An extensive study by the American Management Association found that the single largest gap between high performing organizations and low performing organizations was whether organization-wide performance measures matched the organization’s strategy.
One attribute of a high-performing organization, whether Marketing or otherwise, is the development, implementation, and consistent usage of a dashboard.
Share The Value of Your Performance Through Your Dashboard
Dashboards are a critical component of Marketing Performance Management (MPM). MPM which began to bubble up in the early 2000s in both academia and industry is the “systematic management of Marketing resources and processes to achieve measurable gains in return on investment and efficiency, while maintaining quality in the customer experience.” Through the employment of MPM, Marketing organizations evolve into high-performing organizations that in turn help drive high performance throughout the entire organization.
Architect a Dashboard That Help You Improve and Prove the Value of Marketing
MPM includes evaluating the work of Marketing compared to the agreed-upon set of plans and objectives. It also entails employing data, processes and technologies to create Marketing plans and objectives, put them into action, and measure the results of the work and its contribution to the overall business. Hence the need for and role of dashboards.
There are a variety of ways to produce a dashboard. You can have dashboards that provide data around creating status reports for projects, such as updates to the website, an upcoming event, the status of new collateral or a direct marketing campaign or the reports regarding number of website visitors, open/clicks, followers and friends, number of Marketing generated/influenced qualified leads, etc. While these reports often provide valuable transactional information, they are not the kind of dashboard we recommend using to communicate Marketing’s value to the business. Why? These types of dashboards do not make the connection between the work of Marketing and business results.
If your ambition is to create a dashboard that communicates strategic-level results, provides a snapshot of your current status against defined performance targets, communicates Marketing’s value, contribution and impact, and facilitates decisions, you’ll need more than what you can create with the click on your Salesforce, CRM, marketing automation, or any other technology system you’ve deployed.
The Process to Create Your Most Meaningful Dashboard
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to creating an actionable dashboard.
If your organization is expecting a Marketing dashboard that enables your leadership team to make decisions – decisions about customers, markets, channels, touch points, products and the competition and associated investments – you’ll need to take a specific path. This type of dashboard requires:
- Clarity around how the work of Marketing is linked to business results
- The ability to aggregate data from a variety of sources, including data collected from your listening and research vehicles.
- Deployment of a multi-layered performance management tool that enables an organization to measure, monitor and manage business activity, using both financial and non-financial measures, that conveys Marketing’s contribution to the business.
A good dashboard is a visual graphic representation that demonstrates both Marketing alignment to the business as well as how Marketing is contributing to the business and attaining its performance targets in terms of results, time, and cost. Your dashboard must be more than hodgepodge of data, measures and metrics. It must show how the work of Marketing is advancing the priorities of the business.
Metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) are the building blocks for creating a dashboard. Marketing ROI is just one of the metrics that typically finds its way onto the dashboard, but other metrics and KPIs will be included as well. What these metrics and KPIs are will be unique to each organization.
Constructing a performance management Marketing dashboard is an iterative process that may require process changes, stakeholder buy-in, system modifications, data integration and additions, and internal training. At VisionEdge Marketing we employ a phase iterative dashboard development process:
- Alpha – It is during this phase that the initial framework of the dashboard is developed. We recommend using historical data and proxies to validate the framework. Be sure to review this version with stakeholders/users/consumers. Use this step in the process to identify and address data and metrics gaps and create your data inventory and metrics catalog. Produce your dashboard road map and milestones before moving on to the next phase.
- Beta – During this step the Marketing dashboard is modified based on stakeholder input. Build this version using current data. Address system requirements, investigate potential technology solutions and establish your evaluation criteria.
- Pilot – The pilot step is where the final rendition of the initial Marketing dashboard is completed. Systems evaluations (yes, from experience we know that selecting the right measures before deploying new technology is the best process) are conducted during this step and data collection, measurement, and reporting processes are formally documented.
- Production – This is the final step in your Marketing dashboard development phase. During this phase, system deployment/implementation occurs and a production version of the Marketing dashboard is produced. Create and begin your system and process training before you go completely “live.”
Here’s what one of our customers had to say about their dashboard.
“In a short period of time we had gone from measuring nothing to measuring everything– and we were literally out of control on the measurement front. There was no hierarchy and no action coming out of what we tracked, which was essentially slews of activities and outputs. VEM helped us realize that less is more, and based on the VEM workshop we transitioned from measuring marketing outputs to measuring marketing’s impact on outcomes. Our CEO and Board love our new marketing dashboard, and more importantly we can use it to make valuable decisions.”
–Vicki Kilmer, Director of Brand Management & Business Intelligence, Best Friends Animal Society
Connect Your Dashboard to Action
It is important to note that dashboards only work if they are tied to a structured action process. What good is it to know your gas tank is on the verge of empty unless you have a plan to fuel up? Make sure you can have a process in place to act. Focus your dashboard on bringing valuable and insightful information to the table that benefits both marketing and the C-Suite. This makes it a tool that can be used to optimize performance, make decisions and course corrections, quantify Marketing’s impact, AND communicate how well Marketing initiatives are increasing customer acquisition, retention and growth.
Laura Patterson is president and co-founder of VisionEdge Marketing, Inc., a recognized leader in enabling organizations to leverage data and analytics to facilitate marketing accountability.
Laura’s newest book, Marketing Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization (Racom: www.racombooks.com ), is a useful primer for improving marketing measurement and performance. Visit: www.visionedgemarketing.com
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