To help their marketing departments keep up with the speed at which business moves today, companies are investing more time and capital in automation tools that put knowledge into the hands of front-line management. Thus the rise of marketing dashboards, which can be defined as analytics tools that gather key performance measures and make them available to users via their computer desktops. This week, Target Marketing talks to Chris Hines, vice president, marketing intelligence at Publications Services LLC (part of publishing firm Agora Inc.), about the benefits and pitfalls of creating such marketing information tools.
Target Marketing: What are the benefits of a marketing dashboard?
Chris Hines: Many, depending upon the needs of the group—but generally, the main benefits are analytical definition and efficiency. “Analytical definition” is a way for a company to put defining guardrails around corporate measures to ensure that marketing management understands exactly how their base measures are defined and that consistency exists across businesses. “Analytical efficiency” refers to the other main benefit of all dashboards—once the dashboard has been defined, it is replicated electronically, providing up-to-date reporting on a consistent basis with little future involvement. This allows the marketers to not only continue to see the information that helps them make decisions but also to free up the technical group supporting the dashboards to move on the next analytical questions.
TM: How did you determine what metrics to include in Agora’s dashboard?
CH: Since our dashboard was new to the company we needed to put a lot more thought and effort into adoption of the dashboard by the users. Our focus on trying to increase the likelihood of adoption drove the metrics that we ended up putting in our dashboards. Prior to the dashboard launch, many of our marketing groups were creating similar reports to each other on a weekly basis in a very inefficient manner—our first dashboard replicated these weekly measures for the marketers but in an electronic (automatic) fashion. Instead of having to wait for one of their employees to create this for them on Monday, our dashboard replication of these reports is updated and ready for them when they arrive at their desks.