You are not alone if you are having trouble finding the right analytics program to measure your marketing efforts. Why is it so hard to find and use the right marketing analytics software?
Even while many use them, marketers are still struggling to make sense of the unprecedented explosion of marketing channels. A good marketing analytics platform that integrates owned, earned and paid marketing channels could provide actionable intelligence that makes a real difference in ROI. For many companies it remains the elusive Holy Grail.
There are a number of reasons why this integrated analytics suite remains a pipe dream for many organizations. Unica’s Annual Survey of Marketers: The State of Marketing 2011 provides some insight into the problems marketers are having with this issue. Finds from this study include:
- When asked what factors represented the biggest bottlenecks with their marketing organization, Measurement, analysis and learning was ranked at the top with 57 percent of responses, followed by Integrating cross-channel efforts (53%) and IT support of marketing technology needs (47%).
- When asked to rank the three most important issues for their marketing organization to address, Turning data into actions was ranked first by 70 percent of North American marketers, followed by Attributing success to marketing (49% of North Americans) and Determining optimal channel and contact frequency (48%).
- When asked what could increase their marketing organization’s productivity, Improved technology infrastructure or software was viewed as the best hope for improving marketing productivity.
- Marketers are looking for a more comprehensive and Integrated Marketing Analytics Application Suite. When asked to provide their level of agreement with the statement: “Marketing software is too siloed and missing important tools. As a result, marketing needs a more comprehensive and integrated application suite of marketing software in order to improve its effectiveness;” the numbers that agree has grown significantly over previous surveys reaching 87 percent in the latest survey.
- When asked what were the top three barriers to integrating online data with offline data, 60 percent of North American marketers listed Existing systems and data are too disparate as their top choice, followed by Organizational structure, corporate culture or internal processes are not conducive (50%) and Difficulty working with internal IT (39%).
It’s clear from the these findings that marketers are seeking a marketing analytics product that provides not only a measure of key performance indicators (PKIs), but also actionable intelligence to improve their productivity and effectiveness.
Why they’re not using a comprehensive tool that provides the desired metrics and insights needed across all disparate marketing channels is not hard to understand. The top three bottlenecks as determined by the Unica study are interrelated. You can’t have a comprehensive approach to measurement, analysis and learning without integrating cross-channel efforts and you can’t integrate cross channel efforts or deploy marketing analytics to it without the support of the IT department in most organizations.
Add to these the issue of choices and costs and it can seem overwhelming. My vote for obstacles to deployment include choices, costs and corporate culture, especially when it comes to IT.
Choices: There are a myriad of analytic offerings that are on the market. There are a plethora of vendors providing SEO, PPC, Display Ad, Social Media, Email, Call tracking, Web, blog, lead and other types of analytics. These are only in the online world.
Most marketers also utilize many types of offline advertising and marketing channels. Understanding the need to integrate this online and offline marketing data to the many sources of information about consumers from third party vendors and public sources and you will begin to see the magnitude of the problem.
Costs: A heavy duty marketing analytics software suite that provides this level of integration and actionable insights is a considerable investment. Even with such a marketing analytics product in place, you still need the various sources of data to aggregate and integrate within the software.
Another potential large expense is securing access to the data needed and getting it to stream into your analytics platform.
This is typically done via an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows the analytics platform to communicate with the data source. Unless the vendor already has it in place from the data source, you will need to have a programmer or the vendor create this data stream for you.
Another method would be to export the data from the source in a file format that can be recognized by the analytics platform. Once exported, the data file would be imported into the analytics software. Depending on the data source; the frequency and timeliness of your data needs; and the analytics software you are using; this might be an acceptable approach. This methodology provides the data at a certain point in time as opposed to real time data streams available with the use of an API. It also requires someone to access the data source, export the data and then import it into the marketing analytics software. There is a cost as well in the time used to perform these tasks.
Without enriching data, your analytics platform will not have much value. You will need to employ one or both of the approaches outlined above to get the data from a variety of sources into your analytics program. For data sources that are not used regularly and for which real time is not important, the importing approach makes good sense, providing the data is available in a compatible format. When real time data is important and for sources that you will use repeatedly, the API approach makes better sense.
Corporate Culture: It’s been my experience, especially in large corporations, that IT departments are more concerned with security and compliance than assisting in marketing efforts. Because of these priorities, IT departments prevent access to the corporate website and data from it by marketers or the agencies they engage for their marketing campaigns.
Without the ability to place the things marketers need on websites, email, etc, and gain access to critical metric digital data, etc, it’s difficult or impossible to effectively do online marketing and integrate it with offline efforts. In these environments, the responsiveness of IT departments are critical if the organization is to have the ability to determine attribution, behaviors, etc that are crucial to segmentation, profiling, modeling etc.
I’ve often seen this problem. Marketing departments often attempt to go around their IT departments by using landing pages, microsites, and other services provided by third parties. The major drawback with this approach is that it becomes another siloed approach to marketing. Integration is the key along with closing the loop so that campaigns can be measured against the income they generate.
Hopefully the Holy Grail becomes easier to acquire and implement in the coming years as these bottlenecks are addressed.
Last week's post on this subject: Why Not Use Knowledge-based Marketing?