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Not having the right information means that you'll have to base your business decisions more on instinct and intuition than on facts. That risky approach should be avoided whenever possible.

What information do you need to make those critical decisions, and how do you obtain it? Having the right information readily available in a manageable and comprehensible format is essential for success. That's why a dashboard is invaluable.

What Exactly Is a Dashboard?

Stephen Few, author of Information Dashboard Design, defines a dashboard as "a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives; consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance."

A well-designed dashboard provides summarized data via a graphical format and alerts users to performance values significantly above or below expectations. Once you have the right metrics, data, and analytics, you can develop a multilevel dashboard to manage and report on performance. This article examines two of those three key building blocks: data and analytics.

Many marketing organizations recognize the need for a marketing dashboard. They have reporting capabilities within their marketing automation, campaign management, Web analytics, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Although those reports may provide transactional information, they often do not make a connection between marketing activities and business impact, which is one of the key functions of a marketing dashboard.

If you want to learn how to be able to both communicate Marketing's contribution to generating value for the organization and make strategic course adjustments, continue reading.

The Making of an Actionable Dashboard

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image of Laura Patterson

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