December 26, 2012

Marketing Dashboards The Tableau Way

What is a Marketing Dashboard?

To paraphrase Stephen Few of Perceptual Edge, a marketing dashboard is “A visual display of the most important information needed to understand and manage one or more marketing metrics which fits on a single computer screen so it can be monitored at a glance.”  So why doesn’t every marketer want one?

Our vision at Covalent Marketing is to make every marketer smarter. Marketing dashboards keep marketers informed, thus making them smarter about their business. Tableau Software offers a gateway to fast and insightful analytics that, as Tableau CEO Christian Chabot said at the 2012 Tableau Customer Conference, “is a canvas for creative processing.”

“Creative processing” ehh? Sounds like marketing to me.

Marketers get a bad rep for not being technologically savvy, this is nothing new; but that is the great part about Tableau Software…anyone can use it. Think about it this way, why are Apple products so loved? Because they require little if any instructions. The same goes for Tableau, just load your data and begin analyzing as simply as dragging and dropping data into the view. This user interface provides marketers with one of the most intuitive analytics tools on the market for developing dashboards.

There are crucial elements to any effective dashboard that come as out of the box features in Tableau (SPOILER!! Screenshots are from Tableau 8):

  • Flexibility, able to quickly act on information and drive proactive decision making.

Tableau connects with a variety of databases by default, and gives the user the opportunity to enter the necessary credentials to connect to databases that it doesn’t already support. After that, you have the option of connecting to your data live, or importing all or a selected amount of your data to run on Tableau’s fast data engine and improve operational performance.

  • Simple User Interface.

Once your data is loaded onto Tableau, it is automatically sorted into Dimensions (Qualitative Data) and Measures (Quantitative Data) and instantly ready to be dragged into the view. There are a variety of out of the box calculations, charts and metrics that offer the user instant analysis capacity, and in case you want to create your own calculations/parameters, you have that option as well.

  • Automation

This is really a best practice for any business that intends to use dashboards. Data is a highly dynamic resource, and should consistently be streamed into dashboards to provide end users with the most up to date information. In Tableau 7, users can utilize the tabcmd feature to automatically have dashboards (in the form of PDFs) emailed to end users, providing them the most recent information. This capability is made easier in Tableau 8 by simply navigating in the GUI and entering the necessary delivery information.

  • Operational improvements

This is the usual end goal for anyone that is going to invest the time and money into developing a dynamic dashboard. Marketers want to take a quick look at their data and say “Oh, there is where a large percentage of our leads are generated.” or “Our speed of product delivery in the central market is slower than all the rest? How can we fix that?” If you aren’t building off of the information generated in your dashboard, then you are wasting valuable resources by even having them.

Tableau software excels at offering its users the capabilities of achieving all of the aforementioned points, as well as providing a user-friendly platform for sharing dashboards amongst business units; that being Tableau Server.

For decades marketers have avoided getting their hands dirty with technology because they were too complicated or they didn’t know their data well enough. Tableau offers an intuitive interface that produces visually engaging views for professionals of all backgrounds. We strive to make every marketer smarter, Tableau is a cost effective business solution that acts as a conduit for achieving that vision.