6 steps to choosing the right dashboard marketing metrics

Published Apr 23 2024 Last updated Apr 24 2024 11 minute read
choose metrics 6 steps

You know the story — you sit down for your monthly or quarterly review to discuss how your campaigns have been performing against your marketing strategy. You've been watching the data, so you're prepared — you have a spreadsheet, some notes, and a PowerPoint presentation with some highlights to share.

Within a few minutes, questions from your marketing team are flown around. 

What does that metric mean? How does it compare to last month? How do those three slides relate to each other? How do the results align with business goals? It's difficult for you to be nimble in this situation because you must dig up new data and flip back and forth between PowerPoint slides.

This effort becomes much easier when you have a well-crafted marketing dashboard that provides a visual story for your data. A dashboard presents a curated set of metrics — all in one place — that reflect the health and progress of marketing objectives, social media, and campaign efforts in alignment with business objectives. 

However, you must combine art and science to create a marketing dashboard that tracks the right metrics. This guide walks you through the essentials of setting up a dashboard with the right metrics. You'll learn to identify the right audience, align metrics with strategic goals, draw inspiration from leading marketing dashboard examples, and ensure the dashboard evolves with your business. 

The importance of marketing dashboards

Marketing dashboards are essential tools for compiling and displaying marketing metrics and KPIs in one consolidated view. They can be designed to provide an overview of anything and everything you want to track, from website traffic and conversion rates to social media engagement and email campaign effectiveness. That's why it's important to narrow down the most valuable metrics for your marketing strategy. 

If you don't, you and your marketing team will get lost in the data, and you won't know where to prioritize your digital marketing efforts.

The power of marketing dashboards lies in their capacity to facilitate data-driven decision-making. This benefit is why we've recently added Funnel Dashboards to our list of features. By having immediate access to key marketing metrics, you can:

  • Quickly identify which strategies are performing well and which need adjustment
  • Save time and money on tactics that aren't working 
  • Respond to market trends with agility
  • Refine targeting
  • Drive better business outcomes

The ultimate goal? To steer these data-driven decisions toward promoting engagement and conversion and significantly impacting revenue.

What are the three essential elements of a marketing dashboard?

Three foundational elements of a useful dashboard drive marketing insights. These components ensure that your marketing dashboard metrics present data in an actionable and meaningful way for the business.

Data accuracy and relevance 

Your dashboard will have no meaning if it isn't built on clean, accurate, recent data, meaning data integrity is a priority. The dashboard should be a reliable tool for measuring success and identifying areas for improvement. Inaccurate or irrelevant data can lead to misinformed decisions, wasting valuable resources, and potentially steering strategies in the wrong direction.

Customization and flexibility

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing dashboards. Your dashboard needs to reflect the most critical priorities of the business, which may differ greatly from other businesses in your industry. It also must be customized to the various users inside and outside the marketing department. This means allowing for the inclusion of various metrics and marketing performance data visualizations that cater to different roles, from the chief marketing officer (CMO) to the digital marketing specialist.

Usability and accessibility

What do you call a dashboard that is difficult to access and even more difficult to understand? Wallpaper. Dashboards must be user-friendly and accessible. They should present all the data in a clear, understandable format, enabling users to easily interpret the information and make informed decisions. A dashboard that is complex or difficult to navigate can discourage use, undermining its value. A dashboard isn't just a repository of data but a practical instrument for strategic planning and performance improvement.

6 steps to creating and refining effective marketing dashboards

Jumping in and building a dashboard might sound intimidating, but it's more or less like riding a bike (but no need for training wheels). Follow these six steps to create a successful marketing dashboard that tracks your business's most important metrics. 

Step 1: Consider the audience

You're a marketer, so you know how important it is to know your audience. Understanding who will use your dashboard is the first step to building something valuable. Whether it's for executives, department heads, or marketing leadership, you'll want to tailor the dashboard to their unique priorities, which can vary significantly based on their role:

  • Executives might prioritize high-level metrics that offer insights into overall business health and marketing ROI. 
  • Department heads may need more granular marketing data related to specific campaigns or channel performance. 
  • Marketing leadership often requires a blend of both, focusing on metrics that demonstrate the effectiveness of the marketing strategy and marketing's contribution to sales and revenue growth.

While you can certainly make some educated guesses about what various people in your organization might want, the easiest way to get this information is to use an old-fashioned method: Just ask! 

Here are some questions you might want to ask:

  • What marketing KPIs are they responsible for?
  • What kinds of data-driven decisions do they need to make regularly?
  • What marketing metrics do they check religiously every morning?
  • What information or insights would make their jobs easier?
  • How do they prefer to consume this information?

This initial conversation sets the foundation for a dashboard tailored to provide relevant and actionable insights, ensuring that the final product is informative and aligned with the users' strategic interests, roles, and objectives.

Step 2: Align marketing dashboard metrics with strategic goals

Now that you know who will use your digital marketing dashboards, the next step is understanding their goals and how they align with your organization's broader objectives. If you're a B2B business, your dashboard might include lead generation and conversion metrics. But if you work for an e-commerce business, your marketing dashboard might prioritize metrics such as social media engagement, number of sales, average sales price, and return rate. 

Here are some long-term goals your company might have and how you could tailor your marketing dashboard to showcase them:

Expand to new markets

For businesses aiming to penetrate new markets or acquire companies, metrics that provide insights into market research and competitive analysis are most useful. This could include:

  • Market size and growth rates: To understand the potential of new markets.
  • Competitor analysis: Metrics evaluating the market share, strengths, and weaknesses of current players in the market.

Improve customer loyalty

If enhancing customer loyalty is a priority, incorporate metrics that track customer engagement and satisfaction. Relevant metrics might be:

  • Customer satisfaction scores (CSAT): To gauge immediate customer satisfaction levels post-purchase or interaction.
  • Net promoter score (NPS): To measure the likelihood of customers recommending your product or service to others, indicating loyalty.
  • Repeat purchase rate: To track the percentage of customers who return to buy again, which can directly indicate loyalty.

Increase market share

For companies that want to increase their market share, your marketing dashboard should focus on metrics that not only measure current market presence but also identify growth opportunities. Relevant metrics could include:

  • Share of voice (SOV): To compare your brand's visibility in the marketplace to its competitors, encompassing both paid and organic reach.
  • Customer acquisition costs (CAC): To help allocate marketing spend more effectively.
  • Brand loyalty and retention rates: To provide insights into the effectiveness of customer retention strategies in contributing to market share growth.

Continuing your discussions with your marketing teams and the intended users of the dashboard can provide you with critical insights. It's about marrying the micro (campaign-specific objectives) with the macro (the company's long-term strategic goals). Then, you can design the dashboard to track marketing performance in isolation and demonstrate how marketing contributes to business growth.

Digital marketing dashboard vs. broad marketing dashboard

You'll also want to work with stakeholders to identify whether they need a digital marketing dashboard or a broad marketing dashboard. There's no point in handing time-on-page metrics to the CFO - here's the difference between the two.

Digital marketing dashboard

Focused exclusively on digital marketing channels, a digital marketing dashboard aggregates data from social media campaigns, SEO efforts, email marketing, online advertisements, and website analytics. It's designed for marketers who want to drill down into the performance of their online strategies and offers insights into click-through rates, engagement rates, conversion rates, and more.

Broad marketing dashboard

A broad marketing dashboard offers a more comprehensive view of both digital and traditional marketing channels. It is indispensable for larger companies with diverse marketing strategies that include TV, print, radio, out-of-home (OOH) advertising, and other offline tactics. It integrates data from across all different marketing channels to present a unified performance overview.

Step 3: Take inspiration from these marketing dashboard examples

There's no doubt that the marketing dashboard you create will be the best dashboard of all time. Still, exploring marketing dashboard examples from industry leaders to brainstorm effective designs and metric selections can be helpful. You can peruse our blog, our marketing dashboard templates, or good ol' Google for some good examples. 

Or take a look at these marketing dashboard examples with suggestions of key KPIs to include for varying purposes.

  1. E-commerce dashboard
  • Key KPIs: Total sales, sales by product/category, average order value, customer acquisition cost, return on advertising spend (ROAS), cart abandonment rate.
  • This type of dashboard is invaluable for e-commerce businesses focusing on direct consumer sales. It helps monitor sales and marketing performance, identify best-selling products, and optimize marketing spend.
  1. B2B lead generation dashboard
  • Key KPIs: Number of leads, lead-to-opportunity ratio, opportunity-to-win ratio, average lead conversion time, cost per lead.
  • For B2B companies, this dashboard tracks the lead generation process and sales funnel, offering insights into lead quality and conversion rates.
  1. Social media marketing dashboard
  • Key KPIs: Followers growth, engagement rate (likes, comments, shares), click-through rate (CTR), top-performing posts, conversion rate from social media.
  • A social media dashboard allows businesses to measure the impact of their social media strategy, understand audience behavior, and refine content for better engagement.
  1. SEO analytics dashboard
  • Key KPIs: Organic traffic, keyword rankings, click-through rates, backlinks count, page load time.
  • Essential for businesses investing in organic search, this marketing dashboard tracks website performance in search engine results, helping identify opportunities to improve visibility and attract more traffic.
  1. Executive marketing dashboard
  • Key KPIs: Overall marketing ROI, cost per acquisition (CPA), customer lifetime value (CLV), market share, brand equity metrics, and overall sales growth.
  • An executive marketing dashboard aggregates high-level KPIs that provide a snapshot of marketing's impact on the company's bottom line and strategic position. 

These marketing dashboard examples serve as a starting point. You can also review these critical key KPIs to unlock your dashboard's potential and gain insights into which KPIs are most relevant. These data-driven insights will inform your overall marketing strategy and drive marketing performance.

Step 4: Make a first version of your marketing dashboard

Crack those knuckles because it's time to enter the ring. 

Create the first version of your marketing KPI dashboard focusing on simplicity and functionality. Choose a set of essential metrics that provide quick insights and are crucial for daily operations and strategic decision-making. This approach will help you adapt as you learn more about what information is most valuable and how the marketing dashboard is used.

  1. Select essential metrics: Begin with a core set of KPIs relevant to the primary objectives identified in earlier steps. For instance, if lead generation is a key goal, include metrics like 'number of leads' and 'conversion rate.' For sales, 'total sales' and 'average order value' might be central.
  2. Use a user-friendly platform: Choose a marketing dashboard platform that is intuitive, easy to use, and has marketing dashboard templates. Many software options offer drag-and-drop features, pre-built templates, and easy integration with common data sources.
  3. Prioritize clarity in design: The layout should be clean and uncluttered, with a logical arrangement of data visualizations that makes it easy to find and interpret key information. Use charts, graphs, and tables where they add clarity and avoid overloading the marketing KPI dashboard with too much information at once.
  4. Plan for iteration: View this initial version as a starting point. It's expected to evolve based on user feedback and changes in business goals or market conditions. This mindset encourages openness to adjustment and refinement over time.

Note: Your first attempt at building a marketing dashboard might be bad — like, really bad. That's okay. Keep practicing and iterating, and soon enough, you'll have something that will serve as a solid foundation for everything you build in the future.

Step 5: Share the marketing KPI dashboard and ask for feedback

Once your initial marketing dashboard is set up, it's time to get feedback to ensure it serves its intended purpose. Share your dashboards with users and stakeholders and ask them to review them. Talk about how it addresses each person's long-term goals and what small adjustments you can make to increase its functionality and utility. Before approaching the first user, incorporate these five tips into your online marketing dashboard.

The feedback collected from these discussions is invaluable for continuous improvement. Users can provide insights into additional metrics they find necessary, changes in the layout that could enhance usability or features that might be missing. Encourage stakeholders to be candid about their experiences with the marketing analytics dashboard - what they find useful, what might be confusing, and any marketing data they thought would be included but wasn't.

Set up regularly scheduled review sessions with users and the marketing team to ensure your marketing dashboard remains relevant and effectively meets your organizational needs. This iterative process of sharing, receiving feedback, and updating the marketing reporting dashboard fosters a culture of continuous improvement and data-driven decision-making.

Step 6: Make a habit of looking at the dashboard every day, week, or month

Far too many marketing dashboards are like new toys: Everyone is excited about them initially, but eventually, they collect dust and cobwebs. Avoid this by integrating regular review sessions into your routine. These sessions are key to ensuring that the marketing analytics dashboard remains aligned with your company's evolving business objectives and continues to be of value to the people who use them. 

Whether daily, weekly, or monthly, setting a consistent schedule for marketing reporting dashboard review with the marketing team helps your entire organization keep its fingers on the pulse of marketing performance metrics. This consistent engagement helps make swift, data-informed decisions to correct course as necessary, optimizing marketing efforts in real time. You can also suggest ways to improve your digital marketing dashboards with better layouts, designs, or formats.

In addition, incorporating automation into this process can greatly enhance efficiency and ensure consistency in monitoring dashboard metrics. Depending on your chosen tool, your marketing analytics dashboard can be configured to refresh automatically. For businesses that operate in fast-paced environments, this capability ensures that decision-makers always have access to the latest information.

You can also schedule and send dashboard reports automatically to stakeholders. For example, Looker Studio allows users to set up email delivery of dashboard snapshots daily, weekly, or monthly. This feature ensures that all relevant team members and executives receive timely updates on key performance indicators, regardless of their direct interaction with the dashboard platform.

Bonus tip: top metrics to track on your marketing dashboards

To ensure your tactics are effectively driving your business objectives, you will likely need to include certain key metrics that are universally prescriptive. Here's a concise list of top metrics that should be on your radar:

  1. Conversion rate: Essential for understanding the effectiveness of your campaigns in turning visitors into customers or leads.
  2. Customer acquisition cost (CAC): Provides insights into the cost associated with acquiring a new customer, crucial for evaluating the sustainability of your marketing efforts.
  3. Return on investment (ROI): A critical metric for assessing the profitability of your marketing activities, indicating the financial return from each investment.
  4. Lifetime value (LTV): Measures the total revenue a business can expect from a single customer account throughout its relationship with the company.
  5. Traffic-to-lead ratio: Helps gauge your website's or landing pages' effectiveness in converting visitors into leads.
  6. Lead-to-customer ratio: Offers insights into how your marketing performance and sales processes convert leads into paying customers.
  7. Social media analytics: Tracks likes, shares, comments, and other interactions to assess the effectiveness of social media content.
  8. Email open and click-through rates: Key indicators of how engaging and compelling your email marketing campaigns are.
  9. Organic traffic: Provides an understanding of how well your SEO efforts contribute to marketing performance and attract search engine users to your site.
  10. Page views and average session duration: Useful for evaluating the quality of content on your site and its ability to engage visitors.
  11. Marketing Efficiency Ratio (MER): Indicates how much revenue is generated for each dollar spent on marketing.
  12. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): Measures the revenue earned for every dollar spent on advertising.
  13. Profit on Ad Spend (POAS): Calculates the actual profit made from every dollar spent on advertising, considering the cost of goods sold.
  14. Churn Rate: The percentage of customers who stop using a company's product or service over a certain period.


How many key performance indicators should be on a marketing performance dashboard?

The number of KPIs on a marketing performance dashboard should align with the ability to quickly assess marketing performance without overwhelming the user. Generally, aiming for 5-10 KPIs allows for a focused overview of key metrics. This range ensures the dashboard remains manageable and relevant to its primary purpose, providing actionable insights at a glance.

What metrics should I have on an SEO dashboard?

An effective SEO Dashboard should include marketing analytics that offers insights into both the marketing performance and health of your website's search engine optimization efforts. Track metrics like organic search traffic, keyword rankings, click-through rates (CTR), backlinks count, and page load time. Together, these metrics help track visibility on search engines, the effectiveness of keyword targeting, and the user experience on your website.

What marketing performance dashboard metrics should I avoid?

Avoid metrics that are considered "vanity metrics" — numbers that may look impressive on the surface but don't necessarily translate to actionable insights or meaningful business outcomes. Examples include raw page views without context, social media followers count without engagement, and metrics not directly tied to specific business goals.

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