Measurement + Analysis

The Power of Dashboards: Why the Way You Report Matters

By INK Team

Picture this: You need to create a presentation for an upcoming meeting with your CEO and key stakeholders. The goal is to use data to show your company’s performance over time to make informed, strategic business decisions. Now, ask yourself the following question: What is the best way to display this information?

For many business professionals, the answer is simple: A PowerPoint presentation. After all, it is a familiar, easy-to-use tool. However, it isn’t the most engaging or effective one. So why are so many marketing organizations using PowerPoint for their reporting – especially if there was a better alternative?

Here are four reasons why making the switch from PowerPoint to dashboards is in your business’ best interest.

1. Dashboards Are More Powerful

The key to quality reporting lies in your ability to analyze data and make recommendations to help achieve business goals. By limiting yourself to the confines of a PowerPoint presentation, you are limiting your ability to highlight the true value of your program. (Not to mention, creating and recreating charts and graphs month over month can be a waste of time.) PowerPoint presentations are a static way to look at reporting or reflect on a campaign.

89% of people prefer PowerPoint over other presentation tools, yet only 7% think it’s an engaging way to present information.

On the other hand, a dashboard is a dynamic tool you can customize to fit your needs. You can set them up one time and monitor program performance, identify red flags, analyze trends, and drive decision making. Most importantly, a dashboard is a partial collection of key performance indicators (KPIs). Instead of overloading you with vanity metrics, dashboards display your desired KPIs. This allows you to make more accurate performance comparisons against objectives and evaluate the significance of your efforts and results.

The reason some people cling to PowerPoint presentations is often rooted in their experience with poorly designed dashboards. A dashboard does not need to be complicated to be effective. In reality, a dashboard can – and should – be as easy to use as a PowerPoint. Beyond being user friendly, dashboards also provide more functionality, flexibility, and transparency.

Benefits of a Well-Designed Dashboard

  • Simplicity: Easy to use and requires minimal training
  • Functionality: Easily adapts to internal and external communications requirements
  • Flexibility: Easy to modify, customize, and scale

2. You Can Use the Continuous Optimization Approach

Shifting from PowerPoints to dashboards is the first step towards a continuous optimization approach to performance measurement. Forrester defines continuous optimization as, “a data-, analytics-, and insights-driven approach that seeks to evolve understanding in order to adapt and optimize.”

In other words, you have to know what’s working and what’s not before you can improve your efforts. To do this effectively, focus on defining your goals and providing a holistic analysis versus leaning too hard on metrics. The abundance of individual metrics from social media platforms and marketing tools can be overwhelming. What’s more, they can also provide a false sense of precision.

Studies show that the ability to measure marketing performance has a significant impact on marketing’s stature with the CEO and within an organization. More specifically, research has proved that the ability to measure a single marketing activity is less valuable than a comprehensive analysis across the entire range of marketing initiatives. A dashboard gives you the ability to see the whole picture in real time (or near-real time). Ultimately, dashboards offer the comprehensive analysis the C-suite needs.

3. There’s a Clear ROI for Measurement

Further benefits of a continuous optimization approach are discussed in Forrester’s report, “The Marketing Measurement And Insights Playbook For 2020.” Marketers are able to make data-driven decisions about where to invest, where to cut back, and how to align marketing with executive-level objectives. And the industry is taking notice.

According to the report, 32% of global marketing decision-makers said improving their use of data insights in decision making is a high or critical priority. And an additional 58% say it’s a moderate priority. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the measurement solutions market is expected to double to $2 billion by 2024.

However, even with this projected surge in investment, marketing measurement makes up just 0.5% of major media spending and 0.25% of total marketing spending. Given the obvious benefits and modest expense compared to its ROI, marketers should embrace modern advancements in measurement.

4. Getting Started Can Be Simple

Remember, a dashboard is a summary view of key information from various parts of your marketing program. At its simplest, a dashboard is a graphic representation of data. That said, don’t get distracted by all the bells and whistles that analytics tools offer. Too much unnecessary information can distract from the message you want to convey.

If you get stuck when creating your first dashboard, it’s helpful to consider the following questions.

  1. If you only had 10 seconds of an executive’s time, would they be able to see what they need, and what you want them to see?
  2. Is your dashboard intuitive? Is the data easy to digest?
  3. Did you put the most important information front and center?

While the likes of, Tableau, and Power BI offer powerful SaaS dashboard capabilities, you can create effective, quality dashboards with more accessible tools like Google Data Studio or even Excel. Whatever tools you use, make sure you know the purpose and audience of your dashboard.

Dashboard Basics

  • Know Your Story: This is the “why?” behind creating your dashboard. Maybe you’re trying to provide context behind a business decision or prove the effectiveness of a strategic plan. Whatever it is, ensure you and your team are aligned on your story.
  • Know Your Audience: Find out what your leadership team wants to see in the dashboard. From there, find the combination of analytics that will bring those performance metrics to light.
  • Automate: Look for ways to remove the redundancy from your reporting by automating the creation of charts. Pro Tip: you don’t need anything more than a spreadsheet to achieve a basic level of automation.

Happy Reporting

In the end, a dashboard should refocus your reporting priorities. With the right strategy and process in place, your dashboard will inform larger business objectives. Most importantly, dashboards allow you to answer the most-anticipated measurement question: “So what?