Tracking in E-commerce Part 3 – Reporting


While the first two parts on “Tracking in E-Commerce” addressed the most important KPIs and the integration of Google Analytics etc., this part is dedicated to the reporting. After all, tracking only makes sense if the right conclusions for long-term measures are drawn from it. Therefore, in the concluding part, we will tell you how to create a useful form of reporting.

Why is reporting useful?
In general, a report has the purpose of recording findings which have been obtained on the basis of a longer-term observation. In online marketing, this involves the specific comparison of key figures. Only in this way is it possible for areas of weakness and areas of potential to be identified. If you omit the reporting, you might as well omit all of the tracking.

The three key influencing factors in reporting

Period of considerationWhile a biologist observes the proliferation of bacteria in a petri-dish over the course of several days, an online marketing director observes the changes in his or her KPIs in the standard tools, such as Google Analytics etc. In both cases, the key factor is time. The indispensable comparability is only brought about by recording the actual situation on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. For the online marketing director, a comparison on a daily basis only makes limited sense. After all, a campaign isn’t like a tap that can be turned on at will. Most campaigns require a few days to get up and running before they are rolled out to the general public. There are also daily variations which balance out over the course of the week. If you sound the alarm in the case of every variation, no matter how small, you will subsequently do more harm than good. Instead, a comparison on a weekly and monthly basis is recommended. Only on a weekly basis is it really possible to assess whether a campaign is eating up more of the budget than it is bringing in. On a monthly basis, this, in turn, provides an overall picture of which specific advertising/SEO measures are beneficial to the sales revenue in the long term.

Seasonal and weather-related factors
Along with a report on a weekly and monthly basis, you should also have a daily look at your tools. After all, an acute slump in your key figures usually means that a bug has crept in. If not, a seasonal event / weather-related trend is occurring. Before you search for a system error, ask yourself: Have the holidays started? Is this day a public holiday in the other federal states? Or is there a heatwave? It goes without saying that all of these factors will lead to a fall in the levels of online traffic. The only sensible measure is to equip your product portfolio with items for each season.

The target group for your reporting
As with your campaigns, there are also different target groups for your reporting. You can’t present the same report to a customer / your manager as you can to your internal marketing colleagues. After all, a customer or your manager can’t do much with a random set of numbers. Instead, it is important for you to outline the current situation, to relate your conclusions and measures, and to name specific successes. Express yourself in full sentences: “The traffic on website X has dropped by Y in the last six months. According to our analysis, this is due to the factors B and E. We have taken the following measures… On this basis, we succeeded in increasing the traffic again by Y percent in the period from A to Z.” Don’t be afraid of admitting to mistakes. If a measure was not successful, the customer/supervisor will forgive you if s/he sees that you took countermeasures in good time. When it comes to reporting, transparency is ultimately the key factor. If you gloss over the figures, this will become evident in the monthly sales revenue at the latest. Furthermore, this approach means that you fail to learn from mistakes, and there is a high probability of you reproducing poor decisions.

In summary:

  • Create your reporting on a weekly and monthly basis.
  • Do not allow yourself to be upset by slight daily variations.
  • Take seasonal and weather-related trends into account in the case of major variations.
  • Formulate your reporting for your customers / superiors in whole sentences and with clear illustrations.
  • Try not to cover up errors / gloss over figures.
  • Personalise the reports for external customers in their CI (corporate identity).
  • To prevent compatibility problems, only send reports as PDF files.

The best structure for good reporting

In addition to the aforementioned factors, the actual structure of the reporting is also important for your success. In general, it is necessary to take two basic rules into account when creating a good form of reporting:

  1. Use Excel for your reporting
    Microsoft Excel is and remains the best program for number-based reports. You only need to define a formula once to calculate averages such as the shopping basket value or the click-through rate. An interface between Excel and Google Analytics can also be created. In this way, the key figures will be transferred automatically to your report.
  2. Classify the reports according to the source
    It is important for you to look at the key figures for each channel individually. This is the only way of identifying the channels that work the best for your business. Of course a healthy marketing mix is important overall. Despite this, there are always channels for each business model and product which work better than others.

In this way, you have already laid down the foundations for a solid form of reporting. The next step concerns the finer details. After all, as mentioned at the beginning, reports are issued on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Not every form of reporting has the same focus or requires the same level of detail.

Structure of the weekly reporting
The weekly reporting has the goal of comparing the previous week with the current week. For example, you can ascertain whether a campaign launched the previous week got off to a good start or whether there remains room for improvement. Good weekly reporting should include:

  1. The basic key figures from Google Analytics etc., such as the click rate, retention time, bounce rate, responsiveness and click-through rate.
  2. An overview of the measures/changes that were implemented in the previous week concerning the campaigns / the website.
  3. A summary of which of the implemented measures were successful and which were not.
  4. A forecast concerning the measures/optimisations which are to be implemented in the current week.

As you can see, the most important key figures in the weekly reporting are those that relate specifically to the individual campaigns.

Structure of the monthly reporting
In the monthly reporting, the key figures relating to the sales revenue are considered particularly important. Here, it is more a question of taking a general look at which channels are working particularly well and to what extent the sales revenue and gross profit margins have increased. Good monthly reporting therefore includes:

  1. Basic key figures, such as the average shopping basket value, the cancellation rate, cost per order, sales revenue, media costs and total gross profit and per channel.
  2. A brief explanation of which measures have led to the increase or the decrease in the sales revenue.
  3. A conclusion as to whether the monthly sales revenue is in line with the sales revenue goal that was set at the beginning of the year. If not, it is advisable to state why the sales revenue goal was not achieved and how this should be compensated for in the following months.

In conclusion, all that remains to be said is this: Always check your reporting for careless mistakes before you send it to your colleagues, your boss or the contractor. The first step in avoiding careless mistakes is to automate the reporting with the use of formulae and interfaces. Even then, you should remain sceptical. Always question whether the values that have been regurgitated make sense. If a value seems unusually high, this can be due to either a ground-breaking success or an erroneous formula in Excel. If your numbers are often incorrect, this comes over as clumsy. In the long run, people will no longer trust you as an expert. As long as you take this last, well-intentioned piece of advice into account, nothing will stand in the way of your flawless reporting.

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