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Marketing Reports vs. Dashboards. What are they and which one do you need?

Eager to learn the difference? Scroll down to read more!

Today’s organizations, especially in the marketing field are often (hopefully always) are data-driven. They are giving access and visualizing the data for many different stakeholders within an organization and sometimes even outside it. And, there are quite a few ways to visualize and present such data, through various different tools. Even so, the two most popular types of presenting the organization’s marketing data are Reports and Dashboards. The next question, coming right after it - what is the difference between these two?

Traditionally, many people refer to dashboards and reports as synonymous terms, which creates confusion. The term reporting has often been used by individuals to describe both dashboards and reports. The most common mistake made by individuals is the referral to tables within a dashboard as reports.

The truth is that although both of these tools serve the same purpose- presenting marketing data, they should not to be used interchangeably.

The best way to distinguish between reports and dashboards is to highlight their main characteristics.

We’ve prepared a table to highlight the key features of each tool!

dashboard and reports


whatagraph reporting tool

Although there are always exceptions, usually reports are static documents.

What does that mean? Basically, it means that the reports contain data which cannot be updated in real time.

Another important feature of the reports is that all data is precisely aggregated and is reported at the end of a particular period for an in-depth analysis. This, in turn, makes them perfect for a full overview, analysis, and strategic-level decision-making.

Additionally, since only a full campaign period is reported, any “hiccups” blend in with the total data. What this means is that since reports portray a static overview of existing data, it is quite difficult to manipulate the data. Companies that have multiple departments with a need for diverse data presentation might find reports time-consuming and fairly complicated to create. Nonetheless, the benefit provided by reports is worth the troublesome time spent creating them.




Unlike the reports, which are mainly text or table based, the dashboards are data visualization tools.

A dashboard lures an individual in by providing extensive visual cues and interactive features. The data is reported in real-time for a quick performance overview. The visuals of a dashboard are so advanced that they can detect and reflect a change from minute-to-minute. Real-time reporting allows dashboards to be the perfect choice for a quick look to make sure the campaigns are running.

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Depending on the news that a dashboard delivers, teams or clients are inspired during the “ups” and unhappy or even frustrated during the “downs”. Probably the biggest disadvantage of dashboards is their vulnerability to data-lags due to source APIs. However, this disadvantage should not discourage you from using them.

So, which one do I need?

Well, it really depends on your needs.

However, talking with hundreds of marketing teams and agencies worldwide, we’ve found out that they usually prefer to use Dashboards for their inner use and provide their clients, or C-level executives with visual, understandable and easy to read marketing reports.

Why do marketing teams and agencies prefer dashboards for inner use?

Well, mostly because the biggest benefit of dashboards can be extracted when they are focused on specific aspects of an organization. Additionally, when it comes to dashboards, the number of data points and sets does not represent a problem at all. In one word, they are optimal for everyday analytics.

On the other hand, why do marketing teams and agencies prefer reports for clients or C-level executives?

Well, once again a pretty straightforward answer. Both the clients and the high-level executives are interested in the organization's overall performance, and not in particular aspects of an organization. Hence, a report seems like an understandable option. Reports capture the overall performance; thus, offer a better overview of the company.

Finally, if reports are what you need, you need to be aware that manual reporting can take quite a lot of time to prepare. But, Whatagraph, has the perfect solution for you- AUTOMATED REPORTS & and lots of other benefits!

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If you still do not feel convinced, we suggest you try out our 7-day trial and check it yourself.

Written By Sara
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