By Brenna Lofquist, Senior Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

Everyone knows by now (or at least you should) reporting is a fundamental element in sales and marketing. You must be able to report on your efforts and performance and understand how you got there by using data from said report. In my almost four years at Heinz Marketing, I’ve spent my fair share of time working on reporting for clients whether building dashboards or creating a reporting framework to actually pulling the data and providing my analysis – I’ve done it all!

I’ve learned a lot along the way. One of the most important things I’ve learned is you have to make sure the correct fundamental elements are in place before you can accurately report on your sales and marketing efforts. Another key when it comes to reporting is to make sure you understand the different limitations, functionality, and features of the platforms you are using that make reporting possible.

Let’s dig into these a little bit more…

Foundational Elements for Reporting

When we work with clients, I start thinking about reporting right away and what elements I know will be required to make the reporting work and work correctly. There’s no point in developing a campaign if you aren’t sure you can accurately report on the performance.

When I’m looking at a clients’ marketing automation platform or talking with them about reporting, one thing I ask about are lead stages. You might refer to it as something else but basically, I’m wondering if you have a field/property with values that tell you where a lead is at in the lifecycle or buying journey. For example, prospect, lead, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, etc.

In some cases, I’ve seen organizations that have their lead stages defined, but they aren’t necessarily implemented in their marketing automation platform and CRM system. If this is you, then I suggest you get those lead stages implemented into your systems, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be.

Now, depending on the story you are trying to tell with your reporting, there might be other fields/properties that need to be in place for you to do so, similar to the lead stage example. In my experience, the one that’s often missing is lead stage.

So, as you think about your reporting and the story you’d like to tell, think about the values/properties you’ll need to be able to tell that story. Then make sure they are correctly inputted in your system and the data is being collected properly and accurately and you should be good to go!

Considerations by Platform

This is something I’ve come across within the past year quite a few times. I’ll give you a few examples. In HubSpot, if you decide to create new properties to capture information on the contact record, aside from the default properties created by HubSpot, you won’t be able to use some of their out-of-box reports. Or, if you try to recreate the out-of-box reports using the properties you’ve created, you might not be able to or not quite how you’d like.

I’ve run across this most often when an organization is using their CRM system as their main source of truth. This is fine however; you just need to understand the limitations you might have on your marketing automation platform and/or the ability to report from the platform. Instead of a reporting requirement, taking into considerations the features, functionality, and limitations, is more something to keep in mind as you build out your reporting framework.

However, I will say in some organizations it seems as if the tools/tech processes, workflows, and definitions are driven by the sales org. This isn’t bad but, if marketing can’t properly report on their efforts then your organization can’t win as a whole. And to be completely honest, most times there are some changes that should be made, sales doesn’t look at things the same way marketing does but there is a middle ground that should work for both groups. A little off topic but still an important point!

My Experience with Reporting

Reporting will continue to change and evolve, especially with new technologies, making it more important than ever to have a solid reporting framework. Understanding the two elements discussed in this post, foundational requirements and considerations by platform, have helped me become more knowledgeable when discussing reporting with clients – I know the questions to ask, the requirements necessary to create the reports I need, and potential changes to be made. While these tips might not be applicable to everyone’s situation, they have helped me develop my approach to reporting.

I know I’ve only scratched the surface on the subject. I’d love to hear if you have any tips or things you’ve learned when it I comes to reporting – let me know!