21 Secrets to Becoming a Champion in Data Reporting

What really is data reporting?

Data reporting is all about interacting with people and getting your recommendations implemented in a timely manner.

What data reporting is not really about, is creating fancy charts and tables and/or stoning the innocent (the non-geeky people) with industry jargon.

Secret #1: Be extremely careful with your words

The life of an analyst esp. the one who works in-house is not easy.

Because if there are major business decisions (like firing) riding on your analysis then you can quickly find yourself being alienated from the rest of your team.

What you say and what you report can result in the firing of an employee, can even result in the closure of the whole department or in worst case, can result in large number of layoffs across several offices (depending upon the size of the company you work in).

You are the judge and the people you report to are the Jury.

You have big responsibility on your shoulders.

So you need to be very careful with the conclusions you draw from your analysis.

You need to be very careful with the words you choose while you present your reports and even more tactful in avoiding any possible conflict with your co-workers during and after the reporting.

Secret #2: Be cautious. You are holding someone responsible for the results

Every time you present a report, you are holding someone in your team responsible for the results (whether good or bad).

And people will do everything in their power to defend themselves, to protect their jobs and their perceived abilities and skills.

Secret #3: Getting things done is the most important skill of an analyst

As odd as it may sound, being an analytics ninja has nothing much to do with being an all around geek in analytics.

It has much more to do with “getting things done”.

Getting things done is the most important skill of an analyst.

It doesn’t really matter how much you know about web analytics.

If you can’t get your recommendations implemented in a timely manner then you can’t impact the business bottomline.

Without showing results you can’t keep your job/client for long, let alone carry the big heavy title of being a Ninja.

Secret #4: Learn the art of influencing decision makers

In order to get your recommendations implemented, you need to learn the art of influencing decision makers through your data storytelling skills.

If you can’t convince decision makers, then why they should implement your recommendations.

Your recommendations and analysis will then have no commercial value and sooner or later your boss/client may start questioning the validity of your role as a consultant/employee.

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Secret #5: Argument is the risk that can sabotage you

Not everyone is going to agree with your recommendations, no matter how much they are backed up by data.

Expect opposition and disagreement.

The sooner you understand that, the better.

However how you handle disagreement and avoid conflicts, play a very important role in getting things done, either today or in the near future.

When someone disagree with you, he is throwing a challenge at you.

However the challenge is, not to prove the challenger wrong, the challenge is, now how to make your point, without offending the challenger and at the same time, keeping cool (remain calm and in control).

Bear in mind that challengers are often the people who hold high office (your boss, your boss’ boss, CEO?) and/or have got considerable authority (your client).

These are often the decision makers or business owners.

You need to keep on their good side.

Secret #6: Learn to control your emotions

The moment someone disagree with you, it put you in the defensive mode and you feel compelled to defend your recommendation / suggestion straightaway.

Often during such time, the decisions you make and the words you use, are not really the best and may not really work out in your favour.

It is when you are 100% sure that you are right and the other person is wrong, you need the most self control.

Secret #7: Emotional outbursts are a sign of weakness

In the corporate world, an emotional outburst is considered as a sign of weakness.

And people tend not to work with those who easily get offended or worse, start crying.

When you work with people from all walks of life, different culture and from all over the world, you are likely to meet people who are very outspoken and direct.

If they don’t like something, they won’t beat around the bush.

They will let you know, exactly how they feel, often in the way which you may find very offensive/rude.

It is important to remember here is that they are attacking your work and not you.

Don’t take it personally.

You must develop the ability to withstand criticism without showing signs of any criticism you may receive, getting to you.

Display fortitude in the face of adversity.

Get a thick skin.

Study politicians.

Exercises great self-restraint in the expression of emotions esp. negative emotions.

You need mental toughness.

Don’t be a cry baby.

Secret #8: Develop emotional self awareness

The first thing that you need to consciously realize and understand is that the a person is disagreeing with you and you have tough battle ahead.

When someone chose to disagree with you, consciously realize the fact that the other person has chosen to disagree with you.

Then feel disappointed.

It is important to feel disappointed, as then, you are less likely to lose your calm.

Bear in mind that when you choose to criticize / disagree with someone, you are attacking other person’s judgement, intelligence, pride, self-respect and most importantly his/her sense of being important.

Even if you win the argument, made your point, it won’t do you any good.

Because your win will be at the expense of causing resentment in other person.

Do you really think, someone will like you even more, once you proved him/her wrong esp. publicly in front of colleagues / stakeholders/ clients?… No.

Overtime, “I can’t be wrong” attitude will alienate you from the rest of your team, making it more difficult for you to get things done.

Secret #9: Talk less, listen more

Once you have consciously realized, that the other person is disagreeing with you and you feel disappointed, now is the time to listen.

But before you are in a position to listen, you must suppress the strong urge to justify yourself and you must not become virtually deaf to what the other person has to say.

Say to yourself, “I will not interrupt the other person. I will let him speak. I will listen to what he has to say. He has choosen to disagree with me, which is disappointing“.

It is important to keep feeling disappointed, all this time, to control stronger negative emotions like anger or the urge to argue.

At this point, you may thinking, how can I possibly feel different way.

Yes you can.

With a little bit of practice, you can.

Once you have successfully listened to your challenger, admire yourself for a second, for being able to reach so far, without losing your cool.

Now is the time to think about how to proceed.

Secret #10: Learn to ‘THINK’ in the middle of an argument

This is one of the hardest thing to do and not many people can pull it off esp. if you are in your early 20s full of  testosterone and want to prove yourself at any cost.

Many people are not able to suppress the strong urge to justify themselves and become virtually deaf to what the other person has to say, let alone think about the pros and cons before proceeding any further with the argument.

Where others fail, you should and you must succeed.

Otherwise you are risking you reputation, relationship, career or in worst case scenario your “life”.

Ask yourself following questions:

#3.1 Can I avoid this argument?

It is never really a good idea to argue with anyone esp. with the people who hold high office, authority and/or significant power.

Often such people are decision makers (your boss, your boss’ boss, CEO?) who can make or break your analytics career/project in split second.

You need to keep on their good side.

If you don’t then in the end, it is only going to be your loss.

#3.2 Can I postpone my answer?

When someone disagree with you, he is expecting you to either a) justify yourself immediately b) accept what he/she has to say and change/abandon your suggestions/recommendations.

In the heat of the moment, when you are battling with your own demons, trying to stay disappointed and calm, it is often very difficult to take sensible decision or come up with the right answer.

So if you can, try to postpone your answer.

Say something like “You have raised a very good point… I need some time to think about it”.

Take your time, when you feel more relaxed and calm, carefully think about your answer.

#3.3 Can I afford to argue or disagree?

You could end up in a situation where a) you can’t avoid the argument and b) you can’t postpone your answer.

This is a very undesirable situation to be in.

The first thing you need to do in this situation is, feel ‘self pity’.

Consciously realize the fact the you are in a very undesirable position, which you can not escape.

In addition to feeling disappointment , ‘feel self pity’.

It is important that you feel these emotions in order to control stronger negative emotions like anger or the urge to argue.

Ask yourself following question:

#3.4 What is the cost, I will have to pay if I win this argument or make my point?

Often people jump into an argument, without consciously realising, who they are arguing with and what the price they may have to pay even if they win the argument.

There is always a cost associated with creating resentment in another person.

If that person is a complete stranger, you may get away without paying any price.

And this is what most people do when they decide to become a keyboard warrior on social media.

When they decide to troll or harass someone on social media.

They know they have no price to pay.

They are hiding behind an anonymous profile.

They feel safe.

However in the real offline world, you may end up paying heavy price for causing resentment in another person.

If that person happen to be your boss/client/colleague, you make it difficult for yourself to get things done in the future.

Remember, you can not win an argument without proving your challenger wrong, without causing resentment in him.

Nobody likes being proved wrong, not your colleague, not your boss, not your client and not even you.

If the benefits of not winning the argument, outweigh the losses, accept your defeat, admire yourself, for the sacrifice you are making, by accepting your challenger’s view point and move on.

You don’t want to win an argument at the expense of losing business or creating life long resentments in other person or destroying all further usefulness of the person.

Secret #11: Use the ‘Sandwich Technique’ to show disagreement

If you have decided to make your point, choose to disagree, use the sandwitch technique.

Start your conversation with a compliment, insert your criticism/disagreement and then end your conversation with a compliment.

In order to find something to praise about, look for areas where you can agree with the challenger and then start your conversation by agreeing with him on those areas.

For example:

“Hi John! You have raised a good point.

I agree with what you have to say about this …. that..

I think differently about this…, that…

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Really appreciate it”.

Avoid using words like ‘but‘, ‘however‘ in your conversation.

These words immediately negate all of your compliments and make them sound insincere.

For example:

“Hi John! You have raised a good point. I agree with what you have to say about this …. that.. But I think ……

Instead of using negative words like ‘but’, ‘however’, take a brief pause.

Remember, it is only human, to loose temper, argue and defend yourself.

I do not always remember, what I preach and end up in argument.

But now at least, I can consciously realize, what I did or doing or how can I avoid it, next time.

Now I can consciously understand, when a person start disagreeing with me.

Some people are naturally gifted with all of these abilities, because of their upbringing, culture etc.

we call them ‘people person’.

These people are good in avoiding arguments, finding areas where they can agree and very tactful in showing disagreement and getting their point across.

These are the people who rise to the top and we need to be like them.

The 7 step formula to dealing with disagreement at the workplace.

Step-1: Consciously realize the fact that someone is disagreeing with you and you have got tough battle ahead. (emotional awareness)

Step-2: Suppress the strong urge to immediately justify yourself or speak, by feeling disappointed and self pity. If you can’t feel that way then feel superiority. You after all, have higher emotional intelligence (suppression)

Step-3: Do not become virtually deaf to what the other person has to say. Let him speak and try hard to listen (listen)

Step-4: Once the other person has stopped speaking, try hard to avoid the disagreement from turning into an argument (avoidance)

Step-5: If you can not avoid the argument then try to postpone your answer by saying something like ‘“You have raised a very good point… I need some time to think about it”.. Take your time, when you feel more relaxed and calm, carefully think about your answer. (postpone)

Step-6: If you can not avoid the argument and you can not postpone your answer then think about the cost you will have to pay if you win the argument or make your point. (think of the cost)

This cost can be in the form of:

  • Creating temporary or life long resentment in another person.
  • Ruining relationship
  • Destroying all further usefulness of the other person.
  • Losing an opportunity
  • Losing your job
  • Losing a business

If the benefits of not winning the argument, outweigh the losses, accept your defeat, admire yourself for the sacrifice you are making, by accepting your challenger’s view point and move on.

Step-7: If the benefits of winning the argument, outweigh the losses then proceed with your argument by using the ‘Sandwich Technique’ to show disagreement.


If you could do this simple cost-benefit analysis in the middle of an argument, you would be suprised to see how often you manage to avoid disagreements, arguments and conflicts.

Most people jump into an argument (even with complete strangers) just to massage their ego, to feel important and proud, without realizing the cost they may have to pay even if they win the argument.

If you do end up in an argument then remember it is only human to end up in agrument.

So don’t feel guilty about it. Move on.

Secret #12: Learn when to use and avoid understatements

Understatement is a statement which sound one thing but may mean something else.

For example:

“I hear what you say”

It could mean, “i disagree with you”

“That’s not bad” could mean ‘That’s good’ (depending upon the context)

“Very interesting’ could mean “nonsense”

Understatements are integral part of the British work culture but are often misunderstood by foreigners.

And by foreigners. I mean anyone who is not familiar with the British work culture.

So if you are doing business with a British firm, you must develop the ability to spot understatement and get the real meaning.

Otherwise there could be miscommunication.

On the contrary, if you are a British business and you are dealing with a foreign client, do remember that by and large people do not understand your understatements.

It is a very British thing and should be avoided at all cost when dealing with international clients.

Sames goes for sarcasm.

Secret #13: Develop multicultural awareness, knowledge and skills

Before I give you any tips on multicultural awareness, allow me to disclose my background relevant to that.

I have lived and worked in many countries and I have got dual citizenship.

I work with people from all over the world, from South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia to UK, Europe and the US.

I have got family members in three different parts of the world: India, UK and US.

Part of my family is English and few of my relatives are American.

Fortunately I have never lived at one place for more than couple of years.

I find that boring and I am amazed how some people continue to live in one city throughout their lives.

While i do not claim to know it all but i do have little bit more experience about multiculturalism than the person who just read it somewhere.


Working with Brits (British People)

Since I have been living in the UK for almost a decade now, i am in a good position to give an insider perspective of the British culture.

Before I begin, there is one caveat.

I am doing gross generalisation to oversimplify something as complex as ‘culture’.

That is required because this article is not meant to be an encyclopedia on world cultures.

So bear with me.

Brits tend to be very polite, reserved and private.

And when I say Brits, I am considering the people who are born and raised in the UK.

Not the people who migrated here from other countries.

Because those who come here from other countries, come with their own culture.

And you would need to “study’ their culture in order to understand them.

So just for the sake of understanding different cultures, I have excluded migrants (which also include me).

You should not confuse a Brit’s politeness with friendliness.

Just because they are being polite does not mean they want to be your friend.

This is specially true with a person of opposite sex.

You will know you have made a Brit your friend, once he delights in taking the pis* out of you.

Until then you are left alone, out of politeness.

In British culture, it is considered polite to leave people alone and rude to ask personal questions.

So you may sit next to a Brit for hours in a train, plane or resturant and he/she still may not say a word to you.

If there is going to be a small talk, it is likely to be about the weather.

It is all perfectly normal here though such behaviour may appear cold and aloof to a person who does not know the British culture.

Don’t expect conversation on professional and personal lives.

It is considered rude to ask someone, “what do you do for living?”

You are asking about professional life here, which to a Brit is, none of your business.

Even among close family members, most Brits have only vague idea of what each one does for living.

So for you as a complete stranger asking ‘what you do for living’ is like crossing all boundaries of decency.


For many brits giving direct feedback is very difficult and challenging.

So they avoid it as much as they can.

But if they can not avoid it then they beat around the bush, use understatements, give indirect suggestions or clues.

It is only when the understatements and indirect suggestions do not seem to work, they reluctantly but cautiously give a direct feedback.

Understatements are integral part of the British work culture and if you do not understand them then you may have a hard time doing business in the UK.

The British social protocol dictates that all instructions need to be in the form of a question and should include the word ‘please’ wherever possible.

For example:

“Will it be possible for you to do it today?”

instead of saying something like:

“can you do it today” or worse ‘do it today”.

Otherwise it is considered a rude command.

You are expected to use the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ even to your spouse and family members without fail.

Otherwise you are just being rude.

In fact even our sign boards include the word ‘please’ somewhere and are considered rude otherwise.

Now there is hardly any email i send out, which does not include the word ‘please’.

In fact i tend to repeat the word ‘please’ way too much in emails, to the point that now i have to consciously find a way, not to overdo it.

Brits show displeasure through sarcasm. So if you do not understand sarcasm then you may have hard time reading them.


While there is no concept of privacy in India and in most of Asia, for British and most of Europe ‘privacy’ is of paramount importance.

You can’t just go around and ask someone about his life off work, if he/she doesn’t know you ‘really well’.

And by ‘really well’, i mean since from his/her childhood (at least in the UK)

You will be considered ‘rude’ and ‘nosy’.

Which interestingly is, not the case in India or US.

Americans will happily tell you their entire life story in a heart beat : )


Working with Australians

I worked for an Australian company full time for over a year and I have also worked with couple of Australian clients over the years.

My understanding is that Australians and British share almost same culture.

Same is the case with New Zealand.

The big difference is really the lifestyle.

With all year round sunshine and hot climate in Australia, you can do lot more outdoor activities.


Working with Americans

The only thing that I have found common among the Brits and Americans is the ‘English’ language.

And that language is also not that common.

American English is not exactly British English.

Both use different words, phrases, slang and idioms.

The culture is entirely different which may surprise some of you who have never lived in the UK.

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that Americans are exact opposite of British.

They are loud, ambitious, overtly friendly (by British standards), outspoken (by British Standards) and outgoing.

And they just don’t get ‘sarcasm’ and ‘understatements’.

You should not have a hard time befriending or chatting with an American.


American work culture has nothing much in common with the British work culture.

The former is more informal but fast-paced.

Words like ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ are not used as often as in the British work force.

I have found Americans to be highly ambitious, hard working, risk taker, innovative, competitive and taking pride in their achievements.

All such characteristics are unfortunately lacking in the British work culture.

You could say, there is drought of “ambition” in the British work force.


For Americans, the feedback need to sound negative for their disapproval to be understood.

Americans by and large are direct communicators (telling it like it is without mincing words).

They don’t beat around the bush.

If they don’t like something, they just let you know, exactly the way they feel.

“I don’t like it. It is BS”.

They don’t think it, as being rude or outspoken.

They actually think they are being honest with you.

And this is also true for people in most countries.

If you do not give direct feedback, you are being dishonest.

For me giving direct feedback to a Brit esp. the negative one could be very difficult and challenging.

You are literally walking on eggshells here.

You don’t know what you say or do that might offend someone.

On the contrary, giving direct feedback to an Indian or American is not a problem at all, at least not for me.


Working with Indians

However first lets define Indians here.

There are Indians living all over the world and some of them have been in foreign countries for several generations (like in South Africa, UK etc).

So when i talk about Indians, i am referring to the Indians in India.

I am not referring to the people of Indian origin, who were born and raised in foreign countries and who have never ever step foot in India.

Because those who were born and raised outside of India tend to adopt the culture of the country they live in, at least to some degree.

Indians are hard working and can go to great length to please their employer or client.

What that means, staying late in the office, skipping lunch (if required to complete the work on time), doing overtime etc even without being asked to do so.

However, if they are asked to stay late in the office or work on weekends, they will almost always never say ‘no’ to it.

In the Indian work culture, you can not disobey your boss or anyone higher than you in the organisation hierarchy.

You can not address a person by his first name if he is higher than you in the organisation hierarchy.

The organisation hierarchy act more like a power hierarchy.

Just like Indian families, the Indian companies have got strict chain of commands.

Those who are at the top of the chain will not do the work that they consider beneath them.

Indian employees love their job titles and they almost always never say ‘no’ to anything.

So even if they can’t complete a task on time and need more time, they may still say ‘yes it will be done on time’.

Even if they can not complete the task, they usually never say ‘no it can’t be done’.

They believe in saying ‘yes’ now and then figure it out later.

The word ‘no’ has got no place in the Indian workplace.

So you may need to dig deep to make sure that the promise being made can actually be delivered.

Expect some level of uncertainty and plan accordingly as the concept of  ‘time’ is somewhat loosely defined in the Indian work culture.

If you work in an Indian company and you get an invitation from your boss or colleague to attend some social event (party, weeding, business lunch etc), you should not decline it.

Because that is considered very rude and disrespectful.


Since data reporting is a form of communication, you need to be aware of the multi-cultural aspect of your work place and teams.

Otherwise you may have a hard time getting things done.

You need this multicultural awareness, knowledge and skills, in order to able to work effectively with cross cultural teams.

And the best way to do that, is to actually go out and travel/live in a foreign country.

Experience and study different cultures.

Secret #14: Find a mentor and learn the best tips and tricks

When it comes to learning, there are two ways: The easy way and the hard way.

The easy way is that you learn things on the Job, but with an incredibly slow pace, over the years/decades, by doing hit and trial, stumbling or failing countless times, along the way to success.

The hard way and also the smart way is to go through a crash course and learn to avoid even those mistakes which you have not made yet.

Why repeat the mistakes which others have made before you? It doesn’t make any sense.

Learn from other people’s mistakes and avoid them.

If you believe in head starting, by learning from the best in the industry, then find a mentor.

Reading blog posts and attending conferences are all good but they can never be a substitute for good mentorship.

So the first step in becoming ninja in data reporting or in anything, is finding the right mentor and making mistakes under his/her supervision.

You will learn a ton, every time you make a mistake in the presence of your mentor.

I did this by finding ‘Avinash Kaushik’ and by learning the very best skills, tricks and tips from him.

He helped in creating the right foundation and I built my house on top of that.

I have learned so much in the last couple of years, that now I am the author of three best selling books on Amazon.

However bear in mind that right mentorship is often not free.

You mentor is likely a very busy person and he is more likely to charge, not for his expertise but for his time.

So be prepared to pay a hefty fees.

The other reason for charging a hefty fees, is to make sure that you are really serious about being mentored and not just wasting your mentor’s time.

You are more likely to pay attention and follow what is being taught, if you are charged say $5000 than when you are charged say $500.

When lot of money is at stake, people pay attention and learn.

Secret #15: Question everything you have learnt

If you never question, you will never grow. It is as simple as that. Question fundamental beliefs and best practices.

I did this by questioning a well know practice called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) through my articles:

  1. Here is Why Conversion Volume Optimization is better than CRO
  2. Case Study: Why you should Stop Optimizing for Conversion Rate
  3. What Matters more: Conversion Volume or Conversion Rate – Geek Case Study
  4. 2 Powerful Reasons you should STOP doing CRO Right NOW

Keep on refining your learning and streamlining your processes.

You are here to perfect the system, not to stick to the old system.

Don’t just blindly believe whatever you learn from others.

A good student never blindly believes whatever his teacher says. Moreover

You are rewarding your teacher poorly, if you remain always a pupil

Friedrich Nietzsche”.

Secret #16: Become a teacher (time to give back)

I learn best when I share what I have learnt.

We call this ‘learning by teaching’.

Learning a topic is one thing but teaching it is totally a different ball game.

Teaching forces you to get your thinking clean, to make it simple.

This is one of the primary reason I blog.

The more I will teach, the more I will learn.

If I get the time, I will blog every single day.

That’s why I urge you to blog.

Share what you have learned.

The more you give the more you receive.

“The easiest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.” – Deepak Chopra

Don’t hold back your knowledge.

The more you will hold back, the more you will loose.

This is because you are going against the nature.

You learn things and you pass it on.

Once you become a teacher, you will experience a dramatic improvement in the understanding of your subject/area.

This understanding will reflect in your reports/presentation.

If something is difficult for you to understand then how you can expect other people to understand it with relative ease.

So make it simple, by teaching others.

Here is a small exercise for you:

  1. Spend some time in explaining a concept like “Bounce Rate” to your colleagues.
  2. Once you have explained the concept, ask for the feedback.
  3. Now measure their level of understanding.
  4. If they can’t explain ‘bounce rate’ back to you in plain english then it means you have failed as a teacher.
  5. Try again.

We often hear this phrase ‘make the insight obvious’ or make that obvious.

But the bottomline is that there is no such thing as obvious.

What is obvious to me and you may not be obvious to someone else.

So don’t make the insight obvious, spell it out.

obvious-insightI know the insight from the chart above is obvious to me because I did the analysis and I made this chart.

But is the insight obvious to you?…. No.

This is because you don’t know the context.

Often the people who end up reading your reports are not you.

So if they missed the context they missed the picture you are trying so hard to present.

So what is the solution?

First present the context, then the insight and then the data (table, chart, graph etc) to support your insight.


We often don’t present the context assuming that the recipient of our reports already knows about it.

This is a serious flaw in data reporting.

And to make the matter worse, we present the data that support our insight before we present the insight.

This can result in serious misinterpretation of your data.

No matter how hard you try to lay out your data in a hope that it is not misinterpreted, some people will always find a way to interpret the data in a way that they think is correct.

To avoid this problem,always present the insight first and then the data to support your insight.

In this way you are telling the recipient of your reports about how the data should be interpreted.

Always create your reports with this thing in mind that you won’t be there to present your data or point out the so called ‘obvious insight’.

Note: if you don’t want people to question your data then always specify data source and the time range.

Secret #18: Report something business bottomline impacting

Marketer: The bounce rate is all time low

Boss: And so are the sales. Off you go, grrrr.

Marketer: Boss, the number of Facebook fans is all time high.

Boss: So is our cost of Facebook campaigns, off you go, grrr

The marketer here is making two fatal mistakes:

1. He is reporting something as trivial as ‘bounce rate’ to a CEO of a big company. CEOs don’t care about bounce rate. They care about the big picture i.e. the business bottomline: Gross profit, ROI.

2. He is not reporting something business bottomline impacting. You need to tie every metric you report to the business bottomline metrics like revenue, cost, conversions and ROI. And if you can’t tie it then why you are reporting it?

A wise man once said, reporting without solid recommendations is data puking.

If you want your reports to impact the business bottomline then make sure your reports include solid recommendations.

Because no amount of analysis and reporting is going to move the corporate needle if it doesn’t include solid recommendations.

Check out this article to know more about making solid recommendations: Excellent Analytics Tip #101: Getting your things done right now

Secret #19: Understand who your report is meant for

Before you create and send any report always ask yourself following three questions:

  1. Why I am reporting, what I am reporting? I am reporting because …..
  2. How does this affect the recipient(s)? I am presenting this report to the board of directors because……
  3. What actions recipient(s) should take on the basis of this report? I am presenting this report so that he takes this action………

For example, when you choose to report ‘bounce rate’ to a CEO then what actions you want him to take?

  • Do you want him to optimize the marketing campaigns and reduce the bounce rate?
  • Do you want him to fire the marketing manager because he is responsible for bringing crappy traffic to the website?

If you can’t think of any action that the CEO should take on the basis of bounce rate then why you are reporting him the bounce rate?

As we move up in an organization hierarchy (esp. in big companies) we tend not to bug senior management with minute details.

Minute details are for the managers (because they have to manage the campaigns) or for the colleagues (because they are directly working on optimizing the campaigns).

So we should avoid presenting tactical dashboards (like copy-paste versions of Google Analytics screen shots) to senior managements and present them only business bottomline impacting insight, possibly in few lines of plain English.

Secret #20: Be tactful. Avoid arguments and conflicts

The best way I have found to avoid any possible conflict is to keep your team in the loop of your findings.

Don’t give them any surprises esp. the nasty one and that too in front of the senior management.

If you know that a certain marketing campaign is not performing well and the company is losing hundreds thousands pounds each day then don’t disclose this insight from your team or the people who are directly responsible for managing the campaign till the last minute.

Tell them as soon as you know about it.

Give them the opportunity to rectify their problems.

Help them in optimizing their campaigns even if it is not really your job.

They will thank you for that. They will thank you for showing the team spirit and for being considerate.

Explain them that it is your job to present correct marketing performance reports to the senior management and tomorrow their job could be in jeopardy if they continue to manage the campaigns the way they have been doing so far.

Your analytical insight should first benefit your team before it benefits the ‘C’ level executives.

It is wise to take a second opinion before you present a report which can have a huge impact on the business or a particular individual or group.

Secret #21: Keep it short and simple

I can’t put enough stress on the importance of simplicity.

If you reports are not easy to understand than it won’t have any impact. It is as simple as that.

So stay away from using industry jargons and ambiguous words as much as possible.

If you can’t avoid using a technical term then explain it first each time you use it.

Don’t assume people already know about it because you trained them once.

It took me several days before I could successfully retain the definition of a bounce rate in my memory when I first started to play with web analytics.

So these technical terms are not as easy to remember as you may think esp. for the people who know little to nothing about web analytics.

Another way of keeping reports simple is through ‘data visualization’.

Visualize your data wherever you can through diagrams, graphs and charts.

Present less fluff and more substance.

If your reports are 50 pages long then no one is going to read them let alone take any action.

Other articles on Data Analysis and reporting


What is the difference between Digital Analytics and Google Analytics?

99.99% of course creators themselves don’t know the difference between Digital analytics, Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager (GTM).

So they are teaching GA and GTM in the name of teaching Digital analytics.

They just copy each other. Monkey see, monkey do.

But Digital analytics is not about GA, GTM.

It is about analyzing and interpreting data, setting up goals, strategies and KPIs.

It’s about creating strategic roadmap for your business.

Digital Analytics is the core skill. Google Analytics is just a tool used to implement ‘Digital Analytics’.

You can also implement ‘Digital analytics’ via other tools like ‘adobe analytics’, ‘kissmetrics’ etc.

Using Google Analytics without the good understanding of ‘Digital analytics’ is like driving around in a car, in a big city without understanding the traffic rules and road signs.

You are either likely to end up somewhere other than your destination or you get involved in an accident.

You learn data analysis and interpretation from Digital analytics and not from Google Analytics.

The direction in which your analysis will move, will determine the direction in which your marketing campaigns and eventually your company will move to get the highest possible return on investment.

You get that direction from ‘Digital analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.

You learn to set up KPIs, strategies and measurement framework for your business from ‘Digital analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.

So if you are taking a course only on 'Digital Analytics’, you are learning to use one of the tools of ‘Digital analytics’. You are not learning the ‘Digital analytics’ itself.

Since any person can learn to use Google Analytics in couple of weeks, you do no get any competitive advantage in the marketplace just by knowing GA.

You need to know lot more than GA in order to work in digital analytics and marketing field.

So what I have done, if you are interested, is I have put together a completely free training that will teach you exactly how I have been able to leverage digital analytics to generate floods of news sales and customers and how you can literally copy what I have done to get similar results.

You can sign up for the free training here: https://learn.optimizesmart.com/registration-web-class

I truly hope you find it helpful.  

My best selling books on Digital Analytics and Conversion Optimization

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

Attribution Modelling in Google Ads and Facebook
This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling in Google Ads (Google AdWords) and Facebook. It will teach you, how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to understand the customer purchasing journey and determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence.

The Digital Analytics Association is a world renowned not-for-profit association which helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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