Best Practices for Marketing Dashboards: The Dos, Don’ts and Must-Haves

By: Michelle Law  | 04/22/2020


When every click-through and conversion matters, data can be both a blessing and a curse. Data helps fuel the success of today’s marketing efforts, but the more data you can compile, the more challenging it can be to sort through and find meaningful insights.

That’s where a digital dashboard comes in. A well-designed dashboard isn’t just a visual representation of data — it brings in the most useful data so you can easily monitor, measure and analyze a campaign’s performance as it unfolds. It turns real-time information into actionable insights.

Visualizing the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A marketing dashboard lets you track the effectiveness, progress and ROI of any marketing initiative across the channels you use. Following best practices, a dashboard should be able to help you capture information as wide-ranging as: 

  • Ad costs, clicks, impressions and conversions
  • Sales data from your CRM platform
  • Email engagement
  • Changes in SEO performance like rankings, click-through rates, etc.
  • Social media analytics
  • Demographic trends
  • Revenue by channel or campaign

In a nutshell, a dashboard will give you a good idea of what’s working — and what isn’t.

Traits of a Best-Practice Marketing Dashboard

To be the kind of tool data-driven marketers need, a digital dashboard should have three traits.

1. Easily customizable

From focusing on a particular KPI to visually framing the results, a best practice for dashboards is to be customizable for each user’s needs. Each person should be able to see the level of detail they need to evaluate a campaign’s performance and determine next steps, without having to wade through data that doesn’t help them.

2. Mobile-friendly

Today, more marketers are working remotely than ever, so having access to real-time insights anywhere and anytime is paramount. A digital marketing dashboard should be optimized for mobile viewing, whether through a native app or a responsive web interface.

3. Scalable

Being scalable means your dashboard can grow with your number of projects and with your resource requirements. Scalability also means the ability to easily accommodate a wide variety of data sources. Your dashboard may need flexible APIs for custom integration and compatibility with essential systems like your CRM and marketing automation software.

Questions to Ask When Planning Your Dashboard

Building a dashboard that helps your business achieve its objectives requires planning. To display key metrics so your organization can extract the most value from them, work through these critical questions:

Why am I building a dashboard?

Start and end by keeping the main thing the main thing. What is it that users want and need to see? You can’t have a blueprint without a purpose in mind and specific metrics you want to track — from click-throughs to conversion rates. Beware of “scope creep” taking your dashboard project off-track from its real purpose.

Who’s my audience?

As a marketer, you craft content with buyer personas in mind. Likewise, when creating a dashboard, always consider your audience. That includes anyone who will be viewing the board so you can create the right reports displayed the right way for the right people.

What’s the best way to show the data?

There’s more than one way to display a metric. It can be as simple as a number or a table, but that may not always be the most effective way to visualize what’s important. Does it need to be seen next to comparison figures? Or is it better represented as a bar graph, a pie chart or a scatterplot?

What are the key benchmarks and goals?

Are you comparing campaign performance against previous weeks? Are you contrasting user engagement from one channel to another? Do you have competitive data to serve as a benchmark?

What information is most important?

Your most important “headline” metrics should be easiest to find. Your audience’s eyes will usually be drawn to the top left-hand corner of the board, so that’s where you want your heavy hitters to reside. Of course, organize your other data points hierarchically from there, top to bottom, keeping in mind what’s most helpful to view side-by-side.

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Best Practices for Building Your Marketing Dashboard

Separate for success

Display specific sets of data in different parts of the dashboard. Your dashboard should be designed in a way that makes it easy for viewers to read, digest and understand the relationship between different types of data.

Master the art of simplicity

When designing your dashboard, keep these tips in mind:

  • Limit the number of colors on your board to two or three.
  • Keep fonts consistent to help information be more easily recognizable at a glance with a clear hierarchy. Using several different fonts and sizes can make it difficult to distinguish how information relates.
  • Use data illustrations selectively. When presented in the right graph, chart or capsule, numbers will tell the story effectively, but too many can be too much to take in.
  • When you do use larger sizes, make sure it expresses more important data points.

Be mindful of time frames

Make sure that data displayed are set to the same time frame and that these time frames are easily identifiable. This helps avoid confusion and faulty comparisons.

Consider usability

It’s easy to take the mindset of “the more data, the better” — but resist the urge to use vanity metrics or data that may confuse dashboard users. Simpler is often better. So always view your dashboard through the lens of the end user.

Go Ahead, Put Your Success on Display

Best-in-class digital dashboards provide a snapshot of how campaigns are performing as they’re performing. As a single source of truth, they give marketers and executives a high-level overview and a way to drill down for a deeper diver into what’s working, what isn’t and what questions to ask next.

To get a partner in helping put data to work for your business, contact us. We can design, implement, track and evaluate your next marketing campaign — all with the help of a custom digital marketing dashboard.

 

 


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