To better understand what a data dashboard is, let’s talk about a car dashboard. Your car dashboard tells you how fast you are going. It tells you when you need gas. It tells you if something is wrong with your engine, when your tire pressure is low, and when you need an oil change. Some fancier car dashboards even have navigation systems, eco meters, real-time traffic reports, and weather alerts. In short, a car dashboard displays all the information you need to operate your car efficiently. This convenient piece of technology makes it so you don’t have to spend hours manually checking each part of your car to see if it’s operating correctly before you start driving.
What are data dashboards?
Data dashboards work in the same way as a car dashboard, but for your businesses. A data dashboard is an organized, comprehensive, visual display of the data you need to successfully operate your business.
Behind the scenes, a data dashboard works to collect all relevant information from your various files, application programming interfaces (APIs), and multiple data sources and then converts it into a visual representation of the data. This information (including your CRM, data analytics, sales numbers, workflows, orders, email systems, and more) is integrated into one convenient location called a dashboard. Additionally, your data dashboard is accessible to everyone and much easier to understand than raw data. The ultimate purpose of a data dashboard is to make it easier to understand important insights from multiple sources to inform your business decisions.
What features should a data dashboard have?
As you probably know, there are several data dashboards on the market. However, not all data dashboards are created equal. Experts recommend that a good data dashboard include the following features.
The main purpose of a data dashboard is to present raw data in a way that makes sense to the layman. Thus, it’s important to look for a dashboard that is well-designed. A data dashboard should be visually-pleasing and allow you to quickly digest KPIs.
Cater to ease and complexity.
Sometimes all you need to make a decision is a quick glance at a KPI. That’s why most dashboards work hard to highlight key performance indicators (KPIs). However, in some instances, you will need more in-depth information. As such, you should invest in a data dashboard that allows for filtering and drill-down.
There are hundreds of data sources and one set of KPIs may be much more important to one department than they are to another. For example, your social media marketing team will be much more interested in Facebook reach, Twitter engagement, and overall social shares than your paid search team. That’s why dashboards should have robust customization capabilities.
One of the prime benefits of a data dashboard is the ability to know exactly what is going on with your campaigns in real time. Manually extracting data, throwing it into an Excel spreadsheet, and then sending it to your executive team does little good when the metrics are constantly changing. Real-time analytics offered by data dashboards tackles this problem.
It’s nearly impossible to know if something goes awry with one of your campaigns if you don’t have a system of alerts. Rather that staying glued to your data dashboard 24/7 looking for potential problems, invest in a dashboard that does it for you. Alerts will send you a high priority email when one of your metrics is within a predetermined panic range.
Use the Cloud.
Another pain point for many firms is that employees in various departments, different clients, and executives don’t have instant and simultaneous access to the same data. Many data dashboards solve this problem by using the Cloud. All you need is an online login, and all the real-time information is available to everyone with a login. Plus, this eliminates the need for expensive and complicated set-up.
Integrate well with other data sources.
There are hundreds of data technologies that work to give you insights about campaign performance. However, no agency has the time to login to each of these accounts separately and then extract the data and compile it into one report. A data dashboard should integrate with top analytics tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Buffer, to name a few.
Provide data visualizations.
Not everyone is a numbers person. A good data dashboard should allow you to convert those numbers into a beautiful visualization with just the click of a button. Top visualizations include charts, graphs, images, and more.
Reporting can take a huge chunk of any marketing professional’s time. Data dashboards, however, make it possible to set your reporting schedule, pull metrics, and send them to whoever you want, whenever you want. Good data dashboards allow you to “set it and forget it.
When you look for a data dashboard, make sure it includes all of the features above.
Types of data dashboards
As you know, there are several tools that help you with sales, marketing, and operations. Rather than clumping all the information from all these various tools into one jumbled and confusing dashboards, most dashboard software divides their product up into different dashboards. Here are the main types of dashboards you may find within one dashboard software.
1. Marketing Dashboard
A marketing dashboard integrates all of your marketing analytics tools (Google Analytics, Bing Analytics, Buffer, etc) into one system. You can then view all of your KPIs from one convenient location. Additionally, you can create several custom dashboards for different campaigns. For example, you can create a social media dashboard, an email marketing dashboard, and SEM dashboard, and more. You click on the campaign of interest and the dashboard will display all your critical metrics are beautifully and intuitively.
2. Sales Dashboard
A sales dashboard helps you with lead management, up-selling, and closing more deals. When sales teams can review their KPIs, it’s easier to knock goals out of the park. A sales dashboard should help you share performance data and add an element of accountability. Additionally, it will help clearly display opportunities. You can also manage those opportunities from acquiring the lead to reporting on the closed deal.
3. Operations Dashboard
An operations dashboard will help you with task and workflow management. With an operations dashboard, you don’t risk duplicate order entry or lose time searching for assets. Operations dashboards will integrate all of your tools into one unified platform. This helps you save time by eliminating the need to criss-cross between tools.
4. Executive Dashboard
Finally, the executive dashboard allows your leadership team to see all the information they need to make the right business decisions. Executives can track progress against KPIs, tie marketing results into business impacts, and drive accountability and transparency. With an executive dashboard, you free up man-hours with automated reporting to help increase the chances of achieving company goals.
A data dashboard is a tool that helps you with all of your marketing operations. If you are looking to save time with automation, organize your operations, and make data accessible to everyone, it’s time to invest in a data dashboard.