For a lot of marketers, data represents a massive opportunity — and a challenge that can feel almost impossible to solve.
Many companies don’t feel confident about their ability to fully use marketing data effectively, either because their team lacks the necessary technical skills or because they’re already busy dealing with the rest of their workload.
It doesn’t help that marketing data is particularly challenging to use. The typical campaign includes multiple sources of data like Google Analytics and Facebook Ads, and each of those sources produces large amounts of information that can be extremely time-consuming to gather and “normalize,” i.e. put into a common format for easier analysis. Some marketing teams spend hundreds of hours each month on this type of data management.
That’s why more companies are bringing on external “data partners” who can help them gather and study marketing data for valuable intelligence. With the data partner’s help, marketing teams receive the insights they need to make better decisions about strategy more quickly, without spending all their time on data preparation.
Here are three core capabilities that marketers should seek in a data partner:
A dashboard is a regularly updated report that illustrates KPIs through the use of bar charts, line graphs and other visualizations. Compared to a spreadsheet, dashboards make complex data easy to understand and enable essentially anyone, even nontechnical users, to explore it and ask questions.
The best dashboards allow you to choose how to view data. For example, in the same dashboard, you should be able to look at the results for an entire campaign and have the ability to drill down and view specific sources like Facebook in isolation.
That level of flexibility requires a “data engine” behind the dashboard that can automatically collect data from all those sources, organize it so that it’s ready for analysis and then pipe it into the dashboard. For its analytics platform, Infinity Marketing uses ChannelMix, a marketing performance platform. ChannelMix includes persistent, secure data storage in the form of a data warehouse, which serves as a “single source of truth” for reporting and analysis.
A data partner can help you develop a strategy for tracking how customers discover your brand, engage with your marketing campaigns and website, and ultimately convert.
That might include the use of a centralized naming strategy for all your campaigns (so you can see which ads are leading someone to come to your website) and tracking on your website via tools like Google Analytics (so you can see what visitors read or do when they visit your site).
Your data partner can also work with you to incorporate sales or revenue data from a CRM into your reporting, so you can see how much new business your most recent marketing campaign generated. It’s a powerful way to show marketing’s ability to generate measurable ROI.
A good data partner will go beyond telling you what happened with last quarter’s campaign. They’ll also be able to highlight patterns in your data and give you recommendations for your options going forward.
They do this through the use of more advanced data science techniques like attribution modeling, which can quantify how much impact a particular marketing channel (like paid search or display ads) is having on conversions. In turn, you can use that insight to spend more or less on that tactic.
Or your data partner might use media mix modeling to prescribe the best marketing channels to use in upcoming campaigns and how much to spend, based on the results of past campaigns.
Some of the most effective data partners are marketing agencies. In recent years, more agencies have built dedicated teams with expertise in solving the data problems facing marketers. It’s a type of subject matter expertise that not all consultants or outside vendors possess.
If your company is trying to solve its problems around marketing data, choosing a data partner could be a game-changing move. Once they’re free from the chore of data management, your marketing team can use their time to explore the data and develop valuable, actionable insights, leading to more effective marketing strategy.
The opportunity of marketing data is real. And the problems are eminently solvable with the right partner.
This blog was written by Josh Shirley, Vice President of Client Strategy at Alight Analytics.