Actually, I could have titled this post “so what” instead because that can be the sad fate of some marketing reporting. We’re seeing so many clients invest in improving their marketing reporting and analytics, and that is one of the most important steps to reaching high performance. Trouble is, sometimes all that hard work takes awhile to have the intended impact. Naturally this is frustrating to those who spend the time and invest the resources, but what’s a marketing operations team to do in the face of skeptics and inertia? Plenty! Read on.

Unlike sales, which has to live and die (and get paid) based on its numbers, marketing reporting is still developing as a management tool in many B2B organizations. It’s a fact that despite good intentions of marketing teams to improve reporting and dashboards, the gap remains wide between desire for better reports and the execution that delivers them — not to mention the skills to take that data and turn it into actionable advice. It’s even wider from execution to support for, and adoption by, marketing and senior management as the source of the truth, trusted as accurately showing marketing’s contribution to the business. It’s not hopeless, of course, and to help folks on the journey, here are three practices that stand out as the drivers of adoption for marketing reporting.

Lesson 1: Dashboard Adoption Takes Time. Our research shows that it takes up to 18 months for new reporting to be implemented and fully adopted in an organization. It’s taken a long time to build up the status quo, and it’s not going down overnight. Have a plan to communicate change and why it matters and how it will benefit the marketing function and the business, as well as to help people understand how you got to the numbers. Embed the dashboard where it can be used in daily workflow. Next, work the plan and be patient.

Lesson 2: Dashboard Trust Demands Management Support. New reporting that improves the ability to make fact-based decisions regarding what needs improvement and why will not be adopted unless it has support from the top. Ensure senior leadership within marketing (and sales) supports the effort for better reporting, or be ready for a long slog.

Lesson 3: Dashboard Adoption Requires Delivery of Value and Insight. It may be the case that senior management and the rest of marketing need to be shown exactly how better reporting can help. Use examples and internal success stories to showcase where quality insights delivered better outcomes. This can range from email deliverability diagnosis, to leads left in purgatory nurtured to become found wins, to identifying where sales tools will have the most impact on stalled opportunities. The key is to choose a visible action that will showcase how knowledge becomes power and delivers results.