What’s in your Dashboard? Peter O’Neill


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Headshot_1_2We’ve been asking top experts in the digital analytics world “What’s in your dashboard?” – we are keeping our questions simple: What are your top three most influential KPIs, how do you calculate them, and why are they important to you.

So far we’ve had the great pleasure of hearing from Stéphane Hamel about his top 3 KPIs in relation to digital marketing and e-commerce management, April Wilson’s top KPIs for content-based website optimization, and Judah Phillips most influential KPIs in regards to improving business performance.

Today we are talking to Peter O’neill, an experienced expert in web analytics (see full bio at the end), about his top 3 KPIs. Peter recognizes how KPIs may vary from business to business, and shares with Sweetspot the top three elements that he believes should be included in every dashboard: comparison metrics, trend charts, and segment selectors.

Peter’s answers:

The request was for my top 3 KPIs to include in every dashboard.  But every business is different, the critical KPIs depend on what the dashboard user needs to know.  I could say a traffic KPI, an engagement KPI and a conversion KPI but that doesn’t really address the issue.

Instead, I realized there are 3 elements I believe to be critical to any dashboard, in order for the dashboard to be useful.  This is based on dashboards existing to give users the information they need to understand if it was a good or bad performance (for the period and whatever business area the dashboard relates to).  It doesn’t answer questions but tells you where to start looking.

Comparison Metrics

All KPIs/metrics need to be compared to another number & the dashboard should display the difference.  In order to understand performance, numbers need to be put into context.  As to which comparison to use:

  • I typically use the previous period as this generally allows us to see if a metric got better, worse or stayed steady – it is also generally the easiest to access
  • Businesses usually want the same period last year, it is the comparison they have always used.  If there is a seasonal aspect to the business, this comparison can eliminate it.  I dislike this comparison as too much can change in a year online, e.g. new website launch, different marketing campaigns, different products
  • Ideal is a forecast based on historical seasonality, recent performance and known factors that impact on performance e.g. marketing campaigns, changes to website.

Trend Chart/s

While the comparison metric is a snapshot, also useful to see performance over a longer period of time.  This can highlight if a change in performance is a spike, step change or part of a long term positive/negative trend.  Only one or two charts are required for the dashboard as long as they include a metric selector.  Ideally the chart includes a comparison as well (against forecast/target, previous year is acceptable here).

Segment Selector

Dashboards are the starting point to understand performance.  Including the ability to apply key segments to all of the data means the user can drill down one level, allowing them to narrow down the likely causes of a change in performance.  It won’t pinpoint issues or answer any WHY questions but will narrow the scope and give the starting point for any subsequent analysis work.

Guest’s Bio:

Peter is an experienced expert in web analytics, he is the founder of L3 Analytics which focuses on using web analytics data to improve the performance of online companies. He is dedicated to  working with clients to extract actionable insights from web analytics data, to make informed decisions which impact business performance. He is also a knowledgeable thought leader, and a very active influencer in the digital analytics world! Follow Peter on Twitter: @peter_oneill

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Megan Wilcock

VP of Business Development for Sweetspot. Responsible for strategic brand development, marketing and business development. BA/BComm graduate from the University of Melbourne. My passion lies in finding creative solutions and encouraging collaboration.

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