Recently at Edge we have been working with a client with multiple web properties. We’ve been providing substantial weekly digital marketing reports that provide information for every part of their web presence. This includes reporting for their website, their social media, and all manner of extra data that must be collected from third party sources, such as shortened link stats and email campaign figures. This is all very exciting stuff and it has been a pleasure working with them to help paint a grand and informative picture about their web presence and digital marketing as a whole. But at the start, it was a struggle. When we started reporting for this client it was fair to say that we were in over our heads. We knew that the sheer volume of their data and its sources made manual collection an untenable strategy, especially within the tight turn around window of a weekly report. It was taking far too many hours to pull together all the data for the report from the client's myriad of third party digital services. We also couldn’t cut back on much of the data we gathered for fear of losing out on valuable information.
Less data wrangling. More room for thought. More actionable insights.We needed a digital reporting automation solution, a way to fast forward through hours of raw data collection. Compelled to provide in-depth reporting that respects our clients’ budgets and spend more time sharing actionable insights while keeping our own sanity intact, we began to experiment with reporting automation. We went through each section of the report and figured out a way to automate the collection of that section’s data. First we started with data about their web traffic and found a Google Sheets integration that allowed us to automate data collection from Google Analytics. Next, we looked at their link shortening and Social Media sections. For these we wrote custom programming scripts that used the APIs of the sites we gathered data from to automatically query them like a database. Finally, we transformed our summary page from chunks of text into visualized data (graphs and charts) that was not only quicker for us to generate, but presents the summary information to the clients in a much more digestible fashion as well. By automating almost all of the data collection process we were able to cut down the time spent in the data gathering phase by around 80%. Automation served as way for us to fast forward to the stage of data analysis where the insights happen and where we the real value exists for our clients. But beyond creating more time and brain room for analysis, automation serves as way to solve two major problems that plague traditional reporting methods.