Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 36 seconds

Many marketers have a love-hate relationship with dashboards. On one hand, dashboards, which are modern day reports displaying the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, can help brands learn what programs are generating results and which programs aren’t pulling their weight. Armed with that information, firms can tweak their programs to generate better profits.

Dashboards are also an opportunity for marketing teams to justify their budgets and technology expenditures to senior management. A flashy report that depicts high levels of engagement with prospects can go a long way in impressing executives. Reporting for senior executives, however, can present challenges in cases where top management may frequently change the formats in which they want reports prepared.

Yet, producing dashboard reports can also be a pain point for marketing departments. Marketers must pull data from a variety of sources, such as email automation systems, advertising campaigns, various websites, including social media, and in some cases, telephone activities. With the rapid growth of big data, meanwhile, determining the information that should be included on reports is a dicey undertaking.

The need for technology that addresses the challenges of creating dashboards is illustrated by a recent Business News Daily ranking of top automation software. It includes Eloqua software in its list of top providers and explains that the product’s dashboard is a “big plus” because it gives users easy access to data for virtually all aspects of marketing campaigns. The publisher also touts software from Net-Results, in part, because the product includes a dashboard that makes tracking leads and sales simpler and more effective.

Some marketers recommend that firms seeking to develop dashboard reports first assess which key performance indicators (KPI) are the most relevant in relation to a company’s specific goals. Those goals can vary based on the different types of target audience. For example, firms may have different goals for improving engagement with existing clients than for prospects, reports MarTech Today.

Defining the most relevant KPIs will help to make sure dashboards are relevant, while making it easier to produce reports. Many firms, furthermore, still complete the sizeable task of downloading data to spreadsheets and then use spreadsheets to create final graphics.

With the cumbersome nature of producing reports, tech vendors, not surprisingly, are rushing to provide solutions that will simplify creating dashboards. Databox is one example, according to Business2community. Its technology combines data from Google Analytics, HubSpot, Zendesk and other sources.

The firm claims its technology saves marketers time because it eliminates the need for spreadsheets. The technology also eliminates the need for marketers to go to numerous websites to gather data. Dialogtech is also seeking a piece of the dashboard pie. It recently launched Dashboard Insights, which the firm says is a customizable reporting system that tracks the results of telephone calls and data from a variety of platforms including Google Analytics, AdWords, Bing, Facebook, and Twitter.

Marketing intelligence software provider Datorama, meanwhile, is seeking to assist marketers by including artificial intelligence in its Datorama SmartLenses platform. The product seeks to guide marketers to the most relevant KPI data that it gathers from a variety of sources, reports eWeek.

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