Your Marketing Reporting Sucks! But, It Doesn’t Have To

Woman stressed over messy data about marketing reporting issues

Eric Hollebone, DemandLab’s Chief Marketing Technologist and I spoke at Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit 2018 alongside Gary DeAsi, Director of Demand Generation at Pointillist.

Our goal? Show how marketers can harness big data technologies to paint a bigger and more accurate picture about their prospects and customers’ journeys.

This talk was a labor of love for us: each of us interacts with marketing leaders on a regular basis, and we all kept hearing the same major pain point of being unable to get a clear, accurate understanding and reporting on what impact marketing has. For example:

“We have to grow marketing by X%. I’ll ask my team for plans; some come back and say more content, some say more technology, some say more campaigns, some say more focus on certain channels. I have no idea what’s actually going to work, no way to compare/contrast these ideas, and I can’t separate partner and channel marketing.”


“We have so many different pieces of technology, and they seem to be bought as one-offs to fix individual problems. Nobody ever actually goes through and sees what the tools are completely capable of before going and buying something else to solve some other problem.”

If Marketo is the system of engagement in your customer experience, the question becomes “how do we connect engagements to the other data we have been collecting throughout our sales, marketing, service, finance and more to tell a cohesive story? If we want to grow marketing, where do we need to focus: more content, more technology, more campaigns, more channels?” Return on spend for point solutions is difficult with no way to cross-reference insights from one tool with another (for example, “how does the CTI tool in support tell me anything about marketing initiatives?”)

Marketers are never going to know what data they need to connect to gain insights into the customer journey—until they envision the patterns and connections between your systems then and there. Moving from hunches and anecdotes about your customer journey to using cross-indexed data becomes a powerful engine any marketer should have in their toolkit.

Data has the potential to transform your marketing practice, but the current realities fall far short of the expectation. Or, put another way: marketing reporting sucks.

It’s a big problem, and the more technology you buy, the bigger it gets. Marketing teams use an average of 91 marketing cloud services, and integration can’t keep pace—so your team is moving, manipulating, and reconciling data by hand anytime a cross-platform report is needed. That’s a lot of valuable time wasted on reporting, ROI on martech stack value, and worst of all, precious data wasted and unused.

However, what if you could smash the silos and consolidate the data into a single, platform-agnostic source? With Marketo as your system of engagement and the power of big data, you can get the missing pieces for your customer journey, find rapid insights and have a single source of truth for your marketing department. Connect behavior and interactions to business goals and discover the path to purchase and the path to advocacy with structured, semi-structured and unstructured data in addition to marketing automation.

And that’s exactly what we spoke about.

In the first half of our presentation, we took a look at the technical foundations needed for setting up a data lake—a repository for storing all of marketing’s data sets in one place that can be easily accessed. However, this is only the first step; marketers need to take those Excel skills they’ve developed over years of bad marketing reporting and think about how to structure data in a way that it can be cross-referenced with keys (think VLOOKUPs on steroids.) Setting up a data schema that allows different data sources to be connected by finding common keys allows bigger questions across platforms (whether they’re integrated with Marketo and your CRM or not) to have answers: you simply need to find the common data that runs through them.

Once that data schema is deployed and marketers start to draw correlations between the different types of engagement they have across a prospect or customer’s experience, the next natural question becomes “how do these various touchpoints affect someone in the overall customer journey?” By setting up your customer journey in a way that harnesses your data lake and establishing milestones alongside them. With that, you can start graphing larger parts of your customer journey, such as:

This same data can be integrated with your overall dashboards as well, providing the “holy grail” dashboard many marketing leaders are looking for:

It’s all possible with a big data mindset, and even taking your first steps like connecting to Google Analytics to Marketo or mapping out your customer journey will put you on the path to reconciling your data together to tell that larger picture.

Missed our full presentation? Maybe we’ll do an encore webinar or something.


About the Author

Courtney Grimes

Courtney is a Martech Solutions Architect at DemandLab who uses creative problem-solving and technical capabilities to make marketing and sales technology work for B2B and B2C clients. She has helped organizations solve their most perplexed technical issues and restructure their processes to optimize the return on marketing automation and CRM.

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