> are they really necessary for managing accounts?
Yes. This is your chance to tell your story. If your clients aren’t able to see the value you provide every single month, you’ll lose them.
I have a general template that I use for my reports that I customize for each client. You want to start by thinking about your clients’ goals and build from there. Your clients probably care about how much money they’re making and how much they’re spending, so definitely include that information. You should also do some sort of comparison, either year-over-year or month-over-month or both, so you can show changes in their business/the market. I also like to include very high-level organic conversion numbers to help contextualize the data. Some of my clients want to see performance by channel, since their goals for social media are very different than for search. Sometimes a client will launch a pilot campaign of some kind, like promoting a webinar for the first time instead of a whitepaper, and that data gets broken out too. I don’t usually bother with search term reports, because that’s really not what my clients care about.
In addition to tables and graphs, you should include some text explaining what happened during the previous month and a few top action items for the coming month. Even if your contact is really savvy, they might share the report internally and your story will get lost. A few bullet points explaining what happened each month and what you intend to do in response will go a long way toward making you look like you know what you’re doing.
I’ve made drastic changes to reports a few times in my career. Usually I just tell my client that the report is getting too bloated and that I want to make sure I’m not using up my hours reporting irrelevant stuff when I could be actually managing ads. We talk about what’s in the report, what they use it for, and which elements are most useful to them. Sometimes an element of a monthly report gets turned into a separate quarterly report, which lets them keep an eye on metrics that don’t change too often but still frees up my time.