Marketing dashboards have been a hot topic for a long time and lately have been coming up for me with clients. Ideas around dashboards haven't changed much over the past decade, and many of the same roadblocks are showing up today just as much as they were five or ten years ago. Misconceptions and poorly implemented projects often lead to disappointment.
In this blog posts. I want to talk about three foundational elements for creating dashboards that are required. Without these, any dashboard project will end up being a disappointment.
Organizational Access to a Platform
Choosing the right platform for your dashboard is crucial and needs to happen before building it. Shockingly, many people design dashboards in tools perfect for them, but terrible for others, especially the key stakeholders who need to see the data. Take Looker Studio for instance. It's fantastic for Google Analytics. But everyone needs a Google account to view it, which is not always guaranteed in businesses. I have seen many situations where analysts build amazing Looker dashboards, only to realize their colleagues can't see them because their work email isn't a Google account. This creates real headaches in organizations and can cause more frustration than satisfaction with the dashboarding solution.
Seamless Access to Data Sources
Another potential roadblock? Data access! Powerful tools like Tableau and Power BI require the right permissions for viewers. If someone lacks data access permissions, the dashboard won't show anything. This comes down to data governance within your organization. Hopefully the data management team is aware of it and can proactively address any issues that might come up. However, this is often overlooked, and it's a surprising disappointment when the dashboard is shared and the person whom it is shared with can't see anything.
User Feedback Loops
Perhaps the most critical aspect of building marketing analytics dashboards is establishing systematic feedback loops with stakeholders. These loops are not mere troubleshooting mechanisms; they provide a continuous avenue for collaboration and refinement. Through regular interaction, dashboard designers can tailor the information and presentation to best align with user needs and preferences. Data visualization interpretation is highly subjective. Each stakeholder brings their own perspective and mental models to the table. A rigid, principle-driven approach to design often falls short. Conversely, using an agile methodology that prioritizes user feedback and iterative improvement will result in better utilization and adoption among stakeholders.
This emphasis on collaborative design aligns with the core principle that analytics is an ongoing conversation about performance, not a static report. Building a dashboard and walking away is not good enough. Instead, we must facilitate a dialogue around the data, exploring not just what is happening, but also what is expected, what assumptions are being validated, and what further insights can be uncovered. By continuously engaging with stakeholders through these feedback loops, marketing analytics dashboards transform from mere reporting tools into the invaluable centerpiece for driving performance optimization.
While other dashboard aspects deserve attention, these three – platform accessibility, data access, and user feedback – are the true game-changers for success. It all boils down to ensuring people can easily see and discuss the data, fostering true understanding. Dashboards are never really done; they evolve over time as the needs, concerns, and aspirations of the organization develop. Embracing this ever-improving nature might be the most important ingredient to unlocking the full potential of marketing analytics dashboards.