6-MINUTE-READ By Pinja Virtanen
Did you know that the average enterprise uses 91 different marketing tools and platforms?
While that number may be hard to swallow, I want you to think again. You’ve got your CRM, your social media channels, your other paid media channels, your web analytics platforms, and your SEO tools—just to name a few. And when you add them all up, I bet that you’ll get several dozens of platforms that generate data that you could—and should—be putting to good use.
But how exactly are you meant to store, handle, blend, and analyze all that marketing data? Spreadsheets are, of course, one option. But the larger your organization and the more diverse your data sources, the more likely you are to run out of space and/or computing power.
And when that’s the case, a marketing data warehouse may be the answer. In this post, we’ll explain what data warehouses are, how your marketing team can benefit from using one, and how to tell whether it’s the right time to make the transition.
So let’s get right down to it.
What is a marketing data warehouse?
A marketing data warehouse is a cloud-based solution for storing and analyzing data from all your marketing tools and platforms. In practice, data warehouses allow you to store a virtually unlimited amount of historical data from an unlimited number of data sources. They also help you perform analysis on large data sets much faster than traditional databases or spreadsheets.
Popular data warehouses for marketing include Snowflake, Google BigQuery, Amazon Redshift, and Azure Synapse Analytics.
The benefits of using a marketing data warehouse
Ever since we rolled out Supermetrics for Google BigQuery in April 2019, we’ve seen dozens of our clients transfer their data from complex spreadsheets to BigQuery.
As Jack Giddens from biddable and PPC agency Katté & Co. summarizes in a recent Supermetrics case study, “Things were getting a bit bulky for spreadsheets. In addition, BigQuery is basically free since 1 TB of query data is enough for us and storage is very cheap.”
Similarly, Sebastian Mehldau from e-bike company Van Moof recently orchestrated the switch from spreadsheets to BigQuery. He explains, “The more campaigns we ran and the more customers we had, the more complex things became. At the pace we were growing, we just couldn’t work like that. We desperately needed to centralize our data.”
Sebastian continues, “We wanted to build a data warehouse where we could correlate different data sets and we chose the Google Cloud Platform and BigQuery. We wanted to automate manual tasks and save time on connections to our database, so when Supermetrics for BigQuery came out, it was a no brainer.”
According to Jack, Sebastian, and our other clients who have since abandoned spreadsheets in favor of marketing data warehouses, the biggest benefits of data warehousing include:
- Centralized access to historical marketing data, combined with the ability to effectively blend data from different ad platforms, analytics tools, and virtually any other data sources
- The ability to quickly perform complex queries
- Inexpensive and elastic data storage and computing power that expand seamlessly with an ever-growing amount of data
Overall, the consensus seems to be that marketing data warehouses allow both agencies and in-house marketing teams to perform more complex data crunching a lot faster than before.
3 telltale signs you should start using a marketing data warehouse
By now, you’re probably wondering why so many companies are still relying on spreadsheets as their number one marketing data storage and reporting tool. After all, didn’t we just spend all that time chronicling the overwhelming benefits of data warehouses?
As with anything, though, the answer to whether or not you should move your marketing data to a data warehouse is ‘it depends’. However, if you’re struggling with one or more of the following pain points, it might be the right time for you to make the switch.
1. Your spreadsheets are bursting at their seams
Now this first one is a bit of a no brainer. If you’re running out of cell space and/or computing power in your spreadsheets, your best bet might be a marketing data warehouse. As Jack and Sebastian explained above, both Katté & Co. and Van Moof literally grew out of their spreadsheets—and into a robust marketing data warehouse.
Similarly, Jessi Carr and her team at Inseev Interactive were struggling with bulky Excel sheets. She described the problem in a recent guest post: “Our initial solution was done using Excel spreadsheets with automated data pulls from Google Analytics, Adwords, Bing, Facebook, etc. But it was far from a perfect solution. On more than one occasion, clients informed us that the spreadsheet files were getting so large that they had issues with opening the report files we sent over.”
You can probably guess what Jessi and her team at Inseev did next.
2. Your business is growing — in size & complexity
Speaking of growth, sometimes it’s a good idea to move your data into a marketing data warehouse before you even start experiencing growing pains with your existing solution. For example, here at Supermetrics we moved our marketing and trial data to BigQuery right before introducing our first data warehouse product: Supermetrics for BigQuery (pretty meta, right?).
Along with the new product and new audience, we rolled out a new sales assisted go-to-market strategy. And while we’d previously lived and breathed the self-serve SaaS model, we suddenly had two completely separate funnels to track: the established self-serve funnel and a brand new sales assisted one. Needless to say, this new structure added complexity to our data analysis and reporting, essentially doubling the number of metrics we needed to track on a daily basis.
We quickly realized that our old spreadsheets could no longer handle the sheer quantity of data we needed to analyze. So we ate our own dog food and moved our data to BigQuery.
3. Your current tech stack is holding you back
As rational human beings, we often approach marketing problems limitations first. But daring to dream up all the things we would analyze if we had no limitations can be a useful exercise. Because often, it’s not so much about something being impossible to analyze, it’s more about that something being impossible analyze with our current tools.
And instead of banging your head against a figurative analytics and reporting wall, it might be better to bring your marketing tech stack to a level that matches your ambitions. Again, cue marketing data warehouses.
How to get started with marketing data warehousing?
If you came to the conclusion that marketing data warehousing may indeed be the right solution for superpowering your data and analytics capabilities, the next steps are fairly straightforward:
- Make a list of your requirements: which data sources are you planning on combining and which analytics tools will you be using?
- Choose a data warehousing partner based on your requirements and your existing tech stack
- Set up your marketing data warehouse (if you chose BigQuery, you can start here)
- Run your first queries 🎉 (again, if you ended up with BigQuery, start with these four)
And psst! If you’re interested in how Supermetrics can help quickly move all your marketing data to BigQuery, book a demo today.