The Single Dumbest Thing Agencies Do When It Comes to Analytics

Matt Hertig Alight Insights

I have a pet peeve that I’d like to talk about. 

So many agencies hesitate to upgrade their marketing analytics because they need to “find a way to pass along the cost to clients.” 

Instead of investing in a tool that can provide multi-channel reporting in dashboards that update automatically, they meander along with Excel and PowerPoint and, I don’t know, maybe their old TI-84 calculator from high school. 




Their reporting stays slow and hard to use, and it completely underwhelms their customers, but hey, at least it didn’t cost them anything. Other than the goodwill of their clients, who may look for an agency that uses reporting to back up its campaign strategies. 

Or some agencies DO try to pass along the costs for basic monthly reporting via dashboard as a surcharge, and the clients say nope. And rightfully so! 

There are some things that are a fundamental cost of doing business, like having electricity and a working bathroom. For clients, fast and comprehensive reporting is (or should be) table stakes. They shouldn’t have to put up with reporting that only shows up once a month in a PDF or spreadsheet that’s impossible to read. 

It’s like, hey, we want your money to run all these campaigns and buy media, but you have to pay us extra if you want us to help you understand what you’re actually getting in return. 

In what world does that make sense? Does your stockbroker try to upcharge you if you want to know if your investments are going up or down? Of course not. 

So Why Do Agencies Do This? 

Part of this is cultural. Media, creative — those are a central part of most agencies’ identity and expertise. It’s what they do, it’s who they are. Even though they’ll break out the cost of specific media and creative services when they put together a proposal, any overhead related to those two areas (like technology) is already a part of their cost structure. 

Analytics feels different. It might be new to the agency. Maybe they aren’t as confident about it. So if they need to cut costs to bring the pricing down, it’s easy to chop analytics because it’s viewed as a special add-on. 

And that approach is so, so misguided. Marketing analytics is the single best way for your agency to show that your campaigns are creating awareness, conversions and, oh yeah, revenue. It’s the proof you need to land, expand and retain clients. It should be integral to what you’re offering. 


BLOG: How to Sell Marketing Analytics to Agency Clients


So, Here’s What I’m Recommending 

At some level, you do have to “pass along the costs to clients.” You should build the expense of your reporting and analytics program — software, people, whatever — into your overall cost structure, the same way every agency has had to adjust pricing for every other technological advance in the history of marketing.  

Don’t nickel-and-dime people. You shouldn’t be charging for Level 1 reporting and dashboards as a separate offering. It’s a basic, common service that should automatically be included as part of your larger scope of work. If you don’t think of it that way, your clients will find a competitor who does. 

If you want to make money from analytics — and you should, it’s awesome — you need to offer something extra that you can upsell, whether that’s special-use dashboards that incorporate hard-to-connect sources of data, predictive modeling or some other more advanced form of analysis. 

Alight can assist you with this. In fact, we’ve created a roadmap that can help agencies with increased insight and monetization. Let us know if you’d like to learn more!

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