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Digital Marketing Reporting Dashboard Basics

September 8, 2021
July 20, 2023

Like the diagnostics and dials in a sports car, a digital marketing reporting dashboard is a collection of performance metrics gathered together for the express purposes of guiding strategic action through the analysis of relevant information. Typically without an airbag.

Let’s unpack the definition and purpose behind marketing dashboards, and discover a few ways dashboards create an advantage beyond reporting.  

What is the purpose of a digital marketing reporting dashboard?

Whether it’s results for a pay-per-click ad campaign on Google, a way to gauge SEO efforts, or a strategic roll-up report for a multi-location brand, a digital marketing reporting dashboard provides a centralized place to view performance metrics from a myriad of advertising and marketing platforms, gathered for the purpose of visualizing campaign-level insights for stakeholders.

Within the insular and buzzword-heavy world of marketing, there can be some confusion between the definition and use of ‘reports’ vs ‘dashboards,’ the two terms often being used interchangeably. 

Although there are exceptions, a digital marketing reporting dashboard is generally geared for campaign-level insights and customization, while marketing performance reports are generally customized with metrics and annotations that suit a specific presentation for a specific audience.

The purpose of a digital marketing dashboard, therefore, is to provide an at-a-glance display of relevant information required to track performance metrics associated with campaign tactics and goals.

Another key difference between dashboards and reports is accessibility and control. 

A dashboard is an interactive / in-browser experience. Viewers access a dashboard through a live link and can make adjustments to dimensions such as date ranges to manipulate the data and see updates in real time displayed on the dashboard. A dashboard is a long-scroll experience with multiple data widgets presented in tidy rows and columns, on a grid.

A report, on the other hand, is a fully packaged data story, usually delivered in a PDF or as slides, lessening the need for viewer interpretation of the data. A report pulls out highlights and analysis of the data, meaning it's presentation-ready.

Finally, although the data may be updated in close to real-time, the strategic insights gleaned from dashboards are provided in hindsight, which still renders the dashboard as more of a diagnostic tool, rather than a strategic divining rod.

Which performance metrics should be included in an effective marketing dashboard?

What should a digital marketing reporting dashboard include?

“It depends,” while frustrating, is the best advice to give about what goes into building an effective digital marketing reporting dashboard. What does it depend on?

  • What are we doing? There are many thousands of platforms and places where marketing data lives, and the potential integrations and possible ways to measure and track performance are limitless. An effective marketing dashboard should be focused on tactical insights, flexible with data integrations, and a reliable source for analytics.

  • What needs to be measured? Just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean it has to be a reportable metric on your “fully stocked” dashboard. An effective marketing dashboard should only provide campaign-relevant and easily explainable information.

  • How will we handle the data? Pulling data from various marketing platforms into a dashboard requires proper infrastructure, which is why most marketing data warehouses promote their speed and accessibility. For every widget added to the dashboard, there needs to be a recognition and consideration for load times and connection integrity. 

With the foundational questions answered on which data sets to include, there are common performance metrics typically found on digital marketing reporting dashboards:

Digital Marketing/Social Metrics 

  • Facebook CTA Clicks
  • Facebook Impressions
  • Facebook Talking About
  • Foursquare Daily Check-Ins
  • Google Customer Actions
  • Google Map Views
  • Google Search Queries

Search Engine Marketing Metrics 

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Keyword Ranking
  • Domain authority
  • Organic Traffic
  • Page Speed 
  • Conversions

Calculated Metrics

  • ROI (Return on Investment)
  • CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)
  • ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend)
  • CLV (Customer Lifetime Value)
  • Customer Retention Rate

High-Level Marketing/Sales Metrics 

  • Marketing Qualified Leads
  • Sales qualified Leads
  • Funnel Conversion Rates
  • Brand awareness
  • Customer/Channel Engagement
  • Revenue by Source/Channel
  • Marketing spend per customer
  • Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)

Depending on your advertising campaigns, strategy, and audience, there is an endless combination of metrics that can be included in a dashboard. 

So when it comes to effectively communicating marketing performance results, be sure you are attuned to measure and drill into what matters, and your packaged stakeholder reports balance curated information with actionable insights. 

Digital marketing reporting dashboard data sources

With potentially reportable data popping out of every marketing channel and platform, setting up a reliable and dependable data pipeline is an essential step in setting up a fully functional dashboard. 

While it’s possible to set up your own marketing data warehouse, there are several commercial products available that optimize reporting workflows by centralizing and speeding up access to platform-specific analytics. 

Some examples of marketing data warehousing platforms include:

  • Big Query (Google)
  • Snowflake
  • Amazon Redshift
  • Azure from Microsoft
  • Oracle Database

Proper data warehousing for marketing analytics can make a huge difference in the time it takes to design and deliver reports. Since most marketers don’t have experience with data pipeline engineering, it's advantageous to those marketers interested in scaling their services to seek a vendor that can grow with your book of business. 

Digital marketing reporting dashboard examples

To be effective, your digital marketing reporting dashboard has to be flexible in order to incorporate multiple modes of data visualization. 

In the above example of a high level marketing reporting dashboard, there are several disparate data sources and analytics (Web Traffic, Demographics, ROI) being integrated into one dashboard, providing an at-a-glance picture that is visually organized. 

These marketing dashboard examples visualizes pay per click performance metrics like Impressions, Conversion Rates, Cost Per Click, and Click Thru Rate. The clean formatting and campaign-centric analytics make the data digestible.

Telling a Better Data Story Through Dashboards 

When it comes to telling a compelling story with data, digital marketing reporting dashboards are a step in the right direction. As long as the strategy behind what you’re measuring is sound, and the data integrations are up-to-date, a well maintained dashboard can provide insights and information that regular reporting can miss.

Marketing dashboards and reports are essential to the way success is communicated to clients and stakeholders; so be sure your dashboards tell a compelling story worth investing in. 

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