Today you have a number of marketing tools that enable you to create what you might call a dashboard. What you can measure is only limited by your imagination. But you’re probably missing the mark when it comes to having an effective dashboard.
Why? Because most of the dashboards we’ve seen consist of a smorgasbord of numbers that report on activity and outputs. Companies are pulling data from existing tools that capture individual metrics, but aren’t tied to relevant business results.
According to the 16th annual Marketing Performance Benchmark Study, Cook Up Your Best Marketing Performance, the dashboards of the Best-in-Class marketing organizations (only 1 in 5) are superior compared to their counterparts in three areas:
- Monitor/measure marketing objectives aligned to business outcomes
- Analyze performance of campaigns or other Marketing activities
- Track marketing metrics in real-time
The dashboards of the majority of organizations fail to do these. They tend to fall short for tracking performance of core Marketing strategies and processes, communicating marketing’s value to the C-Suite, and primarily focus on campaign and activity performance.
What a Good Marketing Dashboard Can Do
In short, a good dashboard guides your actions and helps you mitigate risks. The dashboard in your car helps you determine when to fuel up or when to slow down. Your marketing dashboard should help you know what is and isn’t working. You should know if what you’re doing is moving the needle, and if so, how far and how fast. If your marketing dashboard doesn’t guide your strategic and investment decisions, it’s time to return to the drawing board.
Where Should You Start?
Begin with the end in mind. Start by answering the following questions with your senior management to clarify the marketing role:
- What outcomes does your business need to achieve in order to meet your goals?
- What does senior management expect marketing to contribute towards these outcomes?
- How will senior management know that marketing has made a positive contribution?
Once you answer these questions, you can begin to build a marketing dashboard that incorporates the metrics to show how your department generates value for your organization, the impact you have on the business, and what actions are required. Metrics are the foundation of your dashboard so it’s critical to select the right ones.
Build Your Dashboard with Metrics Chains
A metrics chain is the sequence of metrics that establishes the links between activity, output, operational metrics, and outcome metrics.
Concrete and quantifiable performance targets that link your activities and your objectives serve as the starting point of your chain. Working down—from the outcome you need to impact, to the activities you need to perform to achieve your objectives—will illuminate which metrics and measures need to go together.
For example, let’s say your company needs to define a specific set of existing customers to add on a new solution offer, so you can achieve revenue and product adoption targets. Marketing needs to motivate a set number of customers from this select group to experience the solution and participate in a trial.
To support the objectives, your marketing team develops a program using a customer endorsement strategy. Key touches and elements might include a customer case study (perhaps a video), an online demo and associated content, an ROI calculator, a webinar that includes the customer case study, and a speaker and associated content.
Your team may need to create a series of pre- and post-touches through various channels to facilitate engagement. Each of those touches and channels contains a performance target designed to produce webinar registrants, demo requests, and trial inquiries.
When properly constructed, your metrics will form a chain between all your marketing programs—through trials and ultimately product adoption and revenue. These links and associated data become the metrics chains and the foundation for your marketing dashboard.
Create a Stakeholder-Centric Dashboard
If your dashboard is going to be actionable, it has to be a multi-tiered, decision-making tool that contains metrics for senior management as well as the marketing team. This means it must encompass views for at least three stakeholder groups:
- Executive leadership team– to communicate Marketing’s value, impact, and contribution
- Marketing leadership– to help run the marketing organization
- Marketing functional members– to be used by individual members of the marketing team
Each of these views needs to facilitate action and help your marketing keep on track and aligned with the business. Each view contains a set of metrics that is derived from aligning marketing activities with business outcomes.
Because the metrics chains are the foundation, the relationship among the metrics is not accidental. The metrics on each of the three levels aren’t stand-alone measures. They are linked by the chains to explicitly convey how the program metrics contribute to the marketing function targets, which in turn drive the business outcomes.
Dashboards that contain metrics chains show the relationship between what constitutes success for your business and the contribution Marketing is making. Learn more about dashboard construction, and find out if your dashboard measures up.
Share your story…how are you using Marketing dashboards effectively at your company?