Your Own Digital Media Dashboard

Measure 45When I first moved into an official marketing role some years ago, my first major project was to consolidate all collateral – from brochures and presentations right through to the company’s website. There was plenty to do, and I was given a free reign.

And while I was busily creating collateral, print ads, presentations, Flash animations (oh yes, it was the time for it), direct email, newsletters and anything else that I thought would generate demand, I soon realised that I needed to get smarter about the way I was working. I wanted to make sure that I was producing material that was the most effective – I realised I needed to pay attention to measurements of all kinds.

I started to track the number of collateral downloads that were made from the marketing intranet. I counted print runs, scrutinised industry magazine circulations and optimised email mailouts. I watched the most popular intranet and website pages and followed the paths that people followed into and out of the sites. I analysed the keyword search data and familiarised myself with the most popular inbound linking sites.

mini dashboard Blog StoryI plotted all this data in a spreadsheet. I updated it monthly (or weekly during campaigns). It was my own marketing dashboard. Interestingly, no one really asked for this … and I didn’t share it – but I knew that it would come in handy at some stage. Sure enough, the day came – and the questions – “what is the value of marketing” and “what is our ROI”? And as I took our executives through my dashboard I could see the lights turn on.

The main point is – that even if you are NOT being asked for the measurement of your marketing efforts – you should still be measuring your efforts regardless. For it is best to take the lead in such an effort.

Of course, it is also much easier these days to collate data, share and report on it. These digital media dashboards can draw upon readily available data – and as KD Paine explains, many of these tools are freely available:

  • Google: Sign up for alerts based on your product and service names; and install Analytics to understand your traffic.
  • Twitter: See what is being said about you and your company in 140 character bites. Or even engage with your customers one-on-one.
  • Conversations:
    • If you have a blog, try the conversation index (which is a surprisingly good, simple indicator)
    • Track, monitor and promote your feeds via Feedburner
    • Backtype can help you track your own comments as well as product/service mentions (as does CoComment)
  • 1000 ft views:
    • Quarkbase gives you plenty of data on your site and the people who use it
    • Quantcast uses a small piece of code to aggregate audience segmentation data

Once you have all this material, the next challenge is to turn it into insight (see also how to find the gold in digital measurement). You need to figure out with all this data, what is working, what is not, and how to adjust accordingly. Oh, and make sure where you are spending your effort directly links to your company’s strategic objectives – otherwise you may well face a very uncomfortable conversation. It should be a whole lot easier with the right data at your fingertips!

UPDATE: Chris Brogan shows how you can Grow Bigger Ears in 10 Minutes (essential for creating what Jeremiah Owyang calls a "listening post")

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