Dashboards: Measure what Matters

The increased attention on marketing ROI and the customer experience has produced an increased interest in the development and use of dashboards in the marketing/CRM environment. The article “Dashboards: No Longer a Luxury” from 1-to-1 Magazine clearly points that out. The fact that everyone wants dashboards is positive, since measurement drives more informed—and therefore better—decisions, but the reality is that few succeed in creating dashboards that are truly valuable management tools. The pitfalls of most dashboards are that they measure too much which creates information overload and/or they measure the wrong things.

To be effective, dashboards should comprise no more than five or six measurements, which should be a blend of results metrics (e.g., sales, leads) and operational performance metrics (e.g., call resolution statistics, outbound call volume).

  • Results measurement should focus on the two or three numbers that will provide a “snapshot” of the health of the business/functional area. The numbers should be able to provide either an early warning of issues requiring intervention or reassurance of the state of the status quo.
  • Operational measurements should focus on quantifying the operational activities that drive positive results. For example, if you can correlate customer training attendance to customer satisfaction and repeat business, you should be monitoring training attendance rates.

Dashboards can and should be a valuable tool for management to understand at a glance the state of the business and the progress towards goals, but only if it’s focused on the right measurements.

A Strategic Framework for Search Engine Optimization

Search engine marketing can be an analytical direct marketer’s dream: it’s quantifiable, trackable, and easy to scale up or down. However, scalability can quickly result in SEM becoming an exercise in “pruning the forest”—a never-ending tactical effort with little bottom-line impact. Raising or lowering bids, concocting new text ads, trying new landing pages—which all have value and can be effective tools for optimization—become random acts of tweaking unless they are applied on a strategic basis.

A strategic approach begins by establishing an analytical structure for organizing SEM performance data so that it brings to light the ad groups or even keywords that should be the target of performance-boosting initiatives like text ad and landing page testing. For example, a strategic approach to managing an organic/paid blended initiative could focus on balancing “click share” (the percent of impressions resulting in a click-through) with cost-efficiency. This would enable a manager to find sub-optimized keywords or groups—ones that are either generating few clicks or very expensive clicks (i.e., high CPC paid)—and to develop specific, targeted tests/changes for improvement.

In addition to enabling you to keep the big picture in view without losing sight of the details, having a strategic approach is a great way to demonstrate and quantify results. Overall search engine performance should go up as a result, but it is the keyword(s) targeted through the approach that will make the most powerful cause-and-effect case.