Step-by-Step Guide on How to Create a Powerful Customer Dashboard and Increase Your Reach and Engagement

Stephen Ernst
May 20, 2020 · 6 min read

Know Thy Customer

One of the strategic goals for FEE in 2020 is to truly know our customers. Thanks to the free market, we now live in a society where access to big data (accurate data from disparate sources that can be drawn upon quickly) is now cheaply available for even small nonprofits like ours to wrangle, mine, and act on.

First, What Tools and Resources Do You Need?

Google Sheets — a free service.

Tableau — or any data visualization software.

A marketing analyst — someone with the skills to regularly update the sheet and build and refresh the dashboard.

How Much Time Should You Allocate per Week?

Expect to allocate about 1 hour per week on gathering data and updating the dashboard. The effort is more than worth the result.

Step 1: Decide on Business Goals

The first step you need to take is to decide what to measure. Align it with your strategic goals. We chose three main KPIs to focus on: reach, engagement, and subscribers. Here’s how you can break it down by channel.

Reach:

  • Website: Sessions
  • Social Media: Impressions
  • YouTube: Video views

Engagement:

  • Website: Average session duration
  • Social Media & YouTube: Likes, comments, and shares

Subscribers:

  • Website: The number of people on email lists
  • Social Media: People who “like” your page
  • YouTube: Channel subscribers

Step 2: Decide on a Timeline

How often do you want to collect and analyze content and marketing data? We chose to analyze the data on a weekly basis — a Friday to Thursday timeline. We chose this specific timeline for practical reasons. Mondays are hectic enough. Having all data available on Friday morning allows the team enough time to carefully ask the data questions, brainstorm across departments, and prepare for Monday so that we can hit the ground running with an updated plan.

Step 3: Gather Your Data

Create a spreadsheet in Google Sheets with columns like the one above. Some columns like Non-Student % and Organic % (traffic to social that isn’t paid) are optional.

Log onto your social platforms, download your weekly social metrics, and enter that data into the spreadsheet. Yes, there are faster ways to do this, but we recommend starting here as it’s easier than querying an API.

Step 4: Design a Dashboard in Tableau

Let me walk you through the layout of the dashboard we use at FEE.

Section 1: Overall metrics.

Like us, you may want to see the big picture front and center. That includes overall reach and subscribers as well as the change in these KPIs over time.

Section 2: Target customer breakdown.

Add in these eight sections:

  • Total weekly reach. This component gives you a quick snapshot of how you’re doing with your target audience each week over the last four weeks.
  • Total reach over time. A good long-term snapshot to understand if our tactics and strategies are working, broadly.
  • Total reach by channel. This is a great indicator of channel health and will get your content and marketing teams’ juices flowing as they see trends.
  • Total reach by channel (rolling 12). A great overall snapshot of which channels are bringing in most of your target audience in the long run.
  • Net subscriber additions, weekly. A quick component to validate whether or not you’re performing better with your target audience compared to the week prior.
  • Net subscriber additions by channel. Answers the question: which channels brought in most of your subscribers this past week?
  • Total target subscribers over time. Self-explanatory.
  • Current total subscribers by channel. A quick glimpse of where your target subscriber base lies.

Section 3: Product/channel breakdown.

While sections one and two are more geared towards strategic decision making, section three is meant to drive operations — making it the most powerful and heavily utilized section of the dashboard.

The section is further broken down into 1-week and 7-week change for reach, engagement, and subscribers.

This allows you to react, but also keep the bigger picture in focus. For example, by selecting the product Revolution of One, we can see that Revolution of One subscriber growth on Instagram compared to last week was only 13.6%, while 7-week growth is over 280%! In other words, the overall trend is great, even if last week we didn’t do as well. Keeping both long-term and weekly trends in focus is necessary for making smart marketing decisions.

Section 4: Number of Posts.

One of the best aspects to include in your dashboard is the number of posts your team is doing on each platform. We chose to focus on Instagram by product, but you could include post frequency for each channel (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.).

By including this productivity measurement on your dashboard, you may quickly notice a correlation between posting frequency and reach, subscribers, or engagement. This can be very motivating for your team to actually see how their hard work is paying off.

Alternatively, you might find that increasing posting frequency too rapidly is actually reducing reach due to a platform thinking your brand is spamming. Keeping on eye on this component along with the metrics above can improve your week-by-week decisions.

There are more sections that you could include, but these are the most important to your everyday business decisions.

Step 5: Bringing it All Together

The last step is to get your team together to analyze and report on the data. What is the data saying? The old way of marketing was to act based on well-honed intuitions. But with a tool like this dashboard, you can make smart decisions in real time, based on the facts. Layering your intuition on top of the facts that give context will set your team up for success.

I hope you found this guide helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at sernst@fee.org if you have any questions.

FEE Messaging Insights

Marketing to Millennials and Gen Z

Stephen Ernst

Written by

Stephen is the senior marketing analytics manager for FEE, where he focuses on marketing analytics, data science, email segmentation and marketing strategy.

FEE Messaging Insights

Marketing to Millennials and Gen Z

Stephen Ernst

Written by

Stephen is the senior marketing analytics manager for FEE, where he focuses on marketing analytics, data science, email segmentation and marketing strategy.

FEE Messaging Insights

Marketing to Millennials and Gen Z

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