Digital marketing cuts across multiple platforms, from social media, email, influencer marketing, and content marketing to search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC). Chief marketing officers (CMO) need to access marketing reports from all these platforms in a single location to drive faster decision-making and analyze the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. This need is where CMO dashboards come in.
It would be hard to underestimate how critical the correct reports are in today's day-to-day marketing operations management. But before we get into the details, let's consider what's behind the need for marketing reports and insightful dashboards. We live in a digital-first world where CMOs are increasingly accountable for revenue. For customer-centric organizations, advanced data insights will enable marketers to make timely decisions, design impactful campaigns, forge a deep connection with buyers, become dynamic, and stay ahead in a hyper-competitive economic environment.
A movement toward customer centricity has meant that CMOs, responsible for customer experience must possess deep knowledge and insight into consumer trends, marketplace dynamics, and the competitive landscape. To meet these expectations, the top marketing executive has new tools at their disposal for strategic insights. According to a study by Forbes Insights, CMOs believe that digital analytics has been the most critical change in their role recently.
CMO dashboards are a game-changer in this regard. They provide timely and easy-to-understand reports of crucial key performance indicators (KPIs) across multiple marketing channels and a big-picture view of the customer lifecycle and the effectiveness of your marketing investments. An effective CMO marketing dashboard should provide trusted data, an overview of marketing performance by channels and sub-channels, revenue attributed to marketing activities, customer journey analysis, marketing influence on sales velocity metrics, granular paid media performance data, and actionable insights to improve marketing campaigns.
You can't manage what you don’t measure. Here we talk about everything you need to know about essential KPIs for CMO dashboards and how you can use them most effectively.
What is a CMO dashboard?
Chief marketing officers are expected to be on top of customer experience, have real-time data-driven insights, and enable revenue growth. They also need to know whether their marketing initiatives are growing deals and revenue for the business. A CMO dashboard is helpful in all of these areas. It effectively visualizes and tracks your metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) across marketing channels and platforms. Dashboards help marketers monitor the effectiveness of their investments.
Top KPIs for your CMO dashboard
CMO dashboards are a fast and efficient way to keep track of your marketing efforts and their bearing on the organization's overall performance. So, what should your KPI dashboard include? There is no single correct answer to this question. It depends on your business's nature, goals, priorities, and organizational structure.
It is also important to remember that more data or multiple reports don’t necessarily mean better analysis or decision-making. Often marketers are confused and overwhelmed by the amount of data they collect because they focus more time and resources on reporting than on how to use the data effectively. Marketing teams should analyze each collected KPI and manage only the most relevant ones.
Here is a list of common KPIs across industries, but you have to prioritize and identify which key marketing metrics are most valuable for your organization.
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the money you spend on acquiring a customer. Let's take an example. Consider that you spent $1000 on marketing and generated a lot of leads, but only 10 of those leads converted into sales. Your CAC would be $100. CAC should be directly proportional to your customer lifetime value (LTV).
- Customer lifetime value
Customer lifetime value (LTV) is the average revenue generated over a customer's entire relationship with a company. A CAC-LTV ratio of 1:3 is considered ideal. It indicates that the customer's value is three times the acquisition cost.
LTV can be a bit hard to calculate for new businesses. Let's take an example. Consider selling a product that a customer will only use once and not return. In this case, your LTV will be the cost of the product.
For subscription businesses, you can look at the average lifespan of a customer in your industry to get an idea of how long they stay. The average number of months a customer uses the product or services in your sector multiplied by your monthly subscription fee would be your LTV. For new businesses, the aim should be to get LTV greater than CAC and they can then work to optimize marketing strategies and sales efforts to reach the ideal CAC-LTV ratio.
- Customer churn rate
Churn or attrition rate is a metric used to calculate the percentage of customers that stop using a service over a given period or don't renew their subscription. Monitoring the customer churn rate will help you with your customer retention strategy. If your churn rate is high, it could indicate issues with the price, customer service, or product fit. Ideally, the churn rate should stay stable; if there are significant fluctuations in the churn rate, you should examine why customers leave and take the necessary steps to rectify that.
- Website sessions and unique visitors
Your website is where many of your leads and purchases will originate, making it essential to track key digital metrics for your business. Google Analytics account could help monitor key metrics like sessions and unique visitors.
Sessions are a group of user interactions with your website within a given time frame. Typically, sessions reset after an individual is on your website for a certain amount of time, typically 30 minutes. An individual can, therefore, have multiple sessions. Unique visitors are individuals who have visited your website at least once within a reporting period. This metric helps measure your effectiveness in bringing potential customers to your website.
- Organic reach
Organic reach refers to the number of people that have seen your post on a social media platform without any paid promotion. A good organic reach can result in better lead generation and conversion.
- Bounce rate and average sessions duration
Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors leaving without action, like clicking on a link. A high bounce rate means your content is not doing much for the visitors. Average session duration is the length of sessions on your website. Both metrics help understand how engaged your potential customers are on your website.
- Conversion rate
Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors on your website who take the desired action. However, there could be multiple actions or goals that people could complete on your website, like filling in a contact form, buying a product, or booking a demo. Your business could set up different conversion goals and decide which ones matter the most to you.
Impressions are the total number of times your ad or post gets viewed. An important thing to remember here is that your impressions go up even if your ad is being seen multiple times by the same person.
- Reach and frequency
Reach is the total number of individuals who have seen your post or ad. Frequency is the number of times unique users see your ad. These are essential CMO dashboard metrics to consider during media buying.
- Click through rates
Click-through rate is the percentage of people who have clicked on your link. This is a good measure of the effectiveness of your posts. It can include clicks to the profile or the comment section. You can customize it to include only link clicks.
- Cost per click (CPC)
Cost per click (CPC) is the amount of money you spend on a single click. This cost gets divided by the number of overall clicks and link clicks. If you are running ads on social media, you should take note of cost per link click, which is a better measure of how much money you spend to bring a customer to your website.
- Google Analytics referral traffic
This Google Analytics metric refers to visitors who come to your website from other sites without searching for you on Google. This will inform you about how visitors find your website, the number of visitors who find your website using referral links, and the actions they take on your page. Referral traffic is critical because to it can help you understand whether social platforms or review websites are bringing more visitors to your site. This information can help you in your digital marketing efforts and in diversifying your spending.
- Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a lead that has been reviewed by the marketing team and deemed as most likely to become a customer compared to other leads. MQL metrics indicate where exactly a lead is in the buyer journey.
- Sales qualified leads
A sales-qualified lead (SQL) is a prospective customer who has shown sustained interest in making a purchase. An SQL has moved through the marketing funnel and shown legitimate buying potential.
SQLs are an important metric for CMOs to track. It helps in calculating the sales conversion rate and have a better understanding of why your sales team is able to or unable to convert SQLs. If the sales team is unable to make enough conversions, it could mean that there is a problem with the strategy they are deploying or the lead qualification process itself is not effective.
- Net dollar retention
Net dollar retention (NDR) or net revenue retention (NRR) is a SaaS metric used to measure how much your annual recurring revenue (ARR) or monthly recurring revenue (MRR) has grown or declined over a period of time. It includes customer expansion and churn. Tracking NDR helps you have a better understanding of how well you are able to engage your existing customers as well as grow your customer base.
- Returning customers
A returning customer is someone who has bought a product or service from you and returns to buy again. Return or repeat customers drive consistent revenue and are cheaper to acquire compared to new customers. Research shows that longer relationships translated to higher spends. A study by Bain and Company found that an average repeat customer (in apparel) spent 67% more after about 30 months of their shopping relationship. Repeat customer data is a valuable metric to track; it is a good measure of customer satisfaction.
- Return on advertising spend (ROAS)
Return on ad spend (ROAS) is a marketing metric that measures financial returns on advertising spend. It is considered a good way to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. The better your messaging, campaigns, and content, the better the ROAS.
- Return on Investment (ROI)
One of the most important metrics for CMOs, ROI is an indication of how an organization's marketing efforts impact revenue growth and profit. Marketing spend is an enormous cost to organizations. Statista data shows that global digital advertising alone amounted to about $521 billion in 2021. It is predicted to reach $876 billion by 2026.
Analyzing your marketing ROI will help you understand whether the money you spent on marketing communications was well-spent. For a marketing department to be successful you need a positive ROI, which implies that your costs are lower compared to the revenue that you helped bring in.
- Customer retention rate
Customer retention rate is a metric to calculate the percentage of customers who stay with the business over a given period of time. This metric will help you better understand your business' success. While an organization may find it comparatively easier to gain new customers, the bigger question is whether it can retain them. It will also help you understand what makes customers stay with you and how you can improve customer experience.
- Payback period analysis
Payback period analysis is a method used to measure how long it takes for a business to recover an investment. Such an analysis allows organizations to compare marketing investment opportunities. Payback period can be calculated for a channel, subchannel, campaign, ad group, keyword, ad, or any entity which has separate cost data and tagging. It’s important to have accurate revenue attribution for reliable payback period analysis.
Benefits of a CMO dashboard
CMO dashboards are packed with insights pulled from ad platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and also organic content, offline channels, and more. Dashboards make data easily accessible and guide you in strategic decision-making. Here are the main benefits:
- Easy-to-use actionable insights
Dashboards offer impeccable insight into customer behavior. Each metric is an insight into a behavior pattern, from why a customer chooses to engage with your content to why they would leave without taking any action. Each metric, individually as well as in a group, can help you better understand the customer psyche and use that insight to plan your goals, target your budget, and make key decisions.
For example, let's assume you are seeing a consistently low conversion rate. Your dashboard can help you understand whether your website is not optimized for a user to make a purchase or complete a task, or if you aren't targeting your product to the right user. With actionable insight, you can rectify the situation by partnering with your tech team or identifying that certain marketing channels are underperforming.
- Drive effective collaboration
The idea behind tracking all of these KPIs is to share the analysis and the knowledge you gain as a CMO with other c-suite executives and various teams in the organization. While this data helps the marketing team keep executives informed of marketing achievements, the reporting also provides visibility into critical high-level decisions such as underperforming marketing channels, insights into the customer journey, and where website or app upgrades might be needed. It can help executives understand the return on investments and whether they are tracking to the anticipated revenue and profits.
- Efficient decision making
Experience and business acumen are essential, but businesses need data to make better decisions. Consider this. In 2000, Netflix execs Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings met with Blockbuster and offered to sell for $50 million. But Blockbuster did not consider the deal at all. The video rental company filed for bankruptcy in 2010 whereas Netflix became one of the world's biggest streaming platforms. It makes you wonder, what if? It's totally possible that if there was a way to look into the future, this story would have ended differently.
An effective dashboard is all about looking into the future, where the customer will go next, what they are expecting from an organization, what is the sentiment in the market, and a lot more. While most organizations use some amount of data to make decisions, a genuinely data-driven organization has access to data guiding tactical and high-level strategic decisions.
- Save time and money
CMO dashboards are crucial in saving time and money. They are designed to create reports from various platforms, saving you the hassle of doing that yourself. It leaves you with more time and resources that can be used for strategic work.
How to build an effective CMO marketing dashboard?
A CMO dashboard is used to coalesce metrics from various sources to provide a complete picture of your organization's marketing performance. Here's how you can make it more effective:
It should tell a good story
A CMO dashboard should be a good mix of high-level data and key micro metrics. It should be able to tell you what worked and what didn't and the reasons behind both. You should also bear in mind that too much data and metrics can be overwhelming.
Deriving insights from your dashboard is all about being able to connect the dots and tell a good story. To make your dashboard most effective, set goals and plot your performance against those. You should also use it to highlight how marketing has performed relative to product launches and other priority projects for the business.
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
Offer comparisons and perspective
Always supplement your data with analysis and notes on what the metrics indicate. You should also be able to contrast and combine data points to illustrate a more holistic picture for your audience, which could include the CEO and other c-suite executives. It is also helpful to contextualize, identify problem areas, and suggest possible solutions.
Make data simple and accessible
A good dashboard is simple to understand. It has to be able to address the most critical questions about marketing performance and not just be filled with a set of vanity metrics.
Dashboard dos and don'ts
Here are some do's and don'ts to help you build a better dashboard. Let's first talk about what not to do:
- Don't be tempted by vanity metrics
Just because you can, don't try to track every available metric. Check yourself if you find yourself tracking vanity metrics that don't actually matter to the business. For example, something like Facebook likes or shares is not a helpful metric if they are not resulting in actual sales. These may look like good numbers to have, but these don't add much value. Every insight, metric, or chart a marketer presents should connect marketing efforts to sales. It is tempting to have a full dashboard with big, impressive numbers but if they don't serve a purpose, discard them.
Here are some questions you need to ask before you choose the metrics:
- What are the core goals and objectives of the organization?
- Which metrics must be tracked to show marketing's contribution to the organization's goals and objectives?
- How are marketing efforts contributing to these goals and objectives?
- Don't spend too much time reporting.
Monitoring metrics regularly is essential but don't spend more time reporting than actually acting on what you learned. The whole point of a dashboard is to make gathering data simple so you have sufficient time to use the insights to fill in the gaps and make quick decisions that will give you a competitive edge. Marketing analytics platforms can automate the regular reporting requirements allowing you and your team to focus on deriving insights.
- Use your dashboard for actionable insights
A dashboard should clearly point to trends you can use to inform decision-making and sharpen your marketing strategy. A dashboard should be able to answer questions like - what is the most effective lead generation channel? For example, if social media marketing generates quality leads at a comparatively lower cost, you could focus your budget on social media channels.
- Use visualization and interactive tools
Our brain processes pictures and visuals a lot faster than text. A visual, interactive dashboard makes complex data easy to understand as it is harder for people to glean information from tables and text. Visualization also enables you to map important metrics against the organization's larger objectives.
Meanwhile, dashboard interaction can help the audience perform analytics tasks like calculations and adjusting parameters. All of this makes it possible for business leaders to use the insights for problem-solving instead of spending time making sense of the data.
A CMO dashboard can be essential for understanding your marketing performance and making necessary changes for improvement. By focusing on the top KPIs for your business, you can create a dashboard that provides you with actionable insights into what is and isn’t working for your marketing efforts. With this information at your fingertips, you can make better decisions about where to allocate your resources and see improved results for your efforts.
Don’t know where to start?
At Sona Labs, we specialize in revenue attribution and marketing data unification. We help companies collect first-party data, aggregate it in a unified warehouse, and streamline their data for analysis. With our synchronization capabilities, data warehouses, CRMs, and visualization software update as often as you need. Schedule a call to learn how you can get more granular insights and a complete overview of your marketing performance with us.
What should an effective CMO dashboard do?
An effective CMO dashboard helps you achieve your objectives faster. It can enable you to chart a clear path to identifying and solving problems and truly adopting data-driven marketing and decision-making. Here are the most important things that a CMO dashboard should be able to do for the user:
- Provide an overview and be able to tell you the whole story from the reports it has generated.
- Present the data in a simple, easy-to-understand manner.
- Add context, comparisons, and perspective; data means nothing in isolation
- Should be able to direct users to areas that need immediate attention
What platforms should be included on a CMO dashboard?
An ideal CMO dashboard should represent all of your online and offline marketing efforts. This means it should include data sets from all platforms you use regularly. Usually, the following platforms tend to be more commonly part of a marketing strategy and are examples of what might be included:
- Google Analytics
- Google Data Studio
- Google Ads
- Google Sheets
- Facebook Ads
- Instagram Ads
- TikTok Ads
- LinkedIn Ads
Think of a CMO dashboard as SEO, PPC, and analytics dashboards all put together into one. Instead of monitoring everything separately and then combining the data to forge an analysis, a CMO dashboard will let you streamline and simplify the process.
One last tip -- Before you build a CMO dashboard, consider who the dashboard is for, the kind of answers they are looking for, and how often they need to be updated with marketing activities and impact. This will help you both personalize it and use it more effectively.
Dashboards are meant to provide the whole story in a glance compared to struggling with multiple excel sheets to understand how marketing functions are doing. These dashboards should help you drive better results and not overwhelm you with data.