Dashboards vs. reports: what’s the difference? And which one is best for tracking the results of your marketing efforts?
We're living in a world in which marketers have access to more data than ever - from website analytics to social media data and beyond.
But there's more than one way to interpret this information.
Two of the most common and efficient methods are marketing dashboards and marketing reports.
And while both have some similarities, each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
By understanding these, you'll be able to determine which tool will help you leverage your data best to achieve your business goals.
A marketing dashboard is a tool that lets users view all their marketing data in one place.
They let you pull data from many marketing sources and visualize it with charts and graphs.
Dashboard tools are often cloud-based platforms. This makes it easy to share them with clients or team members via private URLs.
Depending on which tool you use, a dashboard will let you view real-time data (or close to it). This can be essential for some businesses while irrelevant to others.
Like dashboards, marketing reports also let users combine data from various sources and display their information through charts, graphs, lists, and more.
But the main difference between these tools is the way in which data is shared.
Instead of requiring a user to log in to a dashboard each time they wish to view their data, reports are sent directly to the recipient by email (often as a PDF attachment).
Reports can be scheduled to be sent daily, weekly, monthly, or at any other time that makes sense for a business.
So what are the benefits of using a marketing dashboard or a marketing report?
Let’s take a look at 4 of the top reasons how they can help improve your workflow and add value to your business.
If you’re not currently automating your reporting process, then you’ll know how much time it takes to manually build marketing reports.
Dashboards and reports not only save time by pulling data automatically, they also eliminate the risk of incorrect data due to human error (such as copy-and-paste mistakes or broken spreadsheet formulas).
Most marketing strategies incorporate a variety of channels in their campaigns, such as:
- Pay-per-click advertising (e.g. Google Adwords, Facebook)
- Organic SEO content (e.g. optimized landing pages and blog posts)
- Organic content on various social media platforms
- Email marketing campaigns
- And more…
Having to log in to each platform to view the results of a campaign is time-consuming.
It isn’t always easy to compare data or see how one channel or type of content is contributing to the success of a bigger campaign.
Dashboards and reports allow you to easily track key performance indicators (KPIs) in one place - saving you time and offering a more holistic view of your marketing efforts.
Using dashboards or reports make it easier to identify what’s working with your marketing strategy and what isn’t.
When monitoring data manually, it can be easy to forget to check the progress of a campaign on a channel. This could result in missing an opportunity to capitalize on a trend or pull the plug on a PPC campaign that is eating up too much of your budget.
An automated process lets you see your data when you need it, letting you take action quickly and make the best decisions for your business.
Dashboards and reports can be tailored for the person that will be viewing them.
For example, when running Facebook ads, the marketing department might need to track metrics like cost-per-click, ad frequency, and click-through rate in order to optimize the campaign. However, the company director might just need to know the total amount spent on the campaign and the amount of revenue it has generated.
Customizing your dashboards and reports for the recipient ensures that they only get the data that they need.
This makes it easier for them to make data-driven decisions and reduces the likeliness of them developing data blindness from being overwhelmed by irrelevant metrics.
But how do you know whether you’d be better off using a marketing dashboard to track your metrics vs a marketing report?
Now let’s take a look at some examples of when you might want to use one over the other.
While both dashboards and reports serve a similar purpose, the main difference lies in the way that data is shared.
With dashboards, users can view data at any time, while reports are generated at preset intervals.
If your business has the resources to reliably act on your data all the time, then dashboards are an ideal solution.
However, the majority of businesses don't have enough time or staff to act on real-time data (and most don’t even need it).
For many businesses, dashboards can actually be a sub-optimal way of keeping on top of their data… It’s easy to become obsessed with your data and this can end up causing more harm than good.
Focusing on short-term results instead of the bigger picture can lead to making changes to campaigns too hastily before enough data has been gathered to make meaningful decisions.
Dashboards also require users to remember to log in and check their data, making it an easy task to forget. This raises the risk of missing important opportunities or failing to address threats on time.
On the other hand, reports are automatically generated at preset intervals and sent directly to your inbox, so that you always have your data when you need it.
But email-based marketing reports are not without their drawbacks either…
Reports are often always sent as PDF attachments, requiring the recipient to download a file to view their data.
This creates a barrier between the user and their marketing data and can potentially cause issues down the line if reports are stored on various devices, e.g. smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers.
So what’s the solution?
For truly frictionless reporting, there's no better tool than Metrics Watch:
Metrics Watch is the only email-based reporting tool that displays your data in the body of the email itself.
- No URLs to log in to 3rd-party dashboards
- No PDF attachments
Just the data you need, when you need it.
Build professional marketing reports fast! Start from scratch or choose a template, then customize your report with the drag and drop editor and bring your data to life with charts and graphs.
Then schedule your reports to be sent daily, weekly, or monthly with insights added automatically to monitor changes in your data at a glance.
Metrics Watch connects with your favorite marketing channels to create comprehensive marketing reports pulling data from:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Ads
- And more…
By using a tool that everyone already uses on a daily basis - email - Metrics Watch makes it easy to incorporate reporting into your busy schedule without the need for PDF attachments and dashboard links.
Want to try it for yourself?
Start your 14-day free trial of Metrics Watch today (no credit card required).
Or get a free sample report straight to your inbox - just enter your email in the box below!
And that’s it for today! We hope this post has given you the information you need to make the best decision for your business when it comes to choosing between marketing dashboards vs reports.
But if you’re looking for more info, then be sure to check out these other articles:
- The Problem (and Solution) to Business Metrics Dashboards
- SEO Dashboards: What They Are (& What to Track)
- How to Make an Instagram Ad Dashboard (+ Bonus Alternative)
These additional resources have even more useful tips for choosing the right marketing tool for your business to help you meet your goals.