Marketers don’t deserve dashboards

Businesses all like to claim that they’re doing data-driven decision making, but even if you’re lucky enough to have full-time data gurus as part of your team, there’s still a major problem you’re likely to encounter.

Odds are you’ve got access to some sort of data dashboard. It’s either native, or built from a product like Tableau, Google Data Studio, Looker or one of many other ‘BYO-data’ tools that exist to make sense of the exponentially expanding universe of data.

Your dashboard is probably nicely designed, full of numbers and graphs, and displays various metrics about your business performance. And yet, you’ve probably never given it any real attention. Ever.

Turns out, you’re not alone.

Less than a third of marketers find their data insightful according to an Econsultancy survey published last year. For all the efforts being poured into developing dashboards, both standalone and as part of a service offering, few people are actually looking at them. That’s a rather sobering thought for all the businesses investing massive time and resources into becoming “data driven”.

The reason for the lack of take-up by marketers is that dashboards are usually built by data professionals, and although they’re meant for a broader audience, it tends to only be other data analysts that can understand them.

Dashboards in many respects are still like the Yahoo! portal of the 90s — it’s someone else’s idea of how to lay out (fairly repetitive) information on one page. It’s actually worse when it’s a page full of numbers and charts with no supporting context or commentary.

Google’s digital marketing evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, points out that the amount of action a person can take from information provided on a dashboard is inversely related to how well they’re likely to understand the data; So even if some people are reading the dashboards, it’s unlikely the right people.

Ask around, how many sales or marketing professionals (or creatives!) can look at your dashboards and instantly know what all the numbers mean? Do they understand what actions to take? Not everyone has the fondness for numbers that a seasoned data analyst does, and without similar training and experience, we’re all easy victims of the 7 sins of statistics.

It’s clear that a gap exists between the people who interpret data, and the people who can take action based on the data.

Marketers deserve better!

What if instead we could use tools that make analytics as easy and consumable as say, using Google search, or scrolling through Facebook? What if you could even enjoy going through your analytics?

At incites.com we killed the traditional dashboard. We listened to our clients who made it very clear “Just tell me what I need to know” So instead of a dashboard, we deliver insights to our clients in a live feed. Our AI platform finds interesting patterns in data and posts the findings in plain English sentences. We then make it easy for teams to share and discuss the insights.

The real magic happens when insights spark a conversation

Relying on data alone is never enough to drive action; insights are only a starting point. The real value is unlocked from the internal team discussions that are sparked or incited by data. Gaining the perspective of your teammates, whether they are colleagues or agency partners, can provide a level of context and richness of understanding that data alone can never find.

So the next time you come face to face with a dashboard, know that the feeling of helplessness to draw anything useful is commonly held amongst marketers. Instead, expect more from your data resources — demand insights! Most importantly of all, use the data-driven insights to incite a conversation and, hopefully, the start of something big.

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