In today’s data-driven era, effectively leveraging data to track business performance is crucial. Key to this process is the development of performance dashboards, which serve as visual representations of your business’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Yet, creating a meaningful dashboard goes beyond simply presenting numbers—it involves a sophisticated process of data management. In this article, we’re going to unpack the five pillars of data management. These pillars form the foundation for constructing dashboards that not only accurately mirror your business’s performance, but also equip you with valuable insights for strategic decision-making.
At the heart of every data-driven project lies data collection. This crucial process involves identifying the necessary data points that align with your business objectives and then acquiring them from relevant sources.
In the realm of digital marketing, data collection transcends just accumulating data; it’s a meticulous process of pinpointing and harnessing the right data points in line with your business objectives. However, given the digital landscape, you’re often swamped with a sea of potential data points sourced from a variety of areas like website analytics, social media metrics, email campaign stats, online ad feedback, and CRM data.
To be confident that the data you’re compiling for your dashboard is relevant, there’s a process you might want to follow:
1) Start With Your Aims
Every digital marketing strategy stands on the backbone of certain aims. These can vary from boosting your website’s visitor numbers, heightening customer interaction, to escalating online purchases. Your job is to find the key metrics that resonate with these aims. Say, for instance, your goal is to ramp up the traffic on your website, the data that will likely matter to you would involve metrics such as page views, number of users, session totals, and the origins of your traffic.
2) Define Your KPIs
KPIs are measurable values that show the effectiveness of your strategy in achieving key business objectives. KPIs could range from ‘click-through rates’ for ad campaigns to ‘conversion rates’ on landing pages. By defining your KPIs, you ensure that the data you collect is directly related to your objectives.
3) Understand Your Data Sources
Digital marketing employs a plethora of channels, each providing unique data. These might include Google Analytics for website data, Facebook Insights for social media engagement, Google Ads for pay-per-click data, and Mailchimp for email campaign performance, among others. Understanding what data each source offers can help you determine which sources are necessary for your specific goals and KPIs.
4) Assess Current Imports
Scrutinise the data you’re currently importing. Does it align with your identified goals and KPIs? Does it come from the right sources? Are there gaps in your data collection that need to be filled? This assessment will help you adjust your data collection to better serve your dashboard creation.
Following this process will ensure your data collection is focused and strategic, providing a strong foundation for your performance dashboard. Remember, quality trumps quantity when it comes to data. Collecting the right data, rather than all the data, will set you up for success in your data management journey.
Data mapping, the process of aligning data from various sources into a common format, is a critical pillar in crafting effective performance dashboards. This alignment ensures data consistency and coherence, enabling smooth merging of data for insightful analysis. When working in digital marketing, you might be dealing with diverse data sets from different platforms like Google Analytics, Facebook Ads Manager, Google Ads, and more. Each of these platforms has its own way of naming and organising data. The task is to map these disparate data points into a unified format.
When dealing with diverse data sets, the importance of an effective naming convention cannot be overstated. This systematic approach to naming your data plays a crucial role in making data understandable, searchable, and applicable. Having a naming convention allows you to quickly identify where the data is coming from and what it represents, reducing confusion and promoting clarity. This becomes especially important when dealing with data from multiple sources, where the same data might have different names.
A good naming convention is consistent, descriptive, simple, and flexible. Consistency ensures that the same data from different sources have the same name. Descriptive names indicate what the data represents. Simplicity keeps the names short and easy to understand, while flexibility allows the convention to accommodate new data types that might come along.
Tools like Funnel.io can automate much of this data mapping process. They can align and standardize different data names into a common format, saving you time and reducing the risk of errors. However, sometimes, you might need to create custom dimensions or metrics to accurately map your data.
As simple as it may sound, defining a good naming convention can be a complex process. At Clicktrust, we’re ready to assist you in this crucial step. Together, we can develop a naming convention that meets your unique needs, streamlining your data mapping process and setting you up for success in your data management journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if it’s something you would need help with.
Once your data is collected and mapped, the next crucial pillar of data management for your performance dashboard is data transformation. This involves cleaning, modifying, and reshaping your raw data to meet analysis requirements, and it’s a key step in preparing your data for meaningful interpretation.
To make the data transformation process more digestible, we can break it down into four main steps:
1) Define the Transformation Needs
Start by defining what aspects of your data need transformation. This will depend on the specific insights you’re seeking. Are you looking to understand the cost per session across various channels, or conversion rates of different campaigns? The nature of your question will dictate the kind of transformations required. It might mean needing cost data mapped across all media channels or session data from User Acquisition (UA) sources.
2) Formulate Transformation Rules
After defining your transformation needs, devise the rules and logic for your data transformation. This could involve creating new custom dimensions or metrics or defining rules for data cleansing, like how to handle missing values or duplicates. These rules will serve as a blueprint for transforming your data in a way that aligns with your analysis goals.
3) Test Your Transformation
Before diving into full-scale data transformation, conduct a test to verify that your rules work as expected. This could mean transforming a small subset of your data first and assessing whether the output matches your expectations. Any inconsistencies or errors can be addressed at this stage, minimising the risk of widespread data errors.
4) Execute Data Transformation
Once testing confirms that your rules are sound, you can apply your transformation logic to the entire data set.
Data quality maintenance
Data quality maintenance is a crucial aspect of data transformation. Upholding the accuracy, validity, and reliability of your data is of utmost importance, as any inaccuracies or inconsistencies can lead to misleading insights, and consequently, misguided decisions. Rigorous quality checks should be integrated at every stage of data transformation to maintain the integrity of your data.
This seemingly complex process, when broken down and followed methodically, can streamline your data transformation efforts, yielding a data set that’s primed for meaningful analysis and impactful insights for your dashboard.
With your transformed data in hand, the next step in data management for your performance dashboard is data aggregation. This is the process of bringing together your data, summarizing it, and organizing it in a way that provides a high-level, coherent overview.
Data aggregation plays a vital role in your data management journey for several reasons:
Digital marketing data can be vast and complex. Aggregation helps simplify this complexity by condensing the data into more manageable chunks. This can involve grouping data by specific metrics, like channel or campaign, or by time periods, like monthly or quarterly intervals.
By summarising your data, you can more easily discern patterns and trends. Maybe you’ll notice that your website traffic increases on weekends or that one of your campaigns consistently outperforms the others. Aggregated data can highlight these patterns that might be lost in the detail of raw data.
Aggregated data can help benchmark performance and set targets. By viewing your data in summary, you can better gauge overall performance, identify areas of strength or weakness, and set or adjust your goals accordingly.
Ultimately, the aim of data aggregation is to inform decision-making. By providing a more digestible, high-level view of your data, you can make more informed, data-backed decisions.
Remember that the key to effective data aggregation is to only push towards visualisation of what truly matters. By selectively choosing the right data to aggregate, you ensure that your data tells a meaningful story. This ensures that your dashboard is not just data-rich, but also insight-rich, offering valuable, actionable insights to inform your digital marketing strategies.
Data visualisation, the final pillar of data management for your performance dashboard, goes beyond simply presenting your data – it’s the art and science of making your data tell a compelling story. A well-crafted visualisation can make even the most complex data accessible, understandable, and actionable for all stakeholders.
This stage of data management comes with its own set of considerations:
1) Choosing the Right Visualization Tool
Selecting the right tool for your data visualisation needs is a vital first step. Various platforms like Google Data Studio, Tableau, or PowerBI each offer unique strengths and capabilities. Google Data Studio may be favoured for its seamless integration with Google platforms like Google Analytics and Google Ads. On the other hand, Tableau and PowerBI might be chosen for their advanced data manipulation and interactive dashboard capabilities. Your choice will depend on your specific needs and the complexity of your data.
2) Selecting the Appropriate Visual Representation
Once your tool is selected, the next step is choosing the right visual representation for your data. This could be bar charts, line graphs, pie charts, heat maps, or even more intricate visualisations like scatter plots or treemaps. The choice of visualisation should be dictated by the nature of your data and the insights you wish to highlight.
Would you need one example of how to best pick visualisation? This is a basic use case: Let’s consider a case where you’re trying to analyse the success of an email marketing campaign. Key metrics might include the number of emails sent, open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate.
A line graph could be an ideal visualisation here. The x-axis represents time (days, weeks, or months), and the y-axis represents the percentage rates of each metric. Different coloured lines for each metric allow viewers to quickly understand trends and patterns over time.
This visualisation helps to see how the email campaign performance has changed over time and can guide decisions on improving future campaigns.
3) Creativity in Visualisation
While data visualisation is rooted in science, it’s also an opportunity to be creative. The use of colours, shapes, sizes, and layout can dramatically influence the interpretability and appeal of your dashboard. However, always ensure that creativity serves clarity and doesn’t overshadow the data’s message. There’s a wealth of inspiration and templates available online to stimulate your creativity and provide a springboard for your unique visualisation design.
4) Data Literacy Among Users
Lastly, it’s crucial that dashboard users possess data literacy, meaning they understand how to interpret the visualised data and apply it to decision-making. This can be fostered through training, user-friendly dashboard design, and clear annotations within the dashboard.
Data visualisation is the stage where your efforts in data collection, mapping, transformation, and aggregation culminate in concrete outcomes. By visually rendering your data, you transform your numbers into narratives, making them accessible and actionable for informed decision-making in your digital marketing strategy.
The iterative process
Creating a dashboard isn’t a linear process—it’s iterative. After the initial visualisations, you may uncover insights requiring you to revisit earlier stages, reframe questions, adjust data collection or transformation, or even change your visualisations. Embrace this iterative process as a way to refine your dashboard continuously.
The journey of creating a meaningful, effective performance dashboard is a complex one, involving intricate stages of data collection, mapping, transformation, aggregation, and visualisation. Each pillar is essential and builds on the one before it. Yet, remember that data management is an iterative process that evolves as your business grows and changes. With patience, meticulousness, and a deep understanding of these pillars, you’re well-equipped to create dashboards that will truly drive your business forward.
Would you need any help making insightful dashboards, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Get our ramblings right in your inbox
We deepdive into hot topics across digital marketing and love to share.