Marketing Alignment with Business Outcomes: Keys to a Solid Dashboard

KPI dashboard analytics metrics dashboardLive blog post from the Online Marketing Summit -  Day 1 #OMSummit. Presented by Laura Patterson, VisionEdge Marketing. Author of Marketing Metrics in Action - Creating a Performance Driven Marketing Organization.

(Editors Note: Sorry about any spacing issues. They will be fixed)


Why Companies Invest in Marketing

  • Acquire more of something faster and less expensively (higher ROI)
  • Need to demonstrate we are getting the job done. Otherwise we might as well put more feet on the street.
  • "The top challenge for marketers remains to better quantify and measure the value of marketing programs in spite of improvements in accountability over previous years" - CMO Council
  • Our job is to create customers
We're in a pickle...
1. Executive management wants to be able to determine marketing's true impact
2.As long as marketing is viewed as a cost instead of an investment our budgets will always be on the chopping block
3. Need to arm ourselves with the tools and associated languages necessary to demonstrate we are are generating sustainable, measurable value.


Three Key Shirts We Must Make

  1. Speak the Language of Business
  2. Create clear line of sight between marketing activities and investments with business outcomes.
  3. Select and report relevant metrics.
Marketing Plan says "Here's what we plan to do and here's what it will produce."
Most are in powerpoint. Sometimes word or excel, but usually in powerpoint.
Marketers lack commercial acumen and don't speak the language of the business, reporting their contributions in terms of "activities" or "outputs".


Senior Management Vs Marketing

Earnings vs Brand
Revenue vs Impressions, "leads"
Value vs Cost
Customer Value vs Satisfaction, fans, followers
Shareholder Value vs GROs, CMPs, opens, clicks


Why Measure? It's Hard!

  1. Communicate Impact
  2. Be seen as accountable
  3. Demonstrate financial value
  4. Enable us work smarter
  5. Provide a current picture (market share, product margins, close rate)
  6. Indicate future performance (projected revenue, share of wallet, net advocacy)
  7. Empower marketing - influence decisions, recommend actions, play a strategic role.


CEO feedback on study what they graded their marketing teams

A: Marketing was able to measure and report the contribution  of it's program to business - only 25% got this grade.
B: Marketing programs made a difference but he contribution to the business goals were not measured
*** A's have a game plan for performance management:
  • Alignment
  • Accountability
  • Analytics
  • Automation
  • Alliances
  • Assessment
Performance Management - the process of measuring progress toward achieving key outcomes and objectives in order to optimize individual, group or organizational performance.
Today's marketing requires better data, analytics, forecasting, modelling, etc.


Performance Reporting

  • What are the performance targets (this is one of the most overlooked and ridiculous oversights out there). Set Targets and goals!!
  • Accountability reams reporting
  • Reporting leads us to a dashboard
  • Effective dashboard begin with strategic analysis that includes performance target setting and alignment of the marketing strategy with the business strategy
  • By consolidating KPIs into a dashboard, marketing executives and personnel can track and manage performance, provide information to upper management, etc.
  • Dashboards play a critical role in communicating value, enabling course corrections, and investment allocations.
  • What was the promise to outcome, timeframe and cost and how did you compare?


Start with Alignment

Although there are usually clear objectives set for marketing, the lack of alignment between the business and marketing makes it difficult to measure marketing's contribution, perpetuating the questions, "is marketing an investment or overhead?" - the Capsicum Report, 2012.
Concept Illustration - Alignment (see VisionEdge Marketing Accelance Blueprint Example)
Map these out for your own organizations.
A Marketing Dashboard Defined:
  • Has all necessary indicators on it to say you're in trouble or not, or doing well
  • Enables organizations to measure, monitor and manage business activities using both financial and non-financial measures
  • Know how to best allocate future resources
DASHBOARD BOOK by Stephen Few - Worth the read!


Only Three Things Marketers Need to Do:

  1. Find / Secure Profitable Customers (Acquisition) - market share
  2. Keep Customers (Penetration) - lifetime value
  3. Grow the Value of Customers (Monetization) - brand / customer equity


5 Signs you have a good dashboard:

  1. Multidimensional view of data and their interrelationships
  2. Communicates marketing contribution
  3. Creates closer alignment with other parts of the business
  4. Alerts users to values that are significantly above or below expectations
  5. Facilitates action and changed direction (tells you what to do and what to focus on)


Dashboard Building Blocks

  • Metrics and KPIs - figure out what they are (somewhere between 8 - 20 only!)
  • Metric - a numerical measure that represents a piece of business data (ex # of customer conversations / week / conversion rate)
  • KPIs - A Metric that is tied to a target disigned to provide visibility into performance


What Questions Should EVERY Program Ask - for EVERY project?

  1. What business outcome are we trying to impact?
  2. How do you expect this program / activity to contribute (what needle needs to move and how far)
  3. How will we know and measure that this program achieved the objective(s)?
  4. What metrics would you expect to see?
  5. What data will help you understand our current state?
  6. What data and measures will communicate the program's effectiveness and value?


Three Layers to the Marketing Dashboard

  • Executive Level (Bosses and Owners)
  • Operational Level (Management)
  • Tactical Level (Front Line)


Planning, analytics, measurement, and reporting tool - what's your blueprint?

  • Tactics - Tactical Level
  • Program - Tactical level / Operational level
  • Objective - Operational Level / Executive Level
  • Outcome - Executive Level


You should be setting:

  • Target: ____
  • Actual: ____
  • Variance: ____
  • Data Source: ____


Three Layers to the Marketing Dashboard

  • Executive Level (Bosses and Owners)
  • Operational Level (Management)
  • Tactical Level (Front Line)


Start with the Dashboard Purpose

  • Who are the dashboard stakeholders
  • How will they use the dashboard
  • What decisions do you want them to be able to make?

Creating a proper dashboard takes about 18 months to do properly


ESSENTIAL METRICS ON AN Executive Dashboard - a minimum of 6 items to report on:

  • customer acquisition and retention #s
  • customer advocacy and vlaue
  • customer equity
  • product innovation and adoption
  • competiive positioning / market value index (rate of growth, share of preference)
  • sales results
Excuses to avoid:
"Tracking isn't possible"
"Data isn't clean"
"Data isn't avaialbe"
"No systems or tools"
Figure out how to overcome these. Execuses should not stop you!


A leader only think about these things:

  1. Multi-touch (attribution)
  2. Multi-Channel (attribution)
  3. Data and analytics
  4. Value and Impact.

Affiliate Marketing Terms, Definitions and Abbreviations – Part 3: Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Affiliate Marketing Terms, Metrics and KPIsAffiliate Marketing is a complicated industry and the various terms used don't make it easier. In part one of our Affiliate Marketing Terms, Definitions and Abbreviations we talked about key players in the performance marketing space. In part two, we define the various affiliate marketing models that exist. This next section takes a look at the terms used when discussing common key performance indicators and affiliate marketing metrics.


Metrics and Key Performance Indicators

AOV / AOS - Average Order Value / Average Order Size

There are two general references to AOV or AOS. These are the overall Average Order Value of all purchases made on a website. If you look at your Google Analytics, for example, and go to your Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview section, this is the one called "Average Value".

The other is specific to the affiliate marketing channel and shows you the AOV that affiliates are brining in. You can then compare the Average Value from your overall site performance to your affiliate partners to determine how they are performing compared to other channels. If it's much higher, they may be doing a better job of up selling, cross selling or featuring more high value products from your site. If it's lower, you may need to help them understand your products, services and value propositions better so they can help drive higher sales.


ROAS - Return on Advertising Spend

This is a term commonly used with search affiliates or internal search departments (mainly your PPC channel). The reason it's important is search affiliates will speak with you about how well their campaigns may be converting and discuss keywords with you which will produce a higher Return on Advertising Spend.

If you have your own PPC efforts running, you will need to be strategic about your allowances with search affiliates, however there are solid win-win situations that will result in mutually beneficial relationships and dual profits for both parties involved.


ROI - Return on Investment

This one may be a bit simple to define here, but possibly THE most important abbreviation on this entire blog. Return on Investment tells you whether you are producing a positive return, a negative return or breaking even on your spend. I won't go into detail about this one since it's the basis of all business efforts - a positive ROI.


EPC - Earnings Per Click

Earning Per Click is a way for affiliates to understand what their earning potential will be if they join your program. EPC represents the average earnings of all affiliates in your program based on the number of sales (conversions) and clicks they send. To an affiliate it means "If I send 100 clicks your way, how much am I going to earn back?" If you have a $20 EPC, it means they will earn $20 from those 100 clicks. If you have a $0 EPC it means none of your affiliates are selling anything, which is not an encouraging figure for an affiliate to look at when considering joining your program. They would be taking a very big risk.

Alternatively, if you see a program with a $1200 EPC, either that program has an incredibly high AOV or there is something fishy going on. I tend to find the most common EPC range for e-commerce programs is usually between $12 - $45 EPC. Generally affiliates look for the programs that have an EPC of $15-20 or higher.


Reversal Rate 

This is a term used when a sale or affiliate commission is reversed from previously affiliate credited transitions. For example, if you have a 10% reversal rate, this means that 10 of 100 orders previously credited to affiliates were "cancelled". It's normal for businesses to have some small reversal rate since there are sometimes cancellations or returns by consumers, however, very high reversal rates (say 30-50%) are a big red flag for affiliates and they will be very wary to join your program - if they ever do.


Conversion Rate

Aside from ROI, this is likely the other most important metric used online.  Conversion rate measures how successful you are capturing the sale or lead. If you have a 2% conversion rate, that means 2 out of every 100 people coming to your website are completing a sale or lead generation form. (Note - there are other actions one can take to "convert" however these are the most common two).

There are a ton of ways to break conversion rate up to help you understand your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. For example, you could measure your entire site conversion rate, a landing page's conversion rate, an affiliate's conversion rate and so on.

Very high conversion rates from affiliates could mean they are either fabulous marketers or are doing something that could be hurting you. Very low conversion rates from affiliates could mean they are not sending you targeted traffic, there is something wrong with their landing pages, another affiliate is getting credit for their sales or they may need more training about your product or brand.


Click Through

This is a term used to describe when a user clicks on an ad or link (whether it be a banner, text link, product image, widget, etc) and leaves the page to land on another page. They are "clicking through" from one place to another using one of your ads or creatives.



This is simply a term used to explain how many times your links are showing. For example, if in your affiliate program you have 100,000 impressions, it means the combination of all your creatives (banners, text links, product images, etc) that have an affiliate tracking link attached to them have been "seen" that many times across all your affiliate's touch points.

You can also track each individual banner, text link and such to see which ones are showing the most, which are being used the most and so on.



Attribution is a term used to describe which chain of affiliates or marketing channels were used to complete a transaction. With attribution tracking you can better understand the values different touch points bring to your sales cycle. You can read more about attribution here.

There are various other terms used to describe key performance indicators in affiliate marketing, especially when cross referencing other marketing channels such as in search, social or mobile marketing, however this gives you a solid place to start.

My final section of affiliate marketing definitions and abbreviations will take a look at the terms used to describe tools and overall functionally of an affiliate marketing program.



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