Posted on May 3, 2018 by Aaron Johnson
Keep track of what’s under the hood
You don’t drive a car with just the foot pedals and steering wheel—you need the dashboard to feed you actionable numbers about your speed, fuel level, and rpm, so you can keep things running smoothly and better respond to what’s on the road. A marketing dashboard does the same thing, except that instead of telling you that it’s time for an oil change, it visualizes the data collect so you can make sense of it without getting bogged down in endless spreadsheets, or buried under an avalanche of emails about the latest market research. And, just like the one in a vehicle, a marketing dashboard allows you to make rapid corrections as you travel, so you’re not constrained by a monthly or quarterly reporting schedule’s blind spots.
In all likelihood, the dashboard you create won’t just be for your own convenience; you’ll be asked to share it with other people in your organization, including the CEO. Read on for our suggestions about tailoring that shared dashboard to best suit executive needs.
Approach it like a blog post
You’re a marketing professional, and as such you’re accustomed to constructing buyer personas and generally taking your audience’s needs into account. Think about your CEO the same way you might about the readership for your latest blog post; focus on outcomes and big-picture results, rather than taking a deep dive into the kinds of data that they may neither be as familiar with nor care as much about. Would your CEO get more out of hearing about the most viewed blog posts from the past month, or hearing about what your site-wide conversion rate and referral visitors mean for your current marketing campaign?
Don’t just throw some graphs together
Yes, a marketing dashboard is largely about visual appeal, and finding ways to make your KPIs and critical metrics into something you can easily digest on sight. But not all graphs are created equal—line and area charts work better for plotting trends over time, while bar or column graphs are more suited to comparing values. And, while the daily leads waterfall graph is probably a staple in your personal dashboard, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best front-and-center choice in the layout when you present to the CEO. Dashboards are great for improving communication, confidence, and transparency across your organization, but that only works if you keep the most important KPIs for your audience in the most prominent visual space, prune out modules that you don’t need in this context, and keep things simple (but not simplistic!) to avoid overwhelming your audience.
So what should I measure, exactly?
Here’s a partial list of the metrics that might factor into your dashboard, depending on your audience’s needs:
Internal rate of return
Net present value of current campaigns
Rankings for your 3-5 most important keywords
Total increases in social reach
Site-wide conversion rate
Organic search visitors
Sales qualified leads
Net new contacts
Of course, what you measure and what you communicate to your CEO won’t be identical, and every business will have different needs and priorities. Be flexible—try changing up your date range, so you can compare quarterly to monthly or even weekly changes. Bonus: try including goals and/or projections as part of the visuals you present, to give your audience an idea of where things are headed.
Broadly speaking, in making a marketing dashboard for presentation you have the same goals that you do when you generate content for potential customers: being informative, providing value, and strengthening your brand’s message and unique offerings. All that work has to happen internally before you can convey it to consumers—and a dashboard it a fantastic way of helping to make that happen.
Feeling stuck? Don’t have the time to make your dashboard bright and shiny this month? SocialLink’s virtual marketing department is here to help!