Reporting is about triggering efficient decisions

If you are reading this blog you probably reported or you’ve being reported more than once. Reporting is the last step of the digital analytics process that begins with Measurement, Collection, Analysis and Reporting.

Analyst sometimes confuse the third and fourth step but they are very different. One thing is analyzing information and identifying patterns of behavior or insights that trigger decisions, another very different thing is telling someone else about the insight you found. If you are an analyst your daily work is about chewing and digesting information, so you are normally very familiar with the information and with the process of identifying patters in a huge set of data. When you are the same person that will make decisions with that information is not a big deal, but you have to be very carefully when that information will be consumed by someone else. The information has two main objectives, controlling and making decisions. So if we wanted to reach that objectives we must find out the best way to organize de information in a way that the target user can not just understand it but also drive that person to make an efficient decision.

We call “efficient reports” to the ones that drives people making decisiones that approximate them to their objetives, in the right time with the lowest time required.

So, How can you create an efficient report? If you are in charge of reporting someone else you have to know:

1. The Used Vocabulary: Identify the vocabulary used by the person to be reported (Financial, IT, Research, Marketing, etc), and write the report with in a way that is very understandable by him.

2. The Decisions to be taken: Don’t you ever report because you “have to”. Ask the person what are the decisions that he normally takes and build a report that have the less information necessary for making that decisions.

3. The Period of time: Ask the person how often he takes the above mentioned decisions. This way you will be more effective, if the person makes a decision about media every month why would you present a weekly report? You can just do the follow up and if you have a deviation just then you generate a “Contingency report”. Try to avoid reporting just because.

4. The Followed objectives: Don’t you ever report just telling what is explicit in the displayed chart. Tell the reader what does the reported information means related with the followed objective. For instance, if you are reporting to the Marketing Manager about a paid search campaign, don’t you ever say something like “the traffic jump a 15% comparing with the previous period. On the other hand the cost per click was lower with the words [Keyword A], [Keyword B] and [Keyword C]“.

Instead, you can say something like this “The paid search campaign drove the company 15% closer to the sales objetive becoming the most effective sales channel. Since the returns of that channel are getting higher we recommend to increase the investment in this channel in about 10%, the expected sales with the new investment will be between 25 and 30% higher”.

Remember that every single task in a company must be done with the company’s objetive in mind (money). This way a designer is not there for making the best “art” but the site or app that pushes the company closer to it’s objetive. That’s why is so important that the report speaks in that very same language “how every person is driving the company towards it success”.

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