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November 23, 2022 (Updated: March 8, 2023)
A digital marketing dashboard is a data visualization tool that helps you see the most important metrics for any campaign in one place. But finding and tracking those metrics won’t happen by chance. Your team must know how to choose, set up, and use the tools to get the reports they’re looking for. Today, we’re looking at how to set up a digital marketing dashboard the right way so that your team gets the information it needs from the get-go to monitor every marketing campaign:
Image via iStock by NatalyaBurova
Depending on the campaign, business industry or niche, and the target audience, the key performance indicators (KPIs) your team tracks through digital marketing dashboards will vary. But your team can use the same steps to set up each dashboard to update with the information you need on a daily basis. Using the instructions below, prepare your digital marketing dashboard to give you the raw numbers you need to draw conclusions about your campaigns:
No matter your marketing activity, your audience should always be at the center. What’s the point of creating a campaign and tracking its performance if it doesn’t resonate with your audience? Knowing as much as you can about your audience and their content consumption behaviors helps you set up your dashboard in a context that benefits your brand.
Marketing dashboards should act as data visualization tools that tell the story of each campaign. And these stories often revolve around the way people interact with your brand’s assets. So when defining your target audience, look at factors like:
Your brand goals are another factor that determines how you should set up your digital marketing dashboard. Your marketing goals are the benchmarks your team is trying to reach, and the data from your dashboard can tell you if you’ve met them—but only if you configure the dashboard the right way. To start, outline these goals so you have a way to track your progress using the SMART framework:
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the actual metrics your team plans to track to know if you’ve reached your goals for every campaign. KPI dashboards can be valuable here, as your key indicators are critical to track. If you’re not monitoring the right ones, you’ll never know if you’re reaching your marketing goals. Here are some common metrics you may choose to follow with your digital marketing dashboards:
If your marketing includes pay-per-click (PPC) channels and strategies, you can track the cost per click (CPC) for every action. Tracking this metric tells your team how much of your marketing budget you use to promote each ad. If you know how much you’re spending for each ad, and how much you’re making back from each lead, you can determine if your current PPC strategy is beneficial for your brand.
Both clicks and impressions help you understand the total reach of your campaigns. Impressions are the total number of people that see your ads. Clicks measure the percentage of those impressions that interact with the ad. Tracking these metrics is helpful for understanding how your audience consumes and interacts with content. For example, if you get a lot of impressions and only a few clicks, your distribution is pretty solid. But you could rework your text or call to action (CTA) to encourage more clicks.
Even though you want to track and encourage clicks with all of your digital marketing campaigns, those clicks still aren’t the most important metric your brand wants to track with the marketing dashboard. Conversions are the number of people who click your ad and then complete another action that pushes them further down the marketing funnel. A click is great, but if your customers don’t convert further, you won’t see any returns in sales or revenue. The conversion rate tracks the percentage of content viewers who click your pieces and then complete another action.
Marketing is all about enticing people to partner with your brand or to buy your products and services. If you didn’t have to make money, you wouldn’t need to market your brand. Even though the sales team or your management may care more about the revenue than the marketing team, if you plan to create marketing reports from your dashboard, it’s an essential statistic to track.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) are two groups of audience members you may attract with your marketing messages. While we already know tracking traffic is important, the percentage of traffic that actually partners with your brand is more important. Tracking the lead generation rate tells you how on-target your on-page marketing is. The better your conversion and lead generation rate, the better your messages and user experience.
Bring all the moving parts into one location by connecting your dashboard to all your data sources. A lot of marketing platforms make it easy to integrate data dumps from channels like your website, email marketing, and social media. When you configure these links according to the instructions, all the data you specify from each source should appear in your dashboard.
The more data you have, the more informed your team will be. But be careful here. Too much data can get overwhelming. So as you move through the following step, be sure to create views and filters that show only the metrics your team needs to see.
You’ll find that most digital marketing dashboards come with a range of templates. These offer premade screens for different dashboard functions, such as monitoring your website, SEO, or social media. These templates are helpful when you begin using your digital marketing dashboard because they give you suggestions of what metrics you could expect to track in each area. But what the program manufacturer suggests may not include all the metrics your team wants to track. That’s where customization comes in.
Most dashboards allow your team to drag and drop different widgets onto the home screen so you can view all your most important metrics at a glance. Read your dashboard’s user manual or setup instructions to learn how to do this with your software program. After you’ve customized the home page, you can save it as a new template. This option allows you to make custom views for all your marketing activities and save them for later.
Read more: Choosing Marketing Dashboards for Performance Tracking
Knowing how to set up your marketing dashboard is only part of the process. It’s equally as important to know what not to do. When working with a new dashboard program and preparing it for team use, avoid common mistakes like:
If you dive right into clicking widgets and rearranging the dashboard home screen without a plan, you may do more harm than good. A little planning goes a long way, and it can help you avoid setting up your dashboard in a way that doesn’t benefit your team. Doing setup the right way from the beginning saves time and headaches as you delve deeper into data analysis.
Before you even open your dashboard program, make sure you’ve completed steps one through three from the list above. It’s always tempting to skip the planning and convince yourself you can pick things up as you go along. That may be true for some projects, but not ones where you need accurate, reliable data reporting.
As you plan, prioritize the results you want to receive from your marketing dashboard. Use that information to set clear goals and KPIs. When you know what you want the result to be, you can set up a clear path to get there.
Marketing is a data-driven industry, and it seems like there’s an acronym for everything. It’s easy for even senior marketers to get confused when there are so many numbers and letters swirling around on the home screen of a dashboard. One benefit of using a marketing dashboard is to be able to filter out any unnecessary information, so your team only sees what they need to see for any project. Dashboards give you the ability to explore any metric you want, but you don’t have to see them all, all the time.
Be sure to take advantage of templates, overlays, and filter features that your dashboard program offers. You may even consider creating multiple filters for the same marketing discipline or project. Certain filters may show more information for management and others may show just actionable KPIs for your writers or designers. Additionally, you can create filters to generate marketing reports that show only the information your senior-level management cares about, like the ROI of your content marketing efforts and promotional strategies.
Marketing dashboards update in real-time and have plenty of customization options. That’s what makes them perfect for companies of all sizes that run a variety of different campaigns. Don’t let your marketing plan, or the ideas of how marketing “should” look, make you too rigid in your dashboard setup.
Campaigns can change quickly as new information rolls in. One change may have you rethinking exactly what you need to see on the dashboard. Be open to making adjustments, developing new filters or views, and experimenting with your dashboard, even in the middle of the campaign.
Yes, this seems counterproductive, as we initially told you to always have a plan. But having a set plan doesn’t mean you have to stick to it, even if the ship is sinking. We all know how well that worked out for the Titanic. Instead, use your plan as a guide, but be open to new information and the potential to adjust when necessary during your dashboard setup.
Just like the data on your digital marketing dashboard can change up to the minute, so can the best practices for marketing in your industry. Avoid being caught unaware by the next important marketing move by subscribing to the CopyPress newsletter. Each week, you’ll receive an email with expert tips and resources so your team stays up-to-date and on top of the content marketing game.
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