The Best Marketing Dashboard Software of 2021 and How to Set it Up
The Best Marketing Dashboard of 2021 and How to Set it Up
Historically, I have always been more of a creative, language minded person.
I love to read and write. I was even an English teacher for a period of time.
But as I began to learn more about marketing, I discovered that unfortunately, it’s very heavy in math. You’ve got to be good with keeping track of numbers.
When you’re spending someone else’s money you better be able to justify that that money is being well spent and resulting in more revenue for the company rather than cost.
Back when I was a marketing manager at a startup, I was responsible for leading our weekly marketing meeting with our CEO.
In order to answer his rapid fire questions, I had to understand our marketing campaigns inside and out. What was working and what wasn’t.
In order to understand our marketing performance, I had to know the data like the back of my hand if I ever wanted to grow within the company and look like a leader.
Every week I’d spend 10-20 hours gathering the data across all the different platforms, and uploading it into an excel sheet, where I’d create formulas and tables and charts, to try to gain insights.
Over the past couple of years I developed a system that works, and I use my marketing dashboard template at every company and with every client I work with.
It makes it easy to track every channel on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.
But guess what?
You won’t have to go through the tedious thought process to come up with a format to measure and track your marketing data, because we’re going to help you through the process.
Having clarity around your data is the difference between losing millions and making millions. That being said, let’s get started!
Data Mistakes To Avoid
I’ve noticed that most marketers (myself included) have been making a few major mistakes when it comes to their data.
1. Failing to document
- Do you have a yearly view of what’s going on? Monthly? How bout Daily or Weekly?
- How are you tracking big events that may influence your marketing campaigns? By “big events” I mean any big company announcements, the start of any new campaigns, or any product/site changes.
- Are you tracking baseline metrics before you make changes, so that you can measure lift when you make a big marketing change?
2. Wasting time
- Gathering data is one of the biggest time-sucks I’ve seen.
- How much time are you spending analyzing your data, optimizing your campaigns, running new tests and thinking strategically?
- Do you have a full-time employee devoted to data?
- Is there any part of your process that could be automated but isn’t yet?
3. Utilizing the wrong metrics
- Do you have a good sense of the whole picture - acquisition all the way to revenue?
- Are you using the right marketing analytic tools to see that whole picture?
4. You’re visualizing wrong (or not at all)
- How do you showcase marketing performance to outside stakeholders?
- Does your leadership team have access to real-time marketing metrics?
5. Messy data
- Do you have naming conventions for your ad campaigns?
- Are tracking pixels in place for every marketing platform you use?
- Are you adding UTM parameters to every link you use in marketing campaigns? Every one? Are you sure about that?
- You can do this easily with the Google Analytics URL Builder or UTM.io
How to Set Up The Best Digital Marketing Dashboard
Now that you have a sense of what is going right with your active campaigns, and where your tracking could use a little improvement, let’s take a look at how to put that tracking into action.
While automating your marketing data might be the goal (and a great goal at that), it’s super important that you do this process manually first, so that you can make sure you understand exactly what you are trying to automate.
How to Set Up Tracking
- Set up a Google Docs Spreadsheet for your manual dashboard
- Place tracking pixels on the website for everything you need to track - Facebook, Google Analytics, Instagram, etc.
- Add UTMs to every link. Every single one. Don’t skip out on this - you will regret it.
- Get the right tools! In order to see the entire picture, you need to have the proper analytic tools to do it:
- Google Analytics for counting web visits and conversions
- Mixpanel or Heap for customer attribution
- A good CRM like Salesforce or Pipedrive (or, if you’re still starting out, a google spreadsheet will do just fine!) to keep track of lead & customer data
Nice to haves:
- Tools that let you watch customer behavior on your site, like Crazy Egg or UserTesting
- Tools that allow you to A/B test different features on your site, like Optimizely or Instapage
- An automated data aggregation tool like Improvado
How to Set Up Your Marketing Dashboard
First thing is first: Download a blank copy of my marketing dashboard template here.
Once you’ve got the template all set, I will walk you through how to set it up so that you can start analyzing and optimizing that data.
Take a look first - play around with the tabs, see what you find! You can modify the dashboard so that it makes sense for your business and marketing models.
When I first started out in marketing, I was manually updating a dashboard just like this every single day. Now, of course, I use Improvado to automatically aggregate my data. More on that later.
What do all of those tabs mean?
Each tab in the marketing dashboard template has a particular and special meaning. Allow me to break it down for you…
Tab #1: Leads Daily
Every time we get a new lead here at Improvado (for us, this is when someone requests a demo), I will know because I get an alert from Webflow (our web-hosting tool).
I will also know where that lead came from, because I can gather that data from Mixpanel, which tells me where the Initial Referring domain of the site lead came from, as well as the UTM parameters of the link that lead clicked on. This data is what I use to update the Channel Attribution column.
The last three columns are based on data that I can get from Salesforce. They explain whether the lead became an opportunity, what stage it’s at, the revenue amount and the date the deal closed.
I gather all of this data about the leads that come in every single day, and I do it on this first tab.
Tab #2: Monthly Performance
This tab tracks all of the different marketing channels I am utilizing and running campaigns on.
Each month, I am tracking the following metrics of each channel:
- Number of leads generated
- Cost per channel
- Cost per acquisition (CAC)
- Number of opportunities per channel (this one is for B2B businesses only)
- The number of closed/won deals per channel
- Revenue per channel
If you scroll to the bottom of the tab, you’ll find a summary of the overall stats for each month, broken out by the paid and unpaid channels, as well as the blended total.
You will also be able to see the growth in opportunity (leads) and/or revenue month over month.
Tab #3: Allowable CACs
CAC = cost per acquisition. How much you pay for each customer you acquire.
The allowable CAC is essentially the break even cost per lead that you can spend on each channel.
The Allowable CAC tab, then, tells you how much revenue each channel is generating and thus how much you are allowed to spend to acquire a lead within that specific channel.
This is, and I can’t emphasize this enough, VERY IMPORTANT.
Understanding how much you can spend within a particular channel is essential to optimizing your marketing budget to make smart marketing decisions.
If you acquire leads below the allowable CAC, you will be earning money (probably, depending on your other overhead costs).
Your overall allowable CAC month over month is an important metric to keep your eye on.
All that being said, another important thing to keep in mind: your overall cumulative allowable CAC is more important than your allowable CAC per channel. This is true especially if you are running campaigns on both unpaid channels and paid channels. Leads you are acquiring through unpaid channels can often make up for the high cost of paid channels, evening things out for your overall CAC.
If your allowable CAC is increasing, it means that you are generating more revenue and can justify spending more dollars per lead to acquire them - this is a very good thing.
If your actual CAC is going down, this is also a good thing - it means that you are saving money.
That being said, it is completely okay if your Actual CAC goes up, so long as your Allowable CAC is higher than the Actual CAC.
I usually track the allowable CAC by including data from the trailing 3 months.
Tab #4: Monthly Goals
What should your marketing goals be? No clue? This tab can help you figure it out.
The goal here is to work backwards: figure out what your marketing goals should be by looking at the overall company-wide revenue goals for the year or month.
Each month or year, someone at your company is putting together projections for the year, identifying how much revenue they would like to generate.
Based on this number, you can decide how many leads you need to generate, how much you need to spend to do that, and how many clients you would like to wind up with.
Some assumptions that you can change:
- Average won deal size
- Lead to opportunity conversion rate
- Opportunity to Won deal conversion rate
- Cost per lead
Each of these factors is based on your individual business, so make sure you are accounting for that when you set up your own marketing dashboard.
How do you work backwards to set these metrics? Allow me to explain:
From your revenue goal, you can determine how many deals you will need to close to hit the set goal.
In order to close all of those deals, you will need a certain number of opportunities (or qualified leads).
To get that number of opportunities, you will need a certain number of leads.
AND to get that number of leads, you will need to spend a certain amount of dollars on marketing, depending on what your average cost per lead is.
This tab is an awesome tool for justifying your marketing budget and explaining how you derived your marketing goals from said budget.
Tab #5: The Mid-Month Pacing Check-in
So, you’re halfway through the month, and maybe you are wondering, “Am I pacing to the goal? Or am I short of my goal?”
“Do I need to ramp up spend in a certain channel to hit my monthly goal? Or should I pull back on a certain channel because it is spending too fast?
This tab is one of the more tedious to fill out, but it is super important because you don’t want to reach the end of the month and realize you went way over budget or fell way short of hitting your goals.
So, if you are keeping track of this stuff manually, this tab is essential to your success. And, if you are automating this process, I will show you how to do it shortly with Improvado.
Tab #6: Weekly Overview
This tab is the exact same as the Mid-Month Pacing Check-in tab, except instead of looking at first half of the month vs. second half, you are looking at a week-over-week comparison by channel.
This is another excellent way to catch any “red flags” that may come up with your spend or lead generation goals.
This is another tedious one to update, but again, completely worth it. And of course, you can always decide to automate it (which we are getting to, I promise).
Tab #7: Summary
This tab is important for YOU. I emphasize the “you” because if you show this to your CEO, her/his eyes will glaze over.
It is way too granular.
You need to tell your story visually so that people outside of your marketing team will understand it quickly.
That means making pretty charts and graphs and putting it into a presentation deck that acts as a digital marketing report. The key takeaways that they need to know.
The Summary Tab is where you can keep track of the charts and graphs that you make.
Again, this is the manual version of this process - required only if you are keeping track of all of your data manually.
Want to automate your reporting and have a real-time marketing dashboard that outsiders can understand anytime? Improvado is here for that.
Showing ROI for the Marketing Campaign You Just Ran
This step is crucial, and you will find all the information you need for it in the Allowable CACs tab.
This tab shows you:
- Revenue by channel
- Return on ad spend, ROAS or ROI
- Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)
- Much more!
Track These Metrics to Forecast Future Performance
The Summary tab can help you keep track of:
- Lead to Opportunity (Qualified Lead) conversion rate
- Opportunity to Won conversion rate
- Lead Growth Rate
- Opportunity Growth Rate
- Average Won Deal Size
When you plug these metrics into the yellow fields in you Monthly Goals Tab (see below), you will be able to forecast future performance and map your goals accordingly.
If you know what your Lead Growth Rate and Opportunity Growth Rate have been over the past 3 months, you will be able to forecast forward and understand the growth that you will most likely see in the coming months.
How to automate this process (and stop tracking data manually)
This image here gives you an idea of how Improvado works.
Improvado allows you to sync all of your different marketing platforms - Facebook Ads, Adwords, Google Analytics, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, etc - in one place. Improvado has about 80 different marketing platform integrations available, and they can build out any custom integration you need.
Alternatively, you can just visualize your data within the Improvado platform.
The best thing about Improvado is that it was built by marketers, which means that it was made specifically for all of your marketing needs.
In fact, Improvado was actually a marketing agency first. After talking to hundreds of clients, the team realized that aggregating marketing data was a massive pain point for most marketers.
As an agency, they had already built a data aggregation tool that clients could use for free.
Eventually, clients started saying “Hey, we would just pay for this tool. It’s amazing.
And so the next phase in Improvado’s life was born. They pivoted from an agency into a Saas tool, so that they could help more marketers achieve their data aggregation and reporting goals.
Now, once you connect your channels to Improvado, the software automatically gathers up all of your data so that you can view it wherever you’d like - spreadsheets, Improvado itself, or any BI tool that your company may use.
How to View Every Digital Marketing Channel in One Dashboard
Before using Improvado, if I wanted to know how a particular ad was performing or how much money I’d spent on any specific channel I would have to log into each individual marketing platform and click around until I found the data I needed.
Now, I can see all of that data from every platform whenever I want, just by logging into my Improvado marketing dashboard.
The platform allows you to instantly see your real-time cost data across platforms, which includes metrics like:
Any data that is available within an individual marketing platform, you can now see from within one dashboard using Improvado.
Getting Granular Digital Marketing Data
Because Improvado was built by marketers they’ve made sure that you can see everything about your marketing campaigns at the most granular levels.
FOR EXAMPLE: You’re running an Adwords campaign and you are trying to optimize your campaigns within the Adwords dashboard.
You have to do a lot of clicking as you look for patterns and trends in performance.
Through the Improvado dashboard, on the other hand, you can easily see everything displayed in one place, allowing you to make your optimization decisions that much faster.
Sync Data from All of Your Marketing Channels in Minutes
You can sync data from all of your marketing channels in minutes. Even if that data is housed in an offline source, like a CSV or excel file, you can upload it and visualize it alongside your other data seamlessly.
Send Your Marketing Data to Any BI Tool (No Developers Needed)
This really is key. You don’t need developers to automate your marketing data.
We know that when it comes to getting dev attention on your marketing needs, it can be a struggle. Those peeps are busy doing other important work, like building the product. They have company stakeholders asking them for things like product updates - you know, little things.
The last thing they need is to get stuck building out your marketing API integrations.
That’s why Improvado is, well, awesome.
It is way cheaper than using an engineer’s time building out these integrations.
Visualize that Data and SHOWCASE Performance
Creating a visual, real-time marketing report for the leadership team will help expedite decisions and help you continue to grow.
Improvado let’s you share your real-time marketing insights via live link or PDF - you can send scheduled reports or give your C-Suite read-only access so that they can see what you’re up to.
If you are a marketing agency, your clients likely aren’t interested in waiting for you to update your marketing dashboard every day/week/month. They should be able to login and get access to your progress in real time.
Marketing dashboards matter, and this automation tool is kind of a big deal, if we do say so ourselves.
Want to get started with the manual marketing dashboard process? Click here to download the template.
Ready to get automating? Click here to schedule a demo.
Learn about Best Dashboard Software