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  • Writer's pictureCrystal Ball

A Guide to Analytics Dashboards

In today's data-driven world, information flows like a raging river. But without the right tools, this deluge can be overwhelming. This can leave you clueless about valuable insights hidden within. If you are new to getting the best out of an analytics dashboard, here is a simple guide that will positively change your perception of the valuable tools.



What is an Analytics Dashboard?

Imagine a personalized cockpit displaying your business's health in real-time. That's essentially what an analytics dashboard is. It's a visual interface that consolidates key metrics and performance indicators from various sources. In other words, it provides a birds-eye view of your operations. Charts, graphs, and other visual elements make complex data easily digestible, empowering you to make informed decisions quickly.



Types of Analytics Dashboards

Several groups of analytics dashboards exist, depending on the overall goals and objectives. Below are major categories that you should know:


Based on Focus

Here are dashboards designed to provide insights into a specific area. It could be a set of parameters, departments, approaches, or operations. Below are subcategories of focus-based analytics dashboard to know:


  • Strategic Dashboards: As mentioned, these cater to executives and paint a high-level picture of the business's overall health. Think of them as panoramic views, highlighting key performance indicators (KPIs) like revenue growth, market share, and customer acquisition cost (CAC). They focus on long-term trends and answer questions like "Are we achieving our overall goals?" and "Where are we headed?”

  • Tactical Dashboards: These zoom in on specific departments or teams, providing actionable insights for day-to-day operations. Imagine them as detailed weather maps for particular regions, focusing on metrics relevant to marketing campaign performance (click-through rates, conversion rates) or sales team activity (leads generated, deals closed). These dashboards answer questions like "Which marketing channel drives the most sales?" and "Are our sales reps meeting their targets?"

  • Operational Dashboards: These offer real-time monitoring of critical processes, like website uptime, server load, or order fulfillment. Think of them as live traffic cameras monitoring specific road segments, highlighting potential bottlenecks or issues requiring immediate attention. They answer questions like "Is our website functioning optimally?" and "Are orders being processed smoothly?"

Based on Data Source

These are products classified based on their sources of information. They could be from a single source or multiple sources, as explained below:


  • Single-Source Dashboards: These consolidate data from a single platform or tool, like a marketing automation system such as GA4 or a social media analytics platform. They offer a focused view of performance within that specific ecosystem.

  • Multi-Source Dashboards: Companies build multi-source dashboards from multiple sources. This is because it provides a comprehensive overview across different platforms and departments. Imagine them as combining weather data from various stations to create a unified national forecast. 

Based on Functionality

Business companies are known to build analytic databases for specific functions. Many top brands have dedicated dashboards that can help track and monitor certain operations in the company. Below are popular types of dashboards built on functions:


  • Monitoring Dashboards: These pages primarily present real-time data and track key metrics to identify issues or opportunities as they arise. Think of them as stock market tickers displaying live changes.

  • Analytical Dashboards: For these groups, they delve deeper into historical data, using charts, graphs, and statistical analysis to uncover trends. Some come in handy for recognizing patterns and correlations. 

  • Predictive Dashboards: These leverage machine learning and AI to forecast future performance and identify potential outcomes based on historical data and current trends. 


Top 5 Application Programming Interfaces for Dashboard

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are a way of connecting and communicating with different data sources and services. This allows for data collection, transformation, and integration. There are many APIs available for dashboard analytics, but some of the most popular and useful ones are:


Google Analytics API

This API allows you to access and manipulate data from Google Analytics, one of the most widely used web analytics services. You can use this API to create custom reports, dashboards, and visualizations, as well as to automate tasks and workflows. You can also integrate Google Analytics data with other Google services, such as Google Ads, Google Sheets, and Google Data Studio.



Tableau API

With this API, you can interact with Tableau, one of the leading business intelligence (BI) and data visualization platforms. You can use this API to create, update, and delete workbooks, data sources, projects, and users on Tableau Server or Tableau Online. Users can also embed Tableau visualizations into their own applications or websites. You may also extend Tableau's functionality with custom extensions and integrations.


Looker API

Here is another impressive API. It enables users to access and control Looker, a modern data platform that enables data exploration, analysis, and visualization. You can use this API to query data, create and manage dashboards, run and schedule reports, and perform administrative tasks. You can also use this API to integrate Looker with other applications and services, such as Slack, Salesforce, and Zapier.



Klipfolio API

This allows you to manage and customize Klipfolio, a cloud-based dashboard and reporting tool that connects to hundreds of data sources and services. You can use this API to create and update klips, dashboards, data sources, and users, as well as to automate data refresh and notification processes. You can also use this API to access Klipfolio's library of pre-built templates and connectors, or to build your own custom integrations.


Domo API

 This API allows you to access and manipulate data and content on Domo. It is a cloud-based platform that combines data integration, visualization, collaboration, and governance. You can use this API to import and export data, create and update datasets, cards, pages, and users, as well as to execute queries and actions. This API enables you to leverage Domo's artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities, such as anomaly detection, forecasting, and natural language processing.


How to Build Your Own Dashboard



Creating a dashboard in Excel can be a simple and effective way to present and share your data with others. Here are the steps to create a dashboard in Excel from scratch:


Step 1: Define the purpose and audience of your dashboard. This will help you choose the most relevant and meaningful metrics and visuals for your dashboard.


Step 2: Import and prepare your data. Depending on the source and format of your data, you may need to import it into Excel from external files, databases, or web services.


Step 3: Plan your dashboard layout. Once you have your data ready, you can start planning how to arrange it on your dashboard. You can sketch your dashboard layout on paper or use a template to guide you.

 

Step 4: Build your dashboard. After you have planned your dashboard layout, you can start creating your visuals and adding them to your dashboard. You can use the Insert tab in Excel to insert various charts, shapes, icons, text boxes, or other elements. 


Step 5: Customize the appearance of your dashboard. After you have built your dashboard, you can fine-tune its appearance to make it more attractive and user-friendly. You can use the Page Layout and View tabs in Excel to adjust the page setup, margins, orientation, gridlines, headers, and footers of your dashboard.

 

Step 6: Embed your dashboard. The final step is to embed your dashboard into your website, presentation, or report. This will allow you to share your dashboard with your audience and update it automatically. 


Takeaways

Remember, an effective dashboard is a dynamic companion, evolving alongside your business goals. Continuously refine and update it to ensure it remains a valuable source of insights for data-driven success.


So, dive into the world of analytics dashboards and unlock the power of data visualization. Remember, informed decisions lead to better marketing, and a well-crafted dashboard is your key to confidently navigating the ever-changing marketing landscape.


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