Marketers love data.
There’s no question about it – those numbers are capable of proving their performance is worthwhile. Determining the effect of marketing efforts can be part of what influences the upcoming budget and reassures executives that you know what you’re doing.
But that data comes from everywhere, making it difficult when you’re trying to tell one cohesive story about your accomplishments. That story is in there, somewhere among all of those platforms and tools.
It would be much easier to see all of that important information in one place.
What is a marketing dashboard?
A marketing dashboard is a platform that summarizes marketing KPIs and metrics. It works to simplify sometimes complex analytics and make data easier for anyone to consume. These dashboards are highly customizable and often need to updated frequently so that they can be used to report progress to stakeholders and additional team members.
While the idea of putting all of your data together is simple, the thought put into it is not.
Below, we’ll go over:
Before digital marketing dashboards, we could only hope that the time, money, and resources that marketing activities take up are worthwhile.
Marketing dashboards are more than a beautiful, comprehensive display of all of the data that’s most important to you. These dashboards should be designed to prove – to your colleagues, boss, or client – that the steps you’re taking are ones that are moving you in the right direction.
Why digital marketers should be using a marketing dashboard
The amount of marketing metrics we have available to us are unfathomable, which is part of the reason why a digital marketing dashboard is so helpful.
By providing teams with easily readable displays of the performance of all of their marketing campaigns and channels, digital marketing dashboards provide a visual overview of key metrics.
“A well-designed marketing dashboard you can live, eat, and breathe makes all the difference. When strategically focused, it will enable you to face every ball aimed at you and catch it with confidence.”
- Georges Benoliel, Founder of NestApple
Dashboards can be used to sync up
Marketing associates and marketing managers should absolutely be on the same page, but it’s important to realize that your department is a little fish in a much bigger pond.
Nobody likes a knowledge hoarder; sharing that information with executives and clients is crucial to giving everyone a better understanding of where their resources are going and their ROI.
Those numbers aren’t just there to inform you of the past, they’re also there to inform you and others about the decisions you make for your future.
Dashboards can be used to inform decisions
Collecting data once a month can be enough for some companies to make broader decisions. But if teams want to get into the nitty-gritty of the situation, having access to a real-time dashboard can provide unparalleled benefits.
For example, testing the effectiveness of new landing page copy by watching conversion rates rise or fall can inform your copy editor whether they need to make a fast change.
Dashboards can be used to get a bird’s-eye view
Sometimes we dive so deeply into our analytics that we forget the importance of taking a step back to see the bigger picture.
With a marketing dashboard, you can clearly see the high level picture regarding how your team is performing, as well as get the insight regarding why your team is performing the way it is. When you uncover the answer to the why, you can begin to take the steps to improve even further.
Marketing dashboard examples
As stated above, there are a multitude of metrics that you can choose to display on your dashboard. While this may seem liberating, it can also turn into a confusing venture for a digital marketer to make decisions about one, almighty dashboard.
That’s why you should have several dashboards operating simultaneously for different marketing roles.
The reason for this is that the metrics that indicate the success of one role are not the same as the metrics that will indicate the success of others. Instead, having dashboards organized with KPIs specific to the varying roles in your department is key.
Below are some marketing dashboard examples that you and your team can set up for those positions.
Your CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) usually has more important things to do than check everyone else’s dashboard under a microscope. Because of this, it’s important to provide your CMO with a dashboard designed especially for them.
One of the smartest ways to go about building this particular dashboard is by identifying the long-term KPIs of your department. Those KPIs should be framed at the top of this dashboard to provide an overview so your CMO can get an idea of how your team is performing at a glance.
Overall, your CMO’s dashboard should be designed to present the data that will help them improve their performance, as well as the performance of the team.
“Here at G2, there are quite a few things I’m looking for on my dashboard. One of the most important metrics that I like front and center is ROI: how much net new business did marketing source in comparison to the money we’ve spent over the year? By working out the marketing costs when taking a look at things like headcount and program spend, seeing that number in comparison to how much we’re making is a crucial indicator of our team’s success.”
- Ryan Bonnici, G2
Google Ads campaign dashboard
Building a Google Ads dashboard can help you track the success of your advertising campaigns.
Capable of monitoring metrics from a Google Ads account in real time, a Google Ads dashboard can be customized to show the metrics you need to determine your success without wasting any time digging through each and every one.
TIP: Marketing analytics software is capable of integrating with other platforms like Google Ads so that metrics from any software can all be collected and displayed in one place.
To get you started, know that a Google Ads dashboard can include key metrics like:
- Ad click-through rate: CTR can be used to determine how well your ad is performing. Google Ads finds this number by dividing the total number of clicks your ad receives by the amount of times it’s been displayed as a result. The higher your CTR, the more helpful or compelling your ad copy is for users.
- Average cost-per-conversion: CPA is calculated by dividing the total cost of conversions by the total number of conversions. For example, if your ad receives four conversions, three of which cost $3.00 and one of which costs $4.00, your average CPA for those conversions is $3.25.
- Cost-per-click: CPC is calculated by dividing the total cost of clicks by the total amount of clicks. This number is based on your actual cost per click, which may differ from your maximum cost-per-click you had bid before your campaign.
- Return on investment: Tracking ROI means keeping note of how much you invest in Google Ads as well as how much you profit as a direct result of those advertisements. In Google Ads, you can use the conversion tracking tool to help track how many clicks lead to actual conversions.
- Total ad cost: Keeping the total cost of your ads at the top of your dashboard can be a helpful reminder to check in on your other metrics to make sure that what you’re putting in is more than just breaking even.
Email marketing dashboard
Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and beyond. Instead of focusing on email blasts, today’s email marketers are keeping a closer eye on trends in their metrics to determine new, engaging ways to reach to different segments of their audience.
Your email marketing dashboard should display key metrics that demonstrate your performance and ROI of your email campaigns. By having a place where key metrics are displayed and updated in real time, email marketers have constant opportunities to improve.
To get you started, know that an email marketing dashboard can include key metrics like:
- Number of subscribers: Keeping an eye on the number of subscribers you have can be a good way to show higher-ups the size of your audience, but beware of reporting this metric alone. With no other context, this number is often considered a vanity metric.
- Open rate: An open rate measures how much of your email list is opening the messages you send to them. Typically, your open rate is indicative of how well your subject line is performing. By using that number against the language you use in your headlines, you can work to better optimize them for the future.
- Click-through rate: This number varies depending on the content within your emails, the size of your email list, and factors like the time of day your email was sent. Typically, the higher your CTR, the more valuable your content is for your audience.
- Number of unsubscribes: By being able to see your unsubscribe rate on your dashboard, you can quickly determine whether or not the content or rate at which you sent that content is valuable to your audience.
Content marketing performance dashboard
With content marketing, there are so many different metrics to track that it’s hard to know what to put on your dashboard. Content marketing is an activity that involves numerous efforts, often from more than one person.
In order to determine what to include on your content marketing performance dashboard, it’s important to choose the KPIs that demonstrate how content marketing adds value to your business.
Content marketing works as a way to bring more recognition to your business, sometimes from audiences that other, more traditional marketers, wouldn’t normally be able to reach.
To get you started, know that a content marketing performance dashboard should include metrics like:
- Inbound links: Tracking inbound links on your dashboard will give you an idea of how much exposure your content is getting to other users, as well as give Google an idea of how credible your content really is.
- Conversion rate: Content marketing can sometimes be a blurry subject, but the ultimate goal is to attract visitors and hold their attention. Adding your conversion rate to your content marketing performance dashboard can help you determine whether or not you’re achieving your goal of not only grabbing customers' attention, but actually convincing them to take another step down the funnel towards a sale.
- Attributed revenue: Keeping track of visitors that convert is one metric, but keeping track of those who turn into customers and bring revenue to your company are equally, if not more important, to keep an eye on.
- Organic traffic: Beyond your branded content, is your additional content getting traffic? Measuring this number gives an overall view of how many people are coming across your content in a natural way. Watching this number rise and fall gives insight into how optimized your content is for SEO and also indicates the level of brand awareness that the general population has.
SEO analytics dashboard
More than one metric is needed to determine the success of your SEO efforts. When creating your SEO analytics dashboard, it’s important to add the information that is most likely to indicate a need for change.
Dashboards aren’t just for marketing teams; from terminology to the abstract strategies, SEO is one of the least black-and-white subjects within marketing. Your SEO dashboard can help you better explain your strategy to any clients you may be working with who aren’t familiar with the concept.
To get you started, know that an SEO analytics dashboard may include metrics like:
- SEO ranking change: Keeping an eye on where your (or your client’s) website ranks is often a priority for SEOs. The lower a site ranks, the less likely anyone will see it, thus lessening the chance that conversions will start rolling through.
- Traffic type: Seeing the source of your foot traffic can give you insight into your customers’ behavior, what platforms they spend the most time on, and other information. Collecting this data and gathering insight with customer analytics can lead to better decision making about the content being produced, optimized, and promoted in the future.
- Page speed: The slower a page loads, the faster users will bounce – an SEO professional's nightmare. Keeping this metric in front of mind (and top of dashboard) will help marketers see which pages may need a little upkeep.
Social media marketing dashboard
Social media marketing involves tracking engagement metrics from multiple social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. While each of these platforms has their own analytics tool, it’s important for social media managers to have a third-party dashboard that brings all of those metrics together.
A social media marketing dashboard should be set up so that you can analyze demographic data across platforms, compare and contrast your engagement across all platforms, and get a clear vision of your social media ROI.
Those who work in social media often fall prey to vanity metrics such as the amount of followers they have. Numbers like these are pretty to look at, but don’t give genuine insight into how social media marketing efforts are impacting other marketing efforts.
While it’s okay to include these metrics on your dashboard, it’s important to make room for metrics like:
- Impressions: This metric measures the amount of times a post was seen or even just scrolled past, depending on the platform. While impressions alone don’t say very much, this number is important to monitor so that it can be divided by clicks in order to determine your CTR for varying social platforms.
- Clicks: Clicks are an important metric for social media marketers to measure as it’s what brings people away from social platforms and to your site. Monitoring the number of clicks can help you determine whether or not your content or copy is effective in converting viewers.
- Comments: Monitoring comments can show how many of your followers are actually taking the time to engage with your brand as well as which platforms encourage more interaction over others.
E-commerce marketing dashboard
When your business is almost, if not 100% online, you should absolutely be putting all of the data you’re collecting in one spot.
Because of how much data e-commerce sites collect, the way you set up your dashboard will ultimately be determined by what you’re looking to achieve and improve upon in the future, just like any other dashboard.
If you’re looking to track something particular, it may be best to set up more than one dashboard: one for specific use cases, such as tracking a certain campaign, and one for a general overview of your performance.
In the dashboard displaying your overview, consider adding KPIs like:
- Traffic sources: As a strictly online business, getting your brand name out there can sometimes be difficult. By adding traffic sources to your dashboard, you’ll be able to better identify opportunities for marketing. For example, if most of your traffic is coming from Instagram, dig in and find out what’s working and how to grow those numbers even further.
- Return on investment: Like any marketing dashboard, watching ROI is important. While this doesn’t typically help you with day-to-day activities, having this number available at a glance can tell you whether you’re on track to your financial goals. This information isn’t just important to you – any investors or stakeholders are going to want to see this number, too.
- Average order value: While some e-commerce marketers may think that having a metric like total number of orders looks good, it’s important to think critically about how valuable that number actually is when it comes to growing. In addition to measuring your order numbers, AOV is a more actionable metric that should be on your dashboard. If you notice that average declining, it’s time to make a change.
- Cart abandonment: This metric is one especially important to e-commerce marketers. Cart abandonment occurs in the last stages of the online buying process when a customer has items in their cart but, for whatever reason, decides against completing the sale. If your abandonment rate is high, it could be an indication that your checkout process isn’t user-friendly, and is definitely cause to take a second look at your design, return policies, shipping costs, and payment options.
Choosing your marketing dashboard software
There are hundreds of different software products that make marketing dashboards a possibility. Like marketing analytics software, both business intelligence software and marketing automation software are also capable of displaying dashboards.
Business intelligence software provides a standalone dashboard with an overall view of activities, while marketing automation software has the capability to provide a more in-depth view.
Marketing automation software may also require a little more time and intellectual effort to draw larger conclusions. Working with a standalone extension of business analytics software often means paying an additional price beyond the software itself, while marketing automation provides these services as part of their initial software offering.
If you’re struggling to decide which software will work best for you and your team, know that the following characteristics are often present in some of the tools:
- Mobile-friendly: No matter where they are, access to a dashboard at all times is important for some marketers. Whatever the reason may be that a marketer is away from a desktop view – travel, checking before bed at night, or at an event – investing in a software solution that has an app or mobile web interface is crucial. Any software solutions that don’t provide this option can safely be knocked off of your consideration list.
- Customizable: While this was mentioned as an absolute must for a dashboard, there are some software solutions out there that restrict customization to certain roles within a team. Other solutions will be customizable, but may not provide the same positive user experience as their alternatives. Be sure to read reviews of each tool you’re considering before investing.
Marketing dashboard mistakes
While the above examples are a push in the right direction, marketing dashboards aren’t so clear cut. Know that mistakes can be made as marketers learn how to improve and grow their marketing dashboards to their business goals.
Below are some of the most common mistakes that are made with these dashboards so that you and your team can be aware of and avoid them.
Inaccurate data visualization
One of the most useful characteristics of marketing dashboards is that they have the ability to make complicated data easier to understand with the use of data visualization. All of those pretty options mean a harder decision for marketers to make: which one should you be using?
Knowing the use cases for each of your options is crucial to ensure that your marketing dashboard is communicating the story that you want it to.
Misuse of color
Marketing dashboards are highly customizable, and that opportunity shouldn’t be taken for granted. Just because you can use an abundance of colors doesn’t mean that you should.
Generally, using two or three colors consistently (ideally from your brand) throughout your dashboards is enough. These colors should not only represent your brand, but should also be used with communication in mind. If you’re trying to make a certain section of a graph or chart stand out, do it with the brightest color from your scheme.
Abuse of charts
Just like there is such a thing as using too many colors, there is also such a thing as using too many charts.
The entire purpose of a dashboard is to have everything in one place and communicate results as simply as possible. There will be times when a chart is not needed because the number is communicating enough.
Do not overcomplicate your dashboard with charts when a number could do the trick.
Misunderstanding your audience
Above, we've gone over the importance of differentiating between dashboards for the sake of your audience. Each marketing dashboard should be read like a story and relate to the reader in order to be effective.
Failing to realize that every type of marketer is going to be looking at different KPIs can result in poor productivity, inaccurate data, and, most importantly, will not lead to positive change in an efficient manner.
Dashboards are there to display the most valuable information to the viewer. But just like Syndrome from The Incredibles once said, “When everyone is super, no one will be”.
If you throw a ton of KPIs on your dashboard, it’ll be difficult for the viewer to be able to determine which ones are the most important, ultimately making them all lower in value.
Make sure that the KPIs you’re choosing to display are ones that support the overarching goal. If they don’t, you know what to do.
Use of low-quality data
The discussion of vanity metrics has been weaved throughout this article, but avoiding their use in marketing dashboards is so important that we’re bringing it up again.
There are a wealth of factors that have the ability to impact the quality of the data you use on your dashboard. Working with someone who is accounting for the accuracy and feasibility of the data or using a data cleaning tool can help with the avoidance of this issue.
Can you see it now?
Proving the value of what you and your team are doing on a day-to-day basis isn’t easy, but marketing dashboards certainly make it a little less painful.
With the right team and the right tools, having a digital marketing dashboard can help further clarify where you’re finding success and what work needs improvement.