What do you have in your monthly reports?

Forum White Hat SEO PPC What do you have in your monthly reports?

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    I am a freelancer PPC manager, I manage 14 accounts currently and I always regret when the end of the month is near not because bills are coming up, but reports.

    Since day 1 of running this business I would always give updates on how the account going, include search terms reports, share data, etc. But now with my increased number of clients, it takes me sometimes days to complete them, and I feel like 90% of the time my clients don’t read it. I feel like I’ve made my clients get used to my monthly reports however, so I’m not sure how I should approach this moving forward. How long does it take you to write up your reports and are they really necessary for managing accounts?


    Depends on the client really.

    For smaller accounts, I use Data Studio [a random template I found on the internet]

    For bigger accounts I use Whatagraph and in some cases, I add a video presentation.


    I understand your pain and it is true that people don’t know how to read a report


    Hope it helps : )


    > But now with my increased number of clients, it takes me sometimes days to complete them, and I feel like 90% of the time my clients don’t read it.

    You grew, meaning you take a lot money and are wondering if you can have your cake and eat it too. No you can’t.

    Either take less clients or hire someone else to help you manage and update those paying your bills


    First of all speak to your clients about what reports they actually want and are interested in.

    That usually cuts down the effort by a lot.

    If that doesn’t work, you probably need to hire a person or think about automation (google data studio for example)


    Whoever said it is client based hit the nail on the head. Some of my clients, although they spend hundreds of thousands a month, have no interest in lengthy reporting. Some of my clients who spend fifteen thousand an entire year like a plethora of detail.

    Ask your client up front what they expect and go just above and beyond that by not too much to set new expectations.


    Hire a freelance data visualiser and voila


    > 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.

    Good luck!


    Most of my clients are in a similar industry and part of the world, so I’m able to keep it fairly consistent, but each client can customize it to an extent, like which KPIs they like to see in their data studio dashboard.

    On the front page I have a small intro paragraph explaining what’s contained in the report, with a link to our glossary, FAQs, and contact, a chart illustrating a rolling 90 days traffic/conversion/cost volume, and a “monthly trend” snippet (something simple, like where we see budgets shifting overall in anticipation of coming seasonality). From there, a slide for each of the platforms being used with a breakdown of relevant overall metrics and a campaign-by-campaign summary. Each campaign type should get its own context, so the search portion emphasizes conversion and impression share, the social portion portion emphasizes reach, frequency, and engagement.

    There’s no perfect method, but for me I like having that overall summary with all sources combined, then a breakdown of each in detail if they want it. Likewise with joining our monthly reviews, the clients are entitled to them, but they often don’t take us up on it, which is unfortunate. Some clients don’t read the report at all, some literally say the report is the thing they’re paying for, which I disagree with of course. The advertising is the thing you pay for, the report is like the receipt. If you want consultation, join the monthly reviews and talk to us, dangit.


    Literally ask them if they find the reports useful. Say that if they don’t, then you’d rather spend that time trying to grow their business. Let them choose how they use your time.

    Additionally, get familiar with Google Data Studio. All reports are completely automated. I haven’t manually put together a report for a client in well over a year. There are templates out there you can use, and you can edit those to fit the needs of a specific client. Set it up once, and you’re done.


    Try a report builder/scheduler like Raven Tools.


    Data studio report for all data. List of activity for the month and list up upcoming work for the coming month. I really urge my clients to have a phone call with me where we can discuss results, trends, and important occurrences in the accounts.


    First, get yourself some kind of automated reporting system. We use Swydo. Once it’s set up the report populates automatically, you just set the date range. For new clients, you just copy over the template and change the account source.

    You can also provide a dashboard so clients can go in to look at numbers whenever they want… many appreciate this.

    As for what we include:

    1. All major KPIs relevant to the account, cost, conversions, CPA, CR%, impressions, clicks, CPC, CTR, impression share, etc. etc.
    2. Historical table (6 or 12 months) showing month over month, most important KPIs are those from #1 above. To me this is the most important part of the report because it tells a story of whether performance is improving or not over time.
    3. Breakdown of performance by campaign, ad group, keywords
    4. Breakdown by conversion goal (important if the client has calls, form-leads, newsletter sign-up, sales, other)
    5. Breakdown by device, audience, locations

    Add other reports as it makes sense for the specific client… e.g. maybe it’s super important to break out branded search. If they run shopping, do a product group breakout.

    But in general, that’s all you need. This is usually 4-5 pages if you export to PDF, but I recommend sending an online link, it looks better without page breaks and takes less time to prepare and send.

    For the write-up, what did you implement/optimize in the period? What important changes were there in performance? Why did that happen? What’s your plan for next month.

    If these are small or mid-size accounts, up to $10K/month ad spend, single platform, you shouldn’t be spending more than 30-minutes to put this together.

    Importantly, if you worked directly on the account you already are familiar with what’s going on… you shouldn’t have to dig much into numbers or account changes to write this up.


    A list of some helpful tools to ease your pain:

    1) Google Data Studio – there are some GREAT pre-built templates, easiest to implement when just pulling data from Google platforms. Free. If you want to get fancy, check out SuperMetrics add-ons.

    2) I just spent $49 and got lifetime access to a tool called Oviond – this was an AppSumo deal, so not sure it is still live. Anyhow, amazing cost to value ratio and can integrate with most popular ad platforms. Clunky builder, but once you get the templates set up, you can automate them. Compare that price to what I was using before – Report Garden – and now it feels like I was being robbed blind all those months!

    Hope that helps!

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