll make the most out of the budget they’ve set aside for marketing, sales, or another type of activity, they won’t feel the need to micromanage you. This way, your overall relationship will function better.

    It Prevents Misunderstandings

    Sometimes, your client won’t understand well the metrics you include in the report. And if you include too many, the wrong ones may grab their attention. Say your social media likes are low – your client may not understand that this metric is irrelevant to their goal.

    However, if you exclude any metrics that don’t relate directly to your clients’ goals, they’ll only be able to focus on the metrics and KPIs that matter. You’ll avoid misunderstandings and additional explanations that waste your time.

    When Should Agencies Use Goal-Based Reporting?

    Reporting is just as important as anything else you do for your clients. It’s an opportunity to showcase your results and keep the client in the loop of what’s going on.

    However, your clients usually belong to another industry and they’re already overwhelmed by the core activities of their own business, so it’s critical to keep your reports effective and to the point.

    Goal-based reporting is meaningful – according to experts, it mimics a natural conversation between you and your client, which includes:

    • Exploring objectives
    • Risk tolerances
    • Possible resources

    With this in mind, long-term relationships could benefit from goal-based reporting, since it includes productive conversations about what strategies are working and generating the desired goals, and what should be adjusted or removed due to poor performance.

    If you’re looking to nurture lasting cooperation with a client who wants to be involved in strategy implementation, goal-based reports are undoubtedly the way to go. By relying on these reports, you will be able to stand out among agencies where reporting is considered a necessary evil.

    It’s essential to emphasize, as well, that goal-based reports are not meant to replace traditional reports completely. They’re still important because your client will want to know how they’re performing against their competitors and how much progress they’ve made since last month or quarter. Goal-based reports should be used to supplement traditional reporting and provide the client with a better performance understanding.

    Finances are one of the fields where goal-based reporting seems to work more efficiently than in any other. If your client has specific financial goals and aspirations (for example, revenue-wise), goal-based reporting can help you set the right expectations on what you’ll showcase during a meeting.

    As people from other industries may not always understand financial jargon, creating streamlined, well-organized goal-based reports will help you present your data in a simple way that will not overwhelm the client. At the same time, they’ll know exactly where they are regarding their goals and how much progress they’ve made.

    How to Use Goal-Based Reporting to Improve Client Relationships

    Every additional effort you make in working with your clients can contribute to them having more trust in your competence and authority. Goal-based reporting can be considered as extra energy you invest into making sure your clients achieve their goals while providing them with an ally on that path.

    We’re giving you five ways you can use goal-based reporting to enhance your client relationships.

    Build a Unique Reporting System

    Goal-based reporting can have multiple benefits for your business relationships. Not only will your agency’s work stand out as client-centric, but you’ll also manage to strengthen these relationships and build authority, trust, and loyalty.

    Traditional reporting is what most agencies do, but if you offer these additional reports that highlight the most important results, track the most relevant KPIs, and keep the client up-to-date with your performance, your reporting system will become even more effective.

    You’ll be able to visualize the whole picture of your client’s success against the industry benchmarks, but also stay on track when it comes to their unique business goals. This pretty much covers everything any client would like to know and they’ll appreciate this additional effort you’ve put into the work you do for them.

    Make the Client Feel Involved

    There will be clients who outsource all their marketing or sales activities to you and you rarely hear from them unless it’s necessary. However, most people will check in from time to time: they’ll want to know what your strategy is, what you’re doing at the moment, and how well you’re performing.

    If you include goal-based reports in your reporting meetings, you will make your client feel involved because this type of reporting usually requires a discussion with them. This chat can be fruitful because you’ll go over the results and goals together.

    At the same time, you’ll get an update on your client’s wishes and ensure the goals are still the same and keep the client informed about your activities.

    Nurture Transparent and Frequent Communication

    Open communication is a must when it comes to maintaining long-term business relationships. The same goes for frequent communication, and goal-based reporting can help you with that.

    For example, if you create the traditional marketing or strategic report once a month, that may not be enough for the client to feel involved. Or you may not be able to act on the data quickly enough to fix potential errors or update your client’s goals if they change.

    However, weekly check-ins may work much better — a 15-minute meeting is enough for you to briefly update your client about your progress towards the preset goals.

    Leverage Short-Term Goals for Motivation

    High-level business goals can be broken down into smaller, short-term goals that your clients can achieve more quickly. With goal-based reporting, you can accomplish two incredible things:

    1. You can prove the value of your work to your client by updating them about reaching the short-term goals – a set of small successes will confirm that you’re on the right track with your strategy.
    2. You can motivate your client to trust the process. Sometimes, clients feel impatient about seeing the results of your work as soon as possible. Informing them about achieving these short-term goals will keep them satisfied while you’re working on reaching the high-level ones.

    Appreciate Their Time

    Good reports are to-the-point, clear, and concise. The same goes for goal-based reporting. If you ensure that your goal-based reports are effective and provide the client with useful insights rather than meaningless numbers, you will show them that you appreciate the time they set aside to be involved in this process.

    Wasting hours on way-too-long meetings every week is no good for either of you. To avoid that, you can use automation tools to speed up the process of creating custom reports for your clients, and ensure they’re well-organized and clear so your reporting meetings can be brief and effective.

    Accomplish Your Goals with Databox Goal-Tracking Feature

    Keep your eyes on the prize, right?

    In the world of reporting, it’s “keep your eyes on the goal.” And it makes perfect sense – as long as you know what you want to achieve, you will be able to create strategies that contribute to that goal and help you get one step closer to it every day.

    And that’s exactly what your clients are going to ask: “Are we getting close to our goal?

    It can be anything: increased sales, more website traffic, higher ranking on Google or ROAS for Google Ads, reduced expenses… Whatever the goal is, it’s important to write reports that clearly display your progress towards them to your client.

    Now, if you have many clients, it can turn into a nightmare where you’ll spend more time on writing reports than doing the work. But that’s where Databox steps in.

    We don’t want you to waste your time on tasks you can easily automate. We want you to have enough time and focus to do your best work. Our goal-tracking software allows you to do just that by helping you visualize your progress and make your performance more predictable.

    This software enables you to set goals for any metric you consider relevant and track them in context rather than in a separate spreadsheet. You can track your goals in real-time without having to log into every analytics tool you use and create scorecards to keep everyone on the team up-to-date.

    Want to get notified when you’re close to hitting a goal so you can prepare a glass of champagne to celebrate? We got you. Or, in less fortunate cases, you may receive a notification that your goal is off track, so you can react promptly and fix the hiccup before it becomes an issue. Just as useful!

    And the best thing about this software? You can track it all on one screen.

    So, if YOUR goal is to stop wasting your time and take your reports to the next level, look no further than Databox. Sign up now and improve your client relationships with goal-based reporting today.

    Author's avatar
    Article by
    Stefana Zaric

    Stefana Zarić is a freelance writer & content marketer. Other than writing for SaaS and fintech clients, she educates future writers who want to build a career in marketing. When not working, Stefana loves to read books, play with her kid, travel, and dance.

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