By combining metrics from multiple data sources, you can create more informative, more insightful reporting dashboards.
Marketing | Sep 21
Stefana Zaric on August 3, 2021 (last modified on August 2, 2021) • 20 minute read
Imagine you’re still in school. Your essays, homework, and quizzes tell you how you’re doing in real-time, and if you’re not happy, you still have time to change something in your study system and improve your grades.
But after you get your final grade on your final exam, you can only look back on your whole performance and try to draw conclusions – what did you do well? How can you do better next time?
The situation is similar when it comes to marketing monitoring vs. reporting.
Will you prioritize checking on your social media or Google Ads daily? Or will you let your campaign finish and then analyze it to see what you can improve next time? Or both?
Both monitoring and reporting have their pros and cons, so we asked 30+ marketing experts to share their experiences with us.
Which one trumps the other? Are they equally important for great results?
Let’s dive in.
Marketing monitoring revolves around tracking your current marketing activities to find out if your campaign is indeed achieving the desired goals.
During this process, you may discover that some of your activities are bringing excellent results, so you may increase the budget meant for them. On the other hand, you may notice that specific ads aren’t as successful as you thought they would be, so you can pause or modify them.
When your marketing campaigns or other activities are finished, or at the end of a specific time period (for example, year’s quarter), you may put together a report to analyze the results you’ve achieved.
You’ll typically report your progress to the company stakeholders and present them with the ROI of your marketing activities, as well as with an actionable plan on how to get an even better outcome.
Editor’s note: Does your client need a performance update mid-campaign? With Databox’s Scorecards, you can select up to 15 metrics and automate performance updates to your whole company, individual departments, or client.
Although you’re using the same data, the processes of monitoring and reporting on your marketing activities aren’t the same.
First of all, marketing monitoring happens more often. Some marketers do it daily, while others even check on their marketing campaigns several times a day.
The responses in one of our surveys were quite interesting:
On the other hand, marketing reports are typically written weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. You pull the data you’ve been collecting over this time range and report on it to your clients or managers.
So, how often do marketers report on their marketing efforts? The responses we got here were also interesting:
Most of our respondents claim they create up to five reports a month – 20% of them write no more than three, while around 55% of marketers create three to five monthly marketing reports.
And does reporting take up a lot of your time?
The participants in this Databox study (around 38%) said they usually don’t need more than an hour to compile the report, while over 20% of people use automation tools to create them.
Let’s go back to the differences between these two activities. When you’re monitoring your marketing efforts, you get a chance to make adjustments on the go – while your campaigns are still running. You can test different solutions and see which brings you better results.
But once your campaign is done and you create a report, you can’t go back and change it – you’re reporting past activities.
Another difference is that you may use different tools for these two activities. Our survey has shown that 24% of respondents use one set of tools to monitor their marketing activities, while they use different ones for reporting.
Despite the differences, marketing monitoring and marketing reporting have one crucial thing in common: their goal is to help you understand how well your efforts have resonated with your audience and what you can do to accomplish even more in the future.
Need a tool that could help you with both? Check out our business dashboards for tracking and reporting on data from all the different tools you’re using.
But how do you know when to prioritize which? Sometimes, you simply need to choose where you’re going to allocate your time and energy. To help you make this decision more easily, we asked over 30 marketing experts what their best practices are and what they consider more important.
Let’s dig deeper into the importance of marketing monitoring and marketing reporting.
Many marketing experts will confirm that marketing monitoring and reporting are equally important. However, here are a few situations when monitoring may play a more essential role.
Rohan Kadam of Biking Know How says marketing monitoring may be more important when you’re running a small business and you need to make sure you spend money as efficiently as possible.
“I operate with a small team. Since the size of my business is small, it is very important to monitor my marketing efforts to make sure that I spend efficiently. My whole focus has always been on making sure that my marketing efforts reap maximum benefit”, says Kadam and recommends a few tools that help him optimize marketing monitoring.
“I use Ahrefs to monitor my SEO efforts and I use Google Ads and Facebook Ads platform to monitor my SEM efforts. The best part of using these tools is that they help me make informed decisions when it comes to my marketing.”
Kadam isn’t the only one with this opinion. “I think what is the most beneficial in my work and would probably be best for smaller to medium-sized companies is marketing monitoring,” says Saneem Ahearn of Colorescience.
“Monitoring your campaigns is so important because you are getting real-time information on what is running successfully in your campaigns, how many conversions you’re earning, and the clicks that are being generated. For smaller budgets, this can help to prevent large portions of your campaign budget from being wasted. If you run an A/B test in your campaigns, this can also help you get a more definite idea of what to include in future campaigns.”
When you’re reporting on your marketing activities, you’re not looking at your data in real-time. If you’re not monitoring your campaigns, you may miss a chance to fix something that could have saved your money or brought you better results.
“Marketing monitoring is an ongoing process that allows you to assess the minor details in your marketing strategy, evaluate your performance live rather than later in time, and make small-scale changes based on sudden trends; all that was just mentioned ensure that your set plans will work wonderfully,” says Infotracer’s Ben Hartwig.
“I believe marketing monitoring is a tad more important for the control it gives you to do on-the-spot adjustments and avoid any issues before it is too late.”
Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles agrees that monitoring is the only way to notice sudden spikes or drops in your data in real-time. “We monitor our accounts on a daily basis in case of any sudden changes in performance. That’s not to say we’ll take action unless there’s something serious in play as you generally want to see how trends and patterns evolve before taking action. But monitoring for any sudden spikes or cliff edge falls is important for overall account performance.”
Vickie Pierre of SR22InsuruanceQuotes.org adds that taking immediate action is especially important when you’re split testing different versions of your campaigns. “It’s simple”, says Pierre. “As you regularly monitor your marketing efforts, you have on-the-spot insight as to whether your efforts are moving the needle backward or forward. What’s more, is that if you’re A/B testing, you can gauge the success in an up-to-date manner and adjust, rather than waiting until the end.”
Pierre also gives an imaginative example that perfectly reflects the importance of marketing monitoring: “Imagine a racecar driver who waits until the very end of a race to make adjustments to his vehicle, when he could’ve easily addressed key issues in a quick pit stop? The same is true with marketing monitoring. It gives you an opportunity to respond right away. And when it’s all said and done, that immediate attention can result in saved time, resources, and financial outcomes.”
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Connor Hewson of Assured Marketing believes the data in your marketing reports are always more informative if you’ve been monitoring your campaigns before they ended.
“I will always place a slight emphasis on the monitoring of marketing campaigns rather than the reporting”, explains Hewson. “The reason for this is simply down to the fact that if monitoring is not given enough attention then when generating reports the information listed on them will always be less informative. When monitoring marketing campaigns it is vital that KPI’S and other factors are given close attention. Whether the campaign’s budget is small or large, the only way to ensure that it is being spent effectively is through successful monitoring of the campaign’s progress.”
And it’s true – there isn’t much to report on unless you’re monitoring your campaigns since the beginning. “I would go with marketing monitoring because I think it is inclusive of reporting. You see, as a marketer who has to market her own business and those of my many clients, I have to be very strategic in every that I do, especially when dealing with small businesses that have limited resources (time and money)” says Kennette Burgess of FOCUS Marketing & Development Solutions, Inc.
“As a strategist, if I am monitoring my marketing to maximize the effectiveness of a business or campaign and increase sales/awareness, then I am reviewing analytics, reports, industry trends, competitors, ensuring my competitive advantage is still being delivered, etc. I am ensuring I reach my or my client’s goals for that campaign or project by monitoring all of these things. I have to monitor and analyze before I can report back to my clients”, explains Burgess.
Alina Clark of CocoDoc says that knowing what your competitors are doing is important if you want to keep improving your products and services as you go. “In business, the true test of success is how well you handle competition, and whether you can offer something more than the competition.
As a Saas provider, we invest a lot in marketing monitoring because we need to know what our competitors are doing. Marketing monitoring helps us collect insights and data on our potential customers, and how to improve our product in order to get more customers.”
Marketing monitoring is also a faster way to learn if there are trends in your data that you can use to improve your future marketing strategy.
Nelson Sherwin of PEO Companies explains: “Marketing monitoring is far more important to us than marketing reporting, as that’s how we collect data regarding our current marketing habits and create new strategies for the future. Reports give us a good indication of where we are and where we need to be, but monitoring allows us to investigate why certain trends are happening and what we can do to step up our game.”
Other marketing professionals that participated in our study claimed that reporting was more important for executing successful marketing strategies.
Nathan Sebastian of GoodFirms even says ”the primary reason is that the marketing reports will always be the core of all marketing strategies. A marketing report gives a bird’s eye view of what is working for the business and what is not.”
In what situations does marketing reporting carry more weight than monitoring?
To truly understand how your business is doing, where your expenses are at, and what you should plan for the future, you need to analyze your marketing reports, says Eden Cheng of PeopleFinderFree.
“To successfully achieve your business goals, you should thoroughly study and work on marketing reports as it will give you a good sense of how your business is performing. Reporting gives useful insights on company expenses, growth, and profits which will help in determining future projects, budgets, and marketing plans. It also highlights current problems the company is facing and might come up with ways to fix them.”
Emily Perez of Kitchen Infinity believes reporting helps us evaluate the performance of each strategy we implement and find what’s working more easily. “After investing in different marketing strategies that companies feel are effective, marketing reporting helps businesses track and monitor the performance of each marketing strategy they implement. As a result, it will be easy to identify which methods are working and the ones that are not producing the desired results. Marketing monitoring is simply about checking the performances of marketing strategies without any follow-up actions in mind.”
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Cheng also mentions that marketing reporting “can also identify new growth opportunities for the company to expand and set future goals.”
Andre Oentoro of Milkwhale agrees: “By reporting, you can read the results and create a forecast for the future. Marketing reporting will also show you how your marketing effort is doing as a whole picture, so you can truly pinpoint what you need to do and what you need to improve. Simply monitoring only tackles minor issues at hand whereas reporting shows you the problem and what you need to do as a whole.”
Accurate reports may sometimes save your time. You don’t need to spend many hours a week on marketing monitoring if you can ensure the accuracy of your marketing reports. You can do that by using high-quality tools.
Zarina Bahadur of 123 Baby Box says: “Marketing reporting is more important because if the reports are accurate, one may not need to monitor that frequently. So it is best to have precise marketing reports. It will help in marketing monitoring a lot!”
Sometimes, your clients will want to know exactly what they’re investing in and why you’re running specific ads or engaging in other marketing activities. Creating a marketing report for your client can help you explain your strategy and results, and put an emphasis on your accomplishments while providing your clients or managers with clear and digestible information about spending and ROI.
Sai Blackbyrn of CoachFoundation claims that “marketing reporting helps us make sense of all the data generated through promotional activities. These data-driven insights are what we use to inform decision-makers about budgets and KPIs. These reports also help justify marketing efforts and spend because they provide a holistic view of the impact of each marketing strategy that we are using.”
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“It doesn’t matter how experienced or intuitive a marketer is.” says GoodFirms’ Nathan Sebastian. “The intuitions and expertise will only help the business to a certain extent. Every marketer will need solid data to back their solid theories. Marketing reporting will help get exactly that.”
According to Sebastian, you can pull data from your report that can help you in many aspects of your marketing efforts. First of all, you will learn more about your customer journey and identify where they may be issues. Additionally, this data will enable your marketing and sales teams to align and optimize data flow so everyone can take the necessary actions to improve the overall strategy. All of which can have an incredibly positive impact on your revenue.
It’s hard to make sense of all the data you’re collecting without creating a report to gather them all in one place in a clear, visualized way, agrees Karol Nowacki of Tidio. “Marketing reporting helps us to connect all crucial dots.” says Nowacki and adds:
“Based on reports, we can discuss whether the marketing strategies we currently use are going in the right direction and what improvements should be made to achieve our business goals. In my opinion, marketing monitoring without reporting can be just a bunch of abstract information, difficult to understand and draw conclusions from.”
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Many experts agree that you may get the best results by combining marketing monitoring and reporting. Each activity has its own purpose and benefits, so why not take the best of both worlds?
Ashley Cummings of Searchlight Content LLC says that “if you don’t monitor your marketing efforts, you won’t have much to report on. If you don’t send out a report, your teams won’t know what is working, what isn’t working, and what adjustments they need to make. I think the best approach is a data dashboard tool that automates the monitoring and reporting processes. That way, you can easily keep tabs on all of your campaigns.”
So, one simply doesn’t go without the other. Jeff Baker of Brafton agrees: “I believe marketing monitoring should INFORM marketing reporting. Ideally, monitoring the correct KPIs should result in commercially relevant insights in your marketing reporting.”
Miranda Yan of VinPit explains why each of these activities are critical for your business:
“On the one hand, monitoring lets you know about the changes and ongoing trends in the market; on the other, reporting tells whether your strategies are efficient enough to deal with the fluctuations or not.
Since our company makes use of strategic KPIs the most and focuses on long-term goals, marketing reporting is something that we can’t do without. A marketing report lets us know about the betterments we need to implement to continue reaping fruitful results and realize the mistakes we have been making, as it’s a report formulated after observing operations over a longer time span. It provides us with a bigger and clearer picture of our working model and the success rate of our strategies.”
Ted Capwell of Safe Trade Binary Options adds that keeping tabs on both marketing monitoring and reporting makes your business look serious, regardless of what your clients may require.
“Both are necessary when it comes to the talk of business because some clients need only business and some clients need business along with the reporting. And I believe that as a professional you need to focus on both marketing monitoring and marketing reporting not only for the clients but also for the business perspective to look like or show professionalism among the clients and it is necessary.”
Our final conclusion may be the following: use marketing monitoring for your day-to-day business and create effective and accurate marketing reports that you’ll be able to understand, present, and act on.
“Thanks to tools like Google Analytics or Ahrefs, we can see how we perform on a regular basis and adjust our marketing activities along the way. Marketing monitoring helps us achieve our short and long-term goals and follow any market or industry changes”, says Dorota Lysienia of LiveCareer.
“However, marketing reporting gives us a chance to measure our progress, learn from our mistakes, and make sure that we stick to our general marketing strategy. Marketing reporting is also essential for our management and stakeholders. By showing what we do and how we perform every quarter, our marketing team can get feedback and inspiration from people outside our department. That way we can improve our marketing efforts and contribute to the general success of our company.”
As you’ve seen, both marketing monitoring and reporting play a significant role in the successful implementation of your marketing strategy. Monitoring gives you a chance to react as soon as you notice an issue or sudden drop in traffic, social media activity, etc., and is more important for your day-to-day marketing tasks.
On the other hand, without a proper marketing report, you can’t understand the whole picture and see how these changes and improvements you’ve made affect your overall success. Reports can also be crucial if you’re performing marketing campaigns for clients or to justify your spending to the stakeholders.
What’s going to be more important for your business? We trust you won’t have a hard time making that decision after reading these tips from experienced marketing professionals.
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