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3 Tests Every Marketing Dashboard Must Pass

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Laura Patterson, president and co-founder of VisionEdge Marketing, Inc., a firm that helps clients leverage data and analytics to facilitate marketing accountability and operations, measure and improve marketing performance, develop dashboards, enhance alignment, and drive revenue.

At two recent conferences we asked attendees whether they had a marketing dashboard. Almost everyone in the rooms raised their hands.  A few more questions and nearly every one raised their hand again. Then I asked everyone to keep their hands up and put them down when the answer to any of the next set of questions was no.  I asked, does your dashboard:


  1. Inform the leadership team of the contribution and impact marketing is making on acquiring, keeping, and growing the value of customers?  A number of hands went down.

  2. Provide a direct link between your marketing programs and investments and business results?   More hands went down.

  3. Enable you to make strategic decisions?  More hands went down.

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If your dashboard is not helping you with these three questions then it may be time to do some fine-tuning.  Here are 3 things we look for when evaluating a marketing dashboard’s ability to facilitate decisions, improve marketing, and prove marketing’s contribution.

1. Review dashboard to look for the connection between marketing activities and investments and business outcomes.  This signals how well marketing is aligned with the business needles the company is trying to move and whether marketing will be able to communicate its impact and contribution.  For example, let’s say one of the metrics on the dashboard is brand awareness.  That might or might not be a good metric.  And even if it is a good metric for the organization, if the relationship between brand awareness and the outcome it is expected to impact is unclear, then the dashboard needs adjustment.

Members of the C-Suite are invest in marketing initiatives that will help the company acquire more of something, faster, less expensively, for example, more customers, more market share, more business with existing customer; faster conversion rates, and faster product adoption.  Does your marketing dashboard show marketing value, contribution and impact on find, keep and grow, and answer the questions of more, faster, and at what cost?

2. Examine metrics.  Most of the time what we see is data around marketing activity and leads.  Rarely are the metrics actionable.  If the metric isn’t helping you make course adjustments or strategic recommendations it might be interesting and you may want to track it, but it probably isn’t one you want to send up the flagpole.

3. Make sure your dashboard compares targets to actual data.  Many dashboards are missing this critical element.  Monitoring, measuring, and reporting results need to be within the context of the target and the commitment made.  There are two parts to this dimension:


  1. Performance Context:  If you report that you ran a 5K race at a 10 minute per mile pace how can we determine whether that was success or failure?  If you typically run at an 8 minute per mile pace for a 5K then this information tells us something was off and we can begin to do a diagnostic – were you sick, did you lack fuel, were you over-trained, did you have a cramp, fall down?  But if you typically run at a 12-minute per mile pace, then this is a huge improvement.  We have performance context for your results.

  2. Performance Commitment.  What performance commitment did you make?  Was your commitment to place in the top five in your age group? Or was it to surpass your personal record? Or, something else?  The point is that your dashboard should enable you and anyone who to evaluate the results within the performance context and commitment.

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If you have a dashboard that makes the connection between marketing activities, investment and results, is comprised of metrics that foster decision and action, and reports performance within context and commitment you are on your way to having a dashboard that will enable you to improve and prove the value of marketing.

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