When you review your marketing analytics now, what does that process look like? If you’re like most marketing professionals, it probably involves lots of spreadsheets. In fact, 60% of executives still depend on Excel spreadsheets to view their data.
It’s unsurprising then that nearly half of them say they end up making decisions based on gut instinct, rather than using the data available. If all the data you have is in a format that’s hard to read and even harder to connect back to the other analytics you have, then having it isn’t worth much.
You need to be able to see the data you have in a way that makes it possible to make all the relevant connections and insights required to start using it to improve.
The Answer: A Comprehensive Marketing Dashboard
The problem with spreadsheets isn’t just the lack of data visualization, they also keep all your data disconnected. If you have one spreadsheet with the data for your social campaigns, another for your blog metrics, and another entirely for email opens, how are you ever supposed to see how all those metrics relate?
If you can bring all that information into one view that not only shows the data in visual charts and graphs that are easy to interpret, but also allows you to see how the marketing analytics for different departments and activities all connect, then you can really start putting that data to use.
But a marketing dashboard on its own is no magic solution. You need to fill it with the right information before you can use it to start getting more out of your marketing analytics.
So what’s the right information? Well, that’s a question with a complicated answer, since every marketing organization would benefit from a customized marketing dashboard. There’s no one-size fits all model. Every organization has distinct goals and priorities and therefore needs to shape their own approach to tracking what’s working.
Nonetheless, our experience helping a number of businesses build out the perfect dashboard for their needs has given us a pretty good idea of what marketing analytics make a dashboard the most useful.
Track Marketing Activity Performance: Tactic-Level Metrics
Every marketing campaign is made up of individual tactics. Every tactic should have some metric you use to track how well it’s meeting its goals. For webinars, it’s the number of attendees. For blog posts, it’s the number of visits, shares, and comments. For emails it’s the number of opens and how many people click on the links within the email.
These are probably the analytics you’re doing the best job of tracking now. They’re fairly easy to collect and export into spreadsheet form for analysis. These analytics are valuable for showing you how well individual tactics are doing at meeting the goals your team has set for them.
Compare Apples to Apples: Program-Level Metrics
Tactic-level metrics are the easy part. Things get a little more complicated when you get up to the program level.
Not all of your marketing activities are designed to meet the same goals. Your analysis of your marketing analytics needs to take that into account. You can’t expect your blog posts or PR efforts to generate the same number of leads as your demos or webinars.
Marketing activities that are meant to help raise awareness should be judged based on metrics that reflect awareness, while activities focused on lead generation should be gauged based on how many leads they bring in. Make sure you’re categorizing your leads based on the marketing program they belong in. These can vary, but are likely to include categories like: awareness, education, demand generation, sales enablement, market intelligence, and customer experience.
Your tactic-level metrics can give you an idea of how individual tactics are contributing to these higher level goals, but you should also set larger program-level goals and include metrics in your dashboard that show you how well you’re meeting those.
See Your Overarching Goals: Campaign-Level Metrics
Finally, you need to see how everything connects. While you do want your dashboard set up to help you compare apples to apples, that doesn’t mean you want to keep your awareness metrics separate from your lead gen ones. You need to be able to see which activities are helping people move from the awareness stage to the point of being a more serious lead, and then to the point of choosing to buy.
Your marketing dashboard will help you do that, so that you can finally have a better means of connecting your campaign-level goals to the individual activities that help you reach them.
The final set of marketing analytics you should include are those that help you really see the overall success of your whole campaign in terms of ROI. Track how well all the work you’re doing is contributing to new revenue for the company and match that back against what you’ve been spending.
Drawing the line between marketing activities and revenue is complicated, and having a strong marketing dashboard is just one part of that process (albeit an important part), but it’s a powerful way to show your executives the contribution that your marketing efforts are making to the bottom line. And it shows you how to improve what you’re doing to bring in even better results next quarter and beyond.
More Marketing Dashboard Best Practices
Making sure your marketing dashboard includes the right analytics is an important step, but to really see your data in the most useful light possible, there are a few extra steps you should take.
Metadata makes it possible to hone in on every possible relevant view of the data. In addition to being able to see the big picture of how all your marketing analytics add up, you also want to be able to drill down and see the smaller stories. How do different activities perform with different personas? Are some campaigns working great in certain geographic areas, but falling flat in others?
If you apply the right tagging to all your activities and metrics, you’ll be able to see the important trends that help you shape a better marketing plan moving forward.
Analyze the journey.
Marketing technology has reached the point where you can go beyond seeing how many clicks a PPC ad gets and start seeing which of the people that clicked went on to read the full blog post, join the email list, sign up for a webinar, and then convert to a sale. There’s a story behind the metrics you have that you miss when you don’t have the means to connect them all and see which step leads to which.
Journey maps can help you make those connections. You’ll get a much more accurate picture of what’s working if you connect the dots of the data you have to see how it all works together.
Make sure it all ties back to revenue.
How much money your marketing brings in is ultimately the success metric that matters most. It’s how you show your bosses you’re succeeding and deserve to keep getting a healthy share of the budget.
Viewing marketing analytics in a vacuum can cause some misleading conclusions. AdWords clicks that don’t contribute to a sale are just costing you money. Blog posts that get tons of views, but only from people who aren’t in your target audience aren’t helping you meet your bottom line. You need your marketing analytics to point you in the right direction, and that direction is whichever one leads you to more revenue.
Building a marketing dashboard that suits your company’s particular needs requires really thinking through what you want to achieve and what you need to know to track your progress toward those goals. You can learn more about what not to do in our recent eBook on marketing dashboard mistakes to avoid. And you can get some guidance into how to get it right by getting in touch.Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0