Today, we have a guest post from an awesome PandaDoc client! Anna Wickham, a content marketing specialist and founder of Charm House, explains how to best use PandaDoc for your monthly reporting needs. Enjoy!
When I started my content marketing agency, Charm House, monthly reports were something I was dead set on prioritizing.
It is surprising how many consultants and agencies are not sending regular monthly reports. And among those consultants who do send regular reports, the reports that get sent don’t actually provide value to the client and can seem unprofessional. In fact, they could actually be hurting more than they are helping.
Before I share my formula for writing monthly reports, here are 4 reasons why monthly reports are crucial for both your clients and your team:
- It lets your client know how your work is helping them. Don’t let them forget.
- It lets your client feel that you are taking care of them. Build trust.
- Monthly reports are sales letters. Show your clients the ROI.
- Monthly reports give your internal leadership an opportunity to stay up to date on the month’s results.
Your New Monthly Report Goals
1. GET THAT THING READ
Sorry for the all caps, but this is important. You want your client to read (or at least skim) all the way to the end. If they don’t, it’s a waste of your energy and defeats the whole purpose. Here’s how to make your monthly report more interesting and get it read:
- Break things up into smaller sections with frequent headers.
- LOTS of visuals. As many as you can. Even unnecessary ones that just serve to make it visually appealing.
- NO JARGON.
- A predictable arc to the direction of the report.
2. Start a conversation (or be available for one)
Your report should invite the client, more than once, to contact you if there is anything they do not understand. You can’t start a conversation if a computer auto-generated the report.
3. Look professional
I use PandaDoc to send monthly reports. It’s like wrapping up your monthly report in a beautiful package. Clients receive it and are excited to open it and see what’s inside.
An attached PDF does not have the same effect, trust me. If you can make them excited to open your report, you’re definitely on the right track.
4. Potentially upsell
You could be missing a huge opportunity to get your client to add on more services if it truly benefits them. A monthly report is a great time to do this, because you just laid out all the good things you did for them. More detail on this in the next section.
My Monthly Report Formula
PandaDoc allows you to create a template, and once you do that, it really speeds up the process and you just have to fill in the various sections.
Here are those sections. They are the same each month, which I think also solidifies consistency, trustworthiness, and gets your reports read through all the way; the reader knows what to expect.
Section 1: Cover/Intro Letter
This actually doesn’t change from month to month. The intro simply emphasizes the importance of the report for both the client and the agency, and invites the reader to contact you if they encounter anything inside the report that they don’t understand or would like more information about.
Section 2: The Month’s Highlights
It’s important to get your best findings read, so share them first. This is perhaps the most important part of your report. I use this list to feature new and interesting news over the last month. Examples:
- KPIs in easy-to-understand terms
- Your top-converting campaign or strategy that month
- Striking gold in a newly-tested strategy, any new breakthroughs
Also, no excuses here. “We would have had more conversions, but it was a slow month because of the holiday…” Just set out the facts, and make it short and sweet.
Section 3: “The Nitty-Gritty”
(Yes, it’s literally called “The Nitty-Gritty” in the report.)
This is where I lay out what’s been going on in detail for my clients. It’s always the longest section of the report. It’s the “meat.” “The Nitty Gritty” has a section for each of the things we are working on. For example:
- Content creation
- Social media
- Influencer outreach
- Email marketing
Dividing the content into these sections also makes things more digestible.
Since this part can get technical and boring, you can lose your reader here if you’re not careful. To remedy this, provide LOTS of visuals. PandaDoc lets you easily create great-looking tables, and I often use screenshots from Google Analytics or other analytics software to illustrate my points. Use screenshots of successful engagement. Use their logo. Look for any and all opportunities to use images to make your point or to incorporate as a way of breaking up boring text.
I don’t focus too much on interpreting results in “The Nitty-Gritty.” It’s where data is reported, not interpreted. For interpretation, I use “This Month’s Highlights” and a following section, “Next Steps.”
Section 4: “Outside the Box”
This section is a place where my team and I can brainstorm things we should try in the future based on the month’s findings. We often share ways to improve or pivot our current strategy. But this is also a place where we can freely suggest things the client isn’t doing that they can consider adding in the future. In my company, some examples might be:
- A/B testing landing pages or Facebook ads
- A new social media campaign
- A new monthly feature on the blog
- Adding social media networks
- Influencer outreach content strategies
- SEO enhancement
I always genuinely try to think outside the box. Don’t consider your clients’ budget in this. It’s just a place for ideas for the future and you can’t limit that flow with realities like budgets. Just think freely about what you could do with an endless budget. It lets your client know that you are thinking critically about the future of their company, and that means a lot.
It is also a place where you can plant the seeds for an upsell if it’s truly valuable for them: “One thing we should consider in the future is a new autoresponder series for people who enter the funnel from ____ page. Let me know if you’d like to discuss this.”
Section 5: Next Steps
This is where you sum up your findings and share your plan for the upcoming month based on last month. What are you going to focus on next month? What will you change? What didn’t work before and what’s working surprisingly well? How are you feeling about the project? Be as specific, open, and honest as possible.
This is important for obvious reasons, but it has another function: it lets your client know what would notget done next month if they didn’t keep you and your team on board!
Section 6: Testimonials
These are easy enough to keep in your template and use for each monthly report. Testimonials remind them of your credibility and bolster trust in what you just said. Use faces whenever possible.
Section 7: Closing note
Say one more time that you are not only open to – but expect and value – their feedback and questions on the report.
Using PandaDoc is a game changer in creating readable, beautiful, and engaging monthly reports. You put a lot of effort into the results that you gain for your clients. Now be sure that they understand how much your company is helping them on their road to greater success.
Do you write monthly reports for your clients? What do you find works in your monthly reports? What info do you find necessary to include?
Our guest blogger, Anna Wickham, is founder and owner of Charm House, a remote international content marketing agency. Charm House helps business increase their revenue and share their passion by creating and promoting high-quality online content. Anna blogs about entrepreneurship and travel at The Worldly Blend.