3 Questions to Ask When Building a Marketing or Sales Dashboard
Businesses run on data. Tracking performance metrics across multiple platforms – web traffic, ad traffic, social media, etc. – is a key part of evolving success, and you’d be hard pressed to find a company that doesn’t invest time and resources in the monitoring and analyzation of data. Here’s the problem though: There’s a lot of data to look at. At any one time, your business should be paying attention to (and adjusting accordingly based on) numerous variables and data metrics. But how do you make sense of it all?
A marketing or sales dashboard is a one-stop shop for viewing all KPIs (key performance indicators) related to a designated purpose. Instead of searching across multiple platforms and asking various employees for data on their specific areas of expertise, a dashboard combines all relevant data into one easy-to-digest location. And while it’s certainly important that a company’s marketing and sales managers are paying constant attention to the dashboard, they’re not the only ones who stand to benefit.
Why modern executives need marketing dashboards
Executives are responsible for the big picture. “Where are we succeeding and where are we failing?” is a question that any company’s executives should be asking themselves every single day. But when you’re not directly involved in the execution and monitoring of each individual task that determines the answer to that question, it can be difficult to form a clear response.
Marketing dashboards for executives help those at the top of the ladder visualize where various marketing and sales efforts stand. Instead of having to request reports from individual employees, executives are able to view a snapshot of activity that properly informs them of the status on designated KPIs. Congregating all the data in one place allows a CMO or CEO to measure success across platforms, objectives, and time frames, and is incredibly valuable for making sense of the increasingly siloed functions of digital marketing.
Dashboards present a simplified solution to the management of data, allowing executives and lower-rung employees alike to focus less on statistical reporting and more on using information to better their business. Here are the three questions you should be asking to make sure you build a marketing or sales dashboard that best helps you achieve your business’s unique needs and objectives.
1. What metrics do I need to monitor?
Before you build your dashboard, make a list of all the particular KPIs that you need it to track. Doing this ahead of time ensures that you don’t miss any big metrics, and it also helps you organize your dashboard in a way that optimizes visibility and use.
Last week we went over the eight marketing and sales KPIs that businesses should be tracking, and those basics are where you should start with your dashboard metrics. While these data points aren’t necessarily relevant for executives on a day-to-day basis, together they form a useful picture of marketing and sales performances.
Overall, the KPIs included on a marketing dashboard or sales dashboard should answer questions related to:
- Social media
By including these important metrics in the dashboard, executives are able to see at a glance how multiple divisions of their marketing and sales teams are doing, saving them – and their teams – a lot of time. Just be careful to avoid extraneous data. Including too much can reduce the effectiveness of the dashboard and blur the big picture. Stick with what matters, i.e. information that can be changed by direct action.
2. What technology should I use?
Dashboards aren’t built out of thin air. Multiple platforms exist solely for the purpose of building dashboards, and unless you’ve got some sort of tech genius on your roster with a lot of time to spare, rely on the ease of a designated platform to create your data center.
Ultimately the best platform for your dashboard is the one that fits in with your company’s needs, budget, and IT capabilities. If you don’t have an involved technological support staff and your marketing or sales teams will primarily be running the dashboard themselves, stick to platforms that are easier to understand and troubleshoot. Some platforms offer more customization than others, but ask yourself whether you can make the most use out of self-performed calculations and manipulations, or if you’d be better off with a more accessible platform. Then choose your best fit accordingly.
3. How can I optimize my dashboard for best use?
Don’t just build your dashboard and assume once it’s up and running you’ll know what to do with it. Spend time learning the functions and nuances of the dashboard, and make a plan for optimizing its benefits. This question is one should be asking yourself throughout the construction process, as it will help define both the metrics and technology that you use. But it goes further than that.
Designing a marketing or sales dashboard with executive use in mind necessitates streamlining and improving the final product so that someone outside the direct team can get as good of a visualization of progress as someone in the thick of it. Is there a way you can combine metrics for easier understanding and less busyness on the page? Might multiple dashboards be better than one, and if so, how should data be organized across the dashboards? Would it be best to update your KPIs hourly? Daily? Weekly?
A data dashboard is a tool with on-going functionality, and as such, it requires ongoing development. It’s okay if you don’t know the full answers to each of these questions off the bat, but do constantly tweak your dashboard as needed to make sure it fulfills its purpose across the employee spectrum. CMOs and CEOs should be able to visit the dashboard at any time and make informed decisions related to progress and performance based on what they see. Does your dashboard accomplish that? If it doesn’t, adjust it. If it does, then congratulations – you’ve just made everyone’s job a whole lot easier.