The Art of the Marketing Scorecard White Paper by BECKON
USING DATA TO TELL THE STORY
OF OMNICHANNEL MARKETING PERFORMANCE
THE ART OF THE
THE ART OF THE MARKETING SCORECARD 1
WHAT IS A MARKETING SCORECARD? 2
THE BENEFITS OF MARKETING SCORECARDS 3
DESIGNING A MARKETING SCORECARD 7
KEY SCORECARD COMPONENTS 15
BEST PRACTICES FOR MARKETING SCORECARDS 17
WHERE TO START? DEEP OR WIDE? 19
THE ART OF THE
“How’s marketing performing?” It’s a question marketing leaders get asked all
the time. But it’s not always easy to answer. Marketing has so many channels,
so many vendors and tools in the mix, so many executions and campaigns
going at once, how can we possibly summarize all that’s happening, why we’re
doing it, and what it all means?
And yet we can’t get away with saying, “Well, it’s complex.” That doesn’t satisfy
CEOs and CFOs. Management wants quick-hitting summaries. But more, it
wants context. How are we performing compared to where we thought we’d
be? How about compared to last week? Last year? Compared to a similar
Enter the marketing scorecard—a powerful tool for delivering visibility into
overall marketing performance with context.
In this paper we’ll cover:
• What is a marketing scorecard?
• The benefits of marketing scorecards.
• Scorecard design options—how to choose the right framework(s) for your
• Choosing and organizing scorecard components—objectives, metrics, KPIs
and how they all fit together.
• What’s the best way to get started?
WHAT IS A MARKETING SCORECARD?
A marketing scorecard is a strategic planning and management tool that takes
its cues from the balanced scorecard system. Developed by Robert Kaplan
and David Norton more than 20 years ago (and used in organizations around
the world ever since), the balanced scorecard is a data-driven performance
measurement system that aligns business activities to business strategy and
allows teams to monitor and improve the business over time.
A marketing scorecard, then, is a data-driven marketing performance
measurement system that aligns marketing activities to business strategy and
allows teams to monitor and improve their marketing over time.
Marketing scorecards also have roots in Six Sigma—a process-improvement
methodology developed by Motorola in 1986 and famously adopted by Jack
Welch of General Electric a decade later. How does Six Sigma dovetail with
marketing? Well, to start, Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach for
eliminating defects and achieving stable, predictable results in manufacturing.
For marketers, the “defects” we’d like to reduce are suboptimal marketing
outcomes like low conversion rates, poor paid-to-earned media ratios, flagging
customer loyalty and expensive customer acquisition tactics.
Further, Six Sigma holds that all processes have cause-and-effect relationships
that can be measured, analyzed, controlled and improved in order to drive
higher output quality—or higher ROI, in the case of marketing.
Lastly, the Six Sigma philosophy, brought to the marketing arena, says that
great marketing and great brands are not built by virtue of a single decision (a
one-time annual budget allocation across channels, say), but by the millions of
ongoing small decisions the extended marketing team makes. When we track,
measure and optimize our marketing efforts using a tool like a scorecard, we’re
learning and improving systematically.
THE BENEFITS OF
Like balanced scorecards and Six Sigma, marketing scorecards:
• Bind tactical metrics to a strategic framework.
• Report performance against pre-specified criteria.
• Provide context.
• Are actionable, making next steps and decisions clear.
• Align the team.
• Tell the story of success to the wider business.
Each offers transformative benefits for marketing.
SCORECARDS BIND TACTICAL METRICS TO A
Marketing is incredibly fragmented these days. We market online and offline.
We do direct marketing, brand advertising and loyalty marketing. There’s an
ever-growing number of channels to market in and we have specialized teams
and tools for each. If even we marketers are sometimes overwhelmed by the
complexity and diversity of all that we do, imagine how the CEO and CFO must
feel when they’re blasted with the fire hose of marketing metrics: “We had 10
likes and three retweets and got 10 TRPs and 20,000 visits and ….” Huh?
We marketers know that what we do isn’t random—our efforts support key
business objectives and drive customers along a journey from awareness to
purchase and beyond. Marketing scorecards visually map the results of our
efforts onto a strategic framework. They show with simplicity and precision
how all the tactical stuff works together to move the needle on key business
SCORECARDS REPORT PERFORMANCE AGAINST
Too often, marketing begins execution with no specific goals, KPIs or criteria by
which things should be judged. Then, long after the campaign or effort is over,
the team that executed (whether an agency or a team within the marketing
org) sifts through a pile of results and cherry-picks metrics to show off. All
kinds of crazy things get reported when it’s at the discretion of the executor—
perhaps it was an engagement campaign, but the reported metrics tout the
campaign’s powerful reach.
This erratic, after-the-fact approach creates big problems. We can’t trend. We
can’t compare. We can’t see if one thing outperformed another or was more
cost-effective. The lack of consistent reporting means we have no real basis
for future decision-making. And, the marketing department and its leadership
(that’s you!) come across as all over the map.
If, on the other hand, we build a template for a marketing scorecard and use it
for every omnichannel campaign—deciding up front the criteria by which we’ll
judge our efforts—reporting will be consistent, comparisons become possible
and best practices can be gleaned.
SCORECARDS PROVIDE CONTEXT
Management wants more than an information-dense summary of activity
metrics. It wants to see how well we’re performing now compared to where
we thought we’d be (planned vs. actual reporting). And compared to last
year (year-over-year reporting). And compared to the previous week (trend
reporting). And compared to a similar campaign (internal benchmarking or
performance vs. comparable reporting). Marketing scorecards can deliver
exactly this kind of perspective along with the data.
SCORECARDS MAKE MARKETING DATA ACTIONABLE
AND DECISIONS CLEAR
Well-designed marketing scorecards make marketing data actionable. Every
day or every week, we can look at our scorecards to see: Did the various
vehicles in our marketing mix deliver what we expected? Are we on track to
hit plan? If not, we can drill down to see what underperformed and reallocate
What’s more, the mere act of putting forth targets and tracking how well
we’re hitting them is a powerful mobilizer. Marketing for the sake of doing
marketing goes away completely. The sales function offers a great parallel.
Sales departments don’t say, “We do a bunch of activities so that we can
hopefully sell stuff.” Not at all. First, sales establishes a target for the quarter.
Then, the sales team meticulously tracks to goal using a shared reporting
mechanism, which can be anything from software like Salesforce to a hand-
drawn thermometer on the whiteboard slowly filling up with red ink. Either
way, progress to date dictates the team’s activity level—the sales team is either
scrambling or coasting based on that planned vs. actual report.
Same with the finance department. If finance is trying to control costs but
sets no expense targets, the CFO has no basis for actual decision-making.
So finance sets expense targets and continuously tracks the relevant data.
Say finance committed to keeping costs at $400k this quarter and $390k
has already been spent. When a $200k purchase order comes through for
signature in the final week of the quarter, the CFO knows precisely what action
to take (or not take in this case).
Having 1) goals and targets set up front, and 2) a monitoring system for
tracking performance makes data incredibly actionable and decisions clear.
Marketing scorecards provide both.
SCORECARDS ALIGN THE TEAM
For most of us, marketing performance measurement is shrouded in confusion
and mystery. What metrics should we be paying attention to? How can we
tell if we’re succeeding? Are we even moving in the right direction? Marketing
scorecards create a lighthouse of certainty in a murky sea of data. They put
teams and agencies on the same page—literally—and then tell us where we are
and where we need to go.
SCORECARDS TELL THE STORY OF SUCCESS TO THE
Marketing scorecards are a powerful way to communicate with groups outside
marketing. Think of scorecards as marketing infographics—they reveal at a
glance how all the parts of marketing fit together into a single whole. Done
right, marketing scorecards will make people in other areas of the business say,
“Oh, that’s what marketing does! I thought you just made TV ads!”
We said above that marketing scorecards bind our tactical metrics to a
strategic framework. Specifically, the categories in the strategic framework
serve as column headers atop our scorecard and the metrics that matter slot
underneath. But what strategic frameworks should we consider?
The traditional balanced scorecard focuses on four pillars of business: finance,
the customer, business processes, and learning and growth. But marketing
scorecards are more flexible. Let’s walk through four examples of strategic
frameworks for marketing scorecards. But remember, we don’t have to pick
just one. Best practice is to develop a number of scorecards so that we can
measure and communicate our marketing effectiveness through any of these
lenses (and others) as appropriate.
FRAMEWORK 1: THE BUYER’S JOURNEY SCORECARD
Whether we’re B2B marketers or B2C marketers, whether we sell services
or soda, marketing’s job is to find new customers, get them interested in us,
encourage them to buy from us, and keep them buying more from us. That’s
pretty much the definition of marketing according to Philip Kotler, the father of
modern marketing, who said:
Marketing’s key processes are: (1)
opportunity identification, (2) new product
development, (3) customer attraction and
(4) customer retention and loyalty building
… a company that handles all of these
processes well will normally enjoy success.
But when a company fails at any one of
these processes, it will not survive.
So naturally, when it comes to strategic frameworks, the buyer’s journey
(funnel) is an absolute no-brainer and a great place to start. Notice how a
buyer’s journey scorecard forces marketing teams to NOT think in terms of
execution silos (email, social, media, search, etc.) but through the lens of the
customer instead. Metrics from all the various execution channels must come
together to show how well we’re moving customers from one marketing stage
to the next.
BUYER’S JOURNEY SCORECARD
By instrumenting each stage in the journey, marketers have powerful visibility
into the mechanics and inner workings of marketing effectiveness, rather than
just tracking the traditional starting point (spend) and end point (sales). If sales
drop one quarter, how can we diagnose the problem if we don’t have granular
diagnostics all along the buyer’s journey? That’s what a buyer’s journey
scorecard delivers. Think of it as an early warning system for sales changes.
While the concept of moving customers through a journey is commonplace in
marketing, we should spend time thinking about OUR version of the journey:
• We might choose the classic funnel stages: TOFU (top of the funnel),
MOFU (middle of the funnel) and BOFU (bottom of the funnel).
• It might be Awareness, Engagement, Sales, Upsell and Loyalty.
• A B2B marketer may look to the four R’s: Reach, Relationships, Revenue
• We may want to use Forrester’s concept of marketing RaDaRs: Reach and
Depth and Relationships.
Whatever you choose, revenue needs to be in there, too. No matter whether
marketing at your organization directly drives attributable revenue or defines
itself purely as awareness and branding, always embed revenue/sales in a
buyer’s journey scorecard.
FRAMEWORK 2: THE BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
This scorecard tells the story of marketing’s contribution to the big business
objectives. And it does so using hard numbers CFOs and CEOs care about,
like cost per acquisition, sales growth and share of wallet. Unlike the buyer’s
journey scorecard, the headers atop a business objectives scorecard needn’t
be connected. They just need to represent the business objectives so that we
can showcase marketing’s contribution.
For example, assume the CEO set forth these objectives:
• Grow market share versus the competition.
• Build products and a business worth talking about.
• Increase sales to existing customers.
• Do more with less in order to grow more profitably.
None of these are marketing-specific, but marketing has been explicitly or
implicitly supporting these goals all along (one would hope). So in our business
objectives scorecard, we nest under each goal the relevant marketing trend
metrics, showing exactly how marketing supports the overall business goals.
BUSINESS OBJECTIVES SCORECARD
FRAMEWORK 3: THE MARKETING AND BRAND
Chances are, you or the CMO have clear goals for marketing and the brand for
the year. So why not create a scorecard around those marketing objectives?
Here’s what one might look like:
MARKETING AND BRAND OBJECTIVES SCORECARD
FRAMEWORK 4: THE KEY CAMPAIGNS AND
Many brands plan their marketing year around several key events or campaigns.
In B2B, it might be two big product releases per year plus the annual customer
event. In retail, it might be seasonal pushes: Back to School, Holiday and
Spring. For consumer brands it might be big sponsorships, campaigns or other
investments: the FIFA World Cup, the Doing Good campaign and the Women
in Business initiative. Scorecards allow us to easily track how well we’ve
executed on each campaign or initiative and compare how they’ve performed
against each other.
KEY CAMPAIGNS AND INITIATIVES SCORECARD
These four strategic frameworks for marketing scorecards—buyer’s journey,
business objectives, marketing and brand objectives, and key campaigns and
initiatives—are just the beginning. How about a buyer’s journey scorecard
focused only on digital channels? A social-only scorecard for key campaigns
and initiatives? The possibilities abound.
WHAT’S MISSING FROM THE LIST?
Notice what’s NOT on the list of recommended frameworks: marketing
scorecards organized by CHANNEL!
Such a scorecard might seem logical at first. After all, if we want omnichannel
visibility, we can just make each marketing channel a column header and then
pop in the key channel-specific metrics. Right? Wrong.
MARKETING CHANNEL SCORECARD
Listing our social metrics next to our email metrics, next to our TV metrics,
next to our display metrics misses the crucial point. What’s important about
omnichannel marketing is not that we’re marketing in multiple channels, but
how all those channels work together to influence a customer. By organizing
according to the buyer’s journey, business objectives or marketing objectives
and weaving in data from all our marketing channels, we’ll paint a picture of
how all these things work together to move the needle on something much
bigger than the marketing function. This isn’t marketing for marketing’s sake.
It’s marketing to impact the business.
Pro tip: Avoid creating a totally new marketing scorecard for each country,
campaign, brand and so on. Instead, create one template for each of these—
consistent, up-front criteria by which that particular sphere of marketing
should be judged. Then, simply toggle between instances to compare
performance apples-to-apples. For example, we can create a generic master
scorecard for campaigns, use it for each successive campaign, and then toggle
between campaigns to compare how they performed relative to each other.
Likewise, if we build scorecards for our key regions off a single, standard
template, we can cycle through those scorecards market by market, confident
that the benchmarking and trends are internally consistent.
KEY SCORECARD COMPONENTS
Notice that while the various types of marketing scorecards tell different
stories of success, they share the same structure. Each comprises the following
components: objectives, KPIs, and volume, efficiency and effectiveness metrics.
Let’s walk through each component:
• Objectives. All marketing scorecards start with the key goals we want to
monitor and evaluate (these are our column headers). Remember to make
them SMART—Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. In
addition, consider rephrasing any dully worded objectives as questions
to enliven the business imperative. For instance, if our objective is to
“Engage” we can bring more focus by restating that as, “How effectively
and efficiently are we driving engagement?”
• Key performance indicators (KPIs). Below each objective, list the KPI—the
measure that’s the best indicator of successfully delivering against that
objective. A KPI rises above the level of a regular old metric when we
select it as the best proxy for success. Yes, we can choose two, but the
idea is to be selective. Keep the other measures as metrics.
• Metrics. These are the more complete set of performance measures by
which we’ll monitor and evaluate how well we’re meeting our objectives.
Good metrics candidates include:
• Volume metrics like impression and engagement volume, total sales
and other outcomes.
• Effectiveness metrics like awareness, engagement, engagement rates,
outcomes and conversion rates.
• Efficiency metrics like cost per impression, cost per engagement and
cost per outcome.
Reporting on marketing performance is always a tussle between “top down”
and “bottom up” approaches. Scorecards embody the top-down approach.
Having decided upon a strategy, we define objectives, then select the KPIs
and metrics that best show how well we’re delivering against those objectives.
When we start at the bottom, we tend to just arrange and rearrange the
metrics that are readily available to us, not knowing if they have any point. That
said, looking at metrics from the bottom up can also have value—namely, to
inventory all the data sources we have access to and identify what we’ve got
to work with.
BEST PRACTICES FOR MARKETING
Make them fit on one page. Marketing scorecards are for telling stories with
data, and such stories are best told clearly and concisely. A scorecard should fit
on a single screen and print on one sheet of paper.
Always provide perspective. Don’t let KPIs and metrics sit on the page with
no context. Note trends since the last period. Show performance over the
last year. Compare this campaign or effort to past campaigns and efforts that
were similar. This puts marketing reporting closer to the format of business
reporting, and will be very familiar to CEOs and CFOs.
Track planned vs. actual when possible. Not every metric we track will have
a goal. In fact, we might need to establish good baselines first before we feel
comfortable setting targets. But when we do have targets, our scorecards
should show planned versus actual. Tracking variances not only puts current
performance in context, it doubles as an early warning system—if something
isn’t tracking to target, we can jump in and take action to fix it.
Keep them continuously updated. Don’t produce marketing scorecards
with stale information. A beautiful scorecard printed once a year is useless.
Scorecards that refresh daily are best if we actually want to be optimizing our
marketing—and it’s absolutely doable with automated data intake, analysis and
visualizations. Updating scorecards weekly is the next best choice. Monthly
updates are as infrequent as we’d want to go.
Use standard templates. Don’t let each campaign report success in a unique
way. Don’t let each market have its own lens on performance. Develop a single,
consistent template for each type of marketing scorecard, and enforce its use.
This simple act makes internal benchmarking possible.
Share them widely. Send marketing scorecards to agency partners, the
extended marketing team, company leadership and so on (in some cases
we may need to mask certain sensitive data, like revenue). One of the
breakthrough benefits of scorecards is how they get everyone on the same
Make them look good. Sure, we could do our marketing scorecards as funky
Excel workbooks or PowerPoint slides with the old speedometer-looking
clipart. But our scorecard is a reflection of marketing, and we’d be wise to
make them look as good as possible. After all, our scorecards will offer such
amazing, unprecedented insight into marketing’s strategy and performance
that anybody who receives one will likely forward it on to colleagues and
bosses. We have no idea how far this one page might go.
WHERE TO START?
DEEP OR WIDE?
Many marketers developing scorecards realize there’s a big question right out of
the box: Should we start by going deep or wide? Here’s how to think about it.
A deep scorecard takes a single area—one region, one brand or one part
of the funnel, for example—and slots in all the relevant metrics (spend,
marketing performance in all channels, business results, and brand and
equity outcomes). The more comprehensive our dataset, the more robust
the analyses we can perform.
Starting out with a deep marketing scorecard nets us a robust, marquee
example that will likely inspire other regions or brands to jump on board. The
downside to the deep approach is that by tackling, say, one region at a time,
we have to tackle standardization one region at a time. In other words, we
build our scorecard with data from Region No. 1. But when we roll in data
from Region No. 2 there will certainly be inconsistencies to work through. And
incorporating data from Region No. 3 will require further modifications, and so
on, until standardization generally solidifies.
The other approach is to start wide but shallow. We begin with all regions or all
brands, but ask for only a few standard metrics from each—spend, impressions
and sales, say. Some time later, when sharing data and reviewing integrated
scorecards become routine, we can start incorporating additional metrics,
thereby increasing our depth of metrics over time.
So, deep or wide? The answer depends on our organizational structure. The
wisest choice may be to follow the path of least resistance—do what’s easiest
first. If we have global responsibilities and find it easy to get a few metrics
from each country, start there. Conversely, if we have excellent access to one
brand’s data but aren’t sure how we’re going to get other brands to buy in,
then enlist that first brand as the pioneer. Make the scorecard as impressive
and comprehensive as possible so that it inspires more brands to sign on.
The main thing is to install some form of real-time, omnichannel marketing
scorecard as soon as possible. Because once we start highlighting the data
and showcasing marketing’s impact on the business, we begin to change the
culture. It’s amazing how groups that have always withheld their data will
suddenly start sharing it. They, too, want to shine—or maybe they just don’t
want to be the last dark and dusty corner in a sunny marketing house with the
windows flung open.
To grow your brand, you need integrated, unbiased data and insights you
can trust. You need Beckon, The Source of Truth for Marketing™. Beckon’s
rock-solid data management and real-time marketing intelligence power
better, faster decisions that let you do more with every marketing dollar.
Want to learn more? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org—we’d love