The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Effective Marketing Dashboard

Marketing

marketing icons on multicoloured background

Contents

16 min read

Before engaging in any type of campaign, marketers need to rely on accurate data.

It’s not enough to just have a ‘feeling’ or a ‘hunch’ that something will work without basing this on any hard evidence.

This is why marketing dashboards are so useful as they provide clear and easy-to-read information which allow marketers to draw conclusions.

By monitoring key metrics on a continuous basis, they can act on the data and improve the performance of future campaigns. This is a must-have for anyone working in the marketing team as it’s pointless spending time and money on something if it’s not bringing any value to the business.

However, before anyone can use the data it first needs to be centralised and collated into an understandable format.

This leads us nicely onto our next section.
person pointing at bar chart on laptop screen

What is a Marketing Dashboard?

A marketing dashboard displays important metrics and information about different marketing campaigns.

The most important part of this dashboard is that it presents information in a clear and visual way – or at least it’s meant to. If you’re unsure how to create an effective marketing dashboard then keep reading!

In terms of where this information exists, you can use an Excel spreadsheet or a tool such as Looker or Google Data Studio. It’s about what you find easiest as you need to feel confident when presenting the information to other colleagues or senior management.

Dashboards should be designed in such a way that it’s easier for marketers and relevant stakeholders to pull valuable insights. The main aim is to provide a real window into how your marketing efforts are performing.

What are the Challenges of Creating a Marketing Dashboard?

To reiterate my earlier point, marketing dashboards are meant to be clear and easy to understand.

However, this can be tricky as you will be using lots of different channels in your marketing efforts. For example, when it comes to social media statistics you will be using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram at the very least. Therefore it’s important you centralise all of this data to present it in a coherent way.

You will also have Google Analytics and Google Search Console when it comes to monitoring the performance of your website. Not to mention that you will (or should) be tracking SEO performance through tools such as Semrush or Ahrefs.

Just think about the amount of data collected through these different tools! You might find it overwhelming.

However, it all comes down to what you’re trying to show through your marketing dashboard, and most importantly, the audience. Some of this data will be more important to some people than others so it’s important you know your objectives from the start.

There’s lots of different types of marketing dashboards which vary depending on your role and what you’re interested in tracking. For example if you work in SEO, the data you’ll want to measure will be different from someone working in ecommerce. However, we’ve got more on that later.

What Are the Benefits of Creating a Marketing Dashboard?

Being able to see how your marketing campaign is performing in real time allows you to adjust your marketing strategy accordingly. Perhaps you’ve recently started paying for PPC but aren’t seeing any return on investment. If this tactic isn’t valuable, then you should be spending that money elsewhere.

For example, your email marketing campaign might be bringing in the most leads yet you’ve only dedicated a small amount of budget to it.

Why?

If the data shows that this channel is performing well, then take advantage of it.

Invest more time and money into this tactic and maximise your reach. You might decide to hire an email marketing specialist to really drive this channel forward, or you might increase the frequency of your email campaigns so that customers receive content on a regular basis.

Whatever action you take, the decisions you make should be based on the data. Having this level of information at your fingertips, but doing nothing with it, is totally pointless.

Marketing dashboards help you make more informed decisions to ultimately reduce the cost of your marketing efforts and improve their impact on your revenue. Take the above example of PPC campaigns, it’s money down the drain if it’s not generating any business.

Although a marketing dashboard does provide a real-time report of your marketing activities, it goes beyond just telling you how you’ve done. Instead, a marketing dashboard is an effective decision-making tool which helps you craft successful future marketing campaigns.

Steps to Creating a Marketing Dashboard:

So now you know what a marketing dashboard is and how important it is to have one, it’s time to run through how you can create your own.

Whether you’re a standalone marketer, or work as part of the marketing team, understanding how your marketing campaigns are working is essential. You also don’t want to be wasting time sifting through lots of channels trying to pull key pieces of information together.

Wouldn’t it make life much easier to have this living in one central location?
person looking at customer worksheet on laptop

Know your audience

This comes first and foremost as you need to know you’re creating the dashboard for.

Different audiences have different requirements so it’s important you know this information before you start.

The dashboard should be designed to tell a story that links back to actionable KPIs that have been set by the viewer. Therefore different audiences will be tracking different KPI’s so it’s important you collate the right set of information.

Otherwise, they’ll just be sitting looking at a bunch of numbers!

For example, an executive member of staff would need to see overall performance metrics so that they can make informed business decisions. A social media manager however would only be interested in statistics from social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (or whichever other platforms you use).

Similarly, a content strategist would be interested in SEO performance and metrics such as top performing blog posts, high ranking keywords, and number of backlinks.

As you can see from the 3 examples above, the person accessing the marketing dashboard each has different requirements so it’s important you define your audience first.

Set key objectives

You should determine long-term and short-term goals as this allows you to build different sets of data at different levels of granularity.

Again, using the example of a senior executive, they would need to look at a high-level dashboard that provides an overall return on investment and budget. This lets them know exactly where the money is being spent and what value they are getting.

However, an analyst will want a detailed view of the figures in order to make tactical decisions.

Therefore it’s imperative people understand the data and can make decisions between various elements of the marketing strategy. The goal is to enable your audience to understand the data better so that they can decide how best to move forward.

Whilst a visually appealing marketing dashboard is important, it’s key that your audience can draw accurate conclusions, and understand how to implement this knowledge in future campaigns.

Determine data sources

Business owners and marketing teams can manage every single part of their marketing whether it’s their website, email campaigns, calls, or social media. Each of these channels have their own set of metrics and data so they all need to be consolidated into a single platform.

This allows the viewer to easily measure the performance of marketing efforts without digging into 3 or 4 different places – especially if they just need an overview.

However, whilst it’s important to collate all of this information into one marketing dashboard, be sure not to overload people with information. As we’ve touched on earlier, the whole aim of creating this dashboard is to provide people with information which is clear and easy to digest.

For your team or senior management to take action and make strategic decisions they need to understand what is in front of them. Therefore, you need to determine the metrics that matter and the data sources you want to use.
person using iPhone calculator

Determine KPIs

When building your marketing dashboard, you need to determine what metrics are important for your specific marketing campaign.

As we said earlier, despite there being lots of digital tools now available, not every piece of data is useful for every type of campaign. It’s about collating the data you really need, and that starts by understanding what data is important.

Metrics might include click through rate, dwell time, amount of traffic, bounce rate, number of impressions, number of page views, number of users, pages per session, and much more. Once you have identified which KPIs are important, you can start providing valuable insights to your team and senior management.

You need to determine your marketing as it allows you to track the value of your marketing efforts in the areas that matter. For instance, you could be getting a lot of clicks on your social media post but are clicks key performance indicators?

This all boils down to your role within the company and your particular objective in a marketing campaign. If you were the social media manager, then yes, click through rates on social media campaigns would be very important.

You should never copy and paste the same KPIs for every marketing campaign. Instead, tailor your analytics dashboard and personalise the KPIs of each marketing campaign.

Present your data visually

Let’s be honest, looking at a whole bunch of numbers isn’t enjoyable for anyone!

That’s why it’s important to present data in a visually appealing way that everyone in the company can understand. Lots of different departments might be accessing this dashboard from finance through to IT through to logistics.

One of the biggest headaches when running a business is making sure everyone is on the same page. As a result, you can’t expect everyone to be a pro with numbers and data sets as this could cause company-wide miscommunication.

Visuals are much easier to digest as people can get an idea about performance at a glance.

It doesn’t require them to make sense of the numbers as the evidence is right there is displayed on the screen. As a result, people will be able to draw accurate conclusions and make informed decisions rather than bothering the marketing department about what different things mean!

This is a much productive use of everyone’s time and ensures all departments are working towards a shared goal. You should consider using graphs, bar charts, and infographics as these all are great visual formats.

Gone are the days of drab and dreary marketing dashboards, it’s time to get creative! This will also make people more inclined to pay attention to the marketing dashboards as they will understand what the data means.

Integrate your data

There is so much going on in the digital marketing space, that marketing teams use a whole range of tools, each with their own set of metrics.

For instance, Twitter and Facebook both have their own analytics dashboard which makes it easy to see how posts on those channels are performing. On Facebook Insights, you can track user behaviour and post performance as well as identifying key metrics such as page views and post reach. This is highly useful for anyone who is interested in understanding more about their audience on the Facebook platform.

Social media scheduling platforms such as Buffer or Hootsuite also come complete with their own reporting tools. They provide a complete picture of all social media efforts which saves you time from checking every platform individually.

Google analytics and Google Search console are also free and provide valuable insights about websites. This enables website owners to monitor and optimise their performance to ensure their content is as good as it can be.

As such, it’s important you bring all of these separate data sources into one place. A consolidated marketing dashboard should provide a centralised display to save people from having to access different channels.

For example your dashboard can display hard metrics such as the internal rate of return and the present value of your current campaigns along with online marketing metrics such as bounce rate, total visits, click-through rates, etc.

It’s all available and it all lives in one place.
women in pink shirt on laptop

Monitor your dashboard

Once you’ve created your marketing dashboard, it’s important you keep it updated. For your dashboard to be useful it needs to present information in the best possible way for you and your team.

Over time you will be able to identify whether the current design serves your business needs or whether you need to add or remove information.

For example, you might decide to rearrange the layout to reflect different business goals. This might include making changes to time frames and data sources that best fit your current marketing strategy.

Building your marketing dashboard shouldn’t be a one off activity as it needs constant monitoring to get it right. Making relevant changes will ensure it always provides you with timely and accurate information.

Having access to the right data is key, as information is power. Your marketing dashboard should serve its audience, and should drive future marketing decisions.

Monitoring and updating your dashboard will save you time as it will convey substantial information at a glance.

Give your numbers context

We’ve touched on this above, but numbers can be confusing, especially if your job is not very numbers focussed.

As such, you should provide some context alongside the raw data to help people viewing the marketing dashboard understand the bigger picture.

For example, would your audience know that 42 new leads today is unusual?

You might, if you were in the sales and marketing department as you’ll be familiar with how many leads you’re used to getting on a daily basis.

However, your CEO, who is probably busy with a million other jobs, will not know that 42 is actually really good for your business.

One way of adding some context is to include past data such as the same metric for the previous day, or even a line or column chart showing how the metric has changed over time. Another technique is to include the average or previous highs and lows so that they can build up a picture over time.

If you’re working towards a goal, include the target as well as your current progress so that your audience can see whether or not you’re currently on track. A standalone number, which could actually be a really positive figure, might seem underwhelming without any supporting explanation.

Most Popular Types of Marketing Dashboards

There are lots of different types of marketing dashboards, each relevant to different people within an organisation. So whether you work in the sales team, customer support, or you’re an executive, the marketing dashboard needs to reflect what matters to you.

With that said, let’s dive in.
digital marketing dashboard on white screen

Digital marketing dashboard

This type of dashboard tracks the performance of your online marketing activities.

At a glance you can monitor your campaigns and other digital marketing efforts in real time and make educated decisions. This allows you to allocate the budget according ensuring money is being spent in the right areas.

Digital marketers track a variety of metrics including advertising, social media, website performance, and lead generation. However, with this type of dashboard they can see all of this information in a concise format.

SEO analytics dashboard

An SEO analytics offers a complete look of your SEO performance through a variety of key metrics.

SEO is a core part of any business and marketers use numerous SEO KPIs and metrics to measure the performance of their efforts. The aim is to ensure all content (and imagery) is optimised to appear in organic search results, thereby attracting more traffic to the website.

An SEO dashboard can help you identify any areas of a website which requires better optimisation by maximising top converting keywords and top-performing pages.

The ultimate goal of SEO is to drive organic traffic to a website or particular web page. In contrast to paid advertising, which is where businesses pay to be seen in Google, SEO relies on strong back linking, internal linking, and target keywords.

The metrics included in this type of dashboard can be captured in Google Analytics and include a wide variety of insights valuable to marketers. This includes the number of keywords on Page of the search results, page load speed, number of indexed pages, and top landing pages.

Ecommerce marketing dashboard

An ecommerce dashboard provides a central location for data aggregation that impacts your company’s day-to-day activities, marketing strategy, budget, and ultimately, decision making.

What you choose to track on an eCommerce dashboard depends on what you want to do with data.

The eCommerce marketing dashboard displays a range of metrics and KPIs which need to be monitored on a continuous basis.

Some of the metrics you measure include cost per lead, web traffic sources, return on marketing investment (ROI), MRR, ARR, retention, added to cart, sales by contact method, and goal completion rate.
web analytics dashboard on white background

Web analytics dashboard

A web analytics marketing dashboard monitors the performance of a website in real-time. It provides an in-depth view of a site’s performance across a number of different timeframes.

You can track metrics such as online conversions, pageviews, and visitors among many others. Web analytics can be used in various contexts, including eCommerce, user experience, SEO, social media, and digital marketing.

The most popular metrics measured by this type of dashboard include bounce rate, page views, website visitors, pages viewed per session, referral traffic, unique and new visitors, and traffic sources.

Social media dashboard

This type of dashboard provides a view of the correlation between social media performance and website performance. This helps anyone viewing the dashboard to measure the success of various social media efforts including Facebook Ads, Twitter, Instagram, and many more.

Despite the fact social media marketing is essential for any business in todays world, smart marketers know their social efforts should influence wider marketing objectives. Metrics included in this dashboard include traffic sources, interactions, and goal completion rate.

The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Effective Marketing Dashboard

Hopefully after reading the above post, you will understand the importance of a marketing dashboard. But it’s not enough just to build any type of marketing dashboard. For it to be of any use it needs to display the right information and be understandable for its audience.

Due to the amount of data now available for marketers, it’s more important than ever to drill down the metrics that matter most, and use this information to your advantage.

Fortunately marketing can be measured but knowing what you need to measure is a whole different ball game. By going back to your goals and objectives you can start collating relevant data which will help you determine the effectiveness of different campaigns.

A good marketing dashboard should be simple, informative, and easy to read. Whether you choose to use text, visuals, or a combination of both, the most important thing is ensuring the information is helpful for your audience.

Maybe you don’t need help creating your dashboard but you do need help with another aspect of your marketing? Regardless of whether you work in the marketing department or you’re a standalone marketer, Canny are here to help.

Let us manage your marketing needs whilst you concentrate on your growing to-do list! Find out how we can help by speaking to a member of our team.