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  • Jason Lucey

Part 1: Understanding and Planning for Integrated Marketing Data

Almost everyone I talk to is interested in dashboards. Dashboards have long been the goal of many marketing managers because they dream of a world where their progress and results are neatly packaged into a single view that's easy to understand. However, what many people don't understand is that underneath a good dashboard, there has to be an even better data set. And almost always this requires cleaning and blending and transforming data in a way that makes it all work together. When things are nicely connected and all the dots are connected, we call that an integrated marketing data set. This underlying data set is the key to getting the dashboards you always dreamed of.

Everyone has their own unique needs when it comes to marketing data and reporting, either for themselves or for clients. In some cases, the data is relatively simple—some ad data combined with website data. In other cases, the needs are more complex and can include upstream and downstream data, on-prem data, and customer loyalty data. In every case, this data can be a valuable asset but it can also be overwhelming.

For those of you who are new to the ideas of data integration, here are a few examples of how integrated marketing data can be a benefit for businesses:

  • A retailer might integrate data from its website analytics tool, email marketing platform, and social media platforms to track the effectiveness of its marketing campaigns.

  • A B2B company might integrate data from its CRM system, ERP system, and marketing automation platform to create a single view of its customers.

  • A nonprofit organization might integrate data from its fundraising platform, donor database, and event management software to track the effectiveness of its fundraising efforts.

  • An ad agency might integrate data from its media platforms the customer website and the CRM to show the cost-effectiveness of its advertising programs.

  • A financial institution might combine social posts and sentiment analysis with pull-through to customer service calls to show the effectiveness of its member outreach through social.

Getting Started and the Importance of Measurement Strategy

The first step is to identify the sources of data that are relevant to your business goals and customer needs. We also need to evaluate the quality and uniqueness of your data. We also need to find the appropriate tools and platforms to integrate the data with. There are many tools and platforms that can help you automate the process of extracting, transforming, cleaning, and loading data from various sources into a single location. (At DATACRAFT, we lean into the Azure and Google cloud stacks for scalability, their variety of features, reliability, and security.)

All of this speaks to the importance of measurement strategy. The measurement strategy process is how we work through these issues and gain alignment. In particular, the ecosystem diagramming aspect of measurement strategy Is critical if integrated data dashboards are the goal. Ecosystem diagrams are where we identify not only the touch points and the user flow but also the data sources behind each one. These data sources are the pieces that need to be integrated. Identifying them and gaining access to these data sources are the building blocks of creating an integrated data set.

However, identifying the data is not enough. There are a number of challenges associated with marketing data integration. These challenges include:

  • Data quality: The quality of the data being integrated is critical to the success of the project. If the data is inaccurate or incomplete, it can lead to poor decision-making.

  • Data security: Marketing data integration can introduce new security risks. It is important to take steps to protect the privacy and security of customer data.

  • Cost: Marketing data integration can be a costly project. The costs associated with the project will vary depending on the size and complexity of the project.

However, even given those challenges, the benefits are far more compelling:

  • Improved decision-making: By having a single source of truth for marketing data, marketers can make better decisions about how to allocate their resources. For example, if a marketer knows that a particular marketing channel is not performing well, they can reallocate their budget to a more effective channel.

  • Increased efficiency: Marketing data integration can help to increase marketing efficiency by automating tasks such as data collection and reporting. This frees up marketers to focus on more strategic tasks.

  • Improved customer insights: Marketing data integration can help marketers to gain better insights into their customers. This information can be used to create more targeted and effective marketing campaigns.

  • Improved storytelling of marketing’s impact. When all the dots are connected and all the data is pulled together, telling the story of how important the work of marketing is becomes much easier. It's only with a unified and integrated data set that we can truly understand the business impact of upstream marketing activities.

If you or a client are looking for a path forward on dashboards and integrated marketing datasets, or if you just want to learn more, please reach out.


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