Looker Blog : Data Matters

The Marketer’s Guide to Building a Reporting Stack that Drives Growth

Fredrik Skantze, CEO and founder at Funnel

May 9, 2018

Many companies are unsure about the exact effect of their marketing.

As a result, they view marketing more as a cost center than a revenue center and tend to underinvest. This perspective restricts growth and makes them vulnerable to more aggressive and data driven competitors.

At Funnel, we work with thousands of marketers worldwide. Lately, we have started observing a new trend: marketers are increasingly building a sophisticated reporting stack to replace siloed reporting tools and spreadsheets.

This trend started in 2017 with larger organizations. But now we are seeing companies of all sizes invest in a much more sophisticated marketing stack.

There are a number of drivers behind this:

  • Marketing is increasingly becoming measurable with 50% of all marketing being digital by 2021 as reported by eMarketer. If you measure correctly, you can make much better decisions, acquire more customers, and drive significant growth in your business. However, you need to have the right reporting tools in place to do this. Smart marketers have come to this realization and are taking action.

  • Marketers are increasingly focused on having a good marketing setup, which includes things like tagging campaigns and using third party analytics tools as the source of truth for advertising performance.

  • Automation of data import and mapping has been made much easier with new breeds of companies providing it as a service or offering greatly simplified tools for building data imports.

  • Data warehouse technology is increasingly becoming available to a mass market. These products were typically sold as expensive software products to big enterprises. Now they are readily available as cloud based pay-as-you-go solutions from Google and Amazon.

  • General purpose visualization tools are becoming available to a mass market. Over the past couple of years, business intelligence companies have moved to cloud offerings with per seat pricing at a more accessible price point.

What does this look like in practice?

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The three layers of the modern market reporting stack

Data import platform

Getting the data into the data warehouse has been the most challenging part of building the marketing reporting stack, as historically the process has been extremely manual and time consuming.

Most marketing data lives in third party advertising and marketing platforms. Getting the data in into a data warehouse involves integrating with and maintaining a large number of APIs.

Different types of solutions have emerged to solve this problem. Sometimes one tool cansolve the entire problem for you and sometimes a combination of tools are necessary to get all the data needed for analysis into a data warehouse. Broadly speaking, there are two types of tools that have emerged:

  • “Data as a service” platforms focused on marketing data: These platforms pull in data for all or most of you marketing data. Because they only operate in the marketing domain, these tools have the domain data expertise and provide those data extracts in the most consumable way. Funnel is one example of such a platform.

  • General purpose ETL (Extract Transform Load) tools: ETL tools have evolved a lot over the past couple of years. They now provide ready integrations to a number of the larger platforms. They are relatively easy to use, but they often require technical knowledge and responsibility for maintaining connections to the platform.

It is important to note that not all connections are equal. Just because a tool has a connection to a platform you need does not mean that you can get exactly the data you need or that the data is accurate. Marketing platforms change often and integrations with these tools need to stay up to date with those changes.

Data warehouse

A data warehouse is a highly scalable data repository used for reporting and data analysis.The market for data warehouses has traditionally been dominated by companies like Oracle, IBM and SAP selling large installations to enterprises. However, new cloud based offerings from Google and Amazon have made data warehouses available to the mass market with self service offerings and affordable pay-as-you-go pricing.

What’s more, your organization might already have a data warehouse where other data is stored. By collecting all of your company’s data in one place, you open up new possibilities for even broader understanding of your marketing efforts throughout the funnel.

Data Access & Visualization

The final piece is finding a tool to access and analyze all of this data. That’s where a data platform, like Looker, comes in.

What you can do with a reporting stack

With a robust marketing reporting stack in place, you now have the ability to not only automate much of your marketing reporting but also do new analysis you simply could not support with silos and spreadsheets.

Tracking overall marketing spend according to budget

Next time you meet a marketer, ask them (or ask yourself if you have a marketing budget) the following question: As of today, what percent of your marketing budget have you spent and is your overall spend tracking above or below budget?

More often than not, it’s hard to get a straight answer. The spend for marketing channels is typically tracked in different tools and siloed reports. However, with a consolidated marketing stack, all the data needed to visualize your overall marketing spend is collected automatically.

For example, the cumulative spend for last month's and this month's advertising spend can easily be visualized. The comparison forecasts where the spend for this month will likely end up.

A budget line can be added to show how you are tracking towards your budget and help stay in control of your advertising spend.

Customer acquisition reporting based on mapped data

In siloed reports, the performance of each advertising platform is reported on separately.

In order to get a full understanding of your marketing spend, you need to see cost data from the advertising platforms and transaction and revenue data in the same view.

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Table with mapped customer acquisition data

With this view, you know exactly how each advertising platform is performing in an objective manner. If you want to you can look at the data based on marketing strategy such as display, search, retargeting, email, SEO instead. Or you can take a look at how each product category or vertical is performing.

Rollup of markets, websites, brands or customers

Most analysis is done for a specific advertising channel or website. But it is even more important to get the complete picture of your advertising rolled up across all advertising platforms, markets, websites, brands, customers and other entities that matter for your business.

As long as the data has been properly tagged and mapped, all this data can be easily available in the data warehouse for you to slice and dice in every way imaginable.

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Great organizations use accurate marketing reporting to drive growth

With all the new technology developments, building a marketing reporting stack is easier than you think. It will help you measure the true impact of your marketing and allow you to invest with confidence which can drive substantial growth in your business.

If you want to try this, Funnel offers an easy to use, out-of-the-box data import platform for marketing which is pre integrated with Looker. You can be up and running pulling in data from your different marketing platforms and visualizing them in Looker in minutes.

Learn more about the Looker Funnel integration here and here.

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