[ Updated Jan 23, 2023 ]
If you’re running marketing campaigns on multiple platforms—Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.—you need marketing data integration.
Marketing data integration is the process of combining marketing data from different sources to create a unified and consistent view. Being able to assemble separate marketing pieces gives you visibility into your overall performance and how marketing contributes to business success.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to get started with and make the most of marketing data integration.
Skip ahead >>
- Why should your company invest in marketing data integration
- What problems can data integration solve
- Where should you integrate your marketing data into
- How does data integration work
- How to create a data integration strategy
- How to choose the right data pipeline
Since implementing marketing data integration is a big project, let’s make sure you know why you need it in the first place.
Why should your company invest in marketing data integration?
Businesses need the right insights to grow. Without consolidating marketing data, your insights will forever be buried under the mountain of data. There are many ways your business can benefit from a solid marketing data integration strategy.
Get rid of data silos
Siloed data is a big blocker for many marketing teams. Scattered data makes it difficult to understand how your marketing performs and where you should focus your budget and resources. Additionally, manually collecting data from different platforms takes hours, if not days, leaving little time for campaign optimization.
The worst part is that by the time you turn that data into actionable insights, your marketing team may have wasted budget in the wrong direction.
From data-driven to insights-driven
If a business is to thrive, decision-makers in that organization must have an in-depth understanding of it. If marketing data is scattered in several locations, it may be difficult to make accurate decisions and decide on the best course of action.
As mentioned above, data integration can give a single view of an organization’s data. This will allow businesses to see trends and patterns that they would not be able to see if their data was siloed.
There are two ways marketing data integration makes data and insights accessible to those who need them.
You can integrate marketing data into a spreadsheet tool—like Google Sheets or Excel—to do ad-hoc analysis and daily campaign reporting.
Alternatively, if you’re handling a large amount of data, you can also integrate it into a data warehouse for managing and transforming your data. Then you can easily feed that data into a BI tool to make it easier for different stakeholders to see the progress of your marketing.
Create a personalized marketing experience
You’re probably familiar with the classic, holy grail of marketing—reach the right people, with the right message, and at the right time and place. No matter how you slice it, companies who know their customers win. To do this, you need to connect marketing data with other customer data to identify any patterns or correlations in customer behavior.
By understanding your customers better, you can give them the best possible service and experience.
Data integration can help businesses improve their operational efficiency. The old way of extracting data from different sources, transforming it, and loading it into a spreadsheet is time-consuming and error-prone.
By bringing data into a central destination, you can free up time for the team so they can focus on other important tasks.
What problems can data integration solve?
Regardless of the industry, data integration solves marketing data problems—you’re not using any data, you have too much data in too many places, or you can’t manage the data you have with the resources you have—and it helps businesses get the insights they need.
Let’s look at the benefits of unified data for different industries.
Typically, an ecommerce business has scattered data across:
- Paid platforms—like Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, or TikTok Ads
- Web analytics platforms —like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics
- Ecommerce platforms—like Shopify
Bringing this data together helps them understand the return on ad spend—ROAS—of their campaigns, uncover hidden opportunities and monitor inventory.
Juha Saarinen, Head Of Traffic and Analytics, Bygghemma Finland says, “Comparing marketing data to final sales data helps us see the cost of a sale. We see how much a certain product is viewed as we can combine our marketing metrics with business-level dimensions and metrics. We can derive instant insights on where to begin improving our digital advertising efforts and analyze and optimize our efforts all the way to actual profit.”
For large corporations, marketing data integration helps them make sense of their cross-channel data and deliver insights to people who need them. Especially, creating a single source of truth lets them look at their data at a more granular level. For example, what customer segments or countries bring the most profits.
Small and medium businesses
With limited budgets and resources, SMBs need to invest in the channels and activities that pay off. Marketing data integration helps SMBs know what works and what doesn’t work with their marketing activities and uncover untapped opportunities.
Agencies need to manage ad accounts for multiple clients. Integrating marketing data allows agencies to better optimize campaigns, have more time to work on clients’ accounts, and prove the value of their work.
Jarle Alvheim, Head of Data Technology, dentsu Norway, says, “I think one of the biggest selling points in several client meetings now is that the clients can look at the dashboards, and if they want to change something, we’re able to make the changes on the fly.
In the early days, it took a specialist a week to make those kinds of reports. Now we can easily customize and adapt the reports in the meetings. The clients don’t have to wait very long for the results anymore, which is a wow factor. Solving these tasks with the clients also helps us nurture a better relationship with them.”
Where should you integrate your data into— an assessment of your marketing analytics maturity
Every business is on a data journey. Depending on where you’re at on your journey, you can integrate your marketing data into a suitable platform.
Now let’s spend the next few minutes assessing your marketing analytics maturity. At Supermetrics, we often see companies fall under one of these four stages.
- Stage 1: Lagging—or restrictive analytics, a lack of analytics skills, and a lack of relevant technology
- Stage 2: Developing—or descriptive analytics, siloed marketing data, and limited technology
- Stage 3: Expanding—or predictive analytics and centralized marketing & business data
- Stage 4: Leading—or prescriptive analytics and advanced data infrastructure & capabilities
For example, if you’re anywhere between stages 1 and 2, you’re likely to deal with a manageable amount of data. In that case, you can bring your marketing data into a spreadsheet tool—like Google Sheets or Excel—for analysis. Or you can also feed your data into a BI tool—like Google Data Studio for data visualization.
On the other hand, if your marketing analytics is more mature, and you’re on stages 3 and 4, you may think about centralizing your marketing data into a data warehouse. This lets you have more capabilities to analyze your data.
Another scenario for analytics-mature companies is combining both data warehouses and spreadsheets for marketing data integration. While data warehouses are great for storing and processing data, spreadsheets are the best for ad-hoc analysis.
How does data integration work?
Data integration generally works by extracting data from multiple sources or databases and then loading it into a central target database. The data can be extracted from various sources, including databases, flat files, and web services.
Once the data has been extracted, it needs to be transformed into a format that can be loaded into the target database. This process is known as data transformation. Once the data has been transformed, it can then be loaded into the target database using a process known as data loading.
Data integration tools
Several different tools can be used for marketing data integration. These include:
1. Data pipelines that bring your marketing data into a centralized destination. These pipelines should be reliable and can automate your data integration—an example is Supermetrics.
2. Data management platforms give businesses a centralized location to store, manage, and analyze their data. Depending on your marketing analytics maturity, you can choose:
- Spreadsheets—Google Sheets or Excel
- Data warehouses—BigQuery, Snowflake, Amazon Redshift, Azure Synapse
- Data lakes—Amazon S3, Azure Storage, Google Cloud Storage
4. Data transformation tools transform your data and make it ready for analysis—examples are dbt, Airflow, Dataform.
What are the steps to creating a marketing data integration strategy?
If you’re looking to create a marketing data integration strategy for your team, there are a few steps you’ll need to take. Let’s take a look at what these steps are.
1. Decide on what the long-term goals are for your organization
The first step is to decide on your organization’s long-term goals. This will help you determine what kind of data you need to collect and how you’ll need to integrate it.
For example, if your goal is to improve customer service, you’ll need to collect data on customer interactions and behaviors. You’ll then need to integrate this data to understand it and make decisions accordingly.
You have to consider the long-term goals for your business that go far beyond the initial data integration project.
2. How will you be embracing emerging technologies?
The next step is to think about how you’ll embrace emerging technologies.
You’ll need to consider how these technologies can be used to collect and store data. You’ll also need to think about using these technologies to make your data integration process more efficient. Lastly, you’ll have to consider technology that doesn’t even exist yet.
There may be a need to have some flexibility in your data environments to allow you to deal with changes easily. Businesses often look to open source integration technology as they’re generally fairly adaptable to new data technology.
3. Consider what your data integration strategy will bring your company in terms of business value that is quantifiable
The third step is to think about what your data integration strategy will bring your company in terms of business value. This means that you’ll need to consider how the data you collect and integrate can be used to improve your business.
It’s important to quantify the business value that your data integration strategy will bring. This will help you justify the investment and ensure it’s worthwhile. You have to map out an integration strategy’s impact for your organization.
4. Make sure you have the technical resources and the right people in your business
To ensure you can affect the change to marketing data integration in your business, you’ll need the technical resources and the people.
You’ll need to make sure you have the right technology in place. This includes things like data integration tools, databases, and storage solutions. You’ll also need to ensure you have the right people on your team. This includes people with the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out the project.
You should consider partnering with the experts here, as you’ll reap the reward in the long run.
Evan Kaeding, Lead Sales Engineer, Supermetrics, says, “When it comes to integrating your data, you’ll want to understand your team’s skills. A data lake is going to be a lot more work to maintain than a data warehouse. So if your team knows how to work with data lakes, build ingestion, and get all that data into a separate data warehouse, or give a query engine on top of that data lake, that’s going to be a recipe for success.”
Choosing the right data pipeline
An important piece of your data integration strategy is choosing the right data pipeline. But with a variety of products and vendors to choose from, how should you approach choosing the right data integration tool for your business?
Here are some criteria you should consider.
Ease of use
Your data integration tool should be easy to use and intuitive, as its goal is to save time on work previously performed manually. Its ability to make simple and clear visualizations that make the data more tangible and easier to grasp. You want to figure out:
- How easy is the tool to use?
- What kind of support does the vendor offer?
- What’s the learning curve for using the tool?
When searching for vendors, security is an important factor. You’ll want to understand how your data is handled and processed. Some good questions to ask are:
- Does the vendor store your data?
- Where do they store it?
- How secure is it?
Especially if you’re an agency marketer working with clients’ data, you want to know if your client is okay with their data being stored elsewhere.
For some vendors, they’ll store your data in their servers before pushing it to your environment to speed up the data transfers.
On the other hand, Supermetrics uses fully-encrypted caches to streamline data delivery performance from source to destination. We don’t sample, change, or rename your data. Supermetrics is SOC 2 Type II, GDPR, and CCPA compliant. Data in, data out.
If you’re looking to unify marketing data, choosing a data integration tool specialized in marketing data is important. Because besides the ability to integrate with different marketing platforms, you also want to get the most in-depth data. Imagine using a data integration tool that only scratches the surface and doesn’t give you the data you need.
Make sure you go with a tool that’s established and has been around for a while. Some good questions to ask yourself are:
- Is the vendor specialized in the data that’s relevant to your organization?
- How long have they been around?
The more a company grows, the more likely it’s that it’ll be leveraging new and different sources of data. Your data pipeline should go beyond only integrating with Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Additionally, you may upgrade from a spreadsheet to a data warehouse when you move up your data journey. Or, you can also change your data warehouse. If that’s the case, you also have to make sure your data integration tool integrates well with the new platform. You need to find out:
- What data management platforms does the tool support?
- What kind of data formats does the tool support?
- How scalable is the tool?
Lastly, you’ll want to look at the cost. It’s important to understand if the pricing model is set to fixed rates or variable. Make sure they give you a plan that can scale as you grow.
Start integrating your marketing data
As you can see, marketing data integration is vital to the growth and success of any organization. It’s a big project to undertake, so it’s important to bring in specialists.
Supermetrics provides fully-managed data pipelines to help businesses of all sizes make sense of their data. With 17,000+ customers in over 120 countries and 15% of global online ad spend is reported through our products, we have the knowledge and experience to help you grow your business with data.
About the author
Joy is the Demand Gen Coordinator at Supermetrics. Together with internal and external experts, Joy helps businesses get rid of the data chaos and turn marketing data into opportunity.
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