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How to create a smart inbound marketing campaign dashboard

Marketers are always looking for better and faster ways to measure their work. Not because we like seeing how well we're performing but because we want to make better decisions, faster.

For inbound marketing campaigns to remain relevant they have to continually change and improve because people are continually changing.

It's now the marketers responsibility to respond to a dynamic and rapidly shifting audience. The faster the right decisions can be made, the faster marketers can learn from and apply their learning to drive continual changes.

It's no secret that marketers have to battle with their own data to make sure they are analyzing the right pieces and looking at the right information to make the right decisions.

Having the right information, the right data, in front of you when a decision needs to made will make all the difference is what marketers need to be able to make a quick and concise call?

Inbound marketing dashboards are popular because they pull together a lot of metrics and generate a board of charts that can be easily viewed.

A quick google search will give you idea of the impact this had on the day-to-day operations of modern day marketers.

But for an inbound dashboard to add any value it has to be telling you what you want to know when you need to know it. And this involves a framework to guide how individual metrics are viewed.

Creating a smart inbound marketing campaign dashboard starts with planning and ends with automated reports.


Dashboard Planning

Planning an effective dashboard starts with a framework, a foundation to build up from. Similar to any building, the foundation is critical to holding up the rest of the structure.

Without exhausting this analogy, the framework for your dashboard functions in much the same way. It supports the dashboard and more importantly it provides confidence.

Let's jump into a few things that every effective dashboard has in common with one another.


Company Mission

Your dashboard should be built to align with your overall business objectives. Each dashboard should include some high level business information.

Include the company's strategic objective (the mission), which will rarely change, if at all. This will help you keep everything aligned and quickly find any pieces that don't belong.

The idea is to keep the overall objective in front of you at all times.


Annual Marketing Strategy

include the marketing strategy. This will most likely change every year. An annual strategy will keep your big efforts aligned to a single objective.


Main Areas of Focus

Third, it's a good idea to include the 3-5 big initiatives that the entire marketing team is working together to drive forward. Ideally, these strategic efforts should move the marketing needle forward, proving it's contribution to the company mission and proving ROI.

Working backwards, break each initiative down with monthly SMART goals. These goals/targets will provide a baseline to show overall progress and provide a measurement for monthly tracking.


Omitted Initiatives

Fourth, include the big initiatives that you are omitting this year. Which projects are not important and why? This will help you stay on course and make any corrections before they require a massive course correction.


Key Performance Indicators

Finally, include your key performance indicators for daily tracking. These are the numbers that we can look at on a day to day basis to make sure we are on track. They should also be used to calculate and produce your monthly numbers to speed up time wasted on creating reports.



Using your new dashboard

Next you'll want to plan out the process for using your new dashboard. Start by determining what needs to be answered by looking at the dashboard.

Keep in mind you already have the framework to give you exactly what you want from the dashboard. Our dashboard template is built for inbound marketing campaigns (but you can apply these same principles to other aspects of the business).

Two important processes to build are data collections and reporting. Focus on the process first, then think about software. 

To collect the right information on the right schedule you need to build a simple system. Think about where the data is coming from and who will be collecting it. Do they easy access to the information and the dashboard?

Think about how often they should collecting the data and a way to ensure it's collected at the same frequency, consistently for the most accurate outputs. Google Analytics can be one of the best ways to gather this data, take a Google Analytics Survey with Free Analysis! !

Then you want to build a process around reporting. Think of your reporting efforts like you're providing a snapshot of your inbound marketing efforts to someone who ins't involved on a daily basis but needs to understand the overall performance and trends.

Determine how often the reporting will be presented or "handed-over". Who will be reviewing it and what is most important for them to see. Then you want to think about the easiest way to create the report on your set schedule. Spend your time on collecting the right data, analyzing it and maintaining a accurate dashboard and generate your reports from there.

Last but not least, remember that dashboards can sometimes be misleading and cause more harm than good. There a few things to watch out for that I wanted to make sure I covered. 

First, as we touched on earlier, your dashboard is only as good as the information it runs off of. Your dashboard will still function as it should but with the wrong information.

To avoid this, make sure your data collection process details overall objectives, how the data being collected contributes to those objectives and why it's important to include. It's also a good idea to include how to use and not use the information. 

Next is the context that the graph on your dashboard. Can you actually make a strategic decision from what's in front of you? This article from the Harvard Business Review shows how data at the stage can be misinterpreted easily. 

By putting in place an easy to follow process you lower your risk for including irrelevant metrics. 

And finally you want to make sure you are asking enough follow up questions to your data so that you don't make the wrong decisions. 

A good example is this comparison of lung cancer rates between people who carry lighters and matches versus those who don't

Google's G-Suite now has AI built in to help you explore trends in your data. The newest addition uses AI to recommend the best insights basis on your data and historical use.

This is probably the beginning of what will most likely be the next wave of software because it can help managers make better decisions from their charts and graphs. 


Final Thoughts

An inbound marketing campaign dashboard is only as good as the data behind it. If the wrong data is being used then you won't be making the right decisions to create a better experience.

Planning a SMART dashboard requires knowledge of the "bigger" objective to know whether or not actions are contributing, negatively or positively.

One thing to remember is that it's more productive to spend the time on collecting and analyzing data than it is on reporting. We want to minimize the time we spend on building reports and maximize the time we can spend collecting and reviewing the data.


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