Client expectations have skyrocketed for communications agencies—and for good reason. Seventy-seven percent of chief marketing officers feel pressure to demonstrate that their campaigns are delivering improved return on investment. Marketers demand transparency about their public relations, marketing and social media programs to justify to their leadership team and Board of Directors—justifying that company dollars are put to beneficial use. And while their supporting agencies might be hard at work producing results, their reporting methods are not providing insights into how PR, social and marketing programs and results may be impacting business goals.
The truth is, many communications agencies rely on numerous tools to track and present results on PR, social media and marketing activities. As beneficial as they are, these tools are often limited to providing data only on one type of program and usually do not demonstrate the business impact of the result. Add to the fact that many clients work with several agencies that each use their own separate tools, and now you have a complex challenge if you want to build a comprehensive PR, social and digital and marketing report that includes the impact the work is having.
Now we can dig a little deeper into the current marketing reporting landscape and how agencies can better work with their clients to provide them with the results they need to be successful.
Current reporting tools are no match for rising client expectations
Many communications agencies deliver their monthly reports in a static format, either via a Microsoft Word document or PowerPoint presentation. Their monthly activities tend to be written out like a laundry list of items, such as topics and reporters pitched, contributed articles developed, media coverage secured, analyst briefings staffed, among countless other activities. Internal marketing teams are then tasked with identifying which activities provided value by cross-referencing them with data from other platforms like social media analytics, web traffic data and demand generation tools, and against various timeframes. Considering the average mid-sized technology company’s marketing technology stack consists of 27 different tools, the manual reporting process and correlation to business impact becomes quite time-consuming and unwieldy. This is large effort put into a task as simple as determining which contributed articles created the most website traffic spikes, for example.
Through this model, clients also cannot see the real-time status and business results of their communications program because once data is entered into the document it immediately becomes history and cannot include what is happening in real-time. What is more, companies often cannot access these reports and must rely on the interpretation of the data from their agencies. This becomes a larger issue when the leadership team and Board of Directors have questions about performance, as it might take days or even weeks for agencies to provide an accurate answer, causing further client frustration. Reporting methods of the past simply are not enough in today’s fast-paced marketing landscape.
Strengthening client-agency relationships with a comprehensive dashboard
For enhanced collaboration between clients and agencies, agencies must shift toward modern reporting technologies that can provide real-time, actionable data and insights. Fortunately, modern reporting tools exist today that integrate PR, social media and marketing programs into a single, comprehensive platform. Modern marketing reporting dashboards can summarize marketing and communications results, within any date range, to provide real-time insights for marketing executives. This allows them to enhance their marketing strategies, make the best use of their resources and take immediate action. Marketing leaders can also import their marketing reports using open application programming interfaces (APIs) into the dashboard and obtain access to their marketing key performance indicators—all in one spot, providing them with maximum visibility.
Modern reporting dashboards take considerable pressure off marketing leaders, who might need to obtain instant updates about their integrated communications program, such as comparing critical metrics against their competitors. In turn, their agencies will not be scrambling at the last minute to compile a manual report, which can amount to a significant amount of time, money and resources.
The future of martech is integrated
As client expectations increase, disparate reporting tools and manual reports just will not cut it anymore. The marketing landscape is shifting and marketing leaders must be able to make a direct connection between social media, marketing and PR, while understanding which results have provided a true business impact. With 91% of marketers at midsized and enterprise companies agreeing that marketing technology tools that consolidate multiple technologies are most appealing, it is evident that the integrated approach is here to stay.