It takes practice, focus, and a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve. Just like in baseball, creating a marketing dashboard requires careful planning and execution. And unfortunately, just like in baseball, there are plenty of ways to strike out. In this blog post, I’ll look at some common problems with creating marketing dashboards and how to avoid them.
Strike One: Reporting on too many metrics
So you might have gone a little overboard. You’ve read a book or two and are trying to show your awesomeness by flexing your business knowledge. You have a Key Performance Indicator (KPI), Objective Key and Result (OKR), Key Success Indicator (KSI), Performance Indicator (PI), or Critical Success Factor (CSF) to measure everything under the sun.
Reporting on too many metrics is a huge mistake. Here is why:
- Leads to a Lack of Focus: If the dashboard tries to communicate too many things, it dilutes the impact of the most important results. A dashboard should be designed to highlight the most important metrics.
- It’s Time-Consuming: Reporting on anything that doesn’t provide you valuable insight tends to waste time. If the metrics are unnecessary, all the time you spend gathering, processing, presenting, and analyzing the results is wasted.
- Too much clutter is confusing: The purpose of a dashboard is to provide a clear and concise summary of data, but including too many metrics can lead to information overload and make it difficult for the viewer to identify the most important data points.
- The bottom line is that figuring out what matters most takes time. Instead of including everything you can think of, identify the items that matter the most to your goals.
Strike Two: Only focusing on lagging indicators
Focusing only on lagging indicators on a dashboard is a bad idea because it only tells you what has already happened and does not provide insights into what is likely to occur in the future. There are many problems with focusing only on lagging indicators, but here are some big ones:
- They only look at the past: Lagging indicators are metrics that measure the results of past actions, such as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), customer churn, or profit margin. While tracking progress and evaluating past initiatives’ success is essential, the metrics you focus on should provide more insight into what caused the results or what actions can be taken to improve performance.
- They do not drive behavior: Lagging indicators do not provide insight into future performance or behavior. For example, lagging indicators for a marketing team might include website traffic, lead generation, and sales pipeline velocity. These metrics are technically leading indicators for the company’s leadership team. Still, I recommend that a marketing department create leading metrics for each of these KPIs to help produce the desired results.
- Missed Opportunities: Organizations may miss out on opportunities to improve performance and be unable to take proactive measures to avoid potential issues. A well-designed dashboard should include a mix of lagging and leading indicators to provide a complete picture of performance and help inform future actions.
Let’s be clear here. I am writing this for marketing departments. The lagging indicators for a marketing team are most likely the leading indicators for the company. It’s important to be aware of this relationship. The marketing department should focus on leading indicators for their department SO THAT they can produce the best results for the company.
Strike Three: Measuring the wrong things
The final strike is measuring things that don’t matter as much as you think they might. I was guilty of this for a long time. I spent time Googling the metrics other people were using, but I didn’t put in the work to know if I needed to measure the same things.
From my experience, when I see a marketing team measuring the wrong things almost 100% of the time, they are also primarily focused on lagging indicators or vanity metrics that don’t provide real insight. Here are some common problems caused by measuring the wrong metrics.
- Focusing on low-value work: If you put a lot of effort into an initiative that doesn’t drive real impact, that time is essentially wasted. I feel that doing work that isn’t needed is the same as wasting 2x the time you think you are. Think of it this way, if your work didn’t make a difference, and you didn’t spend time working on the things that would make a difference. Then, you waste twice as much time.
- Poor decision-making: Measuring the wrong things can lead to poor decision-making by the team. If the tracked metrics do not align with the organization’s goals, the resulting data may be accurate and relevant but lead to misguided actions or missed opportunities.
- Inability to adjust strategies: If the metrics being tracked are not indicative of performance, it can be challenging to determine which actions are driving results or how to improve. This can lead to a lack of agility and an inability to adapt to changing market conditions.
Alright, it’s the bottom of the ninth, and your marketing dashboard is up at bat. You’ve got two outs and the bases are loaded. The pressure is on, but you’re confident you can hit it out of the park. You know that measuring the right things, focusing on leading indicators, and avoiding information overload are the keys to success. But you also know that striking out is all too easy if you’re not careful.
So keep your eye on the ball, take a deep breath, and swing for the fences! When you hit that home run, you’ll bring everyone home and become the hero of the game. And who knows, maybe one day they’ll even make a bobblehead of you.