Making the right decisions based on perfect insights isn’t always simple.
Your business is growing fast. And so does the set of tools you use to run your daily operations.
When you get lost in operational issues that limit your success, we recommend a tool to get back on track; a tool that provides perfect insights into your sales and marketing performance, integrated into one dashboard to give you focus.
A business dashboard? Really…?!
Perhaps it’s not the first thing that comes to mind. Perhaps “dashboard” sounds a bit boring and corporate.
We agree. But trust us; having the right commercial insights in one view makes your life so much easier.
Continue reading to discover how a real-time business dashboard will save your enterprise time, money, missed deadlines and provide more clarity into the data that matters to you and each of the enterprise departments.
What Is a Real-Time Business Dashboard?
At times it can be difficult enough just trying to get the data you need from a variety of different platforms and software, let alone making sense of that data in time for an executive or board meeting. It’s not enough just to have data for marketing, sales, and customer information; that data needs to be managed and converted into metrics that are important to executives and key team members.
Data overload is a fact that many enterprises are currently struggling with. The need and want for more and more data can get in the way of why the data is important in the first place: Providing clear, reliable, and up-to-date information to make important business decisions. This is where a real-time business dashboard comes in.
A business dashboard tracks the data that is important to you from various sources and presents that information in an easy-to-understand dashboard. The information provided in a real-time business dashboard is clean, consistent, and easy to understand. This makes it so any employee from any department in your enterprise can view the dashboards and know the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are important to them.
For example, a marketing department could have a real-time marketing dashboard with the visitor-to-lead conversion rate, website sessions, new contacts, social interactions, page views, landing-page conversion rates, and MQLs-to-SQls conversion rate—all at one glance.
A real-time dashboard puts your most important metrics and goals front and center at all times, and the best part is that they are always up to date, automatically. This saves time in multiple ways; an office or marketing assistant won’t have to spend days copying and pasting data to an Excel sheet every month, and executives won’t have to wait to get updated KPI data, since the data is always up to date. Decisions can be made faster if the strategy needs to shift.
Shifting from Monthly to Real-Time Reporting (With Less Effort)
Depending on when your monthly reporting update occurs—end of the month or the beginning—it’s usually not anyone’s favorite time. Not because they’re not hitting their goals (at least we hope not), but because it takes so much time to update the reports just to get them ready for presentation. In dire situations, the data from the previous month remains because no time was set aside to update the Excel sheets or because the responsible party just ran out of time.
When it comes time to review the data and make important company decisions, the information needs to be accurate and current, which is one of the major benefits of a real-time business dashboard. Up-to-the-minute information will ensure that everyone involved in important decision-making has the data available. This could be to raise the advertising budget in search ads because it’s performing better than expected or reallocating budget from display advertising to organic content generation because website leads are on the rise.
A decision-making meeting should not be the first time company performance numbers are reviewed; this key information should always be available at any time of the month so team members arrive at meetings with actionable advice.
If your meeting and reporting cadence are greater than once a month; then enjoying the benefits of a real-time business dashboard grows exponentially. No matter how large your enterprise gets, the data is still relevant. In fact, the larger the company, the more important the dashboard becomes and the ability to make quick and agile data-driven decisions becomes a viable option.
How Real-Time Business Dashboards Benefit Each Department
As you may now be seeing, business dashboards are more than just a pretty view of data. Effective business dashboards impact business performance and goals. Applying these dashboards to each department and sharing those dashboards keeps everyone on the same page and department KPIs become transparent.
Let’s dive into the benefits of business dashboards for marketing, sales, and executives.
Business Dashboard Benefits for Sales
Sales departments are heavily data-driven, based on the fact that their main objective is hitting a sales target. How is your sales department currently keeping track of closing calls, new customers, new contracts—every month, week, or day? Is performance easily accessible across the sales department and across the company?
At-a-Glance View of Performance
A sales dashboard provides an at-a-glance view of performance to the individual, department, and main decision-makers in the company. For a VP of Sales, a dashboard will show individual, team, and marketing performance. The marketing performance dashboard displays the KPIs that impact their sales department.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
A key to successful marketing and sales alignment is having clear and relevant data. How many marketing and sales-qualified leads did we get this week, month, or quarter? Are our organic leads increasing every month? What campaigns are ultimately generating the most sales? All of these questions and more can be answered with a sales and marketing dashboard, which makes sharing data so much simpler.
Individual Sales Rep Dashboards
Individual sales reps can each have their own dashboard for at-a-glance KPI views. For example, an individual sales rep’s dashboard could report on the number of sales calls, closing calls, proposals out, and contracts closed—all in one view. This sales dashboard would be available to the individuals and the VP of sales.
Bringing individual team data together in a team dashboard would serve to increase motivation when goals are in the green or bring low KPIs to the attention of the team so they can refocus their attention on what’s lagging behind. Having a clear and concise view for the sales department will ensure they know where they stand and where the team is based on goals set.
Business Dashboard Benefits for Marketing
A marketing dashboard is one of the tools that modern organizations can use to dive into the behind-the-scenes KPIs of their programs. With a dashboard, it’s easy to see marketing metrics that demonstrate exactly what a business needs to do to facilitate the best connections with their customers. A good dashboard should be customizable for each organization’s unique marketing goals.
When you incorporate a business dashboard into your organization, your marketing team has the capability to view a myriad of data all in one place.
KPIs All in One Place
An enormous benefit to business dashboards is that your KPIs are all easily viewable and found in one spot. As you’re well aware, KPIs are essential to your organization’s business objectives, since they keep objectives at the forefront of decision-making.
Easily keeping track of KPIs ensures that your business’s overarching goals are top of mind for your marketing team.
Your Data Is Always Accessible
It’s likely that your marketing team uses data on a daily basis to make vital decisions that affect your bottom line. Dashboards allow marketers to quickly access relevant data within seconds.
Your Sales and Marketing Results in One Place
Your sales and marketing teams should work together to achieve a common goal—improving company revenue. With business dashboards, your marketing team can compare and contrast important data as it relates to the sales department and vice versa.
It Saves You Money: Better Target Your Customers
In business, time is money. Business dashboards allow for more efficient (and effective) retrieval of data. Because of this, your marketing efforts run more smoothly and quickly. Your marketers’ time will be put to better use more easily targeting future customers.
It Saves You Time
And speaking of time—as previously mentioned—when you use business dashboards to assist your marketing efforts, your team saves time by avoiding the tedious process of manually collecting and combining data. Quick and ready access to essential data gives your team the ability to always to make important marketing decisions with reliable data.
Always Be Up to Date
Because a business dashboard operates in the cloud, you’ll never need to worry about missing out on the most current update. Oftentimes, your employees will not even notice when minor software optimizations take place.
Optimize on the Fly
Conduct quick, painless keyword research within the dashboard and seamlessly optimize your content to better rank in search engines.
By automating reports, you and your team get information automatically. You don’t have to wait around for someone to generate, read, and analyze a report before getting started with a new project.
Moreover, with automated reporting, you know your data is in real-time. Report automation is programmed for accuracy, so you can relax and rest assured that human error is a thing of the past.
Know How Campaigns Are Performing
Because of the ease at which you are able to view marketing and sales data on the fly, you can determine how your numerous campaigns are performing quite effortlessly. Business dashboards allow your team to determine where a particular campaign is in much fewer steps than ever before.
Notification When Conversion Rates Change Abruptly
For better or for worse, you want to be updated when your conversion rates change abruptly. With dashboards, these sudden changes are brought to your attention in real-time.
Alerts Mean No More Disasters in Data
To avoid disasters in data, you want a dashboard to provide an alert when a goal is below your warning threshold, meaning it’s off target. An alert or notification will indicate a potential issue that can be discussed in the next team or 1:1 meeting to make sure you get it back on track.
Business Dashboard Benefits for Executives
The core benefit of executive dashboards is that they provide a vehicle for ongoing improvement throughout your organization.
We’ve covered some of the important reasons that business dashboards and company metrics are of import to sales and marketing departments, now we’ll focus on the strategic KPIs that matter most to executives.
All KPIs in One Place
Dashboards speed up an executive’s process of focusing on the business. You can move through your meetings much faster with a visual scorecard with color-coded success criteria, so as to quickly determine which priorities need attention.
You can stay focused on the big rock—company issues, problems or bottlenecks—by getting through the front end of an issue and thus your team has more time to dedicate to solving these type of challenges.
A dashboard will allow you to stay balanced between important drivers like sales, productivity, and cash flow. You need to get both quantitative and qualitative data, and you’ll want to have access to unfiltered data from the customer.
PRO TIP: NPS is a great process for this and we have a step-by-step guide to implementing an automated NPS process.
Internal Communications Improve
Dashboards are a fantastic communication tool, since they’re simple to access and read and see how each department is performing (as well as the company as a whole). In addition to this, having the power to tell your company’s story through data visualization makes it easier to create powerful presentation material for meetings.
External Communications Increase
Another benefit for executives is that dashboards tend to speed connectivity and communication with both suppliers and customers. Funding and reporting to investors and board members is also made easier by the incorporation of dashboards into your organization’s workflow. This is due to an increase in your ability to create and share reports and presentations.
You Save Time
When your organization has a well-configured dashboard, this saves time because all the information you need is in one place. A business dashboard helps cut down on duplication of effort, overseen by you, the executive.
Every report generated by your organization should go into your dashboard. From there it can be easily programmed to automatically update, and it can be shared based on your own choosing and criteria.
Report creation, data entry and manipulation, and effective communication between departments is all streamlined and done more effectively than before.
Industry-Specific Dashboard Examples
Real-Time SaaS Dashboard Example
In any SaaS company, marketing is key to developing and expanding the business. Marketing must help attract and convert prospects into paying customers. There are 3 essential metrics that your SaaS dashboard should have.
1. Monthly Unique Visitors
Monthly unique visitors refers to the number of unique individuals visiting your website each month. It’s important to note that this metric does not offer many insights when viewed on its own. It is, however, an accurate reflection of the size of your audience. It’s also a solid measure of the impact of your overall marketing efforts.
For self-service SaaS companies, signups are probably the most important metric. Whether you offer a free trial or a freemium plan, marketing’s goal should be to drive signups.
Self-service signups are perhaps the best way to lower cost of customer acquisition.
3. Product Qualified Leads (PQLs)
PQLs are potential customers who have used a software and reached pre-defined triggers that signify a strong likelihood to become a paying customer.
These are one of the most important metrics a SaaS company can track.
Added to these, any SaaS team should also consider expanding their dashboard metrics to include the following:
- Qualified Lead Velocity Rate (LVR)
- Organic vs. Paid Traffic Rate
- Viral Coefficient
Real-Time Ecommerce Dashboard Example
When it comes to ecommerce dashboards, there are dozens of metrics you could focus on, but it’s best to focus on the big-picture metric of what’s driving the business.
Your ecommerce dashboard should have at minimum the “Big 4” present, visible, and accessible:
- Ecommerce Conversion Rate
- Average Order Value
Revenue is a simple mathematical function:
revenue = sessions * ecommerce conversion rate * average order value
Just by have access to this data and understanding this simple formula, you can instantly pinpoint the problem if your revenue is declining. Or, you can identify impactful changes when it’s increasing.
Real-Time Media Dashboard Example
Your media dashboard should have, at the bare minimum, the following metrics:
- Daily Active Users (DAU)
- Monthly Active Users (MAU)
- DAU/MAU ratio
- Time Spent Per User Per Day (their own calculations)
- Time Spent Per User Per Month (their own calculations)
- Videos Watched Per User
- Total Videos Viewed
- 28-Day Rolling Churn
- Total Clips Played Per Day/Week
- Total Time Spent on Whole Platform
Best Practices for Creating an Effective Business Dashboard
Different people in your organization need different data to be displayed based on their particular role in the company. If a dashboard is created “on the fly” and without the proper planning behind it, the dashboard is no longer useful. It becomes hard to read and full of meaningless non-related information.
In order to create a useful and actionable dashboard, we’ll discuss in this section the best practices for creating an effective business dashboard.
Understand Your Audience (The End User)
The best dashboards just work for their intended audience. That doesn’t happen by accident. Ask yourself, who am I designing this for? Is it a busy salesperson with 15 seconds to spare for key performance indicators, or is it a team reviewing quarterly dashboards over several hours?
In addition to knowing who you’re trying to reach, it’s important to know their level of expertise with the subject matter and data.
You may realize that you have several messages or questions. Remember that you can always create more dashboards. The best approach is to start simple.
Utilize Better Visualizations
Take a step back and consider your dashboard visuals from the perspective of someone who’s never seen it. Every element should serve a purpose. If a title, legend, or certain label isn’t necessary, toss it out!
Ensure you have no more than two color palettes in a single dashboard; ideally, just one palette if your data is quantitative, meaning it’s expressing a range. A color used correctly enhances analysis. Too many colors creates a visual overload for your audience, slowing analysis and sometimes preventing it.
Choose Metrics & Data That Matter
The metrics you included and how you label them may make sense to you, the creator, but will the people who will be using the dashboard understand what they are? Will these metrics even be relevant to their job?
Share for Collaboration
Make sure you’re in touch with your audience’s level of expertise. It’s a good idea to show a prototype to one (or more) of your users and catch this sort of mistake early in your design process.
Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Your Business Dashboard
Beginning With Too Much Complexity
You could spend up to several months perfecting your dashboards before officially launching them. Instead, we recommend working in short cycles. Do this by designing dashboard prototypes, testing, adjusting accordingly, and finally publishing.
Avoid trying to provide detailed dashboards that cover every aspect and business challenge taking place.
Awaiting Business Intelligence (BI) Deployment Projects
BI implementations can take significant time. Waiting for these to materialize can be too much of a delay for your teams awaiting business dashboard implementation. We recommend you use applications that will help you build and publish your dashboards right away to begin gaining immediate insights.
Needlessly Filling Your Business Dashboard with Widgets and Graphics
We get it, you (and most all of us) enjoy seeing neat widgets and attractive graphics that quickly gain people’s attention. Despite this, our recommendation is to fight the urge when creating your dashboards.
Keep it simple! Remember your overall objective of your business dashboard: for your audience to easily see and process information.
Incorporating Overly Complicated Metrics
Are the metrics you’re using understandable to other people or just you? Make sure to validate them with others. Just because they make sense to you does not mean they will be familiar to others.
Overlooking Dashboard Maintenance
Dashboard implementation is not a “one-and-done” process. Once you roll out your dashboard, continuous maintenance must be (and remain) a priority.
Check with your audience to ensure the metrics and data are relevant. Then, if necessary, update as needed. If this isn’t done often, the dashboard may experience low adoption.
What to Do When Your Dashboards Are in Place?
Once you have taken everything into account and created a business dashboard that fits your company’s needs, you might be asking yourself, “What now?”
Let’s look at a few essential things that you must do once your dashboards are in place.
Set Up Goals and Alerts
The first thing you want to do is ensure that goals are set up to align with the data you’re pulling. Alerts serve to keep you up to date about any significant data and software updates. Setting up and editing alerts is an option that many dashboard tools offer.
Use Insights to Make Every Meeting More Effective
Insights are the value obtained via the use of analytics—the ones pulled directly onto your business dashboard on a daily basis. The insights gained are powerful and can be directly used to identify areas for improvement. These will make your meetings more valuable and effective overall.
Sync Everybody in Real Time
During team huddles and weekly department reviews, having a quick-glance dashboard allows the entire team to sync on the status of KPIs and priorities.
Dashboard Software Options – Which Is Right for Your Team?
Your business dashboard is a very important tool for monitoring, controlling, and reacting to sales and marketing data and analytics within an organization. Now that we’ve covered many of the details, benefits, and best practices of dashboards, you’re now likely wondering with so many options, which one is right for my team?
While we here at Uhuru have opted to work with Databox, there are a number of direct competitors to consider as well. Ultimately, only you can decide which is the best fit for your particular organization. If you’re looking to use dashboards, these are some of the companies and tools available to you.
- Agency Analytics
- Google Data Studio
Whether you want to stay connected to data and analytics for sales, marketing, or a combination of the two, a business dashboard is a must-have tool for your organization.
A dashboard pulls all your data into one place, so you can track performance and discover insights in real time. If your enterprise has not set up a real-time business dashboard, we hope this article has helped you understand what an asset it could be. Like the famous and maybe overused quote goes; what gets measured, gets done.