9 Tools to Scale Your Digital Marketing in 2019

Digital marketing is probably the fastest-changing marketing field out there: New tools are being built, more platforms emerge and more channels need to be included into your marketing plan.

How not to get overwhelmed while staying on top of the latest marketing trends?

Here are a few tools that help you scale and automate some parts of your marketing routine making you a more productive and empowered marketer:

Tools to Semi-Automate Marketing Tasks

1. Automate Your Email marketing with Mailchimp

Email marketing has been predicted to die soon ever since social media networking was born. Yet, the two happily co-exist. In fact, Email marketing has been growing steadily and getting smarter too: There’s advanced segmentation options now, structured markup and marketing automation.

When it comes to the latter, don’t get discouraged: It’s easier than it sounds. It all comes down to reaching out to your customer at the exact same moment they are ready / most likely to perform an action. It cannot be done without automation, obviously.

Mailchimp is one of the easiest, user-friendliest platforms to try your hand at some basic Email marketing automation. You can set triggers to send emails to your customers at the right moment. Those email triggers may include:

  • Send a follow-up email when someone entered specific landing page on your site
  • Email birthday / holiday congratulations
  • Send abandoned cart reminders
  • Send recurring emails on the same day of each year

Mailchimp automation

2. Automate Your Lead Generation Efforts with ClickMeeting

Webinar marketing is hard enough: It needs talented hosts, solid organization skills and the whole marketing team to manage. But do you know that your webinars can drive recurring value after they were live?

ClickMeeting is the webinar platform that helps you do more with your past webinars using their on-demand webinars feature:

  1. Record webinars to create an on-demand library (to generate more leads)
  2. Re-play recorded webinars from your library any time when the topic is the same (and only do a new Q&A each time): This is a great idea for recurring demos when you basically need to repeat the same thing over and over again.

Clickmeeting on demand

3. Automate Your Customer Interactions with MobileMonkey

According to a study by Twilio, 90% of consumers want to use messaging (i.e., texting, Facebook Messenger) to communicate with businesses. It’s an overwhelming amount of customers who are ready to make a purchase but just need that final push.

How not to lose them without keeping your team online 24/7?

Automate the beginning of that conversation and, if needed, empower with real human conversation when your team is back online.

Facebook itself helps you automate some of those private interactions with customers through their Instant Replies and Away Messages.

Facebook instant replies

If you need more advanced interactions, try MobileMonkey: It allows to create Facebook Messenger chatbots that are trained to give your customers what they need at exactly the moment they are asking for that:

For example, it can send users to your on-demand webinar sign-up page whenever they are typing “webinar” when chatting with your business on Facebook:

MobileMonkey webinars

4. Scale Social Media Update Scheduling with Drumup or Mavsocial

You may be already promoting all your brand assets on social media but spreading that message once is not enough, especially when it comes to Twitter.

According to various studies, the average lifespan of a tweet is not more than 20 minutes. Even with impressive and engaged following base, you are only reaching a fraction of your Twitter audience with one Tweet at a time. That’s when recurring tweets come in handy.

Recurring tweets

You should schedule recurring Twitter promotion for the same content assets far into the future to happen on different days of the week at different time slots of the day.

Drumup and Mavsocial are two great tools that make it easier for you: Add one tweet and they will spread it out across your Twitter schedule to help you reach most of your audience:

Drumup recurring tweets

Tools to Send Instant Alerts: Emergency Preparedness Tools

5. Get Instantly Alerted of Any Anomalies with Sisense

There’s so much that can go wrong with your Online business at any given moment. Getting instantly alerted is basic disaster preparedness.

Sisense Pulse enables you can stay on top of your most important KPIs across all your dashboards. With Pulse you’ll get alerted of important anomalies that are going on right now.

These could include abnormally high clicks within your PPC campaigns (e.g. all originating from one geo location and bouncing out within a few seconds of the landing page load), an abnormally long customer support thread, an abnormally large order. Those abnormalities can mean both a good or a bad thing but in most cases there’s some type of action that need to follow (e.g. a personal follow-up email, an escalation to a different department, a quick bug fix, etc.)

Sisense Pulse

Sisense Pulse allows you to be on top of everything, from marketing campaigns to customer interactions without having to go through dozens of dashboards and stats on a daily basis. It can also automate the immediate action (e.g. a personalized email) and workflows (for your teams to know exactly what they need to do immediately).

  • Alerts allow your team to take immediate action when important business changes occur.
  • Alerts can be easily integrated into a third party application, such as Zendesk, Slack or Zapier
  • Alerts can be delivered as push notifications to your mobile device for you to act immediately

6. Get Alerted Immediately When Your Site is Down

Downtimes happen to the best of us, even huge corporate sites. We’ve all seen downtimes happen to Facebook, Google and even Twitter. The key is how fast you react.

Pingdom instant alerts allow you (as well as your dev team) to get alerted immediately when your site is down for whatever reason. The alerts are delivered in emails and text messages for you to never miss them:

pingdom alerts

It also checks your site from different IPs from around the world and alerts you whenever your site is inaccessible in a certain location, not just globally.

7. Get Alerted Whenever Your Site is Hacked with Google Search Console

If you have a website, it will be hacked one day. It’s inevitable. The sooner you understand that, the better.

Yes there are ways to make it more secure, but you can never be 100% secure when you are online.

I’ve tried all kinds of security notification systems, and Google seems to be the most reliable. It’s the fastest and it includes all kinds of hacking attacks out there. Google’s malware alerting system is the most convincing reason to get your site verified with Google, in my opinion.

Search Console email

8. Get Alerted of Your Looming Reputation Crisis with SentiOne

Reputation management is a must, we already know that. Whether your brand is actively interacting on social media or not, your customers may be publicly discussing your business on social media. And with there, there always comes a risk of social media reputation crisis.

How fast you are there to manage the crisis usually determines how successfully your brand will be able to get away with it. Therefore social media monitoring alerts are so important.

SentiOne is a solid reputation management platform that sends highly targeted email alerts whenever your brand is being discussed online. The mentions in the email are categorized by sentiment which is very useful when it comes to quickly spotting if anything weird is going on:

9. Get Alerted of Traffic Anomalies with Google Analytics Instant Alerts

Finally, Traffic fluctuations are normal but you still want to be alerted whenever they happen to be on top of that. Google Analytics Instant Alerts is an easy and free way to enable those alerts for your sites.

Custom alerts

Which tools are you planning to use in 2019 to better scale and organize your marketing? Please share!

The post 9 Tools to Scale Your Digital Marketing in 2019 appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

TopRank Marketing’s Top 6 B2B Social Media Marketing Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2019

Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2019

Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2019

That magical time of year has come once again, B2B marketers. As the end of the year draws near, we’re reflecting on what has come to pass and looking ahead to what is yet to come. We’re setting goals. We’re shaking up strategies. And we’re hoping the next year will bring more focus, insight, and success.

Undoubtedly, social media marketing is top-of-mind as we reflect and plan. From the emergence of cool new platform features to scandal and algorithm shifts, 2018 brought both opportunity and obstacles—excitement and dismay. And we expect 2019 to be no different.

So, what do B2B marketers need to keep an eye on in 2019? How will you need to adapt your social media strategies? How can you turn challenges into opportunities? Here are our top social media marketing trends and predictions for the coming year.

#1 – The Element of Trust

Seeds of mistrust in the profiles, postings, news, and information shared across social channels were planted a couple years ago. But in 2018, we’ve seen those seeds blossom.

Following its Russian ad debacle in late 2017, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March 2018, revealing that private profile information was exploited for political gain. As for Twitter, negativity, trolling, and news of fake accounts and follower counts have been growing in scope since the 2016 election, enraging many users and prompting the platform to take a hard look at how to improve civil discourse in 2018.

And to top it all off? We’re living in a world of general distrust, as the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed. In addition, a special Edelman report issued in June showed that global trust in social media is at just 41%.

The good news is that brands can and should rebuild that trust in 2019 and beyond. In fact, the special Edelman report shows that consumers—who are also your B2B buyers—are counting on brands to fix the issues.

“Four in 10 consumers say they are unlikely to become emotionally attached to a brand unless they are interacting via social media,” the Edelman report said. “But they want a better deal for their data. Brands must act to address data privacy concerns, create trusted content, and join forces with regulators, platforms and consumers to restore trust in the social media ecosystem.”

Ultimately, this will require you to align your overall digital marketing strategy around creating trust and value. More specifically for social, this means more authenticity, transparency, and active discourse with your buying audience to showcase your credibility, earn their trust, and encourage engagement.

via GIPHY

And as Debbie Friez, Influencer Strategist at TopRank Marketing points out: “This also means there’s an opportunity to for careful selection and collaboration with credible, relevant thought leaders and experts to create insightful, trustworthy content.”

We’ll get to the influencer piece in a bit. But first, all of this means being prepared for more platform changes and algorithm tweaks. Facebook announced major platform and ad changes following its mishaps, with iterations expected well into 2019 and beyond. Twitter has committed itself to purging fake accounts, fostering better conversations, and serving up better content to users.

[bctt tweet=”Brands must act to address #dataprivacy concerns, create trusted #content, and join forces with regulators, platforms and consumers to restore trust in the #socialmedia ecosystem. – @EdelmanPR” username=”toprank”]

#2 – The New Age of “Stories-telling”

When Snapchat launched its “My Story” feature back in 2014, it was an apparent wake-up call to the world’s larger, more established social networks. Instagram Stories launched in 2016, followed by Facebook beginning its rollout Facebook Stories in 2017. Now, it’s LinkedIn’s turn.

*LinkedIn recently launched “Student Voices” for university students in the United States. But the platform confirmed plans to build Stories out for more users. Will that include brand pages? Time will tell.

Credit: Mashable via LinkedIn

The point? The off-the-cuff, in-the-moment video and photo stories are resonating with, exciting, and engaging social media users. Why? They can be visually intriguing—and they’re short and sweet, which is good for our short attention spans. And this means the Stories format may be the future of in-app reach and engagement across channels—which no B2B marketer can afford to ignore, especially as their target buyers get younger.

Our own Nick Nelson dedicated some time to discussing marketing opportunities for Facebook Stories specifically, but his assessment has broad resonance and timeliness here.

“Since brands generally aren’t tapping into this functionality as of yet, early adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch,” he stated. “If there’s one primary takeaway from Facebook’s story (as reflected in The Social Network), it’s the tremendous business value in being first.”

While LinkedIn’s developing feature may be the most intriguing for B2B marketers like yourself, in the new year you should take stock of your current platform mix and associated strategies to determine if Stories holds potential for your audience and goals. In addition, you should keep a watchful eye on the evolution of these features, so you can make informed decisions more quickly.

[bctt tweet=”Early (Stories) adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch. @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing #trends” username=”toprank”]

#3 – The “Experiential Differential” for Social Video

Video content, both pre-produced and live content, started gaining real traction a couple years back. But today, video is officially dominating social media news feeds.

Why? No. 1: Video is engaging, and humans are visual creatures by nature. No. 2: Social media platforms have recognized video as an engagement medium that not only delights users, but also keeps them on the platform. And they’ve made tweaks to serve up more of it.

For B2B marketers, video has presented an opportunity to bring their brands, solutions, and services to life, and reach their prospects and customers in a more compelling way. But in 2019 and beyond, social video—especially live video—has the opportunity to create more than engagement—but also memorable, real-time experiences. After all, as famed customer service and experience expert, Shep Hyken, recently told us: “Customer experience is the new marketing; it’s the new brand.”

For example, Twitter recently announced that it would be taking steps to make video and broadcasts easier to find and watch live on mobile devices.

In addition, Facebook launched Facebook Watch, featuring videos from all pages and “Facebook originals.” From my perspective, this shows that the platforms are committed to driving better experiences with (great) content.

Also, consider the Twitch phenomenon. While Twitch may not consider itself a social media platform, it’s building a community where people can watch, talk, and interact. So, when it comes to creating compelling video experiences on social media, marketers should be asking themselves how they can elevate intrigue and foster engagement with their video content.

Like any marketing effort, start with data and draw insights. Earlier this year, Amanda Todorovich, Senior Director of Content and Creative Services at the Cleveland Clinic, shared her Content Marketing insights with us—with this tidbit directly applicable to social video, in my opinion.

“Always bring data to the table, especially data from search and analysis and social media engagement. These insights tell you what your customers want and need,” she said. “When your content helps fill those gaps and provides your target audiences with answers, you will build stronger relationships with them on your different platforms.”

What does your audience want and need? And how can you use video to fulfil what they’re asking for so you can build relationships and create a great experience? Commit to answering these questions in the new year.

Read: Allen Gannet Shares His Secrets to Racking Up Millions of LinkedIn Video Views #CMWorld

#4 – The Evolution of What Social Influence Looks Like

After years of incremental algorithm tweaks (and emerging scandals prompting even more), in early 2018 we marketers had to accept that brand organic reach on social media had essentially disappeared.

TopRank Marketing saw opportunity here—opportunity for B2B brands to dip their toes into the influencer marketing waters and partner with industry leaders and experts to create amazing content. However, as the year has gone on, a “crisis of influence” has emerged in a couple different forms.

First, platforms—most notably Twitter and Instagram—have had to contend with fake “bot” profiles and inflated follower counts (as the result of fake profiles). Quite obviously, this has meant that reach and resonance within target audiences aren’t reaching their full potential. Second, there’s been a lack of transparency on which posts and pitches are sponsored. And third, bad behavior on the part of recognized influencers has had a ricochet effect on brands. The latter two have had particularly dire impacts on B2C brands, but that doesn’t mean B2B brands shouldn’t be concerned.

The bottom line? It’s becoming clearer to brands, buyers, and consumers alike that influence isn’t defined by follower count and estimated reach, something we’ve been evangelizing for years.

via GIPHY

While “big players” certainly play an important role in your influencer mix, variety is absolutely the spice of life now and into the future—and niche and micro-influencers are growing in numbers and importance.

In 2019, B2B marketers need to double-down on vetting and recruiting influencers who are authentically interested in their products or services, and who are genuinely active in the communities of interest. When this is done right, it’s a win for all parties.

In addition, a commitment to ongoing nurturing is a must to drive success.

“We’ve found that B2B influencers will be more invested in the brand when the brand invests more in an ongoing relationship with the influencer,” Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing’s CEO, recently wrote. “One of the most effective ways to engage B2B influencers on an ongoing basis is through content collaboration.”

He added: “That content doesn’t always need to be a blockbuster campaign, either. Twitter chats, short quotes, quick videos and social engagement are all easy and impactful ways for brands to engage with influencers on an ongoing basis.”

[bctt tweet=”Twitter chats, short quotes, quick videos and #socialmedia engagement are all easy and impactful ways for brands to engage with influencers on an ongoing basis. – @leeodden #InfluencerMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#5 – The Rebirth of Groups

On LinkedIn and Facebook, Groups have been around for a while. But when the community-centric spaces started to lose steam, both eventually took steps to pull them into separate apps. However, those moves fell flat of expectations.

In 2017, Facebook announced it would pull the app and integrate the feature closer to the user experience, according to TechCrunch. Then Facebook rolled out “Facebook Groups for Pages,” allowing brands to rally engagement and conversation around interests and topics. And just a few months ago, LinkedIn relaunched Groups in the main app, after “quietly” shutting the app down earlier in the year. And according to both platforms, more updates and features for Groups are to come in the new year.

But why are these social media giants focusing on Groups? The widely publicized scandals, and user’s growing privacy concerns and calls for more real connections, are all likely culprits.

Why should Groups be on your radar in 2019? Because groups are captive audiences, made up of people who are actively looking to engage, seeking authenticity, and wanting to be part of a community.

If you’re thinking of adding Groups to your B2B social media marketing mix in 2019, it will require a different approach. While these spaces present marketing opportunities, they’re not places for product-centric messaging.

When it comes to a B2B marketer’s preferred platform, LinkedIn, the new features within Groups stress exclusivity, privacy, security, and less distractions for meaningful conversations. But it’s an opportunity for B2B marketers to establish thought leadership since they’ll be showcasing their knowledge—which can lead prospects back to company pages and marketing materials.

[bctt tweet=”Why should #LinkedIn and #Facebook Groups be on your radar in 2019? Groups are captive audiences, made up of people who are actively looking to engage, seeking authenticity, and wanting to be part of a community. – @CaitlinMBurgess” username=”toprank”]

#6 – The Visualization & Personalization of Pay-to-Play Options

For years, social media platforms have been making algorithm and layout tweaks aimed at improving user experience, as well as revenue numbers. As a result, organic reach has effectively disappeared and the use of paid tactics has been rising.

But in light of the aforementioned scandals, user privacy concerns, and new data privacy laws, as well as the increasing need to tailor experiences to make meaningful connections, most major social media platforms are retooling their ad options to be more visual (eh hem, video) and personalized. And if they haven’t already, they will in 2019 and beyond.

For example, stricter ad targeting, customer satisfaction ratings, and ad transparency have been some of the bigger changes Facebook made this year. But the platform plans to invest in creating more advertising opportunities within its Facebook Watch platform, stating: “Next year we will continue to provide advertisers with more options to tailor their video ad campaigns and connect with their target audience.”

Facebook Watch

As another example, LinkedIn recently launched Dynamic Video Ads, which definitely need to be on the radar of B2B marketers.

“Dynamic Ads help you build deeper relationships with your audience by automatically customizing your ad creative with the publicly available information from LinkedIn member profiles,” LinkedIn said. “With this added visibility and scale, you can create more memorable experiences with the people that matter most to your business.”

And let’s talk about Pinterest for a second. While not as widely used in B2B, it has Instagram and Facebook appeal and potential for the right brands. The platform began testing wide-format video ads earlier this year, and just last month they debuted carousel ad formats, which boast enhanced targeting options.

Pinterest Carousel Ads

Finally, Snapchat, which is seeing an uptick in interest and use in the B2B space, launched Story Ads and just announced last week that it was rolling out retargeting, location-based options for its advertisers.

Snapchat <a href=business" width="500" height="254" />

So, as we head into 2019, all social media platforms are doubling down on more visual, personalized ad options, and marketers should take advantage.

Ready. Set. Action.

As you prepare for 2019, remember what 2018 taught us—your prospects and customers are consumers, and consumers are skeptical and searching for truth, authenticity, meaningful engagement, and transparency.

As social networks continue to make platform tweaks in the interest of user experience and building back trust, so to must B2B marketers if they want to build stronger, trusting relationships with their audiences.

There will be challenges, but smart strategies and the willingness to adapt can help you overcome them and realize opportunities.

Content is the foundation of social media marketing. What’s on tap for 2019 in the Content Marketing realm? Check out our picks top Content Marketing trends and predictions to watch in 2019.

The post TopRank Marketing’s Top 6 B2B Social Media Marketing Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2019 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

The Marketer’s Go-To Guide for Annual Reporting

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Annual reporting is typically a dreaded task. No one likes sorting through analytics programs, digging for abstract data to try to come to concrete conclusions, especially if there is a lot on the line depending on what those reports say.

At SEMrush, we found that each individual annual report takes an average of five hours to complete, and the reports may vary in accuracy depending on what they’re trying to assess. This can be stressful, and it’s time spent doing repetitive work that could be used to tackle other, more productive projects.

With the right tools and processes in place, however, you can make this dreaded task a lot more pain-free and much more efficient. In this post, we’re going to look at how to quickly create accurate annual reports that will wow your team, your boss, and your clients.

Why you need annual reporting

Annual reporting will give you a big-picture look at what happened throughout the year on your marketing campaigns, but it will be able to do so accurately thanks to all the details and carefully-tracked metrics. They’ll help you see where you stand in the progress towards your goals.

These reports will give you insight so that you can go into the new year refreshed, with some new strategies, and sure that you’re on the best path possible based on all the information at hand.

For team members or agencies who are showing their boss or clients what they accomplished, this will give you something you can hold up to show them what they’re paying you for, making your value more clear. That being said, annual reports are important even just for internal teams, as it keeps all team members on the same page.

How to create accurate annual marketing reports quickly

All marketing teams understand the importance of annual reporting, and now we’re going to show you step by step how to create accurate reports quickly for your marketing team.

Create distinct reports for each marketing segment

Most businesses – even really small ones – will have multiple marketing sectors, engaging in strategies in fields like SEO, PPC campaigns, social media marketing, and Content Marketing.

Ideally, each of these sectors should have their own reports or their own distinct, separate sections within the report. Each specialty, after all, will have their own goals, their own KPIs, and their own initiatives. This separation makes it easier to assess what’s working in each so you can evaluate progress and decide if something needs to be changed.

Choose KPIs up front

Your key performance indicators (KPIs) should be specific and tied to your goals. They’ll tell you what you’re measuring and why ensuring that you compile the data that you need the first time in addition to hopefully optimizing for those KPIs throughout the year.

Make sure that you’re measuring concrete numbers. Trying to evaluate social ROI or brand awareness, for example, is complicated and inaccurate; looking at the number of mentions and clicks to your site, however, are exact and much more helpful.

While KPIs can vary from business to business and what your specific goals are, there are a few KPIs that you should be looking for in each key marketing sector.

SEO reports should be measuring:

  • Position tracking
  • Organic keyword ranking
  • Site Traffic
  • Website issues, including technical errors that can be found through a site audit
  • Number of backlinks
  • Keywords targeted

Annual reporting image 1

SEMrush Site Audit

PPC campaign reports should focus on:

  • Cost-per-click (CPC)
  • Conversion rate
  • Click-through-rate
  • Total ad spend
  • Number of conversions
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Keywords that  yield the best results
  • Position tracking for search ads

Social media marketing reports should be measuring:

  • Actions like clicks to a site, or calls or messages to a brand
  • Purchases made on-app
  • Content saved by users
  • Follower growth
  • Engagement rate
  • Impressions (but mostly to ensure that your content is on target)
  • Audience overview and demographic information

Annual reporting image 2

SEMrush Social Media Tool

Content marketing annual reports need to look at:

  • Keyword ranking
  • Keywords that bring the most Traffic to the site
  • Source Traffic
  • Bounce rate
  • Average time spent on the page
  • Number of backlinks and sources they’re coming from

Use software to track the data

Ideally, you’ll be using software throughout the year to track your marketing progress. Many businesses, for example, often use Google Analytics to track site Traffic and performance, and native tools like Facebook’s Insights to track social growth.

There are tools that you can use, however, that can give you more detail quickly, and can look at multiple areas of marketing all at once. SEMrush is one of those tools, and can quickly compile reports on everything from your social growth to your keyword position tracking overtime to your backlink profile.

Annual reporting image 3

Use tools like SEMrush My Reports to quickly create and download reports in every area of your marketing. These reports will even come with some visuals generated for you automatically, which you can use in your annual report. Read the full guide here.

Compile the data

You’ve got the data, and now it’s time to compile it. This is often the part of the process that most people dread, trying to assess how to break down the masses of numbers into something coherent.

Start by breaking the data down into sections. Then, once you do this, look for patterns in how the metrics are interacting. Look for overall trends in growth to assess impact.

At this stage, look for indications of success in each marketing sector and try to answer the question “why.” If your Traffic to your blog increased, that’s good, but it’s not all you need to know. Is the source of the Traffic from only a few select keywords, meaning that 90% of your posts aren’t doing you any favors? Or is the surge of Traffic coming from a PPC campaign? The devil is in the details here, so look for correlations.

Once you do this, then you can start to piece it together; maybe that active social feed really did help your Content Marketing, after all.

Once you’ve compiled the data, create an overview that summarizes what you’ve learned, taking all those tiny details and listing them clearly and then adding a general summary to the front of the report so people know what to expect going in.

Make plans for 2019

After assessing the current year’s progress, most annual reports will benefit from some problem-solving and strategic planning.

Propose a plan for the following year for each individual sector. Even if this is just a quick one-page proposal discussing how you’ll take the information from the report and adjust the following year’s strategies accordingly, this can go a long way.

Note whether you’re suggesting to switch up the strategy, stay the course, or toss it out altogether. Explain why, and back it up by referring back to your data. Hard numbers and stats can’t be ignored.

Annual reporting image 4

SEMrush My Reports

Annual report creation best practices

As you’re moving through the steps above, keep in mind that there are certain things you can do that will significantly improve your ability to create accurate reports that will appeal to everyone on your team while making your life a little easier.

These are the best practices you need to keep in mind when creating your annual reports:

  • Include visuals, like charts and numbers. Graphs and charts make it easy to scan the report at a glance, and those visual aids can be particularly powerful. If you want to really show the impact your campaigns have made, showing a great big jump on a graph helps you get your point across.
  • Give credit to team members and leadership. Everyone likes a pat on the back, and this is a good way to give credit where it’s due and show appreciation for your team. Take the time in the report to explain the initiatives taken by your team that led to the results you’re seeing now.
  • Get started early. Even with great reporting tools, we can’t stress this enough. You need to ensure that your software has time to collect the data and that you aren’t left scrambling at the last minute to compile and interpret it. End of year is a crazy time for everyone, so get a jump start.
  • Include year-to-year reporting. If you want to really track progress and see the effectiveness of new strategies, include a year-to-year reporting section. This will show not just how well your campaigns worked this year, but how much growth you’ve seen. Month-to-month reporting is also helpful, especially if growth is exponential.

What the experts say

We know that reporting is something that can be overwhelming and intimidating, so we reached out to experts in our network and asked for their best tips. Here’s what they had to say.

The main ingredients of good reporting

There is a lot to consider when creating annual reports, so we asked two experts – Laura Hampton from Impression and Simon Poulton from Wpromote about the main ingredients in good reporting.

Here’s what Laura had to say:

“Reporting is all about showing your clients / stakeholders the value of the work you’ve put in. So the main ingredient of good reporting is a solid understanding of KPIs and how those fit into the wider stakeholder goals. For example, you might know your aim is to increase Traffic but if you also know that your stakeholder is being tasked themselves to increase revenue of a particular product range, you can ensure your gains fit in with their aspirations.

One of the first things we do when onboarding a new client – whether that’s SEO, PR, PPC or a combination – is to identify tangible, measurable goals that tie into stakeholder strategies and overall goals.

It’s then essential to ensure every KPIs is measurable and tracked correctly. Sometimes, this is as straightforward as using Google Analytics to monitor Traffic. Sometimes, it’s using tools like SEMRush to monitor SERP visibility. Sometimes, it’s more difficult, such as measuring the brand awareness impact of PR activity. Whatever it is, it’s important the metric be clearly defined and agreed between all parties and that those metrics are included in every report.”

Simon’s advice was similar, focusing on those key metrics early on:

“Before we think about reporting & data visualization, we need to begin by developing a framework for metrics and understanding the scope at which they exist. All metrics exist on a macro to micro scale, and all too often we fall into simply reporting metrics directly from an analytics or ads platform without thinking about their impact. These metrics often vary dramatically in scope and you’ll frequently see things like “Sessions” combined with “Avg. Time on Page” – but this isn’t helpful as these don’t exist on the same scope plane. It’s important to ask yourself several critical questions for each metric you’re planning to report on, such as, what can I actually do with this information? And what changes will we recommend making if this metric fluctuates up or down?

“As you begin asking these critical question, start developing a framework for where metrics exist (or don’t exist) across the granularity spectrum, and ensure your visualizations follow this framework. Every report should be able to answer a specific question that can enable a decision.”

The best method of formatting

Formatting is an essential part of reporting, so Laura Hampton weighed in on her preferred method of formatting for annual reports:

“We use Google Data Studio for our reports. The platform is highly customisable which means we’ve been able to develop well branded reports that facilitate free narrative as well as templated elements that pull in from external feeds like Google Analytics, AdWords, Supermetrics and STAT.

“Of course, it’s not just about monthly reporting – regular communications with our clients and clearly documented strategies mean everyone is on the same page at all time and we are always tracking results and evolving our strategies to deliver the best results.”

The key metrics to highlight

Our other experts have weighed in on the importance of focusing on the right metrics, and Scott Langdon from Higher Visibility shared his thoughts on how to choose the right key metrics.

Here’s what he had to say:

“As an Agency, we like to focus on what the clients should truly care about at the end of the day, and that is their revenue. We put greater emphasis on highlighting lead and sales growth versus search rankings improvement. You would think that would have been the focus for clients all along, but it really hasn’t. There are still plenty of clients that care about metrics such as wanting to rank #1 for a particular keyword. When looking at the data, that keyword might not really be leading to quality sales.”

Conclusion

Annual reports are so important. It’s essential to take some time at the end of every year to assess what’s worked well for you, what hasn’t, and the results and growth that you’ve seen overall. It will be essential to helping you evaluate your current strategies and decide how to move forward in the next year so as to best accomplish all your marketing goals.

For maximum results, keep these last few tips in mind when creating your annual reports:

  • Remember that annual reports are all about getting a big picture view by looking at all the details that fell into place.
  • Avoid trying to just cram everything into one disorganized report, and sort everything into sections.
  • That being said, look at how different areas of marketing interact. Many businesses have integrated Content Marketing and social media marketing, for example; assess how the two are affecting each other.

Try to build, manage and share custom-made reports with SEMrush.

Guest author: Tanya Vasileva is a Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush — a leading digital marketing toolkit for SEO, PPC SMM and Content Marketing professionals worldwide.  She writes about marketing, analyzes SEMrush data and interested in marketing strategy. 

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