A dummy’s guide to why reporting is essential for your online startup

These days most small businesses know that they need a website. Some also realise the importance of email marketing and social media in marketing their business to their target audience. However, not all small businesses realise the importance of tracking the activity on their website and social networks, and how it can help them to save money and grow their business.

Brands have access to an incredible number of resources offering free insights about their website traffic, social media and email marketing. Utilising this data and more specifically, real-time data, has become a reality in the day-to-day running of a business. It’s important to understand the data and be able to create objectives and goals for your business using it.

Sadly many business owners feel that they don’t have time to understand this data or find it too confusing, so they just don’t do it at all. However, understanding your website traffic can help you to track where your customers are coming from, which pages they visit and how long they stay on your site. This can help you determine which products are working and which are not.

It’s also important to understand which updates you post to your social networks are getting engagement and who they reach, so you know what to focus on in the next month’s content calendar. So the bottom line is that whether you create this report yourself, or ask your marketing team to provide it, you will need to understand where the data comes from and how you can use it to optimise your marketing strategy.

Read more: What can big data do for small startups?

What your report should include:

Google analytics website stats

Site visitors: the number of visitors to your website, or more accurately called sessions.

Bounce rate: the percentage of sessions that are terminated immediately, i.e., a visitor lands on a page and leaves
straight away instead of exploring a site.

Time on page: the average time a visitor or user spends on a single web page.

Page views: the number of pages a user visits while on the website.

New vs. returning visitors: the ratio between new and returning visitors to the website.

Keyword searches: the top keywords used to find the website on a search engine such as Google.

Traffic acquisition: where the traffic or visitors have come from to get to the website, i.e. referral from another site, direct traffic or search engines.

Facebook insights

Number of new fans: the number of new likes on a page, which determines whether your audience is growing or not.

Average reach and engagement: the average number of people who see your posts and engage with them via likes, comments or shares.

Most popular post: the post with the most engagement and reach.

Paid vs. organic stats: the ratio between reach and engagement due to paid adverts vs. organic stats (engagement from people who are already your fans or friends of your fans).

Demographics: the demographics of your audience, such as male vs. female fans, their age groups and nationality.

Twitter analytics

Number of new followers: the number of new followers on your Twitter account.

Type of engagement: whether you are receiving messages, retweets or mentions on Twitter.

Average engagement %: the percentage of followers or people who see your tweets that engage with them, i.e. reply or retweet.

Most popular tweet: the tweet with the most engagement.

Read more: Will open data really help drive entrepreneurship in South Africa?

Instagram stats

At this stage there are no official tools for Instagram reporting, but it is possible to manually keep records of monthly followers and engagement on your account. We suggest you track:

Number of new followers: the number of new followers on your Instagram account.

Engagement: the number of likes (hearts) and comments you get on each photo.

Most popular photo: the photo with the most likes and comments.

Tools to use for reporting:

Each software/ app has its own reporting system that can export reports for you on a regular basis, depending on what type of information you need. Unfortunately this is only the beginning because you will also need to understand the data and extrapolate insights from it so that it is valuable to your business. Here are a few other tools to use to help you lighten your monthly reporting load.


An online social media monitoring software, which can also be configured to send regular reports about each social network using the stats mentioned above. This is not a free service, but one that is worthwhile to keep your finger on the pulse.


A very useful online reporting software that integrates with your Google Analytics and Facebook accounts to pull various statistics and graphs on a regular basis. It also allows you to build a template report that works for you and measures KPIs.

In conclusion, whilst these stats can be daunting, the point is that you if understand the metrics you will find it easier to gain insights from your stats, learn from them and create objectives to work towards each month.

Image by Takashi Hososhima via Flickr



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Ventureburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.