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Consulting on Marketing Dashboards: Get the Insider's Top Ten Tips

Jan 31, 2013 10:43:00 AM

By Roy Wollen, President, Hansa Marketing Services.

If you’re responsible for marketing dashboards, you know you’re off to a bad start if you hear people say: So what? That’s nice to know, but what do I do with it? It’s pretty, but what’s next?

Business people are already inundated with numbers. To help you cut through the clutter, let’s discuss some pitfalls to avoid and top tips for developing marketing dashboards. But I will start by telling you the main takeaway: it’s not about creating cool gauges and dials, it’s about solving business problems.

Dashboards require planning. Dashboards embed actions. Dashboards have champions that socialize the work. This doesn’t happen because of a cool gadget.

Avoid These Pitfalls

Campaign dashboards have one purpose: they report on what’s working. Consulting on marketing dashboards through the years, I’ve learned to watch out for a few things. Learn from my experiences and pay attention to avoid these pitfalls:

  • Don’t stumble on definitions
    • Have you worked through any debates about methodology?
    • Does everyone agree on the definition of “Sales” and “Margin”? 
    • Have you worked with Finance versus inventing your own financial formulas?
  • Add value, not just numbers
    • Provide call-outs and explanations
    • Tell the story: What was the point of a given campaign? How did it perform?
  • Associate actions with results
    • How would you reallocate the marketing investment?
    • What should you do next?

Marketing Dashboard Examples

At Hansa Marketing Services, we consult on developing and optimizing marketing dashboards and will show you a couple in-house examples. Here is a dashboard we created for a client that illustrates different discount levels, audiences, and marketing tactics.

Campaign Analyses Marketing Dashboard Example

Dashboards that mix campaign results with transactions, products, and customer counts are called "health of the program" dashboards. Here’s an example:

Health of the Program Dashboard Example

Marketing is all about the customer, and customer dashboards tell a story about who’s buying. Effective dashboards bring the campaign data into context. It’s not about clicks; it’s about customers. 

Why is consumer data so important? Campaigns don’t buy, people do. Customers see brands, not channels, and don’t care who gets credit for the sale.

The best marketing dashboards mimic the customer lifecycle. The trick is to watch how customers journey through the dashboard, like they journey through their relationship with the brand, then take action. 

When consulting on projects, my dashboards take a longitudinal view. I track customers as they enter or leave segments, and each movement can trigger a communication. The strategy is up to you; use the marketing dashboard to report on what’s working from a consumer’s perspective. Here’s an example:

Customer Dashboard Example


The Consultant’s Secret

From my consulting experience, I’ve developed a list of top ten tips to help you create your next marketing dashboard. Use these tips to start solving business problems. 

10 Tips for Effective Dashboards

  1. Plan effectively. Know your audience, get their buy-in ahead of time, survey them afterwards
  2. Vet the numbers
  3. Don’t be afraid of MS Excel
  4. Show screenshots of the creative when reviewing campaign results
  5. Drill down for more detail; but aggregate up for an overview
  6. Less is more; don’t use gauges and dials indiscriminately
  7. Put numbers into context (e.g., trends, YoY comps, benchmarks)
  8. Leave space for commentary, reactions, disagreements; start the ball rolling with recommendations
  9. Tell a story; don’t be boring
  10. Everything should have an associated action


To learn more tips from our marketing dashboard expert, Roy Wollen, watch this exclusive webinar, "How to Create Dashboards that Don't Sit on a Shelf" and download a copy of the 40-page PPT slides. Fill out our form to watch the webinar, now or later, and receive your free download instantly.

Watch the Dashboards Webinar  & Download the PPT

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About the Author: Roy Wollen is president of Hansa Marketing Services and an expert in database marketing as well as marketing performance management.

With his prior roles at Database Insight, Inc. and Direct Marketing Technology/Experian, Roy brings over 20 years of analytics and marketing systems experience to clients in numerous industries.

Roy has a Master of Science degree from Northwestern University's Integrated Marketing Communications program and is an adjunct professor at DePaul University in Chicago. Contact Roy Wollen at

Roy Wollen
Written by Roy Wollen

Roy Wollen has led some of the top marketers in industries such as travel, financial services, b2b and multi-channel retail. Roy is a consultant at heart and solves client problems using marketing technology and analytics. Roy is President at Hansa Marketing Services and an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University, where he teaches Digital Analytics.