It’s natural for businesses to have their eyes fixed forward, looking to the future in anticipation of what could happen next. In all truth, though, you won’t get anywhere unless you understand where you are already.

This is why metrics are so important to companies and, more specifically, their marketing managers. They tell you what’s working and what’s not, showing what needs to be done and highlighting valuable opportunities for improvement.

The challenges

It’s not quite that straightforward, though. As you’ll know already, making enough sense of this information to use it effectively is easier said than done.

1. There’s too much to monitor

First of all, marketing success is never achieved through a single channel. You’ll have a number of campaigns running side-by-side at all times, each contributing to the overall business objectives. As marketing manager, it’s your job to keep daily tabs on all of them.

Not only does each campaign have its own performance data to consider, they’re all interconnected; the performance of one strategy could impact that of another, and this needs to be considered. When the metrics are spread across different sources, though, it can be difficult to see what’s happening.

2. It’s impossible to prioritise

Data’s coming at you from all directions, and a lot of it is useful, but which bit do you focus on first? When there’s so much to think about, you quickly become torn.

You might be looking at the company’s search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy, for example, but what part of the website needs attention most? If content is your focus, which gaps need addressing urgently? How do the two affect each other, for that matter? These questions are near impossible to answer unless everything is together in one place.

3. You’re getting lost in the details

The level of detail with which you can analyse marketing and website performance these days is incredible. With the right tools, it’s possible to see which browsers your site visitors use, where they live, what languages they speak and so much more.

When this is the case, it’s so easy to become engrossed in the intricacies, but as soon as you do, you lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s like sitting too close to a cinema screen and focusing on the individual pixels – you can’t see what’s actually going on.

There is a solution

Thankfully, there is a solution to these problems, and if you read the title of this piece, you can probably guess what it is. The use of dashboards in marketing is growing quickly, and it’s easy to see why. While there are still so many businesses yet to realise the potential, most of those who have are wondering how they ever managed before.

A marketing dashboard is essentially a graphical interface that provides an overview of your marketing activities. Its function is to visualise business data in a way that allows you to quickly identify patterns and opportunities for improvement.

Dashboards differ in what they show, depending on how they’ve been designed and configured, but look at a few examples and you’re likely to find graphs, charts and figures representing some or all of the following:

  • Revenue (year-to-date)
  • Email campaign success rates (number sent, bounce rate, open rate, clicks etc.)
  • Marketing funnel (overall visitors, leads, customers, repeat customers etc.)
  • Social media feed (latest tweet mentions, Facebook check-ins etc.)
  • Web traffic sources

The dashboard’s big selling point is that it collects all of the relevant data for you – so you don’t have to gather it manually – and then presents it in a simple, digestible way. With that part of the marketing process taken care of, you have more time to act on the insight you’ve harvested. You can also work quickly and responsively, reacting to changes as they happen – not days or weeks afterwards.

What to look for in a dashboard

They might all serve the same general purpose but every dashboard is different. Knowing what to look for and choosing the right one are the first steps on the road to success.

First of all, it’s not enough for a dashboard to simply display information. It should also make it easy to understand what this information means, and how it can be used to improve marketing performance. This is why design is so important; it’s the key to ensuring key performance indicators (KPIs) have the context and relevance to make them useful.

There’s no one-size-fits-all dashboard that will instantly tell you everything you need to know – a bit of configuration will always be required. Every marketer values different data so customisation must be a priority; you want a solution that allows you to arrange your metrics in a way that suits your own business objectives and working style.

While you’ll be the dashboard’s primary user, you won’t be the only user. The tool you choose should be layered in a way that provides other stakeholders with some basic access at least. The type of data might be restricted, but it allows others in the company to create their own reports when necessary – saving you the trouble.

Your key to data-driven success

As the digital revolution continues to pick up pace, the role of the marketing manager becomes increasingly complex. Staying on top of the data deluge is a daunting prospect, but capitalising on the exciting new opportunities it presents needn’t be difficult with the help of the right dashboard. Put your faith in one that fits your business’s marketing objectives and prepare for your working days to get a whole lot more productive.

Want to see a demo of a dashboard in action?

At Vertical Leap, we have developed our own deep data platform, Apollo Insights. It collates every piece of data about your website from every possible source and provides you with actionable insights via a fully customisable dashboard. To request a demo, call us on 0845 123 2753 or click below.

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