Growth Insights for CEOs

9 Ways to Improve your Marketing Dashboard

Posted by Stijn Hendrikse



A marketing dashboard holds every measurable piece of data that is relevant to the growth of your business. Dashboards of the past were often uneditable screen shots, or endless Excel columns that blurred into mind-numbing statistics. The truth is, your dashboard is the star of the show, and can be a revenue-building machine if done smartly.

1. Timely delivery

A dashboard is only useful if it is delivered on time and with a consistent, repeating frequency. Adjust the data period you capture in your reporting cycle so the publication will be on time for the meeting/decision it is meant to support. If it doesn't come on time, it's like you didn't do it.

2. Data needs context

Data in isolation is not very useful. Every data point should be shown in relation to another, creating a cohesive map.   This can be done as a comparison vs. a target, and how that compares with the prior year's data, or the prior week and month to show trends. Ideally you can use a drill-down option that can easily show all three. It's also important to compare data points across marketing levers, channels, geos and campaigns, to benchmark and fine tune performance.

3. Provide insights

The data on your dashboard can't just represent raw numbers. You're not being paid to copy and paste numbers. Turn them into insights. Your sales and marketing team should analyze the data and provide their observations, follow-up plans and actions based on what they've learned. This is their chance to add value to each data point, and enhance the overall efficiency of the dashboard.

4. Tell a story

Part of an attractive dashboard is its readability. Not only should the data be displayed beautifully, it should also tell a logical story. Set up your dashboard to read as a book would - left to right and top to bottom - connecting each piece along the way. Comparative data and related metrics should be placed together. Dashboards are notorious for having a ton of data, but arranging those points cohesively will tell people not just what, but why your data is relevant.

5. Automation, automation, automation

When too many metrics are entered manually, you can lose accuracy and consistency. Automation removes the potential for human error, and allows things to be done the same way every time, and on time. Where possible, utilize automation features to make your dashboard as effective and predictive as possible.  Set it up to respond automatically to changing data so you have the upper hand in any situation.

6. Inspire accountability

Dashboard contributors need to be accountable for the data they track and report on. The first step is to make sure everyone understands the specifics of each metric they're tracking, and why. Your team is the center of collaboration, and your dashboard should be their most valuable tool. To help drive accountability, leave room on your dashboard for a metric that tracks performance. Use bright, large numbers to indicate and celebrate top performers. Give prizes if you'd like. You don't have to call out the low performers; if you build a model of transparency clearly demonstrating everyone's contributions, the rest will fall into place.

7. Drive interest

A great marketing dashboard is one your team members can be proud of  - it includes what they want to see and what they feel is important. It should be a tool they want to work with every day.  A dashboard is a dynamic system, not a set of columns to fill in as meeting time approaches. An effective dashboard is a comprehensive document that should live on everyone's computer, and be the driving force behind their actions. It's not a method of checking up on them, but rather a chance for them to share the impact of their work.

8. Cut out the clutter

Don't just fill white space. One of the biggest challenges of building an effective dashboard is deciding how much data to include. Keep it simple. Data should only be included if it is relevant to the people using it on a daily basis. Question every metric on your dashboard, and if you don't have a solid answer as to why it's there - dump it.

9. Make it pretty

There's nothing worse than sifting through endless columns of numbers, or trying to follow where a metric came from or why it's relevant. Dashboards should be well-designed and fun to look at. Charts, graphs and colorful visuals will make your dashboard something your team looks forward to contributing to.

With all of the options out there, a drag and drop dashboard builder is crucial. You can create drill-down options for data exploration, go deeper on a given data point (for instance, viewing the sales metrics of a particular day, not just a month or year), or even link to supporting websites or employee details. Take it a step further by adding a social aspect to your dashboard, allowing people to follow, share, comment or "like" any metric on the dashboard. Here's a great example from Lancaster.

dashboard-example

Your marketing dashboard is far more than a bunch of numbers crammed into an Excel doc. It has the potential to motivate your team, and change the way your business functions.  Design your marketing dashboard to get the most value out of it, and turn your revenue tracker into a revenue builder.

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