Rob asks, “Our analytics dashboards are filled with data but people have complained that they’re not helpful or useful. What can I do to fix this?”
Great question and a very common problem. One of the chief issues with analytics is that we just back up the truck and pour data on people’s desks instead of providing useful insights. So how do we approach this?
The 6 Pillars of Marketing Analytics Dashboards
- Assess who needs the dashboard, remembering the rule of thumb that every level in an organization needs its own dashboard – the CMO’s dashboard should be different from the marketing manager’s dashboard.
- Inventory the data and analytics you’re currently sharing.
- Run down the list of every metric and ask whether it helps the person do their job better or not, and if it does, is it in a format that tells them what happened in the clearest way.
- Structure the dashboard metrics into three categories: why, what, and how.
- Remember Avinash’s rule: the higher up a report goes, the less data in it and the more narrative around it.
- Remember that the function of analytics software is to show what happened. Your function is to explain why.
Watch the video for the full explanation and examples.
Can’t see anything? Watch it on YouTube here.
Listen to the audio here:
- Got a question for You Ask, I’ll Answer? Submit it here!
- Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for more useful marketing tips.
- Find older episodes of You Ask, I Answer on my YouTube channel.
What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.
In today’s you ask I answer Rob asks our dashboards our analytics dashboards are filled with data, but people have complained that they’re not helpful or useful. What can I do to fix this great question very common question one of the chief issues with analytics today is that we just kind of back up the truck to pour the data on people’s desks instead of providing useful insights
as reason why my company’s called inside of analytics. Right. So how do we approach this. How do we fix this problem,
you got to do sort of six things in order to to help fix this problem number one we need to assess who is the dashboard for there’s a rule of thumb, I use with dashboards every organizational level needs its own dashboard so the marketing analysts dashboard should not be the CMOS dashboard. They have very different roles they have very different functions in the organization.
They need different information to do the jobs well so every level has needs his own dashboard at unless like you work at this crazy company where there’s like 40 levels of of employee between top and bottom which case maybe every two levels can be clustered together. But fundamentally, when we’re doing marketing dashboards. We need to ask is this dashboard going to help this person do their job better. And so every level needs its own dashboard, the CMOS dashboard should not even be the CEOs dashboard. They do different things. They have different p&l responsibilities. Second, making a list inventory
the data and analytics, they’re currently sharing and where they’re coming from that. That’s important because if you don’t know that you may have all sorts of quality issues third from that list rundown every metric on list that you’re currently sharing that’s currently your dashboard and ask the question, does this metric help this person do their job better yes or no. And it really should be very black and white. Is this a helpful.
metric does it help them do their job better if it does is it in a format that is explains what happened in the clearest way possible,
there are there’s so many good visualization tools out there, IBM Watson Analytics Tablo click
Power BI all the different tools and they all have these really cool visualizations that can show you date and all sorts of different ways. And I love doing stuff like that. I love like really, how can I make this chart look like this.
But very often. I’m an audience of one right I’ll talk to my CEO and she’ll be like that’s that doesn’t make any sense. Can you can just put that as a number like alright so be very clear
and ask the person you’re making the dashboard for, you know, does this help you do your job better. Is this the easiest way for you to read this information. Sometimes it will be sometimes it won’t be I worked with one CEO at a client in the past. Hey.
hated PowerPoint. You wanted 70 pages of written text for his quarterly Board of you
in Word format because he read it on the plane. He was do you travel the tongue and wanted to read it on a plane instead and wanted it and that now destroy and for him. That’s what works best for him. So
you’ve got to be able to talk to the person that you’re making the dashboard for and ask them and does it help you do your job better and is it clear.
Number four is
structuring the dashboard if in fact you’re going to use a standard dashboard slash slide format very, very common format you want to structure it into three buckets or three divisions why what and how the Y section answer the question why you even looking at this report and it should contain the most important metrics. So for the CEO, it may have just a very top level number like a p&l number of profit number of.
Revenue number, things like that for the CMO it’s probably going to be things like your top level marketing and sales numbers. How many sales. Did we make yesterday. What was our cost per acquisition, things like that stuff that if they only looked at one section of the dashboard. That’s the section. They want to look at and they want to have it all in one spot top of the page so that they don’t have to scroll. They don’t have to hunt and peck things. It’s like, it’s all right there, the section second section is the what section
what things happen that contributed to those top numbers. So if say sales is a key number for you. Okay, then the in the what section will how many leads and opportunities and marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads, whatever it is, the organization uses that feed into that sales number that goes in the second tier. If you’re an e commerce company. How many shard shopping carts. Did you feel how many were abandoned and things like that and so on and so forth. And then the third level is the how metrics and these are these are metrics that.
your stakeholder looks at the Y number goes a little that’s really bad. They may look up a continuing numbers go wow, something happened there. Well, how did that happen okay shopping cart abandonment was up 44%. How did that happen and and that should be data that goes into those what number. So it’s
if it’s shopping cart abandonment, like we said, well, how did the abandons go up maybe there’s site uptime or time on site or things like that but whatever the case may be. You want the wind numbers if they’re all good. That’s all your stakeholder needs to look up traffickers up 3% yesterday cool all. It’s all I need to know I’m gonna go to my meeting with the CEO. Now, if the numbers 4% down okay what happened. Well, let’s see traffic went down what what’s the thing here what number what feeds into traffic cars look at that social media
kind of off and then go into the third level go Oh, look at that, you know, Facebook changed its algorithm or Facebook stop sending us traffic. So having your dashboard structured why what how most important so.
The things that feed most important things that explain the things that feed. Most important is the way to structure a dashboard intelligently that gives everybody what they want and answers the questions in order so that if everything’s good. There are no questions. Great. The top layer just answers that if everything’s really not good. You have two layers of explanation that help you explain what’s going on.
Number five. Remember, Avinash is rule, Avinash Kaushik the blogger who writes the outcomes razor blog fantastic analytics guy follow him. If you don’t already
has his rule higher up in Oregon as a report goes in your organization, the less data that hasn’t and the more narrative and story and explanation. When you do a report for the CEO or the board if they have three pieces of data on it and then you have to provide the narrative that explained three pieces of data in the context that the reader wants in order to make sense of it. So it’s really important. The again, it goes back to the The first tip about who’s reading the report what level of the organization, everyone.
has their own
in finally more reminder for number six. The function of analytics is to explain what happened to show what happened. It literally means to unlock to loosen up rights from the Greek underline
analytics does not explain why. At least not descriptive analytics, which is what we haven’t dashboards. Right. Our job as marketing analyst or as marketing technologist, or as Marketing Leaders is to explain why so we can give the report to somebody, but they need our help to explain why things happen and for us diagnostic analytics, which is the second wrong on the analytic success ladder is still largely a human job right there is no way Google Analytics is going to tell you that yesterday Facebook changed its algorithm. There is no way that your marketing automation software is going to tell you that yesterday
a politician made a big change in through the markets in the chaos. Right. That is our job. And so being.
able to provide those insights those those those things that that explain why is so critical to dashboards that the context around the dashboard or in some cases there on the dashboard itself again that SEO dashboard has three numbers and long explanations about each of them so that they have the context. So
Rob. That’s how you make your dashboards helpful useful pulled back then amount of data, ask those questions and run down that list of six things to do to make your dashboards so much better and so much more useful to your organization. As always thank you for watching subscribe to the YouTube channel and to the newsletter and stuff and I’ll talk to you soon. Take care.
If you want help with your company’s data and analytics visit brain trust insights dot com today and let us know how we can help you.
Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:
Get your copy of Marketing Blue Belt!