How to Centralize Marketing Data And Benefit From it
Today, CMOs understand the role of marketing analytics in the growth of businesses. However, data analysis brings with it a ton of problems that should have been solved before the actual process begins, such as data discrepancies and fragmentation, disparate data analysis tools, insufficient resources for data preparation, and so on. The major challenges on the road to successful data analytics are to create an efficient data pipeline and centralize data in unified storage. However, that might be difficult due to the constantly evolving set of ad platforms and tools.
To keep up with the rapidly changing digital landscape and turn data into new growth opportunities, you need a centralized marketing system that will extract, normalize, and aggregate data in one place. According to Gartner’s research, 66% of companies have already implemented a centralized marketing structure. In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of data centralization, figure out why data centralization is booming among marketing analysts, and outline all of the steps necessary to create a centralized data system. Fasten your seatbelts, we’re starting our guide.
Why it’s important to centralize marketing data
Centralized marketing data is crucial as it helps companies to increase their return on marketing investment (ROMI), extract actionable insights from raw information, and gain a more granular view of their marketing efforts. Additionally, data centralization allows seamless sharing of marketing reports across departments in the company. However, let’s keep things structured and take one step at a time.
Granular picture of your marketing performance
The most important benefits of data centralization are the integrity of the gathered insights and the holistic view they provide of your marketing performance. With all the data in one place, marketing analysts can see which channels generate the most leads, compare metrics like impressions, views and clicks across different channels, and create marketing reports about posts and creatives that bring in new customers.
Reduced reporting time
With data centralization systems, marketing reporting time decreases drastically. The need to search for particular information in a multitude of spreadsheets and unify it into a single data view is completely eliminated. ETL vendors offer algorithms that efficiently process and arrange data in a database. For example, Improvado’s MCDM algorithm merges data into a unified format and removes the data discrepancies that appear when aggregating data from different platforms.
Centralized marketing data offers new opportunities for collaboration. Marketing analysts become less dependent on other departments as they don’t have to wait for the sales team to share information about prospects and closed deals. With centralized data, marketers have access to all information, which means they can make data-driven decisions faster.
Furthermore, analysts no longer require the IT department’s help. Today’s ETL solutions can access the required data without complicated SQL queries, so each marketer becomes a single-man army in terms of analysis.
Moreover, all marketing reports can be shared and discussed across the company. Executives can get automated scheduled reports without distracting the marketing team from higher priority tasks. This feature keeps everyone updated on the views of different specialists and positively impacts brainstorming processes.
Promoting your product or service via multiple channels can be expensive in terms of time and cost. That’s why it's crucial to conduct a cross-channel marketing analysis to understand how each individual marketing campaign is performing. However, according to HubSpot, only 35% of marketers think that understanding a campaign's ROI is important. Most likely, this attitude is a result of fragmented data and insufficient resources for analysis.
With centralized marketing data, the percentage of marketers ignoring ROI would decrease because it becomes much easier to assess the effectiveness of marketing campaigns when all the data is just a few clicks away. As an example, here’s how Improvado improved the marketing ROI of the University of San Francisco.
The main reason companies often ignore marketing analytics is complicated data operations. But ETL systems make everything easier. For example, we analyzed paid search spend across 40,000 companies using our centralized data system and compiled an insightful report without the help of our IT department.
4 steps to centralize your marketing data
Marketing data centralization brings a ton of benefits to your business. However, centralization is an abstract concept, so you might be unclear on where to start. We’ve compiled a step-by-step tutorial on how to centralize your marketing data. Let’s get into it.
Step 1. Assess your digital infrastructure
First of all, you have to determine whether your current software can be extended with new modules. The main problem lies in legacy code. If your company’s solution is based on outdated technologies, it may be difficult to augment it with new features. Data centralization systems operate in tandem with your internal CRM, DBMS, CMS, business intelligence tools, sales automation software, and other solutions. Technological gaps between software modules might lead to malfunctions and security issues.
To overcome this challenge, you have to update the core of your software. Switching to up-to-date technologies improves overall performance, ensures compliance with modern security standards, and makes scaling your system much easier. On the other hand, updating legacy systems might cost you a fortune. The older the tech stack you’re running, the more time your engineers will need to invest in improvements.
Another option is to reach out to third-party data centralization companies. Third-party vendors offer turn-key solutions that can be integrated with your software without additional hassle. Dedicated marketing analysts and engineers will merge all marketing connectors, create a data warehouse, and establish a robust data flow without distracting your in-house development team from higher priority tasks.
Step 2. Create a dedicated warehouse
The main step to centralize your data is to create storage for it. There are two architecture types for your data warehouse: cloud and on-premise. With cloud storage, you can stay more agile and scalable. Services like Amazon S3, Dropbox, Snowflake, and others offer unlimited space for your data. For example, you can get the first 50 terabytes of data in Amazon S3 for $0.023 per gigabyte. Additionally, cloud services comply with all security regulations (GDPR, CCPA), so you can rest assured that your data is in safe hands.
On-premise architecture requires you to create storage on your own. This approach is less scalable and requires you to purchase a lot of hardware. It might be suitable for small businesses that don’t gather data from dozens of connectors. If that’s your case, you can create a jury-rigged warehouse with several enterprise HDD or SSD drives and automate the extraction process via APIs provided by advertising platforms. This small tool by Azure will help you calculate the cost savings of cloud vs. on-premise solutions. However, you have to take serious security measures to ensure data safety and integrity.
If you don’t have enough resources or time to create a centralized data warehouse on your own, third parties can set it up for you. Many tools, like Impovado, offer a ready-made warehouse that comes with a basic pricing plan. We also synchronize our clients’ existing storage with our system so they don’t have to migrate to other solutions.
Step 3. Extracting and normalizing raw data
The next step is to get the required data out of all paid and organic marketing channels and convert it to a unified format. Normalized data removes possible discrepancies and helps marketing analysts create precise reports and make informed decisions. For example, it’s common for the client’s CRM and Google Analytics data not to match. Without addressing this issue, your marketing analysts won’t be able to correctly identify the performance of marketing campaigns and understand how customers interact with your brand.
The same metrics are often named differently across various platforms and software, which is the main reason data discrepancies appear. To solve this issue, you have to create a common data field for similar marketing metrics across different channels. Otherwise, it’ll be impossible to further analyze data with visualization systems. At Improvado, we use the Marketing Common Data Model (MCDM) to standardize data and structure raw data. It works as a pre-configured template that combines data from different locations and formats to exist in one single format.
Step 4. Streamlining data to visualization tools
The last step to get a full overview of your marketing efforts is to insert prepared data into your analytics tool. Software like Tableau, Looker and other solutions turn your data into actionable charts and diagrams. With their help, you can make your marketing reports more illustrative and uncover new trends.
However, to use visualization tools at their full capacity, you have to create marketing dashboards that refresh data in real time. Here are some characteristics of an insightful marketing dashboard:
- The dashboard answers all your questions. A good marketing dashboard helps you to keep track of all marketing metrics across paid and organic channels.
- Scalability and flexibility. Your dashboard should be able to scale if you need to analyze new insights.
- Transparency. Visualized data should be easy to read, not only to marketing analysts but also to specialists from other departments within your organization.
Depending on your niche and objectives, dashboards vary greatly. For example, SEO dashboards display all web analytics data and give a complete picture of your SEO performance, while e-commerce dashboards display information about sales and the most lead-generating channels.
With a bit of time and experience, you can set up dashboards on your own. For example, Google Sheets could become a decent data warehouse in the right hands. You have to set up tracking with UTM parameters and tracking pixels. Then, depending on the type of information you gather, choose the right tools for data aggregation. Finally, use your BI tool to analyze the gathered data. We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on the creation and utilization of marketing dashboards.
It’s likely that your marketing analysts are involved in other tasks and don’t have time to handle dashboards. In this case, companies that deal with centralized marketing systems offer their help with data visualization. At Improvado, we assist our clients in setting up marketing dashboards, creating custom data views, and assessing customers’ data granularity under a professional services package. Augmenting their in-house team with remote specialists helps our clients get value from their analysis and improve their ROI as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Don’t know where to start?
At Improvado, we specialize in marketing data centralization. We help companies collect their data from over 200 marketing connectors, aggregate it in a unified warehouse, and streamline their data to dashboards. Due to our scheduling feature, visualization software updates your charts as often as you need. We’ve assisted companies across tens of industries and fulfilled their expectations. Schedule a call to learn how you can get more granular insights and a complete overview of your marketing performance with us.
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