Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dynamic Dashboards with Groups and Programs

I wrote a little while ago about using Group Manipulation to set up very customized reports that show interesting cuts of your data. We used the combination of Activity-Based Filters and normal Contact Filters to find a list of Executives (Director, VP, CxO) who had shown a minimum level of web activity/interest in the last month. This was just an introductory example of the technique of using Group Manipulation to find, and report on, almost any cut or slice of your marketing data.

I was chatting with Nate Pruitt the other day who is a very smart Eloqua user, and VP Marketing at Asure software, and we were discussing the next level of this technique. How do you make a continuously update dashboard of this data rather than manually manipulating Groups to perform the analysis once.

The good news is that this is also easy to do. The overall philosophy is the same, using Contact Groups and multiple steps to perform the analysis and create the right set of members in a Group. However, instead of doing this just once, manually, we'll use Program Builder to perform the manipulation of Group members.

Step 1 is removing existing members from the Group in order to start from zero. This is simple, we'll just add a Program Step that removes Contacts from a Contact Group (our "Interested Exec" Group), and use the Group itself as a Feeder for that step in the Program. This lets us automatically empty the Group each time we start the process.

Next, we'll use our original Activity-Based Filter to feed the Program with any Contacts who have shown Web Activity of a certain amount in the last month. The rule for that is all built into the filter, so all we have to do is set up a Program Feeder to pull those members in on a daily basis.

Now we have members in the program who are showing the right level of activity, but we're not sure if they are Execs. In the static example we used a Group/Filter combination to determine this, but since we have the active contacts in a Program already, all we need to do is apply a Filter through a Decision Rule.

The Decision Rule will use our pre-existing "Is An Exec" Filter that looks for the appropriate titles, and uses a wildcard search to include execs from any line of business (sales, marketing, finance, etc).

Use the "Contact Is In Contact Filter" Decision Rule and select the existing Filter, and the Contacts flowing through the Program will be split based on whether they are in an executive role or not.

For those who are executives, one final step adds them into the "Interested Execs" Group, and for those who are not, we can just drop them from the Program. Now we have a continually updating list of executives who have shown a minimum level of web interest in the last month.

This is an ideal situation for creating a custom dashboard that shows the members of the group and can be accessed at a glance. It is also a general technique that can prove very valuable in tackling all sorts of interesting analysis and dashboard challenges.

I look forward to your comments on how you have applied this technique in your marketing analysis.


Chad H said...

Steve - this is a fantastic post. Are you going to show everyone what the dashboard looks like? Keep up these great posts.