The #1 Rule for Better Report Building in Marketo: Design Before You Build

June 9, 2015 Lindsay Khan

All too often we open up a new report in Marketo Analytics or RCE and we look at the dimensions and metrics that we are able to report on. From there, we drag and drop everything that looks interesting into a single report. Then we look at it, and wonder what conclusions we are actually able to draw from the report. Other times, we select a report type, begin dragging and dropping our metrics and dimensions, only to realize that some of the information we want to have in our report isn’t available in that particular report type.

Build Better Reports in Marketo

Here are some of the steps to take to help you with better report building:

What Question Are You Trying to Answer?

When planning a report, ask yourself “what question am I trying to answer?” Failing to plan ahead when building a report can lead to a lot of wasted time and disappointment in the end result. Having a process in place to ensure that your reports are created properly and address your needs will help you avoid these pitfalls.

From there, you can document the information that will be needed to answer your question, and you will be in a better position to build an accurate report and get it right the first time.

By taking the time to think through the goal you are trying to achieve or the question you are looking to answer with a report, you’ll be able to build an accurate report the first time around, and it will also be easier for others to understand the information they see when they review the report. Meet with additional stakeholders to get their opinion and discuss the purpose of the report and the report design prior to gathering information for the report. Having additional opinions and eyes on the task will help to eliminate rework and avoid issues once the report is built.

Gathering Information for Better Report Building

When building a report, you need to know the basics – the types of reports available to you and the fields that are included in the various report types. If there are fields you want to be able to use in RCE reports, you will need to make sure that they are synced to RCE. You’ll also need to know the types of reports that will use those fields.

It’s important to build programs in a way that a reporting-friendly. Using tags and assigning period costs will help you dig deeper. Tags can be used to filter information in a report, such as region, account owner, channel, offer type, etc. Program reports can be filtered using period cost timeframes so that only programs from a specific cost period are reported on. Period costs are also necessary for reporting on a program in RCA. Even if you do not have a cost, or do not yet know the cost for a program, be sure to add a period cost to a program and assign it a cost of zero.

Once these basics are covered, you need to understand the goal(s) you are trying to achieve with a report, which helps you gather the information that will lead you to an answer for the question you’re trying to solve. Consistent, clean data collection is key when creating a report. A report is only as good as the underlying data. For example, if you’re creating a lead source report, you’ll want to define key channels and naming conventions with you team upfront, so the data comes into the report in a manageable format and you can clearly see the performance of key channels and programs, rather than sorting through 2,000 distinct lead sources.

Report Building Blueprint and Designing the Report

It is recommended to develop a blueprint of questions to answer when planning out a report. Some questions may not be applicable for every report, but by answering each of the questions, you have given thought to all of the various elements that need to be considered when preparing a report. Create a master blueprint or checklist and have members of your team use it when planning out reports and data collection as well. This will save everyone some time and establish consistency.

Once you have gathered all of the information you need for your report, you are ready to build in Marketo. Don’t forget to set up subscriptions as needed.

Do you have any questions about Marketo Analytics or RCE reports? If so, we invite you to contact us to see if we can be of assistance.

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