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Effective Marketing Dashboards Are More than a Collection of Metrics

Marketers are always asking us, “What are the most important metrics that should be on our Marketing dashboard?” Because they are stretched thin, they want a template; a quick and easy answer so they can move on to their next challenge. Unfortunately, there is no easy way out.

That’s because if you start building a dashboard for your leadership team with the individual metrics, you’re starting at the wrong place and you’ll end up with a useless dashboard, one that does NOT prove the value of marketing.

Begin with the End in Mind

Instead of starting with metrics, start building your dashboard with the end in mind, i.e., by answering these three simple (OK not that simple) questions:

  1. What outcomes does the business need to achieve in order to meet their goals?
  2. What does senior management expect marketing to contribute towards these outcomes?
  3. How will senior management know that marketing has made a positive contribution?

Only when you have the answers to these questions can you begin to build a dashboard that shows how

  • Marketing generates value for the organization
  • the impact Marketing has on the business
  • what actions or course adjustments are required.

Engage in a Conversation With Your C-Suite

So the starting point for your dashboard is not metrics. Rather, you begin by having a conversation with senior management. You start from the top and work down. You also have to understand your business and the role Marketing plays. You can’t even begin to think about metrics until you’ve done this work.

Make Your Dashboard Stakeholder-Centric

Once you figure out what senior management wants to see, take the next step.  The dashboard needs to be more than just a reporting tool; it has to a multi-tiered, decision making tool that contains not just metrics for senior management, but also the data that the Marketing managers need to run the Marketing function and the marketers need to manage their programs.

Often this means that there needs to be at least three dashboard levels:

  1. Executive leadership team – to communicate marketing’s value, impact and contribution,
  2. Marketing leadership – to help run the marketing organization
  3. Marketing functional members – to be used by individual members of the marketing team

Each of these views needs to facilitate action and help Marketing keep themselves on track (in line with the business).  Each level contains a set of metrics that is derived from aligning the Marketing activities with business outcomes.

As a result of business outcome alignment, the metrics on each of the three levels don’t stand alone; they are linked to create what we call data-metrics chains that show explicitly link Marketing activities and investments to business results.  The links reveal the relationship among the metrics. This relationship is not accidental—it’s all carefully planned.

Check to see if your dashboards contain the chains that illustrate the relationship between what the business is trying to accomplish and what Marketing is doing. Not sure, ask for a dashboard review.

Prove Marketing's Value with an effective Marketing Dashboard

A good dashboard helps you make decisions and mitigate risk.

Put Your Dashboard to the Test

How do you know if you have a good dashboard? A good dashboard guides decisions. It should help you determine whether the work of Marketing  is working, the degree of risk, and what if any course adjustments are necessary. It should also provide insight into strategic decisions and investments and the impact and value Marketing is having on the business. Remember, a well-designed dashboard is a decision making tool, not a report.

For example, if business outcomes are being achieved and Marketing is hitting its targets, then we can conclude that Marketing is making a contribution. If the expected results are not there, by looking down the data chains, we should be able to see why. Which marketing programs are not producing the Marketing objectives that contribute to those business outcomes? If those programs aren’t working, perhaps we need to stop what we are doing and reallocate the budget to something else?

Ready to start creating a dashboard that will help you improve and prove the value of Marketing? If this is a strategic initiative, time is of the essence, or you need an objective third party, contact us to discuss your goals and timeline.


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