How to Build a CMO Dashboard that’s Easy to Use and Achieves Results

Daniel Codella

Data Evangelist, Sigma

You spent weeks working with your BI team to build the perfect marketing dashboard so your CMO can give a stellar presentation to the board. But after the meeting, you find out your dashboard gave way to more questions than answers. Your CMO got stumped and now your whole team has to scramble to get her the data she needs. What went wrong?

The Missed Potential of the CMO Marketing Dashboard

Advancements in technology have tipped the balance of marketing from art to science. Marketers have more tools than ever before to track, measure, and quantify their efforts. CMOs are now on the hook to make sure every marketing campaign is directly tied to revenue. In an effort to become familiar with the language of data, they’ve turned to tools like dashboards to demonstrate the value they and their team are generating.

Dashboards provide insights about what’s working now and what has the potential to work in the future. They have the potential to serve as compasses, guiding marketers through volatile environments to the north star of success. Marketers need these metrics. But the dashboards they get from their mountain of applications are siloed.

Marketing teams are using a growing number of tools and apps (8000 at last count) each with their own data sets. This fragmented collection of sometimes conflicting numbers reveal only portions of the customer journey, and rarely help bring clarity to how marketing channels are actually impacting the business. They are thrown into static dashboards full of metrics, but little insights.

More often than not, dashboards are used by teams to defend past performance, not help arm the CMO with insights that move the needle on their objectives. And forget being able to dive in further if questions arise. It’s no wonder then why only 31.6% of CMOs use analytics in their decision-making.



of CMOs use analytics in their decision-making

What a CMO dashboard needs to deliver

To start, focus on the problems CMOs must solve and the questions they must answer. Then, see what data is available to support them and build your dashboards around that.

1. CMOs must deliver the metrics that matter to c-suite and their board

The data CMOs present must directly tie marketing efforts to revenue. With every metric, chart, graph, or table you add, ask yourself, “Does this help my CMO better present how our marketing campaigns have impacted our bottom line?” If the answer is no, scrap it. Cluttered dashboards may seem impressive to you, but they won’t be doing your CMO any favors.

2. They have to drive alignment with their sales counterparts

There’s always potential for friction between marketing and sales and it’s usually caused by a lack of alignment around goals. The CMO must set expectations around lead definitions, lead scoring, attribution, Service-Level Agreements (SLAs), and more. They have to balance helping the organization focus on hitting those short term sales targets while also helping it recognize the value of and invest in the longer-term brand metrics. A well made dashboard can help them do both.

3. They need to understand what their team is doing and how their efforts are performing

You may be tickled by fancy charts and graphs that show the growth of followers on Twitter or an animated gauge showing the number of email opens to your company newsletter, but these KPIs don’t help your CMO get a pulse on the team. Vanity metrics will not impress. Ask yourself: “Is my dashboard loaded with tactic level metrics or campaign level metrics?” When creating a CMO level dashboard, remember that they need to see the big picture.

4. They must be able to get real-time insights that shape future strategy

CMO’s need to be able to spot trends and identify patterns. A CMO armed with real-time data has the ability to make better decisions about marketing tactics. Static period, pre-built dashboards don’t allow them to dig in deeper when they see something that catches their eye. They’re force to either go back to the BI team or turn to data extracts and excel if they want to explore the data further.

According to a recent survey, 62% of CMOs still rely on spreadsheets to get insights despite a growing investment in analytic tools. A well crafted, dynamic dashboard that integrates data across sources in real time can help CMOs act on their instincts and dive in when they identify a promising pattern or trend.


of CMOs still rely on spreadsheets to get insights

How to Build a Dashboard Your CMO Will Love


Integrate the data to provide a holistic view

The prebuilt, 90-day-window view of your data that your marketing apps provide is not going to cut it. These snapshots of different parts of the funnel make it difficult to get the birds-eye view and can even drive people to misleading conclusions. For example, a viral blog article may explode in page views, but may not be driving any conversions. By only looking at those traffic metrics and not diving into who the audience was, your team may invest more resources into creating content around that topic and see little ROI for it.

Integrating data also helps prevent the need for CSV downloads and the resulting spreadsheet sprawl. Unmonitored data extracts are one of the biggest security risks companies face. Additionally, data has a shelf life. Data downloaded into a spreadsheet starts expiring the moment it’s put on a local machine.

Break data out of silos and put them in one centralized place — your cloud data warehouse — so you can access all your data at once


Answer the questions your CMO is asking

Keep the tactic level and vanity metrics to yourself. Our CMO, Cristina Bravo Olmo, sums up what marketing executives need to know this way: “As head of marketing, I need to know that the investments my team is making are converting to sales pipeline, and I need to to know that in real-time — not 45 days later.”

When figuring out what componentss to include in your dashboard, focus on what is driving pipeline and how various initiatives are contributing to organizational goals. Trim out anything else as they will only clutter your dashboard and make the takeaways you’re trying to deliver murkier.


Choose the right visualizations

Raw data is not always actionable and logical next steps are rarely obvious. Effective dashboards make data easy to digest and help the viewer come to a logical conclusion. In other words, they tell a story.When designing your dashboard, the most critical metrics should be front and center. They should be the largest or boldest parts of the design to draw the attention of the viewer. Color is key here. Don’t just use your company or logo colors — use color strategically to emphasize key points.

Label all of your charts and graphs so that your viewers know exactly what they are seeing and can easily interpret results. And as they say in the real estate world: location, location, location! Provide context by putting performance data near goals, trends and other benchmarks to help your CMO see the true impact of your team’s efforts.

Lastly, make your dashboard interactive. For example, parameters and filters in Sigma can update visualizations in real time to allow your viewer to directly interact with the data and uncover new insights.


Empower your CMO to explore and ask further questions

Modern BI tools like Sigma offer both the ability to create dazzling dashboards but also “click into” the underlying data in a familiar spreadsheet interface. This allows your CMO to query the data the same way they would in Excel but directly against data in the cloud data warehouse.

Multiple sources of data — not just marketing but also data from sales, product, customer success, and product — can be combined and analyzed together and in real time to reveal rich new insights.

Yesware was able to join four years of website data with trial data from the product resulting in a treasure trove of data insights. Analyzing this data together in Sigma gave them a complete view of user behavior at each stage of the funnel. They were able to analyze every touchpoint, past and present, and see the results of every interaction.

The result? A 50% reduction in customer acquisition cost. These are the kinds of insights your CMO is looking to achieve

The Perfect CMO Dashboard Is Within Reach

The perfect CMO dashboard tells a compelling story, makes the data actionable, and helps viewers come to quick, accurate conclusions. Sigma’s intuitive, visual dashboard builder enables marketing teams to build a powerful, flexible dashboard in minutes. Best of all, any of the underlying data in the dashboard worksheet can be accessed in one click, making it easy to iterate, update and adjust your dashboard for whatever needs arise.

Thoughtful, well-designed dashboards empower CMOs to get the data and insights they need to collaborate effectively with their C-level counterparts and shape impactful strategy that helps them deliver value to the organization.

Ready to build the ultimate CMO dashboard?

Sigma can help: Schedule a demo or start a free trial today