“Torture the data, and it will confess to anything.”
~ Ronald Coase
Today, data-driven marketing is becoming a vital tool for every forward-thinking business. And this holds true even for marketers, who have been thought of as creatives and “ people with ideas,” rather than scientists and statisticians.
In fact, according to Forbes, businesses that adopt data-driven marketing are up to six times more profitable year over year than businesses that have marketing teams that don’t run by data.
In today’s world of ROI calculators, marketing has reinvented itself as a perfect blend of the right and the left-brain activities. CMOs are increasingly looking to leverage huge chunks of business data to optimize their marketing initiatives in ways like never before.
However, data without analytics is like a warrior’s arsenal without his arrows!
Building the right marketing dashboard— a compilation of all the pertinent data about a company’s marketing efforts—is a perfect way to consume the data and translate it into valuable insights for better decision-making.
The key to building an effective marketing dashboard is rooted in the methodology of the process.
Approach your marketing dashboard building process with the following 5 steps to help you steer your business to success.
1. Determine your End-User
Before initiating the process of building an effective dashboard, answer the following question:
Who is the dashboard’s end-user and how will they use it?
Marketing dashboards are built to tell an insightful story, thus, it is vital to know who is listening to the story. Dashboards are mostly categorized as analytical, strategic, or operational. It is difficult for them to be all three at once. Thus, identifying the target audience and tailoring the dashboard’s data to suit their needs is the key to the successful creation of a marketing dashboard.
An unclear understanding of the end user’s requirements leads to building ineffective dashboards giving meaningless insights to the user.
A well-planned dashboard, contrarily, builds a story that links to actionable KPIs, eventually benefiting the end-user (viewer).
To exemplify, different marketing end-users will require different dashboards:
- An inbound or an outbound marketing executive simply needs a dashboard that summarizes the performance metrics.
- A social media marketer, on the contrary, requires a social media dashboard to consolidate all metrics from platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.
Thus, the foremost step is to find the end-user that you wish to target with your dashboard so that the dashboard becomes an asset for them in their decision-making.
2. Focus on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Metrics and KPIs, are a part of every organization, that should be monitored and managed. There is a possibility to look at a single metric in a number of ways, making it extremely vital to establish the right metrics and display them in the most productive manner.
Each indicator must stand out robustly to serve the organization’s global strategy. The wrong selection of indicators for a dashboard can be detrimental for the organization because they open the door for your team to lose focus and take the wrong decisions.
When choosing KPIs, the best way to approach it is to engage the right people, set expectations, determine the implications of these metrics, and ask the following questions:
- What objectives does the marketing team want to achieve?
- What metrics denote progress towards these objectives?
- How is the success or failure of the campaign measured?
- How will the reports be enhanced by this metric?
- Do the metrics relate to a key business question?
3. Collect the Right Data
To be able to build dashboards based on your KPIs and metrics, you need data. And in most of the organizations, data comes from multiple sources. Thus, there is a challenge in consolidating that information in a way that works in a dashboard environment.
When collecting data, it is important for an organization to have access to reliable and relevant information while avoiding data collusion. Because no matter how beautiful the dashboard design may look, if data represented is false or inaccurate, the dashboard will turn out to be ineffective.
To make the job easier, answer the following question:
- What is the most vital decision a CMO makes on a regular basis?
Answer this question precisely and then proceed towards the next question:
- What sources of data are being used to reach that decision?
By answering the aforementioned two questions, it becomes easy to segregate the sources of data essential to building an effective marketing dashboard. Once the sources of specific data are known, pulling the data from that source into the dashboard solution through an API becomes easy.
4. Build + Validate
After careful consideration of the metrics you want to incorporate into your marketing dashboard, you reach one of the last and most important aspects of a dashboard building process—designing—to make dashboards visually appealing because this is what the end-user will see.
The human brain processes visualizations and pictures as one chunk of information, implying, they can gain insights from visualized data much faster than the data presented with a series of numbers or text. The best part of dashboards is that one can visualize a lot of different data sets across only one or two screens.
However, overflowing the dashboard with too many different metrics can be too overwhelming. Thus, it is important to limit your tracking to the most important metrics and keep charts consistent in all levels of your dashboards by applying essential dashboard design principles.
The building and validating the dashboard involves the following steps:
Remember, an ideal dashboard is one that is intelligent, predictive, accommodating and of course, easy-on-the-eyes!
5. Post-Deployment Strategy
Even after following all the steps precisely, the dashboard building process is still not over until a post-deployment plan is built and executed. If we talk ideally, the post-deployment plan should be developed at the beginning of a dashboard development project and should be addressed across all the steps of the implementation process.
In order to make the dashboard development project a success, it is important to come up with a plan of action for the organization. For example:
If the sales of your product start to see the downward path, the CMO/Sales Head should be informed so that they can start drilling down into the data to determine the reason behind the low sales. This paves the way for the organization to analyze and address the problem and create an impeccable model in case a similar event occurs in the future.
In a nutshell, a post-deployment strategy involves the following:
- Knowledge transfer
- Creation and implementation of a maintenance plan
Data analytics is a key stimulus required for a successful business today. In the absence of analytics, it becomes almost impossible for marketers to decipher the wants and needs of today’s discerning customers.
Every organization aims to become nimble and agile in their business space. If marketing dashboards are integrated into an organization’s strategy with the right policies and accountability, they can achieve the nimble agility and become a data-driven organization armed with the insights, necessary to become truly successful.