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The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Great Agency Dashboard for Clients (2024)

This guide will show you everything you need to know about agency dashboards — what they are, how to build them, and which tools to use.

How to Create an Agency Dashboard Your Clients Will Love 

Managing a number of campaigns for different clients can be chaotic, especially if you need to switch between multiple platforms to manually compile visualizations and build reports.

With an agency dashboard, these tedious, time-consuming tasks can be left in the past where they belong. 

This guide will show you everything you need to know about agency dashboards — what they are, how to build them, and which tools to use.

Let's get started.

What is an Agency Dashboard?

An agency dashboard pulls your clients' campaign data — be it for marketing or advertising — into a central location. It can also automatically visualize essential metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), compiling them into readable reports so your team can focus more on strategy instead of manual data management tasks. 

To give you a better idea, take a look at this dashboard on Polymer: 

Beautiful, isn't it?

If you're an agency that handles several clients at once, you'll understand how much of a time-saver a consolidated (and automated) dashboard is. 

But a dashboard's long list of benefits doesn't end there.

Why does your agency need dashboards for clients?

Apart from saving time, here are six benefits of a dashboard for your agency:

  • Eliminate human error. With a modern dashboarding tool like Polymer, you can easily automate data imports and updates through built-in data connectors — effectively taking human error out of the equation. Other activities like configuring data visualizations can also be automated with AI, further preventing any slip-ups. 
  • Make data accessible to everyone. A dashboard enables everyone on your team to utilize data in their decision-making, regardless of their data science background. Dashboards also make it easier to share reports, be it via link, invite code, or PDF exports. 
  • Emphasize the results of your services. Sometimes, the best way to communicate positive results with clients is through a chart that clearly goes up. Dashboarding solutions also have other tools you can use to bring your client's attention to the numbers that matter, like scorecards, timelines, rich text widgets, and headers. 
  • Surface more insights from raw data. One of the best qualities of dashboarding tools is the ability to easily create interactive visualizations. This allows you to pack more context and insights into each chart or table, be it through filters, selectors, tooltips, text-based explanations, and so on. 
  • Take advantage of various data visualization types. Rather than sticking with spreadsheets, dashboards allow you to create column charts, heatmaps, scatter plots, pivot tables, and more. Best of all, most modern dashboarding tools let you create advanced visualizations without writing a single line of code.
  • Simplify predictive and prescriptive analytics. There's no need to take a deep dive into your data or perform complicated calculations to forecast potential outcomes. Some dashboarding platforms automate predictive and even prescriptive analysis, serving you with actionable pieces of information without the hassle of manual number crunching. 

Tools to Help You Build Client-Friendly Dashboards

When it comes to data dashboards, it's important to understand how they work and their benefits. 

However, the effectiveness of your dashboard ultimately banks on the platform you choose. 

Here are the top five tools that will help you create professional data dashboards you (and your clients) will love:

1. Polymer

Polymer perfectly embodies what a modern, user-centric Business Intelligence (BI) platform should be. 

It streamlines all the not-so-sexy aspects of data analytics and dashboarding. 

First up, data collection can be done in a jiffy using the free, built-in data connectors. Just pick your data source (or request a new connector) and follow the on-screen instructions — your data will be compiled and ready to use in no time. 

Once your data sources are all set, you don't need to worry about them again. By default, Polymer is set to automatically refresh and update your datasets once a day.

Tip: You can manually set the auto-sync feature to refresh to a maximum of once every five minutes. 

The next order of business is to actually build your dashboard. For this, Polymer provides three options:

  • Create a board from scratch. Create your agency-client dashboard from a clean slate. 
  • Start with an AI-generated board. Let AI determine the ideal layout and visualizations based on your data.
  • Use a pre-built template. Fire up a customizable template to speed up your dashboarding experience.

Impressed? 

We're just getting to the good part. 

The Polymer dashboard editor is where all the magic happens. 

Here, you can use the drag-and-drop editor to build all sorts of advanced data visualizations. If you're all about saving time, Polymer's AI features got you covered.

A must-see feature is PolyAI, which turns your prompts and data-related questions into full-fledged visualizations.

Here are other Polymer features you might find interesting:

  • Manage your data on the same platform. Blend, filter, and organize your data through the Polymer data manager, which is also accessible from the dashboard editor. 
  • Easy sharing options for colleagues and clients. Share a link, invite stakeholders straight into your board, or embed a specific chart in your own web portal to keep everyone in the loop.
  • Choose from a diverse set of data visualizations. Visualize, present, and explain your data with line charts, dependency wheels, funnels, correlation charts, pivot tables, scatter plots, heatmaps, and more.
  • Expand your board with AI-driven suggestions. Polymer automatically provides visualization suggestions that you can add to your dashboard with just a couple of clicks. 
  • AI-based explanations. A large chunk of Polymer's data visualization tools include AI-powered explanations, forecasts, and actionable insights right out of the box.

2. Looker Studio

Looker Studio is Google's very own data visualization platform — which means it integrates nicely with the plethora of third-party apps and services that already support Google products. 

About 900+ data sources can be connected to your Looker Studio account. This includes accounting software, web analytics tools, spreadsheet apps, ecommerce platforms, and more.

Aside from connectivity, Looker Studio also brings the advantage of flexibility in terms of data visualizations. It's not exactly beginner-friendly, but the in-depth report builder feature will help you build a unique dashboard that's tailor-made for your clients' needs and preferences. 

3. Google Sheets

Yes — the internet's favorite spreadsheet software is also one of the top dashboarding tools for agencies. 

Google Sheets is a cloud-based spreadsheet software with team collaboration and data visualization tools. 

Just like with Looker Studio, the main advantage of Google Sheets is the wide support from third-party apps and services. Pretty much anything that can generate CSV reports can connect to Google Sheets for a more efficient dashboarding process. 

Google Sheets also has an impressive lineup of data visualization and interaction tools. You can create pivot tables, drop-down menus, checkboxes, waterfall charts, and dozens of other formats.

Before moving on to the next tool, take note that Google Sheets also comes with plenty of templates to kickstart your dashboarding experience. You'll find a lot of free Google Sheets dashboard templates in the built-in template gallery and third-party sources, like Smartsheet and Datapad.

4. Power BI

If Looker Studio is designed for the Google ecosystem, Power BI is the dashboard software for those who rely on Microsoft products. 

Power BI is a unique data visualization platform that works through three tools:

  • Power BI Desktop — Used for compiling datasets, managing your data, building visualizations, and creating reports.
  • Power BI service — Meant for non-technical users and stakeholders who need access to your data.
  • Power BI mobile app — Provides quick and convenient access to your data dashboards. 

With Power BI, the learning curve is comparable to that of Looker Studio's. However, it offers more convenient features like "Quick Insights," Q&A, and a visual data management interface.  

As part of the Microsoft software ecosystem, Power BI visualizations can also be seamlessly shared through other applications like Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365. This makes it the obvious choice for agencies that rely on Microsoft for internal and certain client-facing activities. 

5. Tableau

Lastly, Tableau is a robust BI platform with features that ensure data quality. 

The "Workbook Optimizer," for example, analyzes your dashboards to help you keep up with the known data dashboard best practices. It identifies issues that affect the performance of your workbook along with the possible fixes you can apply, be it for unused data fields, nested calculations, or structural errors. 

Tableau also includes advanced AI tools that accelerate the data analysis process. 

This includes:

  • Explanations — Similar to Polymer, you can auto-generate text explanations of your data using natural language. 
  • Data Stories — Tableau's "Data Stories" are just like explanations with a detailed breakdown of important metrics and KPIs (organized in bullet points).
  • Einstein Discovery for Reports — This feature automatically scans your Salesforce reports and unveils actionable insights using Machine Learning (ML) and statistical analysis methods. 

While Tableau isn't as beginner-friendly as tools like Google Sheets and Polymer, it offers a smooth onboarding experience that will help anyone learn the ropes. 

Their library of learning resources includes instructor-led training, online courses, "how-to" videos, and certification exams to test your knowledge.

Agency Dashboard Templates 

Here's one more advantage of using the right dashboarding tool for your agency: ready-to-use, customizable templates.

Templates let you skip through a lot of the planning and building involved in dashboarding. 

You might also be surprised by the wide range of templates out there for specific use cases. If you know where to look, you can get a dashboard for SEO companies, Facebook advertising campaigns, ecommerce marketing campaigns — you name it. 

Below are seven dashboard templates your agency definitely needs to check out:

1. Ecommerce Business Overview by Polymer

This dashboard template can give your client a bird's-eye view of their business's performance. It highlights important KPIs from a blend of data sources, namely Shopify, Facebook Ads, and Google Analytics.

You can use this dashboard template for free via Polymer's built-in template gallery. 

2. Facebook Ads Performance Template

This next template provides you and your clients with a more granular view of Facebook Ads campaigns. The scorecards above make it easy to track vital campaign KPIs, while the charts and tables below make data analysis tasks easier, like highlighting your most profitable campaigns, tracking your weekly Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), and checking your ad previews.

3. Google Analytics Performance Template

We all know that Google Analytics is everyone's go-to web traffic analytics platform. With Polymer's Google Analytics Performance template, you can consolidate all your client's traffic data and visualize crucial datasets within minutes — from their website engagement metrics to their landing page conversions.

4. Google Ads Overview Template

When it comes to Google Ads, making sure you're not spending more than you're making is the name of the game. This next Polymer dashboard template will help you stay on top of your ad campaigns — revealing insights like your most efficient ads in terms of Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), top-converting campaigns, and your total ad spend.

5. Shopify Sales Report Template

If your agency manages Shopify-based ecommerce websites, this dashboard template has everything you need to evaluate performance. It tracks insights like total sales over time, average order value, Net Dollar Retention (NDR) by customer cohorts, and top-selling products. 

6.  KPI Dashboard Template

This dashboard template for Google Sheets can help your team stay ahead of your performance and revenue goals. Of course, it also provides a more impactful way to report results to clients and other data stakeholders.

Get the template for Google Sheets here.

7. Google Ads Display Network Performance Insights

Capping off this list is Looker Studio's Google Ads Display Network Performance Insights template. It offers an in-depth view of every single facet of your display ad campaigns, including but not limited to ad asset coverage, performance by demographics, audience type, campaign type, and bid/budget loss.

How to Choose the Best Dashboard Tool for Your Agency?

Not sure which dashboard tool best fits the needs of your agency?

To help with the selection process, here are seven things to consider when choosing a dashboarding platform:

1. Check the user experience

The user experience is a massive factor that can affect your productivity and success with a dashboarding solution. Be sure to consider the knowledgeability and technical skills of your team, especially if the platform you're interested in requires coding (Python, JavaScript, R, etc.).

2. Verify data connectors

Native data connectors let you breeze through one of the messiest aspects of data dashboarding. If you're after easy data imports, pick a platform that offers data integrations with the services and apps you already use.

3. Data visualization types

Data visualizations are essentially the building blocks of an agency dashboard. That said, you can't afford to be handicapped by a dashboarding tool that doesn't support the visualizations you need for your data analysis objectives.

4. Dashboard personalization features

White-label reports play an important role in your agency's branding. The more customization options your dashboard platform has, the more you can instill your brand identity into reports meant for clients. 

5. Reporting tools

Speaking of reports, be sure to look at how a data dashboard can help share and communicate insights with your clients. Polymer, for example, lets you share a link to your live dashboard, embed visualizations into client-facing portals, or share animated presentations of your report.

6. AI tools

No matter how you slice it, the future of BI and data analytics lies in AI. It should be easy to gauge the willingness of a dashboarding platform to embrace AI by looking at their implementations, like Polymer's PolyAI assistant, which can generate interactive visualizations based on your text prompts.

7. Price

Effective data dashboarding doesn't have to be expensive, especially for agencies and small businesses. 

Do your homework and make sure your dashboarding solution more than pays for itself through actionable insights that enhance your decision-making. Better yet, pick a BI solution that offers enterprise-level dashboarding features — without the hefty price tag.

How to Build an Agency Dashboard with Polymer

Whether you're looking for cost-effectiveness or a slew of AI tools to simplify data analysis, you can't go wrong with Polymer.

Let's do a quick crash course on dashboarding with Polymer. 

Compiling your data sources

Polymer lets you blend together data from different sources into a sparkling cocktail of actionable insights. 

You don't even need coding to pull it off. From the main window, go to 'Manage Data' in the top-right corner and click 'Add New Data Source.'

Next, choose the data connector you want to use and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the integration. If you can't find the connector you need, feel free to click 'Request a connector' or move your data through a spreadsheet app like Google Sheets or Excel.

In most connectors, all you have to do is log in to your account and grant Polymer the required permissions to access your data. 

Creating your dashboard

After hooking up your data sources, click 'New Board' to create your dashboard. Or, click 'Browse all Templates' to start with a pre-built layout. 

When creating a new board, select 'Blank Board' or 'Auto-Generated Board' if you want AI to decide your dashboard's initial visualizations and layout.

To start building your dashboard, select the data sources you want to use and click 'Create Board.' You'll immediately be taken to the board editor where the real work begins.

Building your dashboard from scratch

For blank boards, the first thing you'll notice is the list of suggested insights. These are data-related questions that Polymer's AI can instantly answer with an interactive chart or table.

Of course, you're free to create your dashboard piece by piece as you see fit. Just click 'Add' and choose from Polymer's selection of data visualization tools — from column charts to ROI calculators.

You can also use PolyAI to automatically generate visualizations based on your data. If you're unsure of how to configure your chart, simply click 'Suggest for me' to reveal data-related questions that match the current visualization type.

Personalizing dashboards for clients

With your visualizations ready, it's time to customize your dashboard to improve the readability and visibility of key insights. 

In the Polymer editor, you can freely reposition and resize visualizations with just your mouse. This allows you to put KPIs above the fold and emphasize interactive charts that clients will most likely need. 

Polymer also includes styling options that will help instill your brand into your dashboard.

For example, when creating visuals like bar graphs or time series charts, switch to the 'Style' tab in the setup panel to set a custom color palette. 

For personalizations that apply to your entire dashboard, click 'Settings' in the left menu. 

Here's a quick rundown of the personalization options you can experiment with:

  • Branding settings — Upload a custom logo or embed a link in public-access boards.
  • Theme colors — Modify the default color palette for your dashboard's visualizations.
  • Banners and popups — Create an info banner or popup window that provides clients and other stakeholders with context about your dashboard.

Sharing your dashboard with stakeholders

Finally, Polymer's sharing options make it easy for stakeholders — be it team members or clients — to access your dashboard. 

In the dashboard editor, click 'Share' in the top-right corner.

You'll then be able to generate an embed code or copy a direct link to your board.

Start Your Dashboarding Journey for Free

Ready to get started with Polymer? 

Without spending a single cent, you can try all of the features that make Polymer the best dashboarding tool in the market.

Click here to start your free 7-day trial today — no credit card required.

Posted on
May 20, 2024
under Blog
May 20, 2024
Written by
Saif Akhtar
Growth Manager @ Polymer Search. Passionate about all things Startup, RevOps, and Go-to-Market. Ex-VC and startup accelerator who loves hacking MVPs.

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