Create a Marketing Dashboard that is Actionable

The pressure and expectations placed on Marketing by leadership continue to rise. We ask CEOs: “Would You Like to Know Marketing’s Impact on Your Business?” Each one answers “Yes!” with a resounding, unequivocal response.

Joan Ritter wrote recently in The Technology Executive that “the issue of marketing accountability has been brought to the front pages of the business section due to technological leaps and the instant gratification provided by real-time campaign measurements in Internet marketing.”

So, if you haven’t gotten on the marketing-accountability bandwagon (measurement, effectiveness, analytics, etc, now is the perfect time to get on board with marketing accountability (measurement, effectiveness, analytics, etc.).

The American Marketing Association defines responsibility as “the systematic management of Marketing Resources to achieve measurable returns on marketing investments and increased marketing efficiencies, while maintaining and increasing the value and quality of the corporation.”

Marketing professionals must report their performance and contributions on a regular basis to be held accountable. You may be thinking, “We report.” We use our marketing automation platform to provide updates on projects and generate reports.

It’s great that you’re starting, but now for the bad news. Status reports of projects, such as updates to websites, upcoming events or new collateral, direct marketing campaigns and reports of website visitors, click-through rates, Twitter and Facebook fan count, and the number of qualified marketing leads, are no longer sufficient.

These reports don’t answer the most important questions for the C-suite: what is working, are there any course corrections required, and are marketing investments allocated correctly?

Marketers must develop a valuable report that will benefit both marketing and the C-suite, one that can be used for decision-making and optimizing performance. This report should provide a quick overview of the impact of marketing on the business, as well as the effectiveness of marketing initiatives in increasing customer acquisitions, retention, and wallet share.

In the industry, this report is called a dashboard.

Dashboards are an essential part of performance management. A good dashboard not only helps to make better decisions about strategic and resource allocation but also shows the alignment between marketing expenses and expected results. A good dashboard allows the marketing organization to determine if it is on track to drive demand for products according to forecasts through higher-quality leads, improved customer retention, or increased market footprint.

A dashboard is an important tool for making strategic decisions. It also helps to adjust the course of a project.

The next step logically follows once you have decided that a marketing dashboard is essential for improving effectiveness. You and your team can get started with the five steps below.

1. Aligning marketing with business outcomes

This step is often the first one we make a mistake. Everything else is moot if you don’t have the right business needle on your dashboard.

Business needles or outcomes are more than just revenue numbers. The desired result you should pursue is based on which customers you target (whether they are new or existing), how many you need to convert, and what products/services.

Then, you can define strategies, programs, and tactics that support these numbers/objectives.

Use a mapping approach or another method that clarifies the relationship between marketing and business outcomes.

2. Choose your metric

Choose the metrics you and your marketing team will use in order to evaluate Marketing’s efficiency and impact. These metrics are often based on how Marketing affects market share growth, customer value, and equity.

A typical organization will measure metrics in the following categories: customer (acquisition, retention, and value), product (adoption and innovation, price and margin), competitive position (market share and brand preference), and financial (budget and payback).

As a result, you should be able to quantify your business results and marketing objectives.

3. Document data chains

Create data chains that connect marketing activities, goals, and programs to business results. Data chains can help you visualize the relationship between marketing activities, such as email campaigns that include a call-to-action, marketing objectives, like a certain number of qualified leads, and business results, such as new opportunities in the pipeline each quarter.

4. Data acquisition

Data is required for measurement, so you must know what you have and where you are lacking.

5. Validation and review

Before you buy dashboard software, work out any “bugs” in your processes, data, and measurements.

Create an alpha dashboard for data and process validation. This step is crucial for validating data chains and determining if the dashboard captures the performance information that you desire. After the alpha version is completed, decide what changes are required to the dashboard, reporting, and measurement processes. Then, create the beta version.

You will eventually be able to create a pilot, and then you can put your dashboard into production. Then, you can start to explore the possibility of automating your reporting.

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