In this day and age when data abounds and drives a large part of our decision making, the dashboard is becoming an increasingly essential tool for marketing professionals.
If you’re not exactly sure what it is, a data dashboard is a graphical user interface that allows you to track, in real time, certain key performance indicators (KPIs) related to your marketing objectives. At just a quick glance, you have access to all the data you need to optimize and monitor your campaigns. No need to go digging through your Google Analytics, Google Manager, Facebook Business Manager and all the others; everything is right in front of you.
Of course, dashboards are not only used in marketing. Did you know that the origin of the word dashboard dates back to the mid-19th century? At the time, it referred to a protective panel at the front of carriages that shielded passengers from mud and rocks. Over time, the dashboard evolved into what we know as the control panel on cars and airplanes. It just goes to show that the need for simplified access to information for quick decision making isn’t anything new.
Today, dashboards are incredibly versatile tools used across all fields, including human resources, sales and management.
In itself, creating a marketing dashboard isn’t that hard; it’s identifying the needs and KPIs to be integrated into it that is a little more complicated. That’s why we propose a three-step approach to create your own marketing dashboard.
Step 1 : Determine what the dashboard will be used for
Yes, of course, the dashboard is used to track your marketing activities. But beyond that, you also need to know exactly what you want to look for and what kind of decisions it will be used for. So ask yourself the following questions:
What activities will it be used to manage?
Are you looking to monitor activities on your e-commerce site, your content marketing efforts or the sale of specific products? You need to know which need it is supposed to meet in order to choose appropriate indicators.
Moreover, will it be used to monitor a specific campaign, or to keep track of your daily business activities? In the first case, the dashboard will have to go into the micro details of the campaign, while in the second, it will present a more macro view of what is happening across your platforms.
Who will consult it?
Will the dashboard only be consulted by you, or by some of your colleagues? Think about it, because people who are not familiar with the data will need a simplified tool in order to understand the information being presented.
Also, will it be used by the sales team, the marketing team or mostly the management team? Not all information is useful to all individuals. A more granular presentation will undoubtedly be of interest to some, while upper management will expect more of an overview.
Keep in mind, however, that nothing prevents you from having your own dashboard and presenting an adapted version to your colleagues and decision-makers.
What are my goals?
After all, data is not very useful if it is not linked to objectives. Selling more of a product X, generating qualified leads, improving your reputation, and building your community on social networks are all different goals that are measured differently. Knowing your goals will help you determine which KPIs to monitor.
This brings us to the second step.
At Braque, dashboards are an essential tool to monitor our clients’ campaigns. (*Numbers have been changed for confidentiality reasons)
Step 2 : Choose the right KPIs
Your marketing dashboard should present only the metrics that inform you about the progress of your objectives. There’s no point in trying to monitor everything. Too much information can cause you to spread yourself too thin and lose sight of important data.
For example, if you are a Québec company looking to develop its market in the province, you probably don’t need to keep data about your international traffic.
Without being overloaded with useless data, the dashboard must still offer a fairly general vision of all your communication activities in order to evaluate their influence on the achievement of your objectives.
For example, if you see that your traffic has increased by 25% this month, but can’t identify the source of these new visitors, you will miss valuable insights that would have helped you further optimize your online visibility.
In short, the dashboard should be large enough to allow you to understand your data and put it in context to make informed decisions.
So this step is all about finding a balance between the surplus and the lack of data. When in doubt, you can always start with more KPIs and then reduce the number over time as you know which ones are really useful to you.
Step 3 : Create the dashboard
Gone are the days when you had to enter your dashboard data yourself. Today, there are a host of software programs available to connect the various data sources and present the evolution of the data in real time.
At Braque, we often recommend Google’s Data Studio tool, which is easy to use and allows you to create interactive and dynamic reports. The use of data from Google (such as Google Analytics, Google Ads, Campaign Manager, etc.) is completely free of charge. You will only have to pay for importing data from third parties (such as SEMrush analytics, Linkedin Ads or Facebook Insights).
What should a dashboard look like?
If you surf the Net and check out a few blog posts, chances are you will come across an image of a minimalist dashboard that fits in one page only.
In short, we are wrongly led to believe that an effective dashboard should not exceed one page. The problem is that, as a rule, such a short dashboard is not really useful because it doesn’t help to understand what’s going on. You can see that your sales are going down, but you don’t know why. Or you can see that your traffic is increasing, but you don’t know where it’s coming from.
While keeping only the really important data, it’s no problem to have a dashboard of a few pages. We suggest you start with a very general summary page, then present the details in the following pages, following the inverted pyramid model.
Once your platform has been chosen and your data imported, much of the work will be done. All you will have to do now is to arrange dashboard to your liking by renaming the charts, choosing their order and discarding some data.
Here are some tips to optimize the presentation of your dashboard:
- Present chart titles in a question format, such as “Who are our visitors? “What channels bring in the most traffic? “or “Which ad group converts the most?”. This really makes it easier to understand, especially if you are presenting the dashboard to someone who is not familiar with KPIs.
- When analyzing data, always remember to present the data in comparison to a previous period so as to better understand the context.
- Think carefully about the best way to present your data. Sometimes it’s better to choose a table and other times a diagram. For example, if your data is about a geographic location, consider using a map. If you want to study the evolution of a metric, use broken-line graphs (for more information, see this great graphic on data visualization). In addition, make sure your visual elements meet the four criteria for a good graph: They should be helpful, honest, clear, and efficient.If you choose the wrong visualization tool, you may miss out on some important details.
So, does creating a dashboard seem easier or harder than you expected?
Either way, don’t forget to contact us if you have any questions. We can help you create your own dashboard and launch digital campaigns that will achieve your business goals.