Client reporting might not be the most glorious part of your job as an agency owner, but it’s still incredibly important. The format and the frequency of reports vary from one client to another, primarily depending on the nature of the service that you offer.
For instance, if you have signed a client on an aftercare plan, they’ll expect reports about the website’s performance over a given period. Similarly, if you did some basic design work for a client, they might expect reports about the hours worked on a project.
Client reporting is one of the best ways to outline your value proposition to a client. It’s a great way to showcase just how big of an impact the client has made by bringing you on board.
It may seem like a chore at first, but if you do it right, you can easily upsell a client and reduce churn by a significant margin.
At Atarim, we are big fans of transparency, and we’ve made it easy for our users to generate daily and weekly reports, which you can send to your customers.
In this article, we are going to discuss how industry-leading agencies approach client reporting.
The Importance of Client Reporting
Before we talk about how to approach client reporting, it’s important to outline just how important this process really is. Some freelancers and smaller agencies tend to ignore client reporting, but this might become an impediment to growth over time.
Here are just a few reasons why client reporting is so important.
Highlight What You Bring to the Table
One of the biggest reasons why you should take client reporting seriously is because it allows you to showcase exactly what you bring to the table. You can offer reports to your clients to elaborate specifically how things have improved since they brought you on board.
Keep Your Agency in Your Clients’ Minds
By sending out a report regularly, you’ll essentially remain at the forefront of your clients’ minds. This may lead to better word-of-mouth marketing opportunities, and are likely to recommend your brand name to others if the opportunity arises.
Opportunity to Upsell
When you start offering client reports, you can highlight specific areas where the client can improve. If you offer a similar service, this is a great opportunity to upsell to your clients.
Build Trust with Your Clients
If you want to increase your customer retention rate, you need to build trust with your clients. By offering them detailed reports, you introduce a level of accountability. The client won’t have to worry about asking for updates; the reports you offer will provide them with detailed information.
Improve Client Collaboration
It’s not a wise idea to sign on a new client, and then not approach them for a while. Regular client communication is incredibly important, and reassures your clients that their work is being prioritized.
Hold Your Clients Accountable Too
The relationship that you build with your clients is transactional in nature, obviously. Before you start on a project, you’ll define the goals. Once you start supplying reports, your client will know exactly where the project stands.
If you need some assets or information that the client fails to provide, it’s going to affect progress. You can point out to the client the reason for the delay, holding them accountable.
How the Top Agencies Approach Client Reporting: 10 Best Practices
Here are ten best practices that you should follow when it comes to client reporting.
- Identify Main KPIs and Metrics That You’ll Track
Before you start preparing client reports, you need to know exactly what you’re going to track. More importantly, you need to make sure that both you and the client are on the same page.
The first thing to do is to hold a discussion with your client and identify the main KPIs and metrics. Some clients might be interested in tracking a specific metric, so it’s important that you both work this out.
There’s no reason to cram every single metric into your report; only focus on the KPIs and metrics that your clients want you to focus on. It saves you a great deal of time, and it also helps ensure that the client gets reports that offer substance.
- Make Sure You Both Have Clear Expectations
Another important thing you need to do is to discuss the expectations with your client. Make sure both parties are in the clear, and explain to your clients exactly what they’re going to get.
For instance, you’ll want to determine the frequency and the format of the client reports. Once you have determined the key metrics to track, make sure you set clear expectations.
- Automate Client Reporting
Building reports one by one is obviously not scalable. Anyone who has experience with web design projects knows just how many things can pop up at any given time.
That’s why with Atarim, you can generate weekly and daily reports, including time tracking and other metrics, offering complete transparency into your workflow automatically.
Client reporting can be a relatively resource-intensive process if you aren’t automating certain parts of the process. Automation doesn’t just save you time and resources, it also minimizes the risk of human error.
- Use Data Visualization Tools to Improve Reporting
It’s one thing to add a whole bunch of numbers in your report, but you need to make sure that the information is actually digestible. The best way to do that is to use data visualization tools to make your report more meaningful.
Using simple tools like Google Data Studio, you can present the information in your report in a better manner, helping clients glean interesting insights from each report.
According to one report by the Aberdeen Group, 74% of organizations that rely on visual data empower their managers to make more informed decisions, which demonstrates just how important it can be.
Data visualization tools also help make the reporting process more effective. Instead of simply presenting numbers, you’re now presenting insights to your clients, which they can use to make key decisions.
- Customize Your Report Based on the Reader
A one-size-fits-all solution may seem tempting, but it’s really not a wise idea if you want to improve client reporting. Instead, you should try to tailor each report based on the reader.
For instance, if the report’s going to be read by a marketing manager, you will want to focus on providing key insights instead of offering basic recommendations that they might already know.
Similarly, if you’re working with a client with limited knowledge, there’s no reason to provide a convoluted report that’s filled with marketing terms they may not understand.
You will want to break down the information as much as possible for such clients so that they can actually get something of value from the report.
- Avoid Using Technical Jargon
Keep in mind that in most cases the report might be shared internally within your client’s organization. Therefore, you’ll want to make it accessible and readable by as many people as possible.
The best marketing agencies try to make their reports as simple as possible so that anyone, including those with limited marketing knowledge, can understand exactly what you’re trying to say.
There’s no reason to use technical jargon in your reports, as it’s only likely to cause friction. The clients may approach you time and again to ask for clarification about certain elements, so there’s no point in making things difficult for them.
- Add a Summary
One of the best ways to make your client reports more valuable is to add a brief, one-paragraph summary at the beginning of your report. This summary should talk about the key insights in the report, and it should tie in with the original goal that both parties decided on.
At the end of the report, you should also add a section to highlight the key takeaways from the report. Keep in mind that not every client has the time to go through the entire report. A summary is a great way to round up all the key points in the report.
- Always Display Relevant Information First
When devising the structure for your report, it’s important that you find data that relates to the primary goals that you and the client decided on. It’s important that you add the most relevant and important information first.
- Break Your Report into Sections
It’s also important that you focus on readability when preparing client reports. Make sure you break the report into different sections so that clients can navigate easily through different sections.
For instance, you can divide the report into sections like web design, PPC, or SEO, giving them a clearer idea about how much value you generated in each department.
- Stick to the Schedule
Organization is an important part of client reporting. It’s important that you stick to the schedule that you both decided on.
Ideally, most clients require a report once a month, but some may require a weekly update. Some even prefer quarterly reports. Regardless of the schedule that you decide on, make sure you stick to the schedule.
In case of a delay, let your clients know a few days in advance, and outline the reason.
Client Reporting Can Unlock Greater Revenues
Client reporting is severely underrated. If you’re a freelancer or a small agency looking to grow, offering client reports will make you look more professional, and more importantly, it’ll help improve client retention.
It’s a great way to improve the quality of your services too and helps improve the sales relationship that you build with your clients. On that note, you may want to look at this excellent journal article on Relationship Quality in Services Selling: An Interpersonal Influence Perspective.