As economic times have strained purse strings in organizations, you hear the word accountability bandied around more and more. Before adding anything to a marketing strategy plan, its ability to produce tangible, quantifiable results is required. This can be a very good thing since there is never a good time to waste money on projects that won’t pay off.
Dashboards as a Tool to Monitor Success of Marketing Strategy
- Dashboards form a graphic representation of data in a format easily interpretable by managers who need to use the data, but may not understand its importance or interpretation if displayed in a tabular format.
- Information contained in the dashboard are related to achieving one or more marketing objective. Examples of information that might be displayed are sales, margins, customer satisfaction, market share, Brand development index (BDI), stock-outs, etc. These may be displayed as bar or pie charts and can be broken up by product line, SBU, etc.
- Marketing strategy is evaluated by viewing results displayed on the dashboard. For instance, a decline in sales over time might indicate the need to re-evaluate your current marketing strategy by increasing advertising, targeting messages more closely with the target audience, or reducing costs. Meanwhile an increase in costs over time might suggest a different marketing strategy building on sourcing issues or re-design of the product with less expensive materials. Multiple graphics on the dashboard help managers determine which change in marketing strategy fits with ALL the data supplied.
- Information forming a marketing dashboard generally comes from internal records spread across multiple databases and, potentially, multiple functional areas of the firm. For instance, sales might come from the marketing or sales department, while cost information may reside with accounting. Some information will likely come from scanning outside resources, as well — doing market research. For instance, market share relies on knowing the estimated size of the market, while BDI requires information on the size of a market segment.
- Information on a marketing dashboard may be transformed using a variety of analysis techniques prior to graphing it. For instance, regression, Logit, or other statistical analysis may be performed, then graphically depicted.
Characteristics of Good Dashboards
- Remember that all information has a cost, so data collected and displayed on the dashboard should have some impact on decision-making.
- Dashboards should be customizable, such that different managers have information most salient to their decisions. Overwhelming managers with information they can’t use tends to encourage them to overlook more valuable information. Managers at higher levels of decision-making should have overviews that contain summary information with the option to dive deeper into any area without re-configuring the entire dashboard.
- Dashboards should not contain static information, but dynamic information such that data are plotted against time to show trends.
Software to Create Marketing Dashboards
A variety of tools are available for creating dashboards. Among them are:
Cognos, from IBM
Pentaho (which is open source)