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How to Create an Actionable Marketing Dashboard (and Why You Need One)

by Laura Patterson  |  
March 2, 2012

In this article, you'll learn...

  • Five steps to creating a viable marketing dashboard
  • Why dashboards are critical for making strategic decisions and course adjustments

Leadership's expectations of and pressure on Marketing continue to increase. When we ask CEOs, "Would you like to know Marketing's impact on your business?" every one of them answers with a resounding and unequivocal "yes!"

"Huge leaps in technology, together with the instant gratification of real-time campaign measurement in Internet marketing, have converged to bring the issue of marketing accountability to the front page of the business section," Joan Ritter recently wrote in The Technology Executive.

So, if you haven't gotten on the marketing-accountability bandwagon (measurement, effectiveness, analytics, etc.), now is probably the time to do so.

The American Marketing Association defines accountability as "the responsibility for the systematic management of marketing resources and processes to achieve measurable gains in return on marketing investment and increased marketing efficiency, while maintaining quality and increasing the value of the corporation."

To be truly accountable, marketing professionals need to periodically report on their performance and contribution. You are probably thinking, "We are reporting. We provide project status updates and use the reports generated by our marketing automation platform (MAP) and our customer relationship management (CRM) and sales force automation (SFA) platforms."

That's a great start, but here's the bad news. The status report of projects— such as website updates, upcoming events, new collateral or direct marketing campaigns, reports on website visitors, open and click rates, follower (Twitter) and fan (Facebook) counts, and reports on the number of marketing qualified leads—are no longer enough.

Those reports do not address the questions the C-suite is most concerned with: What is working, what course adjustments (if any) are required, and are the investments the company funnels into Marketing properly allocated?

Marketers need to develop a more valuable and insightful report that benefits both Marketing and the C-suite—one that can be used to optimize performance and make decisions. That kind of report needs to provide an at-a-glance view that quantifies the overall impact Marketing makes on the business and how well marketing initiatives are increasing customer acquisition, retention, and share of wallet.

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Laura Patterson is president and founder of VisionEdge Marketing. For 20+ years, she has been helping CEOs and marketing executives at companies such as Cisco, Elsevier, ING, Intel, Kennametal, and Southwest Airlines prove and improve the value of marketing. Her most recent book is Metrics in Action: Creating a Performance-Driven Marketing Organization.

Twitter: @LauraVEM

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  • by Sherry HIll Fri Mar 2, 2012 via web

    Great content. Thanks for articulating the essential steps and desirable components to set a dashboard up properly.

  • by Andrew Tompsett Fri Mar 2, 2012 via web

    It would great to see some case studies as well. Cheers

  • by laura patterson Fri Mar 2, 2012 via web

    Andrew, check out the case studies and wireframe on our site at

  • by Tish Sat Mar 3, 2012 via mobile

    Great article. Where can we find links to sample dashboards?

  • by Mark Frisk Sat Mar 3, 2012 via web

    I was kind of hoping to see at least some attention devoted to dashboard tools, but software is only tangentially mentioned.

  • by Laura Sat Mar 3, 2012 via web

    Mark, you are right. That's a topic for another article. There's only so much that can be crammed into the allowable length:).

  • by Kameel Sun Jul 14, 2013 via web

    Hi Laura,

    I visited the site you mentioned to Andrew ( but couldn't find any case studies or sample dashboards. I'd really appreciate your inputs on the marketing dashboard that I'm using (


  • by Laura Patterson Sun Jul 14, 2013 via web

    Kameel, thanks for sharing your dashboard. I'd be happy to give you some feedback. You can email me your preferred email address at

  • by Binit Sun Jan 5, 2014 via web

    Very general ... would have been great if it was articulated with specific example and to the point explanation

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