Everything you need to know about marketing dashboards

Marketing dashboards can have a dramatic impact on results but only if you get it right.

You have a lot of data, so you should be able to know what to do when, right? Maybe you are drowning in data on strengths and weaknesses, but still dont really know what parts to action and, indeed, what parts to action first for maximum and fastest results.

Most brands have some activities that they measure ROI on.  Some things lend themselves to being able to do this kind of metric more easily than others e.g. eDetailing easy, Sponsorships/PR and Meetings not so easy. So marketers choose what they can easily measure, and what they cannot, and focus on what they can, often ignoring what they cannot. Very few marketers have a comprehensive way of linking the impact of each and every activity to financial results using current market data, and understanding the sensitivities within these.

Effective marketing dashboards

Marketers well know that there is no single metric that can tell you everything. ROI is useful in its place but ROI alone is not enough. Marketing is a complex interplay between many variables, variables that must be identified and the relationship between them determined and modeled against financial impact. Marketers must spend a lot of time in an attempt to determine the best metrics, and better understand the relationships between these and the financial impact from them. Thats where dashboards come in handy if, and only if, they are well conceived.

An effective marketing dashboard accounts for the relationship between the various components, and includes the measurement of short-term programs and initiatives in combination with the monitoring of brand asset and market share growth over time.

Some of the metrics on a dashboard can be diagnostic, looking at what the current situation is and identifying why. Others are predictive, using the relationship between the elements in the current market and predictive mathematics to forecast future results under a variety of assumptions of resource focus and allocation.

Developing dashboards

There are many ways to develop a dashboard, but when doing so, there are essentially some key stages to follow:

Decide on the key metrics. These differ from dashboard to dashboard. The Eularis dashboard includes metrics in all the key areas of sales and marketing operations (including messages, sales force activity, sales force materials, communications activities, payor perceptions, cost factors, lifecycle influence, company brand influence, and more) so that the complex interrelationship between these can be utilized.

Choose the best data to use and populate the dashboard with the data. Some attempt to create dashboards that have utilized historical data. However, in a dynamic market such as Pharma, with constant change that includes mergers, patent expiries, generic competition, budget cuts, product withdrawals, new launches, changing competitor actions and so on, those using historical data for this are finding themselves confused as to why their dashboards are not working the way they expected. Even in data-poor countries, we have been able to populate these dashboards with current market data that we collected ourselves for our clients - and it is imperative that the data be current in a market such as pharma, with all the constant changes.

Establish the relationship between the metrics. In the Eularis dashboard, we have a mathematical methodology for establishing the relationship between each and every variable in the dashboard. Many companies, no doubt, have their own methodologies for doing this, but whatever methodology you use, this is a vital component of an effective dashboard.

Ensure that it allows a component of forecasting and what if. Without Step 3, it is difficult to follow this step. However, the relationships between the variables must allow the marketer to make modifications to the components and see the impact they are having on the other components.

Connect to financial results. Given the whole reason for marketing is financial, it is critical that the dashboard components connect the elements of the marketing mix to the financial results. You can then move the dial on the financial results to see what various components need to be modified to get you that result.

Getting the facts

Obviously marketing is critical to invest in, but the C-Suite needs evidence of what marketing is resulting in what impact especially if marketing is not growing sales - the CEO, CFO and CMO are in danger of losing their jobs, not to mention the marketer. By using a marketing dashboard, the plethora of data can be tied together in one place and can assist in shaping an organization that makes its decisions on evidence-based hard facts, supplemented by internal knowledge and experience.

A good marketing dashboard needs complex mathematical underpinnings, but must excel in its simplicity or the marketers will not be able to use it and action it effectively. It must connect the dots in such a way that you can see how one marketing decision affects the final result. If you increase a particular activity, what impact will this have on the overall market share? If you decrease an activity, will this decrease sales or not? What if you stop one particular marketing message and replace it with another? A good dashboard can tell you these types of things with a high degree of accuracy, borne out by real world results.

An effective marketing dashboard is a difficult thing to build. We know! We took several years developing ours and tying it to real world results. It is not a part-time job for one of the marketers, or something you can designate to your analytics team. It must be created with the marketers current needs firmly in mind (and this changes), current real world data (and this also changes), based on a strong mathematical underpinning. But when you get it right, it is one of the most rewarding and effective undertakings you can impact. Not only will it be easy and fun to use, but it will have a far more dramatic impact on your marketing results than you ever thought possible but only if you get it right.

For more information on marketing dashboards, contact Dr. Andree K. Bates, at EularisGettin www.eularis.com.

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