There’s no denying that data-driven insights are the backbone of business decision-making, helping brands better understand their customers, employees, products, services—and more. Consumers today expect seamless and personalized moments with each brand interaction—without data, understanding the customer journey is nearly impossible.
Despite the massive scale of priorities for any brand today, one of the biggest questions seems quite simple: “Do I need to pay for analytics when there are players out there offering it to me for free?”
The first CEO I ever worked for once told me, “Jeff, there are no free lunches in life—if you think you got a free lunch, watch out, you’ll probably end up paying for dinner twice.” While a solution may be advertised as free or low-cost, it’s safe to assume there’s a catch—it certainly isn’t free to the company offering it to you—and often those catches show up in limitations to the tools.
It’s common in our industry to tweak things such as the amount of control you get over your data, and limitations to the depth and granularity of insights available through things like siloed tool sets and data sampling. But those brands without deep pockets may still consider this a free tool. The reality is in the opportunity cost of choosing a lightweight tool. While not always the case, often, shallow insights that are easy to discover offer shallow ROI when you act on them. Game-changing insights are usually buried in the data—not floating around on top.
Using data to drive decision-making can mean the difference between long-term success and a fade into obscurity. Take The Home Depot for instance: while retailers left and right fell victim to the changing dynamics of online shopping, The Home Depot has consistently maintained leadership in the market. “Physical stores remained a central hub for us and in-store traffic remains strong. However, with Adobe Analytics we learned that many shoppers were beginning their journey with us online,” they shared recently. Having this insight empowered every individual at the company to help bridge the online and offline shopping experience—a strategy that has allowed The Home Depot to keep pace with customer expectations.
If the success of your company depends on insights from data—audience segment insights, campaign insights, channel insights, customer journey insights—the analytics technology you choose must deliver those insights in a meaningful way for your brand to achieve maximum value. The right analytics tool will help you easily explore what customers are doing in real time, with analyses, reports, and visualizations that enable you to act with confidence. The difference is typically in the degree to which the product you choose uses data science to derive high-value, actionable insights.
Here are some specific reasons why enterprise-grade analytics will make all the difference:
• The right digital foundation: Building a foundation for delivering optimal customer experiences is the cornerstone of effective digital transformation. That’s intuitive, and hopefully not surprising. Customers demand experiences that are personalized and relevant. And marketers need insights to be delivered to them in real-time that are relevant in order to meet those demands. But companies also need to make sure they are respecting their customers and their customers’ data.
If the success of your company depends upon insights from data—audience segment insights, campaign insights, channel insights, customer journey insights—the analytics technology you choose must deliver those insights in a meaningful way.
The right analytics solution is not only customized to your specific needs as a business, it also guides your company in building coordinated experiences, on the fly, without compromising on security and privacy, since the solution is designed with privacy built in.
• On-the-fly reporting: Enterprise marketing teams often need to report on multichannel marketing data in an ad hoc way, answering specific business questions on the fly. With an enterprise-grade solution, marketers should get an intuitive user interface that makes it easy to create unique views that distill data sets easily, quickly and accurately, allowing you to answer questions right after they are asked. Leading analytics systems are built to handle the massive volume, velocity, and variety of ad hoc reporting that modern companies require.
The best analytics tech also typically gives marketers unlimited flexibility with calculated metrics with data quality that is superior to a free solution, since data sampling does not occur in an enterprise-grade solution (i.e., analyzing a subset of your data vs. all of it).
• Accuracy in attribution: The right analytics solution will give your marketing teams insights into customer acquisition and marketing activity conversion. Additionally, it empowers brands to also look at data that can provide key insights into broader marketing performance, such as customer lifetime value. An enterprise-level solution doesn’t just assign credit to the contributors to success, it can help reveal weaknesses in your customer journeys, such as drop-off points and other post-click inefficiencies. Without that deeper data, the accuracy of attribution is actually diminished and may result in missed opportunities following acquisition or conversion.
Also, an enterprise analytics technology allows users to capture unlimited omnichannel touch points for more complete customer journey analysis. Because you’re reporting on census data—not sampled data—you can be confident that your attribution model is looking at the big picture.
• Democratization of data with AI: It can take a team of data analysts weeks to dig through data and expose the “why” behind marketing misses, challenges, and wins. An enterprise-grade analytics solution powered by AI and machine learning (ML) can automatically parse massive amounts of data and help new and non-technical users make sense of the data signals quickly. A truly great tool will give you all of the power of a data scientist, packaged up in an interface you could learn over the course of a demo. That means that everyone in the organization can be armed with the tools, data, and insights to make smarter decisions that are better for your business and for your customers.
• Attaining the single, complete view: An enterprise-level analytics solution provides a secure, flexible platform that collects, analyzes, and reports on all of the channels you find your customers in—not just digital advertising—giving you insights into the entire customer journey. It will typically offer a wide range of integrations and data connectors to bring in third-party data, providing you richer insight into what your customer is doing across multiple touch points. As a result, your team can build a unified, complete customer profile so you aren’t re-introducing yourself to customers in every new channel, and they can analyze any touch point along the customer journey and optimize it.
• Advanced audience segmentation: For many large organizations, audience data is the key driver of campaign strategies, channel mix, ad budgets, and more. The ability to clearly identify and build audience segments—allowing marketers to quickly discover and target high-value audiences effectively—separates the insights-driven leaders from the drive-by feel laggards and has the power to stretch marketing budgets like nothing else. Enterprise-grade analytics let companies slice and dice audience data across the customer journey and some even automate the discovery of high-value segments. With machine learning working in the background, you can eliminate guesswork and reduce time to insight—the biggest factor in reducing time to action.
• A tightly integrated marketing stack: Yes, data-driven insights are key to marketing success, but data isn’t just about understanding what your marketing is doing. An effective analytics solution will tightly integrate into the overall tech stack at your organization, so you can activate analytical insights across all workflows—including audience segmentation, content optimization, experience personalization, and others.
There’s no disputing it. Without an enterprise-grade analytics solution, you won’t surface truly actionable insights from your customer data, which will make you less competitive. You and your teams need advanced tools with a user-friendly interface to analyze customer analytics in real time and you need it all to seamlessly integrate with other components of your tech stack. Choosing the right analytics solution is the key to getting the job done.