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Data 101: What is a Marketing Dashboard?

Lucas Stewart | 01.12.2017

This post is part of our Data 101 series, getting you up to speed with modern marketing analytics. Read this series to stay relevant on the latest terms and technologies in this rapidly evolving market.

Creating a marketing dashboard can be a daunting task. It seems like a new, must-have tool for marketing surfaces nearly every month. And with each new tool comes a new data source to connect to, and integrate into your bigger marketing analytics picture.

So what makes the ideal marketing dashboard? At a high level, a marketing dashboard should show the key performances, outcomes and investments of all your marketing programs, and integrate data across platforms for one unified view. You should also be able to evaluate these metrics any way you want– by channel, campaign, content, region, or business unit, for instance. So how do you choose and prioritize what information to show?

Like a parent, you can’t just love one or a few of your marketing efforts. You have to showcase all of your programs, and talk about performance and ROI for each. This means multiple marketing dashboards, multiple stakeholders, and integrated marketing data– but more on that later. When building your first marketing dashboard, a great place to start is the highest level. That makes it easier when trying to understand how all the different pieces fit together.

The Elevated Marketing View

Your highest level marketing view is where leadership, such as your VP of Marketing or CMO, gathers essential information to report on overall marketing performance and impact. You’ll want to track the highest level metrics of the marketing organization, such as budget spend on different campaigns, global reach and impact, and how your prospects are converting at each step of the customer journey.

For example, here is a marketing leader’s dashboard in retail evaluating global revenue, media spend and sales:

CMO_RetailMarketingDash

Starting with an executive perspective will ensure you are taking into account all of the investments and performances that make up your marketing– and how sales and revenue are generated. In the process, you’ll consider how you want to put your data in context through goals, and understand which comparisons and filters you need to drill down.

4 Steps to Any Marketing Dashboard

From dashboards for social media ROI to SEO, event registrations to cross-channel campaign management, you’ll likely have multiple dashboards across your marketing team. However, each marketing team member can take these same steps into account when creating their dashboard, so you don’t miss a beat of how your marketing engine is running:

1) Determine the questions for each stakeholder
Effective marketing dashboards help their users answer questions and collaborate with peers. While every dashboard should operate from a centralized data source, different stakeholders will require different views of data and levels of granularity to help them with their role and responsibility. By taking stock of who will benefit from each of your dashboards, you can link your KPIs, filtering and data to the right questions for faster decision making.

2) Set your marketing KPIs
How do you measure success? This can be determined for each member of your marketing team who leads a separate initiative. These KPIs can include marketing performance metrics that allow clear comparisons of each program or campaign’s performance, investment, and efficiency. Another kind of KPI is marketing impact metrics that tie performances to their outcome goals, such as downloading a piece of content, engaging on your site or driving sales. Once you’ve determined the metrics, you can analyze these by dimensions like campaign name, date, landing page, product, and more for better insights.

3) Determine your data sources
Every budget owner is also a data source owner. Because in modern marketing, every project has a tool, and every marketing tool generates data (often vast amounts of it). Map out all marketing tools you’re using for which you’ll want to bring data into your reports. Sometimes even the smallest –and sometimes free– efforts can hold big surprises in their effectiveness to convert.

For example, within a cross-channel campaign this might include data from your display, search, social, and video platforms, as well as conversion data measured by your marketing cloud, web analytics, and CRM.

4) Visualize your data
Now comes the fun part. Showcase your core metrics in visually appealing ways. Make sure your dashboards are easy for any marketing user to create, and allow for data discovery so you can ask questions at any point. Lastly, ensure you have an option for easy dashboard sharing, since you can expect that some decision making will come from collaboration with team members.

Ensure Data Harmony

When integrating multiple sources of data in a marketing dashboard, a key step is data harmonization. Data harmonization is the process of combining multiple data sources into the proverbial “single source of truth”. It means getting all your data speaking the same language, so you can build reports between marketing tools using like terms. Given the scale of modern marketing, data harmonization is crucial. You’ll be working with different views, permissions, and countless sources of information, so you need to ensure your data stay consistent and are there whenever you need them.

Data harmony means not having to think twice about pulling in the metric or dimension you want to see– regardless of what tool or service it came from. And it means being able to connect the performances in certain data sets with outcomes and ROI in others. While this might sound technically challenging, the good news is today’s technology can do the heavy lifting for you.

For more marketing dashboard examples, check out these resources:

Campaign Dashboard

Performance

Social Performance Dashboard

5_SocialPerformance

Online/Offline Correlation Dashboard

7_MktgSynergies

 


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