SMX replay: Create dashboards that inform and persuade

SMX replay: Create dashboards that inform and persuade


Data insights are only as effective as your ability to communicate them in a way that results in buy-in from colleagues, management and clients. That’s why Sam Marsden, SEO and content manager at DeepCrawl, has turned to data visualization using Google’s Data Studio to help stakeholders make more informed decisions.

During Marsden’s Insights session at SMX Advanced, he explained that creating impactful dashboards can revolutionize your reporting and provided some examples of how it has helped his team reduce friction, strategize and save time.

You can listen to his full session above, then continue reading for his tips on getting the most out of your dashboards. The full transcript is also available below.

When building out your dashboards, Marsden recommends that you:

  • List the areas where you waste time on reporting, whether it’s report creation, insight extraction or sharing your findings.
  • Research and build automated dashboarding solutions that get you to the data you need to see as quickly as possible.
  • Repurpose your dashboards to fit the needs of different stakeholders by creating different views for each of them (e.g., one dashboard might have separate pages for senior management and SEO practitioners).
  • Use visualizations to tell compelling data narratives and make business cases. Live demos can work really well, just make sure your dashboard is fast enough to cope and that it functions as you expect it to beforehand.
  • Invest in skills and tools that will help you build more effective dashboards, like data visualization theory, regex, and BigQuery.
  • Get involved with the Data Studio community by sharing dashboard templates, guides and experiences. There is so much to learn from smart folks from different corners of the marketing spectrum.

For more from SMX Advanced, listen to Patrick Stox’s Insights session on SEO that Google tries to fix for you, Amanda Milligan’s guide on using data storytelling to earn top-tier media coverage or Ashley Mo’s tips on improving your YouTube ad performance.

What did he say? Here’s the full transcript

Introduction by George Nguyen:

Just what good are your brilliant audits and analysis if you can’t communicate the insights in a way that persuades clients, management and stakeholders?

Welcome to the Search Engine Land podcast, I’m your host George Nguyen

and the question that I just asked comes from Sam Marsden, an SEO and content manager at DeepCrawl.

Breaking down silos is a common struggle for brands and agencies. To help resolve the issue, Sam visualized his data using Google’s Data Studio. The benefits for him — and hopefully for you, as well — included streamlined workflows with colleagues and clients, better organization,

fewer unnecessary conversations and disruptions as well as more interest from management.

You’re about to hear Sam’s Insights session from SMX Advanced, in which he explains how to create dashboards that inform and persuade. After you’re done listening, I encourage you to check out Patrick Stox’s session on SEO that Google tries to fix for you — that’s another great time saver — or one of our other SMX replays. Links to those can be found in the article accompanying this podcast. For now, here’s Sam…

Sam Marsden:

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Sam. I work as an SEO and content manager at a web-crawling platform called DeepCrawl. If you can’t tell by my accent, I’ve come all the way all over from London. And yeah, I’m really excited to be here in Seattle at such a great conference and speaking about automating reporting and dashboards.

So, I pitched this talk, it was probably a couple of months ago now and I had these lofty ambitions of revolutionizing your reporting, sharing some impactful dashboards and hopefully making you more efficient in your job. So, Chris from SMX got back to me and said, “That sounds like a great idea. We’ve got a slot available for you.” And, my initial reaction was like, “Oh my God, this is amazing. I’m speaking at SMX.” I then went on to read that there was an eight to twelve minutes slot available and that sent me into a mild panic because I’m not great at being concise. I’d been writing a lot about Data Studio over the past, kind of 12, 18 months. So, I’ve got a lot to share on the topic. However, I’m also really obsessed with efficiency and also productivity. So, this is like a really good challenge to fit this into a 10-minute talk.

So, Data Studio is really fueling my addiction with productivity and efficiency. In my work life it’s helped me automate reporting, combine different data sources to reveal insights that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to find. In my personal life I’ve managed to put together some dashboards using Strava data. So I’ve got these elaborate running dashboards and mapping out productivity with rescue time as well. So, I’m really obsessed with it. But, I’m also really interested in trying to spread the love with Data Studio and trying to get other people on board with Data Studio in my company as well.

So, these sessions are all about, kind of key insights and one key takeaway. So, I’m going to give you mine straight up: You need to embrace the power of timesaving automated reports. Not only for yourself, but you need to become a dashboarding evangelist within your company. And I’m going to be sharing a few different ways that I’ve been going about that within DeepCrawl. And, hopefully it’ll give you some inspiration for how you can do this with your colleagues, clients, etc.

So, Data Studio has been helping me work with management. It wasn’t too long ago that I was getting frequent requests for site traffic data from my marketing director, Jen, who’s here. It involved a lot of last-minute screenshots for management meetings. It was quite disruptive, repetitive and an inefficient way of working. Yeah, so, sorry Jen, but it was like, it was quite annoying.

hopefully we’ll get better together. If you’ve got any questions, then you can meet me in the back room. But if not, send me your questions on Twitter. I’m @sam_marsden on Twitter. So, yeah, you can find me there, if the back room’s a bit uncomfortable for you. And, so thank you very much.

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