Let’s start with a confession, one that might sound a little surprising coming from a company that sells a marketing analytics solution.
But shopping for marketing analytics software sucks.
There are dozens of options on the market, and they all promise the world. You also know — maybe from online reviews, maybe from personal experience — that many of these tools don’t live up to their promises. Buy the wrong solution, and you could actually make your job harder.
And you have to find something soon because your marketing analysts are sending out resumes when they aren’t staying late or working weekends. You need to find a solution that frees them up to produce more valuable insights and reporting.
Alight Analytics has been on both sides of the equation. Yes, we sell our own marketing data aggregation platform, ChannelMix. But our company started as an analytics consultancy helping agencies and brands understand their marketing performance. In the early days, our founders had to build client reports armed with nothing but Excel and PowerPoint, and it was a grueling, time-consuming process.
Also grueling and time-consuming? Trying to find a platform to solve that problem.
There’s good news, though. We figured out a way to produce marketing analytics in less time and with less frustration, and so can you. Today, we’re going to look at why it’s so difficult — and what you can do to find the correct solution for your marketing team.
Why Everything Is Terrible
There are two big reasons why things are the way they are.
Reason No. 1 is the sheer number of platforms and tools on the market. According to the most recent edition of the MarTech 5000, an annual survey of the marketing technology sector, there were 6,829 different marketing tools available in 2018.
Why are there so many solutions? Reason No. 2: Different marketers have different needs — in some cases, very different.
A small army of vendors has popped up to solve these problems. But they’re each focused on a different slice of the market. Nobody has built a truly one-size-fits-all solution yet.
A Better Strategy for Buying Marketing Analytics Software
The first step to cutting through the confusion around marketing analytics platforms? Determine where you are now, then decide where you want to go.
Before you start reading reviews or requesting demos, start with an honest self-assessment of your current responsibilities and capacity. Ask yourself:
- How many data sources are you in charge of measuring?
- What volume of data are you responsible for managing?
- How frequently must you produce reporting for your clients or organization?
- How does your audience use your reports now? What kinds of questions are they trying to answer?
- In a perfect world, what does your marketing analytics practice look like?
It’s important to do this first so that you’re clear about what you actually need. Otherwise, it’s very easy to become enchanted with platforms offering features that you won’t use and shouldn’t be paying for.
Let’s say you work for a boutique ad agency, one that runs digital campaigns on a handful of popular platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads. You may not need to invest in expensive, AI-powered marketing analytics software with connections to 1,000 different data sources.
That doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to — and plan for — something better. In fact, it’s a really good idea to look ahead. Maybe your agency operates in a niche that’s poised for rapid growth. You know that you’re going to need a solution that supports large-scale reporting and insights, so you can invest in technology that will support that.
But how do you know what type of technology you’ll need?
The 4 Levels of Marketing Analytics Performance
Alight has developed a framework that details the evolution that most marketing teams experience as they develop their ability to produce marketing analytics and reporting.
We call it the 4 Levels of Marketing Analytics Performance, and each “level” describes what types of reporting and analysis are possible at each stage of development, what sorts of technology and support are required and what’s necessary to progress to more advanced analysis.
You can learn more about the 4 Levels in the 2019 No B.S. Guide Buyers Guide to Marketing Analytics, a new report from Alight Analytics. The guide will:
- Give you an easy-to-implement strategy for finding the right solution for your unique marketing analytics needs.
- Highlight the most common types of solutions on the market — including their pros, cons and capabilities.
- Show you the most important questions to ask when considering a new platform, so you can get the greatest value for your money.