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Marketing performance management is one of the key ways for companies to improve the effectiveness of their marketing mix, by monitoring and measuring performance according to pre-determined performance indicators, and taking data-driven strategic decisions based on the results. It goes without saying that in order for teams to efficiently track progress and provide comprehensive information to decision-makers, information needs to be stored and presented in a clear and user-friendly way.

Here, we look at two useful tracking tools, the marketing dashboard, and the balanced scorecard. While the two tools serve different purposes, they are complementary and together can give you the overview you need of both short-term performance and long-term progress.

What is a marketing dashboard?

A marketing dashboard is a central hub that provides easy and real-time access to datasets from multiple reports simultaneously. Because the data is constantly updated, teams can monitor their operational performance in real time. This makes dashboards a useful tool for daily check-ins, short-term decision making and resource management.

Dashboards also allow for comparisons between current performance and past performance, as well as the identification of trends e.g. CTA conversion rate over a 12-month period, or email open rates. But because dashboards provide a real-time view of operational performance, they don’t reveal anything about progress towards a certain target.

Choosing or developing a marketing dashboard

Because your dashboard will play a key role in your day-to-day work, it needs to be powerful yet easy to use. Three of the most important questions to ask when developing or choosing a dashboard are:

  • Can we customise it easily? Your dashboard needs to work for your team as a whole and also for the individuals who use it. Not everyone will need (or have permission) to have access to the same information, and what’s important for one role might be less important for another.Ideally, the dashboard you choose will be customizable, and allow users to drag and drop the widgets they need in a way that works for them. Having role-based access controls may also be important if there is some information that only management needs to see.
  • Is it scalable? As your projects and business grow, the dashboard needs to be able to keep pace, with more activities and resources to handle. It also needs to be able to integrate easy with data from a wide variety of sources, such as your CRM or marketing automation software.
  • Is there an app or mobile version?We’re less tethered to our desks and computers than in the past, so it’s important that your team can access real-time data from a mobile device. This will make life easier when your team are on the go, at a conference or meeting.

There are many great marketing dashboards on the market, including Google Data Studio, Tableau, Klipfolio, and Cumul.io. So explore their features and check how they meet your needs before making a decision. Bonus: use tools such as Supermetrics to aggregate all data sources seamlessly

What is a balanced scorecard?

Firmly embedded in organisations all over the world, the balanced scorecard is a surprisingly recent development. Developed in the early 1990s by academic Robert S. Kaplan and business theorist David P. Norton, the balanced scorecard measures performance across a wider spectrum, rather than purely from a financial perspective, as was the case in classic scorecards.

This strategic planning model typically involves measuring the overall health of a company by looking at a business from four different perspectives:

  • learning and growth (also sometime thought of as organisational capacity);
  • internal business processes;
  • customers; and
  • finance.

Each of these areas can be broken down strategic objectives, with selected KPIs/measures for each.

As an example, in a balanced scorecard for the marketing department, your objectives and measures for the area ‘Learning and growth’ could look something like this:

  • PERSPECTIVE: Learning and growth
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 1: Increase employee expertise
      • MEASURE: % employees following at least 5 days of training
      • MEASURE: reduce employee turnover
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 2: Optimise use of technology
      • MEASURE 1: % employees with corporate laptop
      • MEASURE 2: Migration to Office 365
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 3: Improve employee well-being
      • MEASURE 1: Employee Net Promoter score
      • MEASURE 2: Monthly team event

The scorecard typically indicates the target, the current status, and the distance to the target. It also clearly mentions the current timeframe and the target date, and typically includes either a colour coding of progress, or another way of representing this.

The below examples are less developed, but give you an idea of strategic objectives for each of the remaining perspectives. It’s important to mention that your strategic objectives should be established before you decide on the KPIs/measure. Doing this the other way around, i.e. starting from what you want to measure, will most likely result in you measuring the wrong things.

  • PERSPECTIVE: Internal business processes
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 1: Improve internal efficiency
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 2: Increase number of leads generated
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 3: Improve marketing and sales alignment
  • PERSPECTIVE: Customers
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 1: Increase market share
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 2: Improve customer return rate
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 3: Improve delivery times
  • PERSPECTIVE: Finance
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 1: Increase profits
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 2: Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost
    • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 3: Improve cost control

In placing your perspectives and strategic objectives on a grid, you should see the strategy map of your department or company (depending on the level at which you are performing the exercise), which will give an overview of the overall strategy at a glance.

And by drawing arrows between the objectives, you will start to see how they impact and influence each other, telling a coherent story.

A marketing dashboard and balanced scorecard serve quite difference purposes, but can both bring great value to your department or company as a whole. By establishing an agreed way of monitoring performance (marketing dashboard) and managing it (balanced scorecard), both your short- and long-term decisions will be firmly founded.

For more about marketing performance management, take a look at our marketing performance management guide.

Need advice on creating a dashboard or balanced scorecard? Our marketers can help.

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