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KPI Dashboards & How to Use Them in Your Marketing



As a business leader, a big part of your responsibilities involves ensuring existing projects and initiatives within your organization are on track while creating space for smart new strategies.

But with a million and one other things fighting for your attention, it can sometimes be challenging to stay up to date.

Fortunately, there’s a tool to help you succeed: KPI dashboards.

KPI dashboards can help you check in with various aspects of your business and make sure everything’s running smoothly.

Let’s take a closer look at what KPI dashboards are and what they can do to help your marketing team succeed in 2022 and beyond.

Every department from sales to operations needs a dashboard, and dashboards are especially helpful for marketing. Between about a dozen online channels to consider (plus offline marketing efforts), numerous elements go into creating and sustaining a healthy marketing ecosystem.

A KPI dashboard helps marketers and business executives identify what’s going on with the elements of their marketing strategy that matter most, where to make changes if things start to go awry, and how to identify opportunities for new initiatives that can spur even greater success.

Getting your dashboard right takes time, but the pay-off is immense. Executives who successfully implement an effective dashboard can get better results and create a more rewarding, enjoyable work atmosphere in which the team has more room for creativity and experimentation.

The KPIs you choose should be related to your strategy and include a mix of forward-looking and backward-looking variables.

While it’s tempting to cram every metric you can think of into these reports, that’s a big mistake. When you’re confronted with a mountain of data, it’s nearly impossible to give the most critical numbers the level of scrutiny they deserve.

What should a KPI Dashboard include?

The best dashboards include only five to nine KPIs. These should, after all, be the key performance indicators behind your business playbook.

If you’re not sure which data points to focus on, think of it this way: what handful of things could totally tank your business if they went south?

Framing it that way can help you sort the vanity metrics, like the number of monthly social media impressions, from the things that matter, like cost-per-acquisition.

Benefits of a KPI Dashboard

KPI dashboards are great because they make it easy to track progress towards goals. Here are some other reasons why you might want to have one.

1. Detailed Overview

KPI dashboards offer viewers a detailed dive into the progress of an organization. Because they are highly visual, it’s possible to organize, analyze, and filter the most important metrics for any business.

Instead of wading through loads of complex data, KPI dashboards break data down in a simple, easy-to-understand form.

2. Better Decision Making

You need the ability to use accurate, up-to-date data if you want to make good business decisions — and KPI dashboards help you with that.

They show the vital operational data of an organization in one place, so KPIs are more visible. By eliminating data silos, this tool increases analytical efficiency and the ability to make the right data-driven decisions.

3. Real-time Analysis

KPI dashboards allow you to monitor the crucial performance metrics in real-time.

With this information available, decision-makers can make proactive moves and drive better business outcomes.

5 Best KPI Dashboard Software to Use

You’ll need a KPI dashboard software before creating a KPI dashboard. Here are 5 of the best around today.

1. Hubspot

Best KPI Dashboard Software: HubSpot

Hubspot has a free KPI software you can use to quickly create visually appealing KPI dashboards that are easy to understand.

With Hubspot’s KPI dashboard software, you can also pull data from different departments to overview your organization’s performance. You’ll also not have to worry about data breaches as you can control who can access your dashboards.

2. Geckoboard

Best KPI Dashboard Software: Geckoboard

Geckoboard’s KPI dashboard software allows you to focus on the metrics that matter in your business. It’s easy to build and allows you to pull data from different sources like spreadsheets, databases, and even Zapier integrations.

3. Klipfolio

Best KPI Dashboard Software: Klipfolio

Klipfolio helps business owners visualize their data to understand how well they’re performing and make informed decisions about the future.

Kilpfolio also stores historical data so that business owners can compare performance over different time periods.

4. Databox

Best KPI Dashboard Software: Databox

Like Geckoboard, Databox also pulls data from different sources to help teams monitor trends, collaborate better, and make more informed decisions that drive business growth.

Even if you have zero coding skills, you can quickly learn how to use Databox to create great KPI dashboards. Thanks to the over 70 integrations Databox has, you can also easily connect it to other platforms to collect more data.

5. Zoho

Best KPI Dashboard Software: Zoho

Zoho is another fantastic business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform you can use to create KPI dashboards.

The drag-and-drop dashboard builder makes the platform super intuitive even if you have no prior training. You can also access the report you create on Zoho from your phones and tablets, making it great for mobility.

Once you’ve chosen the software you want, here are some of the best tips and practices to help you create an excellent KPI dashboard.

1. Know your audience

Knowing your audience is essential to any marketing endeavor, and the same is true of creating a KPI dashboard.

Therefore, you must know who’ll work with the KPIs and the kind of information they’ll need to design the KPI dashboard correctly. For example, you can’t expect the same dashboard you create for an executive audience to work for a sales team.

2. Keep it relatively simple

Whether you’re creating a dashboard for busy managers with only minutes to spare or for a team with time to spare to delve into details, your dashboard needs to provide critical information in a simple, easy-to-understand format.

3. Include only what is needed

The heart of any KPI dashboard is brevity and utility. Therefore, stick to including only the most critical and insightful KPIs needed for meeting business and organizational goals.

4. Draft your design

The design of the KPI dashboard will depend on the composition, distribution, comparison, or relationship of the metrics.

For example, a dashboard for analyzing trends will comprise column or line charts. On the other hand, a dashboard for data composition will give the best benefits if you make it with maps or stacked charts.

Here are a few KPI dashboards examples. Notice that they’ve honed in on only the most critical metrics and display the information in clear, concise, easy-to-digest visual formats.

1. Subscription Model Dashboard

Subscription-based businesses are cropping up all over the place. From razors to clothes to meal prep kits, just about anything you could want or need in your daily life can be delivered to your doorstep regularly.

The subscription model is great because it guarantees businesses recurring revenue — a subscriber locks into your service for a set period, meaning regular monthly income for the term of service.

In this example, the leadership team has chosen to focus on metrics that give them a sense of how much monthly and yearly revenue they expect to make and their churn rate.

With this dashboard, the leadership team can quickly identify any potential issues from that handful of data points before those issues become mission-critical.

For example, let’s say the leadership team notices a steady rise in the churn rate, which isn’t ideal.

From there, they could start digging deeper, asking questions about what changes they could make to entice more of their existing customers to renew their membership.

KPI Dashboard Example: Subscription Model

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2. Large Ticket Item Dashboard

This dashboard from DataPine is the kind that could be useful to a marketing team in just about any industry that has a high price point — and, therefore, a high customer acquisition cost. Their focus is on nine of the biggest metrics that give them insight into their strategy’s success.

Rather than focusing on granular numbers, like Twitter followers gained or the number of likes on each piece of content shared on Facebook, they’re measuring numbers linked directly to their budget and tie in with the sales team’s efforts.

Understanding acquisition numbers and cost-per-acquisition provides valuable insight far beyond the reach of the marketing department.

Issues with poor cost-per-acquisition can indicate a need to cut ad spend, but they might also be hinting at a need to change the pricing structure for your offerings. Or they might mean that the sales team needs to shorten lead time to increase the number of acquisitions per month.

No matter what is ultimately identified as the source of the problem, having a dashboard empowers all of your teams to have informed, collaborative discussions about challenges facing your business that are backed up by actual data and numbers.

KPI Dashboard Example: Large Ticket Item

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3. Deals Closed Dashboard

Epec Engineered Technologies uses HubSpot’s reporting features to create a sleek KPI dashboard with all the most critical information, including “Form to MQL” and “First Page Seen.”

This is an undeniably helpful KPI dashboard to see whether your marketing strategy aligns with your goals. The “First Page Seen” section shows you which pages your visitors initially interact with — if that page hasn’t been updated in a while, consider optimizing it for higher conversions.

Additionally, the “Marketing qualified lead” vs. “Sales qualified lead” categories, shown in chart-form under “RFQ to MQL,” will help you tailor your strategy and determine which leads convert at the highest percentage and what you might do to even out any disparities.

KPI Dashboard Example: Deals Closed

4. Marketing Leads Dashboard

This dashboard made by Geek Dashboard is a fantastic example of how your marketing team can use a KPI dashboard to measure your team’s performance, particularly through leads and conversions.

It’s clear and concise, focusing on the significant factors for marketing — leads, and percent of conversions compared to goal. Additionally, the visuals help your team stay focused on the most critical aspects of your strategy to ensure you’re on track to hit your monthly or yearly goals.

KPI Dashboard Example: Marketing Leads Template

KPI Dashboard Excel Templates

If you’re ready to start creating your own KPI dashboard, the good news is that there are tons of resources out there to help you get it done.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot offers dashboard templates that integrate with Excel, Google Drive, and PowerPoint, so you can easily track those all-important metrics within the program that works best for you and your team.

KPI Dashboard Excel Templates: HubSpot

2. Smartsheet

Smartsheet provides Excel templates for a variety of marketing dashboards.

So whether you’re looking for a broad template for tracking big KPIs to more specific templates for social media marketing, Smartsheet has you covered.

Best of all, the templates are free to download on their website.

KPI Dashboard Excel Templates: Smartsheet

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3. Eloquens

Eloquens offers a marketing dashboard template with metrics that they’ve broken down into seven major categories. These categories include sales effectiveness, customer metrics, and budget metrics, and each category has several KPIs that you can choose to track.

KPI Dashboard Excel Templates: EloquensImage Source

You’ve Created a Dashboard, Now What?

Once you’ve gotten your first marketing dashboard up and running, the real fun begins! Start pulling the numbers regularly — weekly or monthly, depending on how quickly things move in your business. Then, review it regularly and start to look for patterns.

When a number crops up that surprises you, it’s time to examine the cause.

Having all of your marketing information displayed in this simple dashboard makes it easier to identify the source of the potential issue and get feedback from the most relevant parties about what could be behind the startling data point.

Once you think you’ve identified the source of the change, it’s time to do some experimenting. If you missed your goal, try a new approach. If your numbers exceeded expectations, tweak things to lean into whichever existing strategies are most responsible for the high numbers.

Make changes slowly so that you can see how every shift in approach influences your results. Additionally, keep tracking those KPIs regularly so that you can understand the effects of each new tactic.

No matter what, you want to keep returning to your dashboard. This document should become your North Star, guiding your shifts in strategy and providing you with the information you need to understand which strategies drive the best results.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

 marketing reporting templates

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The Future of Content Success Is Social



The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book



7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.


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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime



Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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