Have You Really Found the Best Marketing Analytics Tool? Think Again.


So your company has finally listened and decided to invest in the best marketing analytics tool? Fantastic news! You’re one step closer to turning your marketing department into a well-oiled, revenue-generating machine.

But wait — which ones are on your shortlist? You’ve got a web analytics tool, a social media analytics tool, and a content marketing tool. Interesting selection, but what makes you think any of them are the best marketing analytics tools for your company?

Marketers are gifted at telling people what they want to hear. It comes with the job. Curiously though, it doesn’t make us immune to falling for it ourselves. You’re human, too — you buy into the hype. You take things at face value. You don’t do a critical analysis of what you’re being sold.

You get led by the nose.

How to find the best marketing analytics tool for your company

It takes effort and self-awareness to be able to cut through the sales pitch and marketing magic when looking for an analytics solution (or any online marketing tool, to be honest). But below I’ve shared some tips to help you see through the smoke screen and discover if the analytics solution you’ve found really is the ideal choice.

Don’t get wowed by vanity metrics

When marketers review analytics tools for potential adoption by the organization, you’d think they would pay attention to the actual… you know… metrics. After all, that’s the whole point of subscribing to the tool.

What ends up happening, unfortunately, is that the buyer is presented with a series of stock charts and tables populated with pre-defined metrics selected either at random or by whatever sales considers to be the most popular choices. The buyer then takes these recommendations at face value whether or not they have an actual impact on the business.

After the purchase, the buyer discovers that these metrics are either insufficient or ineffective. Or — even worse — the buyer doesn’t discover this at all, and builds their entire strategy around a lie.

Because of this focus on vanity metrics, this so-called “Best Marketing Analytics Tool” ends up being the worst possible tool they could’ve chosen.

This is, in part, due to how the buyer chooses what metrics to use. When a vendor tells them a metric is important, the buyer believes them, because it’s true.

All metrics have value.

But vanity metrics are those that don’t have value to you.

Before you go hunting for marketing analysis tools, closely examine your strategy and determine which metrics can help you achieve your goals. For example, if you want to promote awareness and build a marketing presence, you might focus on:

  • Shares
  • Likes
  • Followers
  • Downloads

However, the above would be considered vanity metrics for any other purpose, like say if you were increasing sales and revenue. In that case, you’d look for analytics tools that track:

  • Click-through rate
  • Conversions
  • Goal completions

Even the most popular marketing analytics software will be a waste of money if it doesn’t measure what you need. And you won’t know what you need until you reflect on your overall goals.

So get going!

Put your money where your metrics are

If your boss called you into his office tomorrow and asked you to justify your marketing budget, what would you say? Would your marketing automation tool be able to tell him which projects were making the company money and how much?

Probably not.

Fact is, many marketing tools available today can’t help you prove marketing ROI. They do an admirable job collecting data and visualizing them into digestible reports, but don’t take the final step of connecting them to conversions and sales.

Marketing revenue attribution is the process of associating the performance of a given marketing channel (whether social media or otherwise) with a desired result like conversions or sales. Marketers with revenue-driven strategies will find that the best marketing analytics tools for them are those that support one or more attribution models.

But you still have to be critical, even if you do find a tool with a marketing attribution function. There are multiple types of attribution models, from last-touch attribution to multi-touch attribution and also their various sub-types.

No model is the be-all-and-end-all solution: you have to determine if the attribution model the tool uses fits your unique sales process. If it doesn’t, then maybe it’s not “the best” after all.

There’s also the matter of whether or not the tool has an attribution model for the channel you want. Consider the following:

  • Social media attribution
  • Content attribution
  • Digital advertising attribution

A tool might focus on attributing one channel, or it might be able to accommodate them all. Judge which combination fits your business best.

Are you really integrating?

A marketing analytics tool is only as good as the marketing channels that it connects to. But with the huge number of digital marketing channels out there (at least 91 social media sites alone), it’s impossible for any tool to connect with them all.

And yet there are tools that try. They stuff their feature list with channel after channel in an attempt to capture all possible markets, in effect creating a solution that’s ocean-wide but puddle-deep.

Don’t be fooled. You don’t need all those channels, nor will you necessarily use them all. You only need your analytics tool to cover a few, but cover them in depth. It should be able to capture all the actionable metrics you established in your discovery process and be able to perform a detailed analysis on them.

Get your data NOW

When you get information is often just as important as what you get. But I’ve found that marketers are all too willing to compromise on this point when shortlisting their marketing analytics tools.

As a result, they sign up for marketing analytics software burdened with clunky reporting interfaces, or tied to a poor (and often fixed) selection of out-of-the-box reports. Reports like these take time to assemble and distribute; time that marketers don’t have, causing missed opportunities and delayed reactions.

Think about how much more effective your campaigns would be if you and the executive team had a real-time view into the performance of an active campaign. You would be able to immediately identify the channels and assets that bring the most value and subsequently adjust your strategy on the fly.

The best marketing analytics tool in this case would be one that allows for flexible yet comprehensive real-time reporting. A tool with a powerful data visualization feature set would help you give concise status updates to the C-level and other stakeholders. The tool might even be able to automate the reporting process so that everyone is always kept in the loop.

Before you commit to an analytics tool, experiment with the reporting suite and judge whether or not the reporting function is robust enough for your needs.

Bottom Line

Don’t buy into the hype of solutions that are considered (or consider themselves) the “best” marketing analytics tools. They might be perfect for other companies, but at the same time they could be the worst possible choice for your own needs.

Take stock of your own strategy and goals and work your way backwards. What metrics do you need to measure? What KPIs do you need to establish in order to meet your objectives? Only when you make that determination will you be able to accurately assess whether or not a digital marketing tool will be right for you.

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