Why marketers are turning to spreadsheets and how to close the gap
Marketing is often the primary use case for analytics. Most performance marketers are data-driven and data-savvy. They want to use data to optimize their campaigns and achieve ROI goals.
But self-service analytics is not enough. This is especially true for sophisticated and complex marketing teams running thousands of campaigns for different products across multiple markets and channels.
Let's analyze the gap between expectations and reality.
The data team is responsible for marketing dashboards and scopes each team's requirements and needs. He built a single source of truth containing all data across brands and categories in one place, which marketers can access from her BI dashboard.
It is expected that high-level dashboards and detailed descriptions of the core will suffice and spreadsheets will be obsolete.
This hope is easily dashed…
Dashboards lack the granularity and flexibility for deep analysis (such as keyword-level or creative-level analysis) and are not well-suited for specific marketing analytics such as budget and pacing. Additionally, marketing is changing very rapidly. Analytics must change very quickly (new channels, new metrics, new dimensions, etc.).
Marketers rely on data teams for updates such as changes to metrics and dimensions. Report requests take too long as they wait for data team prioritization.
Marketers can't wait. There are budgets to manage and ROAS goals to meet, and the stakes are high.
Fallback Solution? Spreadsheet.
“Our BI tools don't have the data granularity that marketers need. Optimizing campaigns requires going down to the creative and keyword level. —Data Leader
Dashboards are perfect for monitoring high-level metrics and basic deep dives to meet the needs of managers, directors, and VPs. Daily and weekly operational decisions require greater granularity and flexibility. This is why “self-service” dashboards typically don't work for operational use cases owned by individual contributors, such as performance marketing managers or user acquisition managers.
In the early days of every company, marketing analysis was performed on spreadsheets. As data teams build modern data stacks, spreadsheets are expected to become obsolete. And they often do so for a while. However, at later stages, as your company continues to grow, expand into new channels and markets, launch more campaigns, etc., you will need more in-depth analysis at the speed of your business. That's where the spreadsheet comes back.
Spreadsheets are the go-to solution for performing detailed analysis at the speed of business. Marketers have full control over them and can test hypotheses with rapid feedback cycles.
Spreadsheets are a great addition to the available dashboards.
However, this reality has many drawbacks and drawbacks.
For marketing teams, this reality leads to budget waste and ROAS optimization.
Budgets are determined at a higher level, but execution occurs at the granular level of individual contributors.. Performance marketing manager and user acquisition manager manage campaigns and ultimately own her ROAS metrics.
Spreadsheet-based analysis involves manual workflows. This means downloading data from channel platforms or using connector tools, modeling data, and performing analysis. These manual processes and workflows are extremely time-consuming and error-prone.
Spreadsheets also lack data governance, leading to multiple sources of truth, silos, and confusion. A common symptom is the classic question, “Why don't the numbers match?”
Managing large marketing budgets in spreadsheets is far from ideal. Now that we understand how this reality leads to missed opportunities, let's consider how to close this gap.
Closing this gap often requires work across four key elements: culture, people, tools, and processes. Where to start and what to prioritize depends on your current situation. That's where you should start. Gain a deep understanding of how marketers perform analytics. Don't just ask them. Instead, sit next to them and ask them to walk you through their daily and weekly workflow. This will help you understand where to start and plan for the gap between your current situation and your ideal world.
How not to approach this challenge
Data teams may be bothered by this situation or simply ignore it. This is not the way to solve this problem. Don't get emotionally attached to the dashboards or solutions you build. Also, avoid simple explanations like, “Marketers don't know how to use our BI tools.” That's why they use spreadsheets. ” These pitfalls create interpersonal friction and make the problem worse.
Instead, approach your marketing team and try to understand the current situation. Look at this gap as a huge opportunity to make a big impact on your business and improve your data ROI.
Below are some general best practices to address this gap.
The specific action points will vary depending on your situation, but here are some best practices across four key elements.
- tool: Consider building or developing complementary tools suited to marketing-specific operational workflows. You need to plan which needs can be covered by a dashboard and which use cases require a more flexible and detailed solution. Ideally, you should aim to build or purchase a comprehensive solution that combines the flexibility of spreadsheets with the scale and governance of a BI solution.
- culture: Foster a data culture of strong collaboration with your marketing team, rather than giving up (i.e. the typical answer – “They don't know how to use our BI tools”). Question existing assumptions and seek to understand why. Present a solid business case for tackling this opportunity and gain management buy-in.
- people: Incorporate analysts into marketing teams to develop business and domain expertise. Foster strong relationships between these data analysts and marketers. Facilitate knowledge sharing sessions on marketing needs, use cases, and workflows.
- process: Develop best practices for your ideal workflow (e.g. “What is the best way to perform keyword analysis?”). Also, ensure regular touchpoints with marketers to gather feedback and adjust what to do next. Qualitative feedback (such as regular touchpoints) and quantitative approaches (such as quarterly surveys) should be combined.
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What are your thoughts?contact address Joan Souza,goto market leader clarisite. Stay tuned for more posts on marketing analysis and reporting.