6 Steps to Developing a Single-Source-of-Truth Dashboard

Amy West, VP, Product Leadership, Nielsen

Marketing technology has become an octopus, weaving its way through businesses to play a role in disparate functions from customer service to sales. Findings from the Gartner CMO Spend Survey show that spending on martech claims an increasingly significant share of marketing budgets. It’s now the largest area of investment and accounts for close to 30% of the total on average.

The martech landscape is also complex. Smart marketing solutions such as social media innovations, big data and analytics, mobility, machine learning, and AI allow brands to communicate seamlessly with customers, keep up to date with changing consumer behavior, accelerate productivity in the workplace, and much more.

More than ever, collecting and reporting performance of multiple marketing channels, campaigns and programs is essential. A central repository of the most critical indicators of your business’ health helps inform strategy and tactics, and lets the C-suite make adjustments that can steer the company on a better course.

The marketing dashboard, which allows a single view across programs and channels, is an innovation whose time has come. Without it, companies are subject to individual or siloed interpretations of data.

While opposing views and healthy debates can be interesting at times, opposing views on current outcomes are counterproductive for any organization aiming to control change. Differing viewpoints on what is happening and why can stymie an organization, resulting in a “wait-and-see” mode or, even worse, a pivot in the wrong direction based on a faulty analysis.

In light of these complexities, we asked a group of business leaders and marketing experts to provide input on using marketing dashboards as a “single-source-of-truth” and how to achieve this.

Developing a “Single Source of Truth”

Dashboards rely as much on leadership, culture, cross-functional use, and internal alignment as they do on data and technology. As companies continue to gain access to more data, having a single-source-of-truth to store and structure information and associated data schema has multiple benefits. So, how can you develop this type of marketing dashboard?

1. Include Customer Experience (CX) at the Core

Customer experience is the practice of designing for and reacting to customer interactions to meet and exceed customer expectations to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. Marketing dashboards must be able to report on CX results such as the number of customer contacts, contact flow, sales, and referrals as well as those that are unique to the business.

As technology evolves, it's rapidly pushing the bar higher for more intuitive user interactions and usability. With this change, customer experience is key. Dashboards need to translate the impact of CX on each client interaction clearly.

Rob Bickford, COO, SVP, CHRO, and president in the banking industry, advises brands to consider the following points when developing a marketing dashboard:

  • Prioritize a user-centered design to cater to your users’ expectations and needs.
  • Offer personalized engagements that provide your top-funnel visitors with relevant information.
  • Sync up with social media. Mobile customer service is the core of omnichannel marketing and customers often defer to social media channels when using mobile devices to resolve issues.
  • Make use of Customer Intelligence Platforms (CIPs) to leverage advanced data modeling algorithms and identify look-a-like customers.

2. Unite Sales and Marketing

Smart marketing dashboards are a reflection of how well an organization as a whole communicates and whether everyone sees eye-to-eye. Before a dashboard can be useful for the whole company, it has to solve the perennial tension between marketing and sales.

To make a dashboard a single-source-of-truth, sales and marketing must be aligned on the right KPIs. The marketing team needs to validate the quantitative data contributed by sales. The sales team needs to agree on the qualitative input (think direction, product focus) from the marketing team.

There must be transparency between these teams and the data sets produced by the dashboard. This will result in a cohesive picture of how marketing efforts are impacting each sales opportunity.

3. Opt for Scalability

For a dashboard to be a single-source-of-truth, it must be scalable across multiple teams. Marketing, sales, finance, and operations should all be able to use the same dashboard quickly and easily.

Creative director Himanshu Bharadwaj noted, “To ensure the dashboard is scalable, before signing a service, it must be evaluated by multiple departments.” He added, “Organizations should have a thorough process for evaluating and demonstrating how each department and group will benefit and grow as a result of collaborative access to the dashboard service.”

4. Align on Metrics

Organizations need to decide what type of analysis the business needs and determine how this analysis will help them better understand the customer. This means selecting the most important metrics.

The experts agreed with Christine Hade, omni-channel brand marketing & innovation executive, who stated, “A single-source-of-truth starts with alignment around the metrics and the specific ways they will (and won't be) measured. Key stakeholders must decide and agree.”

Creative director Himanshu Bharadwaj agreed, “Defining a clear and singular purpose for the dashboard helps bring it closer to the 'truth' and avoid opposing views.”

5. Ensure Data Usability

A dashboard that will be used as a single source of truth depends on accurate, credible and usable data. The company must agree on data management processes and people, determine where in the company the data is generated, and ensure this data is regularly updated and accurate. If working with third-party data, clarify data input processes and procedures.

Another key factor to consider is the framework of the data itself. Everyone should understand and agree on the organization of metadata and define terminology so that it is consistent throughout.

6. Find the Right Platform

Ideally, you can find a system that will integrate seamlessly with your current platforms. Each solution will have a slightly different set of features. Here are some of the capabilities you may want to consider, depending on the objectives and purpose of your dashboard. 

  • Authoring
  • Editing
  • Reviewing
  • Formatting
  • Translating
  • Optimization
  • Distribution

The Age of the Smart Marketing Dashboard

With the variety of platforms and software options these days, in addition to a tsunami of data, it’s difficult to home in on what really matters for a business to succeed. 

Rapid developments in digital technologies have made smart marketing dashboards increasingly more prevalent and more critical to the success of brands across a wide range of industries. We believe the age of smart marketing dashboards that aggregate, communicate, and enable a “single-source-of-truth” has finally dawned. Implement this powerful tool to give your company the insights it needs to grow.

Learn More

To learn how you can be a better marketer in the digital era, download our ebook: Untangling Attribution's Web of Confusion: A Primer for Marketers

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