When it comes to truly understanding your business, the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, and consumer behavioral trends affecting your company, business intelligence attained through data analysis is the Holy Grail. But for many marketers, trying to organize and manage data from so many sources (corporate website, social media marketing campaigns, email marketing – the list goes on) can become a daunting task, especially when it comes down to data analysis.

An analytics dashboard provides an excellent way for your company to organize and manage data, making it easier to determine the key metrics used to measure the success of your digital marketing campaigns and properties. Effective data management + careful data analysis = business intelligence and actionable insights that lead to data-driven decisions. Without an analytics dashboard customized to provide only the key metrics that impact decision-making, it can be difficult to decipher the vast amounts of data and uncover valuable business insights hidden within. In fact, 75% of marketers are dissatisfied with their data management system and its ability to measure metric performance. What may really be the problem here is the inability to effectively utilize and relate to the data provided.

Analytics dashboards vary by industry, business functions and sophistication. With such a plethora of data and variables, it is easy to see why organizing and interpreting data can seem difficult at first. These tips below will help increase the usability of any analytics dashboard, regardless of your industry or other variables, making it easier for you to uncover business intelligence and make evidence-based decisions through data analysis.

1.) Provide context when reporting performance metrics

For true data analysis, always report performance metrics in relation to other factors. Without a base to gauge context, this valuable information may go unnoticed and some key business insight left uncovered. Using benchmarks, previous goals or prior performances are examples of providing good context.

2.) Improve business intelligence and increase actionable insights through segmentation

Segmenting data within your analytics dashboard is essential, allowing you to hone in on one variable in relation to the rest of your key performance metrics. It’s a good way to see which variables may be performing well vs. those that aren’t.

3.) Avoid distractions and save time by determining and isolating key metrics

The first step here is to determine which key metrics truly drive your business and determine decision-making. With all of the data available, it’s easy for marketers to get distracted and focus on the wrong or irrelevant factors that don’t lead to improved business intelligence and actionable insights. So, what metrics truly impact your bottom line? If you don’t know the answer, your analytics dashboard will be utterly useless in empowering decision-making through data analysis.

Generally, a good place to start a well-organized analytics dashboard is with fewer than 10 key business-driving metrics. If you have more than 10, ask yourself, ‘If something were to go wrong tomorrow, what do we care about most?’ Once that has been decided, continue to keep those variables as your focal point within your data management system. In addition, your 10 business intelligence metrics should be well planned out, with set goals and appropriate segmentation.

4.) Metrics are not enough – always provide valuable business insight as well

If you manage data and regularly perform the data analysis, then of course you understand the implications of the metrics. Unfortunately, key decision-makers don’t necessarily come to the same conclusions, especially when left to pull their own insights from an analytics dashboard filled with numbers and graphs. That’s why it’s important to provide an insights section, writing out in words any performance summaries and recommended actions for how best to move forward. This is not only a good way to summarize the data, but also explain what it means in relation to the bigger picture. And keep in mind who you’re talking to – avoid geek-speak and use language higher-ups can relate to.

5.) Keep your analytics dashboard to one page

Like tip number three, keeping your analytics dashboard to a single page ensures you’re looking at and reporting on only the most important information and nothing more. This stops you from stuffing in too much irrelevant information while also making sure the dashboard remains a data analysis tool that is easy to understand. Though a difficult task, given the time and effort, it will help you communicate key performance metrics and business intelligence insight more efficiently.

6.) Update your analytics dashboard often

As your company evolves, so should your analytics dashboard. I will warn you, though – this can be a cumbersome task, but one that is well worth the time and effort. Businesses love stability, which can makes change difficult. In reality, only a small percentage of your metrics will remain stable for a long amount of time (about 25% in a year or more). As soon as metrics are no longer relevant, they should be eliminated. Keep in mind that as the web changes, a couple of your key metrics are also likely to change.

Organizing and managing an analytics dashboard can be overwhelming. It is easy to get bogged down in additional data. But to be able to make the best data-driven decisions, your analytics dashboard must be up-to-date, organized with your bottom line in mind, and utilized efficiently.

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