Your marketing dashboard is too full of s**t

I’m an analyst, so I’m biased, but the analysts are some of the smartest people in your company. Who else has so much access to what is happening among your customers and across the enterprise?

So, marketers, become tight with your analytics team. Seriously. If there is one thing I hope you take away today, it’s this: Being able to work closely with an analyst will make you a better marketer. (The same is true for analysts: build those connections with the marketing teams. They are being asked to support specific business goals, which will give your analysis the context to drive impact.)

Successful marketing capabilities and campaigns exist on a foundation of objectives, results, and optimizations. These pillars are dependent on large amounts of data, and making that data accessible, actionable, and efficient across a number of functions and technologies. The CFO wants to know the ROI of the campaign investments. The CEO wants to know the revenue. CMOs will want to know the lift driven. The testing team wants to know where they can conduct experiments. The marketing vice-president wants to know if there are opportunities to optimize or drive efficiency in the brand experience.

Starting to sound like a lot to take on?

Go buy an analyst a cup of coffee, because the collaboration between marketing and analytics is going to make everyone shine.

As a marketer, you are charged with executing campaigns that impact business performance. As analysts, we are charged with helping you connect all of that information and giving you the knowledge to make the decisions that drive the impact.

One of the most consistent ways we have of doing this is through reporting. But most of the dashboards teeter on useless — to marketers, to leadership, even to analysts. There are a couple of common reasons for this, but they both revolve around the same mistake: too much non-relevant information and a lack of prioritizing the knowledge the audience needs.

Let’s start by taking a look at something we see all to often: the absolutely-everything report that absolutely everyone is emailed.

This dashboard is too full of s**t and helps nobody

You can’t make efficient decisions from that sea of data points. There is too much for a decision maker to have to sort through to get the story. When you include something for everyone, the relevancy to anyone decreases greatly. Just like the marketing experiences we develop, trying to be everything to everyone on a single page means you are not relevant to anyone.

Instead, deliver a relevant story to a specific set of decision-makers, without them needing a treasure map to find the story.

So... what do you want me to do with this?

If we take a step back and approach reporting and dashboards from the position of “what provides the most value,” everything will start to simplify. The first phase in making reporting more valuable is getting away from the singular dashboard. Showing that you understand the business objectives adds a level of credibility to the marketing campaigns and the recommendations.

Now comes the fun part: identifying what needs to go into a report.

Each decision-making team needs to identify what it is that impacts their performance; i.e., what is their goal? Increasing product sales? Increasing the number of items in each transaction? Increasing conversion? Whatever it is, that is what should take priority in the reporting. Developing a measurement framework in this manner gives everyone a solid foundation not just for reporting, but also for campaign strategy.

Priorities set, it’s time for the analyst and marketer to partner in creating the dashboard. Yes, I said partner. The most productive marketing teams function so well because of the support from cross-discipline teams working together. Don’t forget that.

The analyst-marketer partnership also gives the marketing team a chance to add clarity and refinement to its objectives. This means that the analyst and the marketer should be asking each other questions to gain context and clarity. This is where marketers are especially important to analysts: you as marketers have the business questions being asked that the analysts are trying to find insights for. The value driver of this collaboration is that performance and insights are directly linked to business impact, providing clarity and actionability.

As the two collaborate, the marketers can draw out the dashboard wireframe and the analysts can help guide and refine to a less-is-more solution.

With your analytics partner, you can build a strategy for optimization, insights, and reporting. This strategy gives you the foundation to tell your stories and support your decisions. The foundation also gives you the framework for reporting what matters. Is your goal to increase website visitors or drive sales? Are your performance goals based on impressions or conversions? By highlight just what matters most, you can show impact. And impact is what gets budget and resources for teams to grow and evolve campaigns and capabilities.

Focused business objective and relationship to the goal

Purpose-focused reporting delivers the data story in a way that is easily understood. We don’t have to put all of the metrics into a single view. There are easier ways to access the detailed data independently from the dashboard now more than ever before, due to the technology advances in analytics tools. Also, there are more metrics now than even five years ago, which makes it unfeasible to include all of them, forcing prioritization.

Coco Chanel’s famous quote “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off” applies here: before you complete a dashboard, remove an additional vanity metrics.

This direct view means you are able to deliver the important information to the right audiences. Doing this decreases, “OK, but what does that mean? Is that going to give us any more revenue or profit?” Instead, the right information is given to the right people to support the decisions they need to make.

Less is more when it comes to focusing on action

By tracking only the right data instead of the most they can cram onto one dashboard to make their decisions, data-driven marketing leaders are getting clear on opportunity, impact, and action.

Nick McLawhorn is director of analytics at Mirum

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