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7 steps to create a Marketing KPI dashboard

Even if marketing is an important strategic part of corporate policy today, marketers and marketing teams are still too often and wrongly pushed into the corner of "sales support" or the "creative department". Marketing specialists can only strengthen their strategic position within a company if they leave behind ad hoc planning and the one-sided focus on operational marketing.

This is only possible with a strategic marketing plan and a KPI dashboard that provides insight into the results of the so-called key performance indicators and clearly summarizes the ROI from operational marketing. Only then can they have a say and take on a role at the strategic level within the company.

There's only one way to see if your marketing is working: with a dashboard

Marketing numbers can be found everywhere: in Google Analytics, CRM tools, in email marketing software, in marketing automation technology, in dashboards or Excel files supplied by the marketing agency, etc. Monitoring all this data is hardly any task to be done, and getting a good look at the numbers and ROI is even harder when the KPIs are fragmented. The basic function of a KPI dashboard is therefore to centralize the measuring points in marketing.

But a good KPI dashboard goes even further: it visualizes the measurement points in a way that allows the marketer to immediately translate them into an ROI. Only then does the KPI dashboard become a strategic marketing tool that helps make decisions or make strategic changes. Centralize, visualize and analyze are the 3 golden rules for those working with a KPI dashboard.

Concrete advantages for marketing teams and marketing agencies

Before we start with the step-by-step plan, I will briefly discuss the most important advantages of a KPI dashboard for marketers who work in companies and agencies:

  • It forces you to do that focus to retain targets, measurement points and results.
  • It centralized all measurement points that are available in various data sources.
  • It visualized the progress of the results, so you can keep your finger on the pulse and intervene proactively. By the way, did you already know that, according to a study by the Social Science Research Network, 65% of us need a visual basis for processing data?
  • Investments in time and money are converted into results and ROI.
  • Within the Marketing teams you, your colleagues and your external partners will be motivated. Within the Marketing agency it is an absolute incentive for the customer.
  • They speak the language of Managements, which mainly relies on numbers when making decisions, rather than emotions and gut feeling. Management needs or demands dashboards.

Are you convinced? Outstanding. Now we're going to go through the process of setting up a Marketing KPI Dashboard in seven steps. I formulated a specific question for each step. You have to answer this question completely in order to be able to successfully complete the creation of a professional and functional KPI dashboard.

STEP 1. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO MEASURE?

A dashboard is meaningless without goals, targets, critical success factors, measuring points or success indicators. In this article, I'll use KPI (Key Performance Indicator) as a collective term for these terms. In practice these terms are interchangeable, but in theory they mean the same thing: they are an answer to the question "What do you want to measure?"

Difference between "basic key figures" and "detailed key figures"

If you are new to data visualization in a KPI dashboard, don't succumb to overconfidence. It is tempting to make a long list of KPIs without considering the amount of work it would take to get them anywhere, to plot them out, and to analyze them.

In the beginning, keep your Dashboard 1.0 strategic and clear so that you don't get demotivated by the flood of data. In this phase, define your base measurement points in advance, i.e. KPIs that are necessary to monitor your marketing policy. Later you can add KPIs to the dashboard step by step and develop sub-dashboards from them (more in step 4) that work out detailed measurement points and enable in-depth analyzes.

Common marketing KPIs are:

  • Online advertising costs per click
  • Social media connections
  • Total number of visitors to the website
  • Visitors to the website via organic traffic (SEO)
  • Visitors to the website via advertising (SEA, social ads, etc.)
  • Visitors to the website via email marketing
  • Total number of conversions on the website (downloads, clicks, completed forms, chats, registrations, etc.)
  • Incoming leads over the phone, email, chat, apps, etc.
  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
  • Cost per lead
  • Conversion of leads
  • Number of orders and deals
  • Cost per deal (customer acquisition costs (CAC))
  • average value of the deal
  • Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)

You can find a detailed overview or list of Marketing KPIs in the previous article. To give structure and methodology to this process, you can use the basic template below for the time being.

Divide your KPIs into categories

You've probably noticed by now that the widely used KPIs in the list above are arranged in a specific order: It follows the logic of a sales and marketing funnel. It starts with KPIs, which are at the top of the marketing funnel and most importantly, they help to increase brand awareness and visitors to the website.

If you work with such a breakdown at an early stage, it has the advantage that you lay the foundation for the structure of your KPI dashboard immediately. In addition, certain related KPIs are visualized next to each other in the dashboard. Content marketers or digital marketers can see their KPIs bundled together in one place, while sales managers who are primarily interested in leads can analyze their KPIs at a glance.

So immediately divide your KPI list into categories. These can, for example, follow the internal organization or be subdivided according to the logic of the sales and marketing processes. I personally prefer the latter approach. Within our company, the KPI dashboard is divided into four categories: Reach, Act, Convert and Engage. This is the RACE model from Smart Insights.

STEP 2. WHERE DO YOU GET THE DATA FROM?

You have already read it in my introduction: Marketing numbers can be found everywhere. You can counteract this with your KPI dashboard, which brings all KPIs together in one central location. Before answering the question "Which tool do we use to build the dashboard?" (More on this in step 3), it is advisable to first define where you will get the data from.

Once you have the list of data sources, when choosing your tool, it is easier to check that there is a connection between your data source and the tool on your KPI dashboard. When it comes to automated data acquisition, there is a big difference between an Excel dashboard and a software tool for KPI dashboards.

The most important data source in marketing is without a doubt Google Analytics. But it would be a shame if you only base your KPI dashboard on data that is in Google Analytics. In the diagram below, I show the data sources that are important within our company for around 10 KPIs.

STEP 3. WHAT TOOL WILL YOU USE TO SET UP THE DASHBOARD?

Too often, corporate marketers start with this step. I hope the two steps above convinced you not to do this. It makes a lot more sense, with your list of KPIs and your data sources, to take the step of narrowing down your dashboard tools. I distinguish between three broad categories:

  • Do-it-yourself (DIY) dashboards
  • Marketing technology tools with an integrated KPI dashboard
  • Dedicated tools for business analytics and dashboarding

Geeks use DIY dashboards

Some of us don't like it at all when we have to follow a framework when creating a KPI dashboard. The so-called geeks (experts or enthusiasts of digital technology) prefer to start with a blank sheet of paper, which they build up and structure step by step. The advantages of these dashboards: the unlimited freedom to customize it and the lower costs (these tools often already exist in a company). The downsides are the additional time it takes to build a professional dashboard and the basic IT skills needed to connect to data sources.


Examples of DIY dashboards:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Google Sheets
  • Microsoft Access (see photo)
  • SharePoint

Integrated dashboards are the best solution

Do you use marketing planning software like Husky to manage your operational marketing plan? Do you have a limited number of KPIs that you want to measure? Don't you have the time or the inclination to set up a dashboard software? There is a ready-to-use Results module that you can use to set up your marketing KPIs.

The advantage of these KPI dashboards is that they are easy to set up and integrate within your operational marketing plan (the KPIs are linked to your planning, so to speak). The disadvantage of simple dashboards is, of course, that there are limitations for those who want to go further (e.g. we only offer the option to create monthly KPIs). You will also likely need an API (Application Programming Interface - software that connects the Results module in Husky to your specific data source) or connectors from a third party (like Zapier) to automatically pull in data.

Specific KPI dashboard tools: for those who want to go one step further

In the past few years dozens of KPI dashboard tools have hit the market: from generic BI (business intelligence) tools such as: B. Google Data Studio or Klipfolio, which are ideally suited as marketing KPI dashboards, to KPI dashboard tools that have been specially developed for marketing specialists (such as SuperMetrics or Databox). I'm not going to make a value judgment because the choice of a specific tool depends on the needs of your company, your IT skills or those of your colleagues, as well as the budget you would spend on KPI dashboarding. Other dashboarding tools are Geckoboard, Cyfe, Dashthis, Tableau, etc.

A little tip: check with your marketing agency which KPI dashboard they are using. It can be easier to make a choice based on a specific recommendation from people you trust. In addition, when you set up your dashboard you will have a coach at the same time and you will undoubtedly share data with each other quickly and clearly.

By the way, did you already know that we at Husky enable the integration of one or more KPI dashboards as well as set up your own dashboard with monthly KPIs? Then you kill two birds with one stone: you have a fully set up professional dashboard and you can attach dashboards (or sub-dashboards) to the correct planning or campaign in Husky.

An important question to ask after choosing and implementing the KPI dashboard tool: “Can the technology do the work for you on its own?” Ultimately, you can only work sustainably if the data automatically and continuously flows into your dashboard . The less manual entries, the better!

STEP 4 HOW MANY DASHBOARDS DO YOU NEED?

Perhaps you can't wait to get to work right now. Please wait a moment: we have one more step to take ... ;-) First, you need to determine, based on the number of KPIs, how many types of dashboards you need.

Let's say you choose Google Data Studio as your dashboard tool. Will you visualize all KPIs on a dashboard? Or will you create separate dashboards for ...:

  • Top level KPIs: critical and strategic KPIs for management
  • RACE KPIs: all KPIs divided into four categories (Reach, Act, Convert and Engage)
  • Team motivation KPIs: a selection of KPIs that have to be very transparent for the team (e.g. there is a canvas hanging in the office on which the KPIs can be seen) and that have a motivating effect
  • Website / SEO KPIs: detailed dashboards that should provide the digital team with all the insights
  • Content KPIs: All content data on various internal and external content platforms
  • Event KPIs: provides the event team with an immediate overview, e.g. B. via registrations for events, visitors to stands, etc.

STEP 5. HOW WILL YOU SET UP THE DASHBOARD?

A fool with a tool is still a fool“Is a saying. In other words, the best dashboard tool that is badly designed remains worthless and wasted. Those who have to work with this tool have a great responsibility!

The most common mistake made when setting up a Marketing KPI dashboard is the one-sided focus on data. One would like to show as much data as possible. This is a mistake. A complicated table of numbers and a graph with interlaced lines is not a dashboard. A dashboard is not created to fill it with data, but to present the data in an understandable way. The focus when setting up a KPI dashboard should therefore be entirely on visualizing data, showing the good, mediocre and bad, so that the data is stimulating for analysis and adjustments. For examples of bad dashboards, see this article on the Geckoboard website.

The best way to see the progress of the results is by using alerts and color indicators. Our brain immediately associates the color red with the fact that “something is going wrong”, orange with “warning” and green with that “everything is going well”.

This does not mean that a good KPI dashboard has to be a lot of colors. Do not get me wrong. In particular, use color to make the analysis easier to understand. A whole series of dashboards have become coloring books in which the designer has acted out graphically, but for which a color legend would be necessary. This is a pity.

There are a number of possibilities for visualizing data: bars, lines, circles, spheres ... The toolbox offers almost unlimited possibilities. None of them are wrong or bad; as long as they are understood by the reader, every graphic is perfect. Good dashboards provide variety in the use of graphics. A dashboard full of bar charts can quickly become boring. The design below is very appealing in my opinion.

Good web builders always put the most important information on top. Dashboard designers should do the same. Start at the top with the key components from your KPI dashboard and add color indicators. The reader can read the core message with just one glance. Below is a good example of a KPI dashboard in Google Data Studio with the core numbers on top followed by color indicators. The structure is clear, easy to read and easy to read. In addition, the designer alternates the graphics to motivate the reader to look at everything further. Last but not least, the color choices are stylish and a limited palette is used. That has style!

I found this KPI dashboard on the website of Jeff Sauer.

Take another look at the dashboard up here. Take a moment and see which way your eyes go as you read the dashboard. Maybe as follows: First the above data in the horizontal bar, then the graphics on the left of the screen and then the graphics on the right of the screen. Professional dashboard designers highly recommend this F-shape when designing dashboards.

The final design recommendation concerns the choice of title for the data. The above dashboard also scores with regard to this rule: The graphic answers a question.

In summary, the following criteria apply to a well-designed Marketing KPI dashboard:

  • a clear number of KPIs (no overloading)
  • you don't get lost in details
  • the data is easy to read by those for whom it is intended
  • the designer wants to convey a message
  • the focus is on data visualization and not the data
  • the dashboard contains color indicators that clearly show what is good, mediocre and bad.
  • the use of graphics and colors is limited and easy to identify
  • the design is varied (many different types of graphics)
  • with regard to the reading direction, the design follows the F-shape
  • every graphic is an answer to a question

A professional marketing KPI dashboard is like a picture book. You shouldn't feel like you are looking at marketing data, but you should still feel like you understand how marketing works.

STEP 6. HOW DO I USE THE DASHBOARD?

You have a Marketing KPI Dashboard! You can really be proud of that now. But that doesn't stop the work. It is just beginning. Now you will integrate the dashboard into your daily tasks, into the management of your team, or you will use it to enforce management decisions.

Good marketers not only have a KPI dashboard, but they also use it regularly and consider it a success factor in their marketing policy. And you are not alone in that. So ask for feedback from your colleagues, management, and key stakeholders (such as your marketing agency). The best way to do this is to actively use the KPI dashboard in marketing and management meetings or presentations. Why not hang a big screen on the wall showing live data from key motivational KPIs?

Dashboards contain a lot of digital data. You can set alerts when certain KPIs are above or below expectations. This is the only way to turn a dashboard into a real work tool with which you can proactively make changes and make decisions in good time. Do you see a rapid drop in the number of visitors to the website at any given point in time? Customize the online campaigns. Are you falling off Google on a certain search term? Write more content about the search term. Is the number of leads falling? Activate a few quick wins that you know from experience will result in quick lead generation.

Don't stare blindly at your data (until)

As mentioned above, the focus should not be on the data, but on the data visualization. Measure results, efficiency and ROI. You will quickly find that using and analyzing a Marketing KPI Dashboard is the step in the process that will challenge you the most. Don't measure just for the sake of measuring. Don't just look at what works, look for ways to optimize what works. In English it is not for nothing that they say “Focus on improving marketing ROI, not just proving.” No matter how efficient your dashboard and your linking software may be: Context analysis within a marketing department remains a person's job to this day.

Unite marketers around the dashboard

The Marketing KPI Dashboard will undoubtedly become a strategic tool for you as a marketer. Are you a Marketing Team Leader, Marketing Director, or CMO? The dashboard can also bring marketing staff, teams or silos closer together and generate additional value. Is the number of leads falling? Then you can sit around the table with several people and the KPI dashboard provides the necessary insights for everyone.

In any case, you can use your Marketing KPI Dashboard to introduce and implement “Metrics Thinking” in your team. Very helpful. You can then develop scenarios that have specific actions in place that provide an answer to the specific analytics that emerge from the KPI dashboard. In any case, my experience as a strategic planner has shown me that marketing planning is better based on a professional KPI dashboard than on emotions and gut feeling.

Share your dashboard with management

An Excel, Word or PowerPoint file that is filled with lots of data is not very appealing to management. Management trusts that you have analyzed the data and come up with solutions. Dashboards - when properly constructed - focus on analytics and solutions. That is why they enjoy great popularity in management rooms.

Smart marketers use KPI dashboards to ask for a bigger marketing budget, push through projects, justify wage increases and bonuses, and / or improve their strategic position within the company. So always create a KPI dashboard that speaks the language of management.

At the management level, a KPI dashboard is also ideal for coordinating sales and marketing. Does the sales department or product management want to get their way with regard to actions, projects or campaigns? The KPI dashboard shows what the ROI of these campaigns looks like. Does your KPI dashboard also contain data about measurement points deeper in the sales and marketing funnel? You can then have in-depth conversations with sales colleagues to initiate better marketing campaigns and campaigns that lead to more leads, more sales and higher customer loyalty or a higher LTV (total customer value) per customer.

Was your Marketing KPI Dashboard created in a so-called SAAS (Software As A Service) tool that you pay a subscription to use? Then it is sufficient to send colleagues or management a link to the dashboard. So no hassle with documents that have to be opened, changed and saved.

STEP 7. HOW DO I CUSTOMIZE THE DASHBOARD?

The last step! You are almost done! We have practically closed the circle. You have gone through all the steps on the way to your professional Marketing KPI dashboard. You will soon be a master at monitoring marketing data and making strategic and operational decisions based on hard numbers. Sounds good doesn't it?

However, nothing in life lasts forever. Business models change faster and faster, the marketing industry explodes in the area of ​​digital techniques and tools, marketing or management teams undergo an annual development in their composition. That means your KPI dashboard needs to keep up with the times. It has to be adjusted every now and then to withstand the ravages of time. Remember to make the following adjustments:

  • the dashboard will simplified: e.g. more focus on primary data, secondary data will be deleted
  • the dashboard receives a new face: certain key figures or KPIs are changed, deleted, polished and added
  • the dashboard will better used: z. B. Integration into weekly meetings takes on better forms, the way of reporting to management is optimized
  • the dashboard is used for colleagues, management and stakeholders more accessible made: z. B. through a better access rights structure (who can see what?)
  • the dashboard will in line with other dashboards brought up: You could be a leading force in the "Metrics Thinking" process in your company with other departments following you. This ultimately leads to a standardization of the dashboarding (don't forget to ask about a raise, an additional bonus or a higher position! :-))

I hope this article helps you move your fragmented data into a centralized KPI dashboard that will help your marketing department analyze faster and make better decisions. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to fill out the form below. We answer every question!

"A marketing KPI dashboard process is not a destination, it's a journey."

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