Are you using custom dashboards to track, analyze, and optimize your digital marketing campaigns? If not, you’re probably spending too much—and still not getting the results you would like.
Digital marketing platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google Display Network all generate mountains of data. The information, however, is typically supplied in the form of a spreadsheet or raw comma-delimited file. These outputs deliver only a superficial analysis of campaign performance, and—worse—each platform uses a unique format. In the past, a tedious and time-consuming manual compilation of different data sets was required before analysis across multiple platforms was possible.
New tools make it possible to aggregate data from multiple platform APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and present them in easy-to-digest visualizations. The resulting custom campaign dashboards enable digital strategists and clients alike to analyze campaign performance at a glance. Charts and graphs show performance against campaign KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and are particularly useful for clients judging the success of their digital marketing, while more granular tables are useful for those managing the media buy. Updates involve only a few clicks, so that the view is refreshed on a daily or even more frequent basis.
Slick? Yes—but more than that, the custom dashboard improves results in three very important ways:
- Quality traffic over quantity traffic. It’s tempting for clients and buyers alike to go for the platform that seems to offer the most impressions or the lowest cost per click. But it is much more important to capture traffic of the highest quality: what platforms are delivering the most conversions, or satisfying other unique KPIs? In many cases, the hits delivered by the channels that show the biggest numbers are the ones that bounce quickly away. Other platforms may seem more costly but pay off with engagement that returns much more favorable results.
Analysis of this nature can be accomplished by manual reconciliation of data downloaded from multiple platforms, but the process is cumbersome. On a dashboard, with all data presented in consistent, visual, and fresh form, the patterns emerge much more quickly and clearly.
- Near-real-time optimization. One of the great boons of digital marketing is the ability of the digital strategist to adjust a campaign on the fly. A seasoned practitioner will continually optimize the digital media spend, moving funds between media and concentrating on the platforms and audience segments that deliver the highest quality returns. But these decisions are difficult to make on the basis of disparate or stale information, such as the spreadsheets delivered by each individual platform.
Armed with a custom dashboard, the strategist can reallocate funds and alter the media mix daily, or even more frequently. The results are available in near-real time, facilitating good decisions and extraordinary flexibility. For the client, this means efficiency: the campaign budget is spent where it is being shown to have the greatest impact, with minimal waste.
- Logging the customer journey. Marketers increasingly are working to understand the unique and often convoluted paths that consumers will take on their way to a purchase decision. The great majority of conversions are the result of multiple touch-points, with a prospect encountering brand and marketing experiences that span traditional, online, and social media.
By aggregating data from multiple platforms, the custom dashboard reveals the nuances that represent the journey from awareness to the ultimate conversion. Instead of the basic statistics drawn from spreadsheets and files, clients and their agency partners can learn a lot about the performance of the entire marketing ecosystem, once again meaning that budget is spent to the greatest possible effect.
The good news is that the technology required to aggregate data from platform reporting APIs and convert it to useful visualizations in the form of a custom dashboard is neither expensive nor difficult to acquire. In some ways, dashboards are particularly useful for clients with modest media budgets, because they help ensure that limited funds are spent with great efficiency.
What is harder to acquire is the expertise to create custom dashboards that are right for each campaign, and then provide the in-depth analysis of the rich picture that the dashboard provides. Digital marketing continues to evolve rapidly, algorithms change, and platforms rise and fall, so the marketing strategist has to be in a perpetual learning mode.
Yes& has made extensive use of custom dashboards over the past three years and found them to be both a valuable tool for campaign tracking, visualization, and optimization and a powerful way to engage clients.