Marketing dashboards provide insights, not orders. But used exactly the wrong way, dashboards can drive micromanaging to a new plane of existence. Marketers should focus on using the data-capturing mechanisms to facilitate improved communications and clearer views of the big picture.
So says George Culbertson, business partner at Raleigh-Durham, N.C.-based Gap Marketing Group, and John Naughton, sales director for Toronto-based mobile marketing software company Adenyo. Both were panelists on Aug. 11 during the InterACT! conference in Chicago, where they presented a session titled "Marketing Campaign Dashboards: Leveraging the Information."
"For me, a lot of times dashboards create anxiety," Naughton says. "Technology needs to be an enabler, not a solution."
Culbertson adds that dashboards are meant to turn actions and data into insight. That way, dashboards can help marketers improve customer loyalty by making sure customers are pleased with the company that knows them so well. "A loyal customer is not [just] a satisfied customer," he says, emphasizing that a loyal customer needs more from a company than simply to get adequate attention.
The data about those loyal customers may run counter to the "good customer" picture many firms have in mind before creating their dashboards. While it's true that those who resemble current customers are more likely to respond to future campaigns, Naughton cautions against throwing data out before plugging it into predictive analytics to build segments.
For instance, handbag manufacturers shouldn't toss out male names when building customer lists before determining whether or not those men may want to buy the accessories, perhaps as gifts. Male handbag buyers may provide companies with more income than some segments of female purchasers do, he says. "What I use segmenting for is to choose the correct messaging."
Naughton provided these tips on how marketers could properly use dashboards:
- Dashboards are a point in time, which can take data out of context. He says, "you need to remember that things change."
- Dashboards aren't the be-all, end-all. They're meant to provide information and spark debate, according to Naughton. "Use your intuition as marketers."
- Dashboards are the beginning, not the end, of the marketing process.
- Don't be afraid to question the data and how it's presented.