Communicating Search Success Using A Dashboard Report

In House - A Column From Search Engine LandAs companies in many industries start to more closely evaluate their marketing budgets, communicating the success and impact of search marketing within your company is as critical as ever. When presenting this information to your executive team or colleagues who may not be as familiar with search marketing, you want to be thorough but concise.

For me, a dashboard is the best tool for this. My dashboard shows, at a high level, the performance of three search streams. I distribute (via e-mail and/or print) and present the dashboard monthly to executives, developers, and colleagues at levels in between. It is my most important and frequently used analysis, and I rarely attend a meeting without it.

Here are some pointers on creating a great dashboard from the standpoint of an in-house marketer responsible for multiple traffic streams.

Your dashboard is essentially a report card. It communicates your goals, how you plan to meet those goals, and how you are performing against those goals. Including multiple streams on the dashboard enables its readers to see the impact of each stream on the total.

Some data that you may want to include for each stream on your dashboard include:

  • Revenue
  • Conversions
  • An indicator of traffic: visits, visitors, etc.
  • Cost (if applicable)
  • An indicator of return: return on investment (ROI), cost per acquisition (CPA), effective commission, etc.

For each metric, include current (i.e., last month) and year-to-date (YTD) performance. To help indicate growth of each segment and account for seasonality, include percent change YTD and year-over-year (YoY).

Below is a sample of a dashboard. The data used here is for example purposes only:

Pay-per-click search

Organic search

Affiliate Marketing

Total

Goals $000 revenue 000 visits $000 revenue 000 visits $000 revenue 000 visits $000 revenue 000 visits
Strategies Strategy 1 Strategy 2 Strategy 3 Strategy 1 Strategy 2 Strategy 3 Strategy 1 Strategy 2 Strategy 3
Traffic

1,000

1,000

1,000

3,000

YoY % Change

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

YTD % Change

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

Revenue

$1,000

$1,000

$1,000

$3,000

YoY % Change

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

YTD % Change

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

Cost

$100

$100

$100

$300

YoY % Change

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

YTD % Change

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

ROI

10.0

10.0

10.0

10.0

% vs. Goal

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

1.0%

The dashboard I use today looks different than the one that I first created for the company more than four years ago. Your dashboard will probably also evolve over time as you find additional metrics or insights to include.

Ideally your dashboard should print on one page – without having to print the document at 40% its original size and on legal paper. The idea is to make it easy to read and understand.

Your dashboard should be self-explanatory. If you were to distribute it without any discussion or explanation, your audience should be able to understand it. Members of your audience may not have time to read and absorb your entire dashboard, so the most important information should be located in a logical place and should stand out.

Quality is important. Before you distribute the dashboard, you probably want to double check that the data in the dashboard is correct. I typically print out the final dashboard and literally put a check beside every number as I confirm it is correct.

Once your dashboard is ready, you may want to e-mail it to your executive team and set up a meeting to discuss it in person with them. Be ready – the dashboard can generate great discussion about search and its impact on your company’s growth.

Andrea Harris leads the search engine marketing team at Carfax Vehicle History Reports where she oversees all aspects of the company’s organic search, pay-per-click (PPC) search, and affiliate marketing programs in the U.S. and Canada.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | In House Search Marketing

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About The Author: is the Vice President of Search Engine Marketing and Content Strategy at RepEquity in Washington, DC. Ms. Harris has 13 years of SEO and PPC experience, and has helped numerous companies, including Hilton Worldwide, Edmunds.com and Carfax Vehicle History Reports, build their online presence. Her clients at RepEquity include eBay, UNICEF, PhRMA and South Carolina.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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