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How To Build an Insightful Data Report

Walter Analytics Analytics Content Marketing User Acquisition

How To Build an Insightful Data Report

Analysing your data is one thing but presenting it is where you can shine. Unfortunately creating insightful data reports is not as easy so here are some tips on how to rock it.

No matter what digital property you have, you will face the same goals when it comes to presenting your data. It is viable to build up your report to save time and support decisions for those who will read those reports. 

Betting on a tool is hard as there are so many of them. Most people instantly think that presenting data means a presentation, but it is not like that. Offline presentation tools like desktop PowerPoints and stuff might be a good choice for a strategic meeting or an annual insights coverage, but it is the worst choice for an on-going reporting. It’s not interactive; it only shows data gathered when the presentation is produced, and it’s only available offline (even if you share it).

Your Presentation Tool Must Be Online And Up To Date

The tool you pick must have some key features:

  • It must be available online anytime
  • It must present live data
  • It must be interactive so timeframes and data ranges or even charts can be played with if the reader of the report decides to do so
  • It must have an easy-to-do approach on creating charts, flows, processes to deliver good insights
  • It must be connected to a tracking or metric system so data can flow in easily
  • Nice bonus but it should be great to save some time for the reporter so the report can be created once and the structure can be reproduced with a few clicks

Google Analytics is a widely used free metric platform for SMEs. We strongly recommend using Google Data Studios as well as it delivers the same features highlighted above. It is easy to use; the report-buildup is quick, it refreshes data real-time, it is interactive, it is online and shareable, and you only need to create the report’s structure once and can multiply it anytime for other digital properties. There are other 3rd party services that use Google Analytics as a source, but usually, they are not as customizable or not free like Google Data Studio.

Build Up Your Report

Now you have the tool to present; you need to build up your report from scratch. Ideally, all the data you have is flowing in the report and creating charts is just a few clicks. The technical details on how to build up your report are different on every tool you choose, but fundamentally it is the same: you select a data source, then pick metrics, then setup dimensions, and you are good to go with a descriptive chart design. You then multiply the charts and organise the report. The question is what should be the best order. There is a straight line you should follow with that.

Every business is different, but everyone has a digital platform with some goals and objectives. The first part of your report – let’s say the first page – should focus on the big picture. How’s your site performing regarding big numbers? How crowded is your site? Who’s coming in and out? What’s the mobile percentage? What’s the bounce rate? What are the pages /sessions? These are important questions and metrics that can describe the big picture which is the overall site performance.

Your most important KPIs should follow the structure as next. Is your site focused on e-commerce? Put the goal conversions on the first page as it’s the single most important metric you need to take an eye on. Are you a media company? Put the share event tracking on the first page to see how viral is your content. Are you a consulting company? Put new visitors up to the first page to see how many new prospects you have. Determine your goals and objectives which define your most important KPIs and put those figures at the start of the report to get the quick look on your success.

Now everything else can follow as the rest is totally deep-dive and sometimes unrelated. Build up the rest of the report, so it helps you to describe the causes behind the big picture metrics. If you are a media company, focus on the content on the second page. It may contain the most important topics on your site. If you are in the e-commerce industry, you should focus on the performance of your funnels here, that can describe the goal conversions you showed on the first page. It is totally up to the business and their KPIs what are the main and miscellaneous figures.

The end of the report should be a collection of interesting facts you have observed, trends that can lead to the future or just deep-dived insights. You can showcase figures on the visitors here or some referring traffic insights. Maybe you have an ad campaign connected to your data source, you should put that here too.

Clarity For Better Understanding

There are tweaks where you can support a better understanding of your reports.

  • Add descriptive titles to your charts. Avoid definitions as titles. Instead of naming the chart just “bounce rate” use “The amount of users leaving the site in the first X seconds”
  • If needed, further explain what we can see on the chart
  • Group your charts into topics: “How deep visitors go to your site” can contain different figures from pages/sessions, frequency figures, engagement metrics and much more
  • Add the learnings if needed directly in the reports, even if it looks simple just by looking at the data itself. Understand that it may look simple for the data expert, but not for the decision-maker
  • Design the whole report and use branding – this makes the report closer to the reader

Presenting your data shouldn’t be hard if you are using the right tools to build a report that enables strategic decision-making with your data and insights. At the end of the day, the decision-maker will have the last say based on the report.


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