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3 Dashboard Report Fails and How to Avoid Them

June 10, 2022
July 20, 2023

Whether it’s the time wasted collecting and cleaning marketing performance data, the frustration of stakeholders and third-parties to understand analytics, or the fact that no one ever really looks at them, the business world has a love-hate relationship with dashboard reports.

In an industry that craves information while being overwhelmed by it, the dashboard report can both serve as a lifeline and a weighted brick tied to the legs of marketers trying to swim through the oceans of data.

Here are three specific ways in which dashboard reports can fail to transmit useful information, and how you can overcome them and deliver analytics that effectively communicate marketing performance results in a business stakeholder report

Dashboard Report Fail #1: Unstructured Data Deluge 

Marketers attempting to build dashboards for clients have always had a tough go of stitching together comprehensive visualizations of marketing performance. And the job isn’t getting easier.

In 2011, Scott Brinker from Chief MarTech, published his first landscape report, a visualization of all the marketing software companies servicing the industry. At that time, only 150 companies were listed. Which seems like a lot of disparate platforms housing data which marketing teams would need to engage with in order to gain a full picture of their performance.

In the past 11 years, the number of companies included in ChiefMarTech’s 2022 Marketing Technology Landscape increased by over 6,000%, with nearly 10,000 vendors listed.

Marketers trying to wrangle performance analytics into a dashboard report from their many adtech and martech platforms have never faced such a daunting task. 

One of the main barriers to effectively communicating results through dashboard reports is unstructured data. Marketing data must be aggregated, normalized and structured in order to gain full visibility into cross-channel performance metrics. 

Whether it’s schema, custom calculations related to management or margins, de-duping, or any other data kung-fu moves necessary to clarify and curate analytics, marketers have to not only gather data from potentially thousands of locations, they have to make sense of it before it hits the dashboard reports.

It’s not very likely that the typical marketing budget will include line items dedicated to data engineers. This is why a marketing performance management solution, coupled with data warehousing functionality that connects, collects, processes, and grooms data is the only viable pathway to creating dashboard reports that clarify rather than confuse. 

Dashboard Report Fail #2: Updating Reports Manually

Most marketing teams choose to go about the task of wrangling performance data into dashboard reports manually, resulting in tons of wasted man hours which produces a dearth of insights. 

By utilizing a marketing performance management solution, like NinjaCat, teams can dramatically reduce the time spent updating dashboard reports manually, and increase the time spent providing insights and analysis. 

Respecting and understanding the benefits of marketing data pipelines can ease the pain of gathering marketing metrics, and lead to huge leaps in productivity. 

3 Dashboard Report Fails and How to Avoid Them - data pipelines diagram

When agencies successfully utilize data pipelines, they aren’t spending their time handcrafting dashboard reports for clients. With the tasks of data cleaning, refining, and modeling handled in a centralized location, teams can lower the hours spent on maintenance and raise the time spent on quality analysis, resulting in dashboard reports that inform, rather than overwhelm. 

Dashboard Report Fail #3: Assuming “If You Build it, They will Come” 

Since the marketing technology landscape is chock-a-block full of data and performance metrics, it can feel like throwing as much information into a dashboard report as possible is the way to prove effectiveness and engagement. However, if you’ve ever had to wade through mounds of metrics to find the useful gold flecks in a dashboard, you know that data alone does not equal insight, and that shinola can look a lot like…waste. 

By observing client behavior first-hand, we’ve discovered that they log-on to their prepared dashboard reports less than 10% of the time, preferring packaged presentations to buffets of data. This particular data point deserves thoughtful attention and scrutiny, as does formulating an appreciation of the dichotomous relationship between dashboards and presentations. 

3 Dashboard Report Fails and How to Avoid Them - dashboard vs reports

Dashboards are meant to transmit data in an exploratory, expansive, and dynamic fashion. Whereas, marketing reports and presentations provide more explanation, are curated to the audience, and are generally static for point-in-time progress or status.. 

Marketing teams that understand the differences between the two different styles of marketing performance reports, are better suited to catch issues before they arise, guide conversations toward iteration, and gain a reputation as partners, rather than pains in the dashboard. 

Check out our Five Marketing Dashboard Examples for inspiration on how to get it right. 

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