How to Build a Dashboard to Reflect Business Goals

Creating a dashboard of useful communications metrics can be one of your most challenging tasks, regardless of whether you work on the client or agency side. I believe in building a dashboard so your strategy can be printed on one page that is easily shared with partners.

While working at a major U.S. bank, part of my job was to connect corporate communications' digital strategy to business outcomes. To do so we used content to address and try to alleviate customers' and business partners' pain points. We prepared content that articulated the bank's emerging-payments, mobile-banking, and retail strategies and formatted them for use with multiple stakeholders.

We took a fairly simple approach that started with sitting down with our line-of-business (LOB) partners to talk about their goals for the year and the strategic metrics they would use to assess success or failure at year-end. We then built social-business goals that aligned with those LOB strategic goals and identified social business metrics that would help us determine our progress.

This was not as easy as it sounds. In some cases, the LOB goal was squishy (i.e., it lacked a high-profile LOB strategic metric). In other cases, you could create a social-business goal but the metric was a challenge because the information was difficult to track. In a perfect world, your LOB strategic metric and your social business metric would be aligned. The remaining challenge would be creating useful and meaningful goals.

As for the one-page dashboard, it has five components:

  • Core Messages: What are 3-5 messages that should be included in every piece of content? When we did this for at the bank, we wanted to reinforce that: (1) we continue to make every good loan we can; (2) we offer new and responsible ways to provide more credit to help small business grow; (3) we continue to make small-business expertise more accessible through some 2,000 specialists; and (4) we provide comprehensive, simple business solutions with convenient access.
  • Audiences: These can be personas or broader targets, particularly if your business partner has well-defined segments. Including this on your dashboard acts as a constant reminder of whom you’re talking to and encourages you to constantly think about their pain points.
  • Themes: Again, these are broad reminders of what you’re trying to do. They will keep you from going off the rails and can be updated as business needs change. Articulating them will help you get story ideas from your partners. In the bank example, our themes were: (1) Success that is shared, highlighting local stories; (2) small business owners are an essential element of our local and national economies and we’re there for them; (3) differentiated treatment; and (4) dedicated specialists to recommend the right solution.
  • Tone and Content: How are we going to talk to our target audience and with what type of content? In this case, we wanted our tone to be “helpful, informative, and encouraging” and our content to be focused on “thought leadership, risk mitigation, and brand support.” Again, the goal was to keep us on track so we could take every idea that came in and determine whether it fit the strategy.
  • Goals and Metrics: As outlined above, we created a four-column chart with: LOB goals, the overall strategic metric, the social business goal and the social business metric. In the bank example, it was critical to involve our digital strategy team, which could help us define actionable social metrics and implement processes to measure them.

It is critical that you build and document your content strategy at the same time as you work on connecting your social strategy to LOB goals. Search “documented content marketing strategy” and get lots of other options.

Peter Osborne is principal of Friction-Free Communications.  He can be reached at: [email protected]