As marketing leaders we must use data to design and execute connected customer experiences and campaigns across all touchpoints, and maximize the return on our marketing investments. What we want most is access to on-demand performance data in a single dashboard or scorecard so we can see what’s working across it all and make better, data-driven decisions. It doesn’t seem all that difficult. But it is.
Why? To start, we’re drowning in data from exponentially increasing numbers of digital marketing tools and sources. We spend most of our time on ad hoc export requests and manual data preparation in Excel. What we want is to automate tedious data integration tasks, eliminate simple data requests and middlemen, and shift our time and attention to analysis that derives insight and supports agile decision-making.
Gartner released a report last week to help marketers navigate an emerging class of marketing dashboard solutions that is addressing this challenge by integrating, cleansing and visualizing data in a marketer-friendly environment. In the landscape of marketing analytics toolsets, Gartner places this class of solutions somewhere between traditional BI reporting tools and the advanced analytics workbench. Where BI tools fall short of marketers’ needs, marketing dashboards are designed to support the variety and complexity of marketing data, as well as marketers’ need for flexibility and control which are not conducive to traditional IT-led data delivery. Put another way, BI tools are built for communicating structured business data from an enterprise data warehouse (managed by experienced data architects and IT business analysts), but marketers want simplicity—quick and painless deployment, codeless integrations, and intuitive, collaborative, business-user-friendly interfaces.
Although the actual “dashboards” are a key component, these solutions go beyond data visualization to include data management capabilities. Gartner notes that even though visualization is often the most prominent feature of dashboard tools, the under-the-hood data integration capabilities are equally critical and can alleviate the headaches and data quality issues that commonly exist with marketing reporting.
Gartner summarizes the key functionality of marketing dashboards to include:
- Automated data extraction via data connectors preconfigured for different sources (XML, flat files or a data mart) into an operational data store
- Basic data transformation (joining, deduplicating, encoding, creating calculated metrics) requiring limited, if any, coding skills
- “Plug and play” visualization options, typically through widgets that populate a template or fully custom dashboard
- Built-in permissions, workflow and collaboration, allowing users to comment, assign tasks, and annotate data or charts
It’s a good read for marketers looking for a way to unlock the power of their marketing data to grow their business. If you’re a Gartner client, you can read the full report here. If you’re not a Gartner client, shoot us a note and we’ll share an excerpt with you!