Perhaps your marketing organization, like so many we work with have a marketing dashboard. At two recent conferences where the topic was marketing dashboards we asked attendees whether their dashboard enables them to the following:
- Inform the leadership team of the contribution and impact marketing is making on acquiring, keeping, and growing the value of customers?
- Provide a direct link between your marketing programs and investments and business results?
- Enable you to make strategic decisions?
Most every participant indicated that their dashboard is not addressing these three questions. If this situation sounds familiar, then it may be time to do some fine tuning. Below are three attributes we use to evaluate a dashboard’s ability to facilitate decisions, improve marketing, and prove marketing’s contribution.
One of the first things we look for when reviewing a dashboard is the degree of connection between marketing activities and investments and business outcomes. This signals how well marketing is aligned with the business needles the company is trying to move and whether marketing will be able to communicate its impact and contribution. For example, let’s say one of the metrics on the dashboard is brand awareness. That might or might not be a good metric. And even if it is a good metric for the organization, if the relationship between brand awareness and the outcome it is expected to impact is unclear, then the dashboard needs adjustment. Members of the C-Suite are invest in marketing initiatives that will help the company acquire more of something, faster, less expensively, for example, more customers, more market share, more business with existing customer; faster conversion rates, and faster product adoption. Does your marketing dashboard show marketing value, contribution and impact on find, keep and grow, and answer the questions of more, faster, and at what cost?
The next thing we examine is the metrics themselves. Most of the time what we see is data around marketing activity and leads. Rarely are the metrics actionable. If the metric isn’t helping you make course adjustments or strategic recommendations it might be interesting and you may want to track it, but it probably isn’t one you want to send up the flagpole. Think about the dashboard in your car. There are just a very few indicators you are monitoring such as level of fuel, engine temperature, air pressure, and speed. Each of these indicators are tied to some very important outcomes, such as not getting stuck because the tank is dry or the tire is flat or the engine overheated, or not getting a speeding ticket. Each of us uses the dashboard in our cars as a way to make decisions to help manage or mitigate risk. Some of us are willing to push the risk envelope a bit more and keep the pedal to the metal or keep driving even though the gas gauge needle says the car is running on fumes. But we have the metrics we need to decide whether to stop and fuel up or not.
Lastly, we look to see whether the dashboard compares targets to actual. Many dashboards are missing this critical element. Monitoring, measuring, and reporting results need to be within the context of the target and the commitment made. There are two parts to this dimension:
- Performance Context: If you report that you ran a 5K race at a 10 minute per mile pace how can we determine whether that was success or failure? If you typically run at an 8 minute per mile pace for a 5K then this information tells us something was off and we can begin to do a diagnostic – were you sick, did you lack fuel, were you over-trained, did you have a cramp, fall down? But if you typically run at a 12 minute per mile pace, then this is a huge improvement. We have performance context for your results.
- Performance Commitment. What performance commitment did you make? Was your commitment to place in the top five in your age group? Or was it to surpass your personal record? Or, something else? The point is that your dashboard should enable you and anyone who to evaluate the results within the performance context and commitment.
If you have a dashboard that makes the connection between marketing activities, investment and results, is comprised of metrics that foster decision and action, and reports performance within context and commitment you are on your way to having a dashboard that will enable you to improve and prove the value of marketing.