Focus Marketing Dashboards on Burning Questions

June 7, 2017
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

Create marketing dashboards that communicate powerful insight without all the clutter.

The litmus test for a marketing dashboard is the executive who says “I have 5 minutes a day to review dashboards. What are you going to put on it?” This was how Gartner for Marketers principal research analyst Lizzy Foo Kune framed the challenge and opportunity facing many marketers — to succinctly communicate marketing performance — during the 2017 Gartner Digital Marketing Conference. “Most dashboards are too complex, and building a dashboard for everyone satisfies no one,” said Ms. Foo Kune.

““I have 5 minutes a day to review dashboards. What are you going to put on it?””

The key is to leverage new visualization tools to summarize marketing performance for specific roles in support of better decision making. Fifty eight percent of marketers already use new dashboard tools, and these tools have the lowest abandonment rate of all marketing technologies surveyed in the 2016 Gartner Marketing Technology Survey.

Marketers are awash in data and, as a result, key stakeholders are drowning in reporting overload. There are too many requests for data and no time for analysis. This has led many marketers to turn to dashboard tools to help automate manual processes, free analyst time for more analysis and integrate data from multiple sources to improve decision making for key stakeholders across the organization.

To get the most from your data and the insights it provides, treat dashboards as powerful communication tools.

Cater to specific roles

Marketing dashboards are most effective when they focus on the precise needs of a specific audience. Identify the roles throughout your organization that use marketing data to make decisions. Note the types of decisions they make and problems they attempt to solve with the data.

Read more: Deploy Marketing Dashboards Across the Organization

Answer burning questions

Instead of burying insight in dials and depth charts, name and then answer the dashboard user’s most important questions through visualizations such as heat maps, red-yellow-green stoplight visuals and clear, descriptive titles. Title a one-page digital commerce dashboard “How well is our funnel doing?” to clearly state the objective of the dashboard for the intended audience. State the actual burning question.

Provide early alerts

Highlight and alert the dashboard user to problems before they become serious. Gauges are effective early warning indicators because they are simple and easy to understand. There’s a reason RPM, gas and engine heat gauges on a car have a red section — to clearly provide early warning. Gauges may be the only way a busy executive gets the critical information she needs to take action quickly.

“At their heart, dashboard tools are really data integration, communication and decision support tools,” said Ms. Foo Kune.

Action items
  1. Evaluate the impact next-generation dashboards may have in your organization
  2. Understand how this will make your organization more mature in marketing
  3. Capitalize on the power these tools will provide
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