September 14, 2018

Should you switch to automated marketing reports?

Written by
Marie Lamonde

We get this question every single day from different agencies and marketers wondering if they should change their reporting method. It’s a very reasonable inquiry.

As a marketer, you create reports every month: fetching your data on each platform, copy-pasting those numbers into an Excel spreadsheet, and creating reports either for your boss or for each of your clients. It takes time, it gets tiring and tedious, but you’ve gotten used to it.

Sometimes you wonder if there’s a better solution out there. You can rest easy now, because there is!

You can choose to create your reports manually with Excel, or you can use an automated marketing reporting tool, like ours. Both have pros and cons, so which one should YOU choose? Should you stay with your current method, or switch to automated marketing reports?

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Manual marketing reports using an Excel spreadsheet

Marketers around the world have been using Excel for decades in order to create their marketing reports. It’s a very versatile software, but is it the best solution for you? Lets see the pros and cons of using Excel to make your reports:

Pros

  • As flexible and customizable as you want
  • Easily accessible

Cons

  • Time-consuming
  • Offline (no automatic updates)
  • Harder to create a visually pleasing layout
  • Possibilities of errors and typos

What’s great about creating reports with Excel is the flexibility: you can customize it any way you want. As long as you know the formulas and how to create graphs and charts in the tool, you can show pretty much any KPI, metric, or complex calculation. It’s also easily accessible since it’s available on most company computers and is very reasonably priced.

Yes, with Excel you can do pretty much everything. The only problem is, you HAVE to do pretty much everything. It works great, but you have to put your time and energy to it. Also, the tool is offline, so there is no way to update it automatically. You have to go through the copy-pasting process, which is not only tedious but also makes it easier for you to make typos or copy-paste the wrong data, which is far from great!

With Excel you can create professional reports, but unless you use the help of a graphic designer, or have exceptional abilities, it’s almost impossible to make it look great. Let’s be honest, Excel reports usually look pretty boring. If you’re trying to impress your boss or client with your results, chances are that a basic Excel spreadsheet layout won’t help you.

Needless to say, manually fetching your data and creating your own reports from A to Z can definitely be a tedious process, leading to not so impressive results. Now let’s see the pros and cons of automated reporting tools.

Automated marketing reports using an online tool

You can use a tool that basically does all the work for you, fetching your data from your different platforms every day, gathering it all into your report and sending it automatically to your boss or clients. Sounds too good to be true? Let’s find out.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use
  • Time-saving
  • Online (automatic updates)
  • Customizable
  • Good-looking without much effort

Cons

  • A monthly fee
  • Not necessarily adapted to your needs

With a marketing reporting software, you can easily save hours of work every week, and as they say, time is money, right? So even though there may be a monthly fee, you will actually save money by using an automated tool. You’ll also have more time to work on strategies and campaigns.

Another significant argument in favor of an automated tool, is that your reports are online, and therefore updated automatically. Being able to simply send a link to your clients that allows them to consult their updated data anytime, day or night, really gives you a competitive edge that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The design of the report is also an important factor. It’s a lot easier to sell your results in a report that catches the eye and is easy to read. DashThis offers reports that not only look good but are customizable and easy to understand from the get-go. See for yourself:

There are many tools out there, and they are not all created equal. They rarely offer the same integrations, which means that some tools won’t enable you to include your SEMRush or LinkedIn data, while others will include everything from Google Analytics to Moz and Ahrefs. So make sure the tool you choose can be connected to the main digital marketing tools that you use, and ideally, to custom data that you might have as well. Not only that, but the features are not all the same, so pick a tool that offers the necessities, like: an automated email dispatch system, white label options, and report templates.

If you’re interested in an automated tool, try it first. Most of them offer a free 15 day trial, giving you enough time to make sure you like the tool, and that it integrates with all your data.

So what will it be?

Now that you know exactly what the pros and cons are, it’s up to you to choose the solution best adapted to your needs. Do you prefer the flexibility of Excel or the time-saving features of an automated tool? It’s up to you!

Marie Lamonde is a Content Marketing and Communications Specialist at DashThis. She shares her dashboard expertise with her fellow marketers and help agencies save time and money everyday! Learn more about DashThis’ automated reporting software at DashThis.com.