Stop Showing Me Pretty Graphs & Charts

Matt Hertig Alight Insights, Analytics for Marketers Leave a Comment

There is a lot of hype and over promising by visualization software providers today. The promise of these types of providers, such as Domo and Bime to name of few, is that with their type of solution, your analytics problems will be solved. The reality is, this simply isn’t true.

Let me start by saying that these types of tools are good at what they do. We as a firm have used Tableau as our core visualization tool since version 4.0. While Tableau has quickly become a leader in the visualization space and players like Domo and Bime are trying to challenge for this space, marketing organization need to understand that these tools alone will not solve their core analytics problem. Why? Let me break this down a little further.

One of the latest trends within the software space over the past few years is to allow users to connect directly to their marketing systems such as DoubeClick, Google Analytics, YouTube, Facebook, etc. The idea is that by having a tool to directly connect to these types of systems, the marketing organization can get out of the data gathering business and gain visibility to performance through pretty charts and graphs. So what’s the problem here?

The first problem is that every core system that marketing utilizes today has some sort of data problem residing in the system. For example, we manage hundreds of Google Analytics accounts for our clients and can tell you that every single account has some sort of data problem. Even while we consider ourselves one of the premier Google Analtyics agencies in the country, the reality is data issues are going to happen whether it be through bad campaign tracking, code falling off of a site, event actions not firing, IP filters changings, etc. This is the data reality we all live in. You can’t fix this data problem with a direct connection to the source system. All you are doing is presenting that bad data in pretty charts and graphs.

The second problem is that while these tools look easy to use – we have all set through the canned presentations – I can tell you that all analytics tools require a certain level of data expertise. You see, your business and the business questions you need to answer are much more complex than how many visitors came to my website today. How many visitors? Who cares! You need to know things like how many visits it is taking to drive a conversion, what is the most effective path to conversion, and what is delivering the greatest ROI across all media channels that I am investing in – just to name a few. Can you answer all these types of real business questions through a simple drag and drop software that gives me pretty things to look at? The answer is no. The reason is the expertise required to integrate data from across all of the marketing systems you may utilize is a complex data relationship problem that can’t be managed by the majority of marketing personnel today.

So what do you do? First, recognize these tools for what they are – visualization tools that answer a “piece” of the equation. Understand that these tools on their own won’t solve your analytics challenges. Secondly, understand the only way to solve this problem is through a robust data warehouse solution that enables you to clean up wrong or missing data. This is the only way today to cohesively solve the analytics data problem that exists today. Whether it is a solution like our ChannelMix platform or a solution developed internally, focus your energy there to first solve the data problem. Once that is in place, you can then make a business decision around what the right data visualization and dashboard solution should be or utilize a full service firm like Alight Analytics to bring the entire solution to your organization.

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