3datachainsThis week, one of our customers was completing their quarterly marketing report. She was wallowing in data as she attempted to complete nearly 500 input fields in her excel doc! I could sense her frustration. Five hundred fields, yikes!

Part of the reason she is collecting so many numbers is that the metrics for the marketing organization and the relationship between the various data elements are not clear.

Selecting the right performance metrics and developing an actionable marketing dashboard is something many organizations are grappling with. In addition to internal factors, good data is vital to the success for both of these.

Developing a set of metrics targets and creating a dashboard both require having the ability to access quality data. For example, it’s fairly difficult to connect the dots between a marketing program or product trials and customer acquisition or market share. As you tackle measuring marketing, a key part of the work will be determining whether you have the data you need in relation to the opportunity pipeline (contact, leads, marketing and sales qualified leads, deals), customer usage, purchasing and sales history, new product development, partners, revenue, market share, etc.

You need the data to measure marketing’s value, determine how well marketing is moving the needle, and/or how well marketing is aligned with the rest of the organization and the overall strategy.

You can avoid the vicious cycle by developing clear data chains between marketing activities and business outcomes. These data chains help identify the data elements and their relationships so you can focus on capturing, managing, and analyzing the right data sets.

This process also help you define what data elements you have and/or need in your inventory in relation to the customer, pipeline, competition, new product, sales/revenue, accuracy/quality of the data, etc.

Data chains provide an efficient way to address data gaps and potential data inaccuracies.

For those of you investing in business intelligence tools and various marketing and sales software systems, remember to put the necessary checks and balances to evaluate the usage and quality of the data. The most expensive new system in the world won’t help you do a better job of measuring marketing if there isn’t a clear idea of what data you need, when you need it, and in what format. None of the above matters if the quality of the data is suspect in the slightest.

Across the board, marketing organizations have realized that there is not only a need but a DEMAND for quality metrics that are effective and actionable. Although many marketers have taken the time to gather the data and create corresponding dashboards, we seem to forget our original intent in creating them: to make our decisions and actions more transparent and justifiable.

Everyone loves a handy tool, so why not take the time to create some that will be of genuine use in your decision making process?

By Laura Patterson, President and Founder, VisionEdge Marketing

Laura Patterson I @LauraVEM