Let’s consider the following scenario: as you’re driving in your car, you glance down and see your speed is 45mph and your fuel tank is half full, so you know you’re okay to continue driving and are following the speed limit – but how do you know this? The likely answer is you’re using the gauges on your vehicle’s dashboard to know exactly how your car is performing to ensure you’re not caught speeding nor running on empty.
Much like your vehicle’s gauges, marketing dashboards work to let you know what the performance of your marketing machine looks like in real-time, helping you to keep your finger on the pulse of your marketing activities. But what are marketing dashboards, and why do you need them? Let’s explore how and why to use them.
What is a Marketing Dashboard?
Simply put, marketing dashboards are a way to visually display bulk data. The data may not be just marketing specific since many factors play into marketing – sales, accounting, website analytics and CRM activity are just a few examples of factors that can affect your marketing machine. Knowing how many calls the sales team made on your trade show follow-up campaign can be as critical as the post-event email metrics.
As Melinda Armstrong, VP of Client Services at Launch Marketing said, “Marketing dashboards allow you to establish a benchmark so that you can understand how your campaigns are performing month over month. They’re also helpful in analyzing what’s working and what’s not working so you can make course corrections and optimize your efforts in a way that lets you inform and educate others on your activities.”
A key piece of dashboards is that they reflect activity in real-time – since data is always being refreshed and updated, you know exactly where you stand on key performance indicators (KPI’s), allowing you to adapt forecasts and narrow in on achievements at all times.
Dashboards also offer an “executive view” – you may send regular status reports and have weekly, monthly or even quarterly check-ins, but having a panel of visual metrics that your executive team can log in and view at their discretion helps to keep them in the loop and foster communication regarding impending successes and losses.
Examples of Dashboards
While marketing dashboards can cover any range of metrics, you’ll want to define which are critical to your marketing plan’s success. Some companies prefer to focus on marketing automation activities – email campaigns, landing page form fills and website clicks – while others may focus on event ROI, such as how the cost per lead collected at a tradeshow ended up calculating based on all marketing touchpoints (giveaways, collateral printing, etc.). You may have all of these and more built in to your definition of success and need to capture them with overall dashboards – anything is possible. Here are a few examples of dashboards to get you thinking.
Why Use Dashboards?
We’ve reviewed a few reasons why you should get dashboards up and running, but why are they actually important to marketing? In short, dashboards prevent you from having to log in to multiple systems to know how things are going, giving you the kind of high-level oversight you need to remain agile in this fast-paced digital marketing world. They are a visual queue that will keep you constantly striving for improvement, and they’re easy to share and understand. When your team – whether it’s an internal marketing team or your entire small business – knows how your efforts are performing, everyone can work to support a successful marketing program.
How to Use Dashboards
Determining which dashboards are important to your program is as important as setting them up – a pretty panel isn’t necessarily a good panel. Meeting with key stakeholders, evaluating benchmarks and milestones in your marketing plan and understanding what is important when marketing your company will help you decide which efforts support your objectives and allow you to focus on which dashboards to follow and maintain.
While dashboards are a great way to remain “in the know,” it’s important to note that when used incorrectly they can damage your efforts. Never display personal data – such as a team member’s individual performance metrics – in a company-wide setting to call out specific efforts or chastise employees. This can damage morale and turn all of your hard work against you.
When used correctly, dashboards can be a fun and visual way to show how your efforts and activities are performing, can be manipulated using custom parameters such as date range, campaign name and more, and are an overall great way to keep everyone in the loop and ensure your marketing success. It’s an open road, now get out there and create your own dashboards!