Reports and updates are really important for making your clients aware of the progress on their projects, and keeping on top of what you’re achieving week to week. But they’re nearly always super boring.
Fortunately for you, there’s a simple way to jazz these up and impress your clients, without having to do a ton of extra work. You need infographics.
Enter Kathryne Dunlap. I met Kathryne about a month ago at the Bullish Conference in Washington, D.C. She was presenting a seminar called How To Write The Best Goddam Interoffice Memo The World Has Ever Seen. Despite the fact that I haven’t had colleagues in a year and a half, I went along, hoping to glean some useful information on writing great emails anyway.
The seminar was excellent, so I recently caught up with Kathryne again, to get the low down on great infographic emails and how freelancers and consultants can use them too.
What to include in a client report
When I asked Kathryne the most important things to put in my reports, she said “Ideally you have clear goals, and know what they are already.
“If not, guess at what they are. You can ask your client if they have different priorities. This has the added benefit of helping you nail down what really matters, before the end of a contract.”
In order to do this you need to make sure you’re tracking the kind of data that’s relevant to your clients. This could be anything from recording before-and-after statistics, to listing the number of hours you’ve spent working on different parts of the project. The important thing is to make it something your client cares about, which you can use to show your success.
How to make eye-catching reports
Making infographics is easy, and there are lots of free tools online. Kathryne’s favourite is Piktochart because it gave her all the tools she needed.
“The graphics were a little confusing at first (coming from a design background consisting exclusively of Microsoft Paint), but you can select “graph” and just paste in the numbers, and then you have a graph. You can see the data in, say, a line graph vs a pie chart.
“To start with, I went to their free templates and picked one, then modified it with my information. And I still do that, because I don’t think I have a great instinct for design!”
You’ll need a spreadsheet tool, like Excel, or Google Sheets, to prepare your data as well. Learn how to use the Pivot Table function and you’ll be well on your way. There’s loads of other free tutorials online as well, so have a look and let us know your favourites.
Top tips for using infographics effectively
As well as client reports, a quick chart or statistic from a recent project is a great thing to include in your e-newsletters, on your website or on your social media channels. Make sure that the data doesn’t identify your client, unless they’ve given you permission to use them as a case study.
Kathryne has a few top tips too:
- “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Your profits probably did not grow 400% last week, so check if your tools are measuring correctly.”
- “I always end up having my text too small for someone to read. I’ll think ‘this looks huge on my screen!’ But it’s not so huge when someone is reading emails on their phone. So being overly cautious ends up being just about right.”
- “If you can avoid using a table, please do! You just can’t get the sort of summary at a glance as with any kind of graph. I always expect people to really question things and want to see every detail, but it has rarely happened.”
Read the full interview
My full interview with Kathryne will be available soon on the Get Bullish blog! Head over there to learn even more about creating great infographic emails.