Is Your Marketing Dashboard Out to Get You?
By Laura Patterson, President at VisionEdge Marketing
Most likely you have some kind of Marketing dashboard. Research by experts and us all reveals that most Marketing organizations are producing and presenting some type of dashboard to their leadership team. It is the content displayed in the dashboard that distinguishes organizations who excel at performance management from those that don't. We find that many of today's Marketing dashboards focus more on the how many project/programs are in play, whether these are on time and within budget, and what outputs, such as traffic, downloads, inquiries, qualified leads these programs produced. Often these dashboards result in a tactical conversation around doing more, faster, with less. Dashboards that inform your leadership team what business needles Marketing moves, including how far and how well they perform, generates a more strategic conversation. If you prefer the more strategic approach, then you need a dashboard that is more about performance and value and less about outputs and operational efficiencies.
How to Create a Useful Marketing Dashboard
Not all dashboards are alike. We suspect that your Marketing organization, like most, doesn't lack for things to do. The purpose of your dashboard isn't to show how busy you are or how much work you are producing. Marketing runs on processes and it's far easier to have dashboards that reflect how efficient Marketing is performing its routine functions and activities. Operational dashboards primarily track your progress to service level agreements: time, cost, etc. It's easy to see how these kinds of dashboards result in the "more with less" conversation. You know you have an operational dashboard when your dashboard is primarily composed of activity and output measures and metrics.
A performance dashboard is really a performance management system. Performance-based Marketing dashboards communicate what and how Marketing contributes and impacts the business. They tell the story of how Marketing creates value. They enable you and your leadership team to know what is and isn't working. They facilitate Marketing's ability to make strategic recommendations and course adjustments. Your well-designed Marketing dashboards reflect how well the Marketing team is performing to the objectives and performance targets specified in the Marketing plan. If your Marketing plan and dashboard are interconnected, each informs the other on a continuous basis.
There is an almost infinite number of measures and metrics marketers can incorporate into their dashboards. Knowing which measures and metrics matter, and mastery of these metrics, is crucial to improving and proving the value of Marketing. Performance-based dashboard don't ignore activity, output or operational measures and metrics. These are captured as part of the Metrics chain used to create your dashboard. A metrics chain is the sequence of metrics that forms the links between activity, output, operational metrics, and outcome metrics. It seems rather obvious and simple, right? Yet, among the 2017 MPM Benchmark study population, of the 96 Value Creators (those Marketing organizations that earn 90 or better from the C-Suite for being able to measure and communicate Marketing's value), only 58 of the Value Creators use Metrics Chains; only 60 of the 167 Sales Enablers employ Metrics Chains; and only 55 of the 159 Campaign Producers use chains. Since this data is projectable, this means that 41% of all Marketing organizations lack this ingredient.
Value Creators are more skilled at crafting metrics chains. Because Value Creators are better at forging the metrics chains, they have the critical and often missing link needed to connect Marketing to business results. Formulate Metrics chains to ensure your mix of metrics work together. The Metrics chain enables you to craft multi-level dashboards, with each level providing additional granularity, such as data relevant to the program's execution, customer behavior, or regional nuances.
Wonder whether your dashboard works in your favor? Use this dashboard checklist for a dashboard review. Create a Marketing dashboard that connects your Marketing program performance and investments to business impact and value. This is the only way to demonstrate that Marketing creates value and is more than an internal service-provider.