Platforms or People? Here’s the Best Way to Invest in Marketing Analytics

Investing in marketing analytics is one of the smartest, easiest decisions that a brand or advertising agency can make.

What isn’t so easy? Figuring out exactly where you should spend those dollars so that your organization reaps the biggest possible return.

Do you start by adding people who can manage your marketing data and study it for actionable business insights?

Or do you buy better technology to streamline your data preparation and produce sharp-looking, easy-to-understand visualizations?

Here at Alight Analytics, our team has spent more than 10 years helping agencies and brands to evolve their approach to marketing analytics. Before we introduced ChannelMix, we started out as an analytics consulting firm and still serve several of our own clients.

Over the past 10 years, we’ve learned a few things about which tactics work best:

  • If you have to choose, it’s better to invest in technology first, so your data is aggregated, organized and clean. Every high-performing marketing analytics operation is built on sound data.
  • Many organizations eventually need to invest in both technology and people — though “people” doesn’t necessarily mean hiring full-time staff.

Ideally, you should start by investing in a solution that will automatically gather and cleanse your marketing data, delivering an analysis-ready dataset.

Our platform, ChannelMix, was designed to do just that. We save the average client hundreds of hours every year, time they previously spent on labor-intensive, manual data preparation. (This is something we lived through, too — before ChannelMix, we lost hours and hours pulling together the most basic reports for clients.)

Why is “data first” a smarter approach?

You can hire the SEAL Team Six of marketing analysts. Outfit them with visualization software so sophisticated they could make a Pixar movie with it. But none of that will matter if your data isn’t accurate and organized in a way that enables analysis and reporting.

That’s because data is the foundation of every single thing your marketing analytics team does.

Give your team rotten, incorrect data, and they will either (a) churn out garbage analysis or (b) lose their workweek (and their minds) trying to root out all the inaccuracies, assuming they possess the necessary skills to do so.

If you get your data right first, you reduce your risk of bad or lackluster analytics. Your marketing analysts can spend their time investigating the insights hiding inside the numbers — the stuff that clients are eager to pay for.

Talent is important. Visualization is important. But data is paramount. If you want to build a credible, high-performing marketing analytics operation, data must come first.


As you grow your marketing analytics team, you may decide to add full-time staff. Depending on your situation, that could very well be a wise choice.

Just be careful not to fall into the “analytics unicorn” trap.

It’s what happens when a marketing team plans to hire a single “utility player” who can connect data sources, fix errors, build dashboards, dig out insights and repair anything that goes wrong.

But they’re not looking for a utility player. They’re searching for an analytics unicorn, so named because they’re extremely difficult to locate. (You could make a compelling case for “nonexistent.”)

Even if you can find an individual who meets the Mary Poppins-style job description — and who can actually do everything they put on their resume — this still isn’t a great solution.

For starters, analytics unicorns are really expensive. And they’re incredibly hard to replace. So when they eventually leave you for more lucrative locales, you (and your clients and your bank account) are going to be waiting a while before you locate your new unicorn.

Again, our ChannelMix solution may be a better choice because our best-in-class training and technical support are included with each purchase.

Our team will establish data connections for you and, in the rare case of a glitch, get everything up and running again. All the routine maintenance that comes with operating a data warehouse? Our team takes care of that, too.

Sorry to keep harping on the word “team,” but it’s an important distinction. For roughly the price of a single employee, you enjoy the expertise of our entire staff.

By partnering with Alight and ChannelMix, you might find that you don’t really need to add workers. Or if you do, you can simply hire someone who excels at analysis and making insightful recommendations to your clients or stakeholders.

And if you need a little help on that side, the Insight Analytics Group — our professional services division — provides a range of consulting and training products. We’re available on an ongoing or project-by-project basis.

Investing in analytics is one of the most forward-thinking moves your marketing team can make. Make sure your hard-earned resources are being deployed where they can do the most good!

Curious about ChannelMix? We’d love to talk about how your agency or brand can leverage our best-in-breed solution for more efficient, more powerful marketing analytics. Contact us today!