In business, having access to comprehensive reporting dashboards at our fingertips is something that everyone appreciates. When done correctly, reports can reveal
- Which areas of the business are thriving and which areas are struggling
- Whether or not we are on track to meet our objectives.
Having said that, developing reporting dashboards can be a time-consuming endeavor.
Compiling up-to-date, accurate, and meaningful data requires considerable effort, as does the learning curve involved in determining what information should be collected and how it should be collected.
Consequently, one of the most cost-effective areas of your firm to automate is report generation. Furthermore, automating reporting routines does not have to be a difficult process to create and maintain.
What is report automation?
Report automation is all about saving time by automating the elements of the reporting process that don't require human insight and providing enough custom options to allow for the addition of those insights where they are most needed. Report automation is a subset of report customization.
In the context of digital marketing, report automation is the process through which digital marketing reports are prepared and automatically updated by software.
After that, the information acquired can be distributed to certain email addresses on a regular basis through the use of automated email dispatches.
You may even start with report templates that are already populated with the most common KPIs and then tweak them as needed to save even more time so that you can devote more time to developing your strategies.
Report automation saves time and money
In the long run, report automation will improve the core of your business, allowing you to establish strategies and efforts that are superior to those of your competitors. As an example, consider the following list of the primary advantages of implementing automation reporting for your firm.
Marketing reports are your way of demonstrating to your client how effective your job is and how much value you bring to the table.
Keep track of your SEO efforts, social media campaigns and presence, AdWords campaigns, website data, and a variety of other things.
You can make automated financial reports, automated reporting, automated SEO reports, automated Google Analytics reports, and automated email reports.
Any marketing agency can rapidly become overburdened with all of this information above. Every month, tracking hundreds of key performance indicators (KPIs) for each client and putting them together and presenting them is a huge waste of time, which is why report automation was developed in the first place.
Aside from this burden, tracking, aggregating, compiling, and displaying hundreds of key performance indicators (KPIs) for each client is a total waste of time and resources. How much money do you have? Agencies with about 30 clients will spend more than $5k per month solely to prepare reports, according to industry statistics.
Automated reports can also be used as a competitive advantage, such as by providing customized white-labeled marketing reports for each of their clients, rather than wasting time and resources creating them by hand in a relatively dull excel spreadsheet or other manual reporting systems.
The advantages of using automated reports
Because time and money are inextricably linked, automating reports will allow you to reap the benefits of useful data-driven insights while also freeing up your team's time to focus on more creative or strategic initiatives.
1. Saving costs and time
By automating reports, you will be able to save enormous amounts of time and money by eliminating the need to manually track, update, and add critical information to the mix.
An automated reporting system is also designed to provide reliable, dynamic, and highly visual insights that can help your organisation become smarter. The result will be improved decision-making, as well as the insight to eliminate any inefficiencies in your processes, and, ultimately, you will save more money while also increasing your profit margin.
2. Accessibility, transparency, and productivity
Automatic reports deliver autonomous insights from a single central location, so they will provide everyone in the organization with the tools they need to perform better in their individual roles while also benefiting from shared visualizations that are robust, reliable, and accurate in their respective roles.
Because modern automated reporting technologies are simple to use and comprehend, they will be available to all users and organizations.
Autonomous reports can be used to enhance conversations in collaborative brainstorming sessions or team meetings since they will ensure that all of your critical insights are current. This will result in greater creative output.
Productivity across the board will be increased as a result of a more transparent and collaborative atmosphere with the automated reports, as well as a business that is structured for long-term success.
3. Better, and real-time decisions
When using manual reporting methods or processes, it is simple to become slowed down and unable to make decisions in real-time. In addition, more time-consuming reporting systems produce data that is more difficult to grasp and is frequently erroneous as a result.
With automated reports, you will have access to reliable data provided in the form of visual key performance indicators (KPIs) - information that will assist you in making real-time decisions. In essence, this style of reporting is clear and unambiguous. It is simple to set up and provides real-time information that users can take advantage of with a single glance.
The ability to consult with your colleagues and make an informed and accurate decision will allow you to save both time and money as well as avoid organizational headaches if you foresee an issue developing.
4. Growth and development
When you consider the factors listed above, as well as the fact that you can access report automation tools from a variety of devices at any time of day or night, it is clear that adopting this cutting-edge branch of data analytics will position your company for continued growth and development.
You can respond to constant change with confidence when you have access to an interactive digital dashboard, while also maintaining a level of innovation that gives you a significant competitive advantage at all times. This is a significant asset in an ever-changing digital market, and it should not be overlooked.
5. Less human error
Another significant advantage of automated reporting is that it reduces the likelihood of a human error occurring. A minor analytical or administrative error might result in significant time and financial losses for your firm.
However, by utilizing reports automation technology, you will reduce the need for time-consuming human data entry, allowing you to engage with insights that are consumable, accurate, and dependable in equal measure.
6. Make compliance better
Complying becomes more accessible and routine when dashboards are built automatically and when it is possible to ensure delivery at the appropriate time and location.
Informational compliance is crucial in today's data-driven world to ensure that your firm maintains its credibility, legality, and dependability. Maintaining compliance with government regulations is made easier with automated reporting.
How to start the automation process?
A wide variety of report automation products are available on the market, many of them are intended to give you back time. The challenge is not in using software; rather, it is in determining which software is best for you.
Here's how to start automating your reports;
1. Identify your requirements
Answer these questions and note down your thoughts.
a. What metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) do you require for your organization to be monitored?
b. What frequency do you require reports to be sent - daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually?
c. What is the minimum number of integrations required for each report?
d. How many staff will you need to have access to the information in the reports?
e. What percentage of your budget will you devote to the software?
f. What method will you use to distribute your reports?
g. Who will be in charge of ensuring that the reports are being used for the purposes for which they were intended?
h. Is it important to have the possibility to white label reports?
i. What level of customization are you looking for?
2. Find the right tools
You should discover the available tools to you and pick the most appropriate one for you.
Using the information from step 1, you may select how you want to put this report automation software together in the future. You have a number of possibilities for turning your dream into a reality:
a. Code it yourself: The alternative is to build the system from the ground up.
- Complete command and control
- Customizable to your specifications
- Specifically designed to meet the requirements of your company
- It takes a significant amount of time.
- It is necessary to have a dedicated team that can update and troubleshoot on a constant basis
b. Tools for Data Processing: Utilizing data processing, data management, and analytics, this solution consolidates and automates reporting in order to give your company actionable insights and properly organized report outputs.
- It is simple to develop a solution.
- There is no need to change systems during the setup and installation process.
- Solution with a relatively modest price tag
- Data processing, data management, workflow, and analytics are all included in this flexible solution.
- It is simple to use and comprehend
- Information accuracy and efficiency have both improved.
- It is necessary to have data collection technologies in place prior to collecting the data.
- Analysts are required to understand the data in the data processing tool.
c. Business Intelligence (BI) Tools: They are used to gather and analyze data.
This choice provides you with a wide range of customization options, and BI tools are already available on the market, so they do not require special development.
- Data analysis that is thorough and reliable
- Options that can be customized
- Because of the highly analytical reporting system, it can be difficult for clients to use.
- It takes time and training to learn how to effectively use the Learning Curve.
d. Data Analytics Dashboards: This solution is less sophisticated than business intelligence tools, but it also provides less customizable options.
- It is possible to be liberated
- It is a little less complicated than business intelligence tools.
- There is a wide range of costs available on the market.
- There will be less personalization.
- Not particularly user-friendly
- Generally speaking, data extraction is limited to a single source.
Step-by-step: How to automate your reporting process?
Assuming you understand what report automation is and why it's important, as well as the various types of analytics tools available to you, let's go over the process of automatically generating reports step by step.
Step 1: Preparation
Before you begin your reporting process in any capacity, it is typically advised that you have the following protocols in place before you begin:
- KPIs and Metrics: The first stage in creating a report is determining which KPIs and metrics will be included in the report. For example, as described in our SEO tracking guide, you can typically figure out these things by asking each client a series of introductory inquiries about their company during the onboarding stage.
- Reporting Frequency: The next step is to determine the frequency with which you will be sending reports. While many agencies opt for monthly reporting, adopting a report automation platform allows you to go one step further and deliver reports as frequently as once a day or once a week. Additionally, you may always choose to employ a real-time live marketing dashboard and provide your clients with access to it at any time of day or night.
- Role assigning: It is normally recommended to personalize each report with commentary and insights into the reporting period, even if you're using a reporting software, as previously discussed. Before you can automate your reporting, you must first determine who will provide the insights for each client. This is an important step. If you prefer to send periodic reports rather than a dashboard, you can easily accomplish this with a report summary like the one shown below:
Step 2: Putting together your report
Creating a report for your client is the next step after you've decided on the key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, reporting frequency, and who will be in charge of the reporting.
Take, for example, the assumption that you have chosen Google Data Studio as your tool. More information on Google Data Studio can be found here, as well as information on duplicating a template here.
Step 3: Connecting data sources
The next step in automating your reporting process is as simple as connecting the required data sources to your report in your reporting environment. More information on how to link data sources to Google Data Studio may be found by clicking here.
Step 4: Decide to send reports/to create a dashboard
You'll need to decide whether you'll provide your clients with access to a dashboard 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or whether you'll send them periodic reports.
Utilize our dashboard and report templates if you want to get your reporting up and running as quickly as possible, and save time.
Google Data Studio, on the other hand, provides both possibilities.
Step 5: Make the reports/dashboards more personalized
It is possible to personalize your dashboard to give it a distinctive and professional appearance. More information can be found here.
Step 6: White label your reporting
So that it reflects your agency's branding. After you've finished creating your report or dashboard, the following step is to white label them with your organization's logo and colors.
How you deliver your dashboard will determine how you proceed with this phase. It would be best if you checked with your client first, because they may not want your brand on the document.
Step 7: Provide a summary of the report/Add individualized comments to the dashboard
Following that, if you want to include your own perspective in the report, the ideal approach to do so is through the use of a summary of the report.
The final step: Give access to your dashboard/plan automated reports
You can frame permissions to access your dashboard/plan automated reports to be sent to them on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, depending on your preference.