As marketers, we live and die by data, but in a 24/7 world, we also have to be agile.
If your organization is like most organizations, you may be swimming in data, but is it actionable? If it is, how quickly can you move? Does it have the right context? The challenge for CMOs isn’t usually a lack of data; it’s too much data--and not enough context. Getting that context can be the tricky part, but having the right information at the right time will produce the right results.
Most marketers are aware of the opportunity that lies in our data. However, that data is spread across any number of disparate platforms. Marketing is a technology-powered discipline, and today nearly 2,000 marketing technology companies are in operation spanning Web analytics, marketing automation, social engagement, CRM, business intelligence, and more. Merging the data from these systems into a marketing dashboard that provides one consistent version of the truth to all stakeholders is no small task.
Tap Into The Right Marketing Dashboards
Dashboard creation is tedious and excruciatingly manual. Even the savviest marketers still rely on very manual processes like spreadsheets and never-ending analysis to join data from a patchwork of systems to create monthly reports.
Manual reporting systems are simply not working. Updates are too slow to be relevant and actionable for marketing teams. Data is useless if you can’t act on it. Period. Worst of all, results are questionable and require inordinate, time-consuming efforts to validate all of the data.
How can marketers mine wisdom from a sea of data dispersed across the organization?
Automating dashboards can mean a huge upgrade for marketing reporting. When used well, automated dashboards make marketing reports easier to produce and use by joining all of your disparate data sources. This enables marketers to create daily graphical representations of key metrics for business units and leadership teams. Most importantly: This data is actionable.
With the right marketing dashboards, you can easily see which campaigns are performing, which ones are not, and make decisions on where to put resources as you are executing. You don’t have to wait until a campaign finishes to see how it did. You can act as the activity is happening, so you can keep doing the things that work--and stop doing the things that don’t.
In essence, marketing dashboards distill your data into wisdom. They provide a single version of the truth to inform everything that you do. Automated dashboards help marketers work more effectively in dozens of ways, but a few factors need to be considered up front.
• Strive for quality data: An automated marketing dashboard is only as good as the data feeding it.
Dashboards put data on display, but if the data it reports is of questionable quality--or just poorly understood--then users will not be able to trust the conclusions they’ll draw from it. You need to trust the data going in.
• Put metrics in terms of pipeline and revenue: Many marketers focus on the wrong metrics by overvaluing traffic, fans, impressions, and other vanity metrics. More traffic is great, but if those visitors don’t turn into leads and those leads into customers, then the metric is meaningless.
Marketing metrics need to show the impact of marketing on business goals. By taking a top-level view of the prospect activity required to reach your revenue goals, you can compare your strategies against available markets to determine your specific targeting and segmentation schemes. You can visualize awareness versus engagement across all marketing activities, allowing you to trend conversions—impressions to clicks, clicks to registrations, and so on, all the way to revenue.
This is critical in your daily view of effective activity as well as annual strategic budgeting and forecasting activities, and it helps make sales your best friend in the process.
• Find and fill the holes in your data: It’s not enough to report on marketing automation. Marketers need to link marketing, sales, and finance data in one dashboard.
This can mean connecting thousands of data sources that are stuffed away throughout your organization. Don’t settle for a partial view. Do the work up front to connect the right data sources in your automated dashboard so you can work the data rather than the data working you.
• Choose the right dashboard technology: To be effective, marketers need a dashboard that consolidates all data sources, not just a select few predetermined sources. Choose a solution that allows you to easily add new data sources on the fly and without significant cost.
If you have to code connections yourself, it’s probably not the right solution. Also look for a dashboard that scales and makes it easy to visually share a single version of the truth across your company. Lastly, marketers work from anywhere, so your dashboard must provide marketing data in real-time, on any device.
If you’re a CMO, chances are you already know how important your data is to your organization’s success. But your data shouldn’t be enough to keep you satisfied. Reach for wisdom. Embrace technology that automatically and accurately distills the wisdom you need from the data you already own. Make your executives and board as passionate about it as you are.
It can take a Herculean effort to change with this kind of approach. In the end, this newfound wisdom is worth it; it will give CMOs and their teams serious credibility and will help marketing organizations become incredibly agile.