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The Blueprint to Becoming a Data Driven Agency | Ultimate 6-Step Guide

Published 2 May, 2020
Marquis Murray
Written by Marquis Murray

In today’s world, companies are becoming more and more data-driven and expect the same from their agency partners. They’re no longer impressed by just your marketing or design savviness, they want to see real results. Yet, many agencies are still stuck in the rut of providing meaningless vanity metrics or measuring deliverables instead of results. 

With hundreds of agencies in the market, it just won’t cut it anymore. You need to stand out and you need to prove your value. So take out the time to nail down your reporting process and invest in becoming a data-driven agency. By being transparent about performance you’ll establish more confidence with your clients and position yourself as a trusted advisor. Best of all, when done right, it can make your agency an indispensable partner.

Reporting vs Analysis

Before you get started on the path to becoming a data-driven agency, you need to understand the difference between reporting and analysis.

Right now, the majority of agencies have a process that looks like this: 

  • Collect data for the entire month using multiple tools
  • Format it into a Powerpoint presentation
  • Present to the client so they stay on top of their data

In other words, it’s all about the report. 

Reporting is important, but it’s not the end game. It’s simply translating raw data into information so you can show what’s happening. Analysis, on the other hand, transforms that information into insights so you can explain why something is happening and what to do about it. Analysis is what truly adds value to the client experience.

With that said, reporting and analysis go hand in hand, because without good reports you can’t have good insights. Get the most out of your reports by:

  1. Pulling data from multiple channels
    Pulling data from multiple channels and tools helps you create as detailed a picture as possible. For example, for a marketing agency, being able to see email, display, social, web and sales data in one place would enable you to see the target audience’s complete user journey and identify drop-off points so you can optimize.

  2. Providing different levels of granularity

    Your reports should be created based on your audience because if you’re sending the same report to your client’s top management and strategists, it’s a waste of time for them and you. Top management wants to see an overview of performance, while strategists want detailed analytics for them to drill down into.

  3. Telling a story

    Focusing on primary KPIs alone does little to inform new opportunities and does nothing to explain why performance numbers are the way they are. An effective report should tell a story that explains why performance numbers are what they are. 

By developing effective reports that provide a comprehensive view of the entire landscape, you’ll have everything you need to turn campaigns into success. Investing time in building good reports is worth it because you can:

  • Test different tactics against each other and determine if budgets are being allocated wisely.
  • Provide insights about performance on different platforms and audiences, and identify ways to improve them.
  • Compare your client’s campaigns with their competitors and identify areas of opportunity and improvement
  • Quickly and effectively make changes to campaigns based on results.

Becoming Data-Driven

Now that you know how important analysis and being data-driven can be in differentiating your agency, it’s time to discuss the process. It takes time and requires a major shift, but it’s definitely worth it. Follow these steps to get moving in the right direction:


Align your team

Before doing anything, you need to get your team on board. Becoming data-driven is a culture change so you need to get buy-in from your team and assign responsibility. Think about:

  1. Who is responsible for what client
  2. What data goes into reports and where to get that information
  3. Who gathers the data
  4. Who creates the reports and how often

Identify goals

Next, it’s time to think about goals. Whether it’s for internal use or for your clients, think about what data and metrics are most important. Make sure to include your clients in this process so goals are aligned.


Invest in tools

If your client doesn’t have the right tech stack for collecting data, then this is where you get them equipped with the right tools. Some great tools for data collection and reporting are Google Data Studio, Agency Analytics, and Databox.

Collect data

Once you’ve determined what data is required to fully support those goals and objectives, figure out where to collect the data from and connect those data sources to your dashboard.

Report results

Now it’s time to create the actual report. Include any major updates, important results, victories and low performers. Many agencies tend to cherry-pick the results to only show the positive side of things, but that’s not helpful for the client. Show what works and what doesn’t, explain the context and connect the dots so they get the full picture. By being transparent and having a plan when things aren’t working, you’ll establish trust and retain your clients for much longer.

Analyze campaigns

The most important step in becoming data driven is analysis. You’ve reported on the results to show what’s happening and now you need to assess what worked and what didn’t, why that’s the case, and identify opportunities for future success and optimization. Leverage the data to create a hypothesis about what will work in the future and tweak your campaigns to test it out. Also, make sure you’re comparing past and present data to get a holistic view.


Metrics to Track

Many agencies get stuck reporting on vanity metrics, but to become truly data driven you need to shift away from that. Vanity metrics like page views, subscribers, social media followers, and other flashy metrics look great on paper, but do nothing to explain business outcomes like ROI or customer lifetime value. They offer positive reporting, but no context for future decisions. 

The metrics you track for your clients should add value and be heavily based on the campaigns you’re running and the goals of your client. Instead of turning towards vanity metrics that provide little value, focus on actionable metrics. They’ll offer insight into the changes you should make and strategies you should continue that will actually have a meaningful impact.

To sift through the clutter, make a list of every metric you’re tracking and think about the following:

  • What are we trying to measure with this metric and why?
  • What does this metric tell us about our efforts?
  • How does this fit into our client’s goals?
  • What changes (if any) should we make based on this metric?

To get you started, here’s a list of some actionable metrics you should be tracking:

  • Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
  • Net profit
  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Average Order Value
  • Traffic Sources
  • Engagement rate
  • Retention rate 
  • Conversion rate
    • Prospect to lead
    • Lead to customer
    • Campaign conversions
    • Keyword conversions
    • Funnel conversions
  • Acquisition paths

In Conclusion

Reporting and analysis is an ongoing process and can be the key to winning long term clients. It can help establish your agency as an expert in your client’s business and increase their trust in you. It differentiates you from other agencies who are still just reporting and have yet to adopt the concept of being data driven.  Moreover it’s an opportunity to upsell new services, especially if campaigns are performing well. 

In summary, good reporting and detailed analysis can be the key to agency growth and client retention. So make yourself accountable, show your impact on your client’s growth, and automate as much as possible so you can spend your time analyzing data and making better decisions.

If you’re ready to become data driven, we can help. We’ll help you build dashboards, provide actionable insights to clients and streamline your reporting process. 


Topics: Systems and Processes Collaborative Tools