Solved: Using Dashboards vs. Reports for Effective Marketing Decisions

In this data-drenched world, it can be difficult for companies to extract the right insights to support smart decision-making. With all this data flowing in from various channels, a clear, comprehensive view can be a breath of fresh air when analyzing a campaign’s performance. Let’s look at how dashboards and reports each help illuminate insights and inform strategic decisions.


Determine KPIs

Before you start looking at data, it’s important to set clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) based on your marketing pan for the year. It’s crucial to decide on these KPIs before you launch your marketing strategies to ensure you’re getting accurate insights. By deciding on KPIs early, you can measure your progress and separate important insights from irrelevant information.

Form Data-Driven Narratives
A survey by Gartner in 2022 found that people often pay attention to data that supports their own preconceived decisions or opinions. Measuring data against your KPIs will tell the real story behind the success of a campaign and help you make better decisions about your marketing campaigns and investments. One brand leader we spoke to emphasized the importance of developing this narrative from the data: “I can go buy a bunch of impressions, but that doesn’t mean it will drive business, nor will it connect head and heart and generate lifetime value.”

One brand leader we spoke to argued that impressions and reach are overemphasized since...

“I can go buy a bunch of impressions, but that doesn’t mean it will drive business nor will it connect head and heart and generate lifetime value.”

"Clean Up" Data

Having well-defined KPIs is only the start. The next step is consolidating the data scattered across numerous marketing channels and platforms into a standardized "single source of truth." This process of normalization ensures your reporting doesn't get tripped up by something as simple as channels using different terminology for the same metrics. For example, what Meta Ads calls “Amount Spent,” Linkedin labels as “Spend” and Google Ads names as “Cost.” Cleaning up data will give you an objective view of performance by channel, format and content and let you evaluate how well it measures against established goals.

Get the Overview with Dashboards

When this standardized data is piped into an intuitive dashboard, marketers have a high-level, at-a-glance snapshot of how initiatives are performing against targets in real time. These actionable, everyday overviews empower teams to make nimble, insight-driven decisions and pivots on the fly. As one marketing decision-maker put it, “Data is always used to see what we did. But we should use it figure out how to move forward.” However, it's important not to get caught up in daily numbers since it often takes time for algorithms to work and a channel to reach peak effectiveness.

One marketing decision-maker commented,

“Data is always used to see what we did. But we should use it to figure out how to move forward.”

Dive Into Specifics with Reports

To truly achieve comprehensive analytics integration, brands need both broad visibility and depth of insight. That's where reporting comes in. Marketing performance reports provide the context and in-depth analysis necessary to answer complex business questions. They offer a way to review data from specific time periods and are ideal for displaying historical and trending data. With a report's rigorous exploration of the "whys" behind the numbers, stakeholders can confidently invest in what's working, optimize existing initiatives and map new directions.


Dashboards or Reporting? (Yes and Yes.)

Today's marketers shouldn't choose between dashboards and reports but rather utilize both, with a clear understanding of how they complement each other. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of measuring data against clearly defined KPIs. This is how your brand can cut through the data deluge and make accurate, timely decisions with total clarity.

Learn more about how Marriner, an integrated marketing agency, combines the strengths of dashboards and reports to create a comprehensive analytics strategy. Reach out to David Melnick at [email protected] or 410.336.1000.

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