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Eight Tips for Building Marketing Dashboards

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Laura Haldane

x min read

Feb 9, 2022

This blog post recounts highlights from the September 8, 2021 webinar entitled “Building the Best Marketing Dashboards”. The webinar was moderated by Laura Browne, Chief Effectiveness Officer at Covalent Bonds. Featured panelists consisted of SAMPS’ Board Members representing large, medium and small life science companies as follows:

  • Hrissi Samartzidou, Senior Director, Global Marketing & Customer Care at Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Andy Bertera, Executive Director of Marketing and Sales at New England Biolabs
  • Joanne Dimitrakopoulos, Global Commercial Marketing Leader at Resolve Biosciences

Based on live interactive polling data, the majority of the audience confirmed the relatively ubiquitous nature of dashboards across the life science landscape. Marketing requires a single, unified strategy and dashboards capture the outputs of that strategy. Dashboards arm life science marketers with the means for monitoring success and a mechanism to convert actionable insights in a currency designed to engage a naturally skeptical scientific audience.

In addition, dashboards capture and portray marketing activities as a concise, graphical story. This helps quantitatively capture prior return on investment (ROI) and fine tune tactical marketing elements going forward. When contemplating marketing dashboards, life science marketers should consider the following tips.

Tip #1: Start with the strategy, not the dashboard itself

Interestingly, when it comes to building a dashboard, most people start at the end with the dashboard itself. This isn’t surprising since the data encapsulated in marketing dashboards can provide insights about ROI, the impact of marketing on sales and performance of individual marketing channels. However, there must be a single unified strategy with a clear definition of success that permeates consistently throughout the organization. A clear strategy encompassing what to measure and why will then lead to a corresponding dashboard equipped with the proper metrics based on predefined goals.

Tip #2: Consider dashboards as a perpetual work in progress

Dashboards are not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Not everyone in the organization will prefer the same level of granularity. Corporate dashboards may adopt a wider lens but individual departments or functions could maintain their own page with more granularity or perhaps multiple pages dictated by specific needs. More importantly, the challenge of demonstrating marketing’s impact on the organization is an iterative, evolving process. Overlapping campaigns, channels and outbound activities create a steady stream of data that must be curated consistently in order to harness the full potential of the dashboard.

Tip #3: Define marketing impact based on your own situation

How marketing impact is characterized will depend on how long a company has been in the market, the amount of accessible data and how success is being measured.  For example, a mature company focused on converting leads may have well-established customer journeys, easy access to historical data and partnerships with multiple third party vendors assisting with campaign management and execution. In contrast, younger companies aiming for brand awareness may be constructing dashboards from scratch, starting with basic comparisons of one activity versus another to obtain a baseline sense of how individual channels perform.

Tip #4: What you measure will vary

The extent to which you measure awareness, demand generation or engagement will depend on whether you are focused on the top, middle or bottom of the sales funnel. In addition, given the non-linear, inherently long customer journey common to the buying process of many life science products, don’t be afraid to experiment using A/B testing given that today’s consumer needs to see a piece of content, on average, seven times before taking action. Finally, the vision for what you intend to measure and how needs to be articulated to and built with feedback from all stakeholders so that individuals outside of the marketing team feel that dashboards possess value.

Tip #5: Maintain realistic expectations with respect to industry benchmarks

Knowing how your company’s marketing efforts are performing relative to those of competitors is a common wish yet it is often a challenge because life science companies occupy such a small niche. You can visit competitors online or at tradeshows to get a rough sense of how similar companies balance branded versus un-branded content. There are also tools such as SEMrush to support search engine optimization (SEO) with keyword research, but this is close to the maximum level of granularity you can expect to obtain. While leveraging market research companies such as Gartner is an option, the closest “match” to competitors will come from similarly sized B2B companies outside of the life sciences.

Tip #6: Not everything can be measured to the same extent

Marketing utilizes both online and offline mechanisms for communication. Content can be gated or non-gated. Some is branded, some is not. In a perfect world, every touch point would be quantifiable. Therefore, while dashboards are excellent, for example, at tracking click-through rates to a landing page or drop-off points from a website, other endeavors are not as straightforward. Examples include measuring the impact of PR or assessing brand awareness. Both functions play pivotal roles but are not necessarily measured as easily with dashboards and are harder to associate with sales.

Tip #7: Avoid silos

Data stored in silos can thwart attempts at building dashboards. Website data resides in Google Analytics. Historical sales data lives in the CRM system. Future sales orders reside in one’s ERP software. Results from email marketing campaigns can be sequestered within a marketing automation platform. Sharing the data could be problematic, particularly for global companies if the data is not all housed in the same place or if granting access to the data violates GDPR policies.  Thus, creating dashboards will be less of a hassle if marketing data can be organized and accessible within one central repository.

Tip #8: Marketing attribution goes beyond dashboards

Dashboards are descriptive, often times providing inputs for further analysis. One example is marketing attribution, which involves identifying the set of touchpoints involved in the buyer’s journey, then assigning a value to those interactions by applying one of several models. Different weights can be assigned based on whether the first or last touchpoints are more impactful. Thus, while marketing attribution is a lofty goal, the degree of complexity and algorithms involved set it apart as a separate discipline compared to the process of creating dashboards.

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