Once your agency is dealing with large datasets you need a data warehouse designed to process big amounts of data. There are obvious signs that you need a data warehouse, like Data Studio or Sheets slowing down and breaking constantly (usually when using a tool like Supermetrics or Funnel).
There are also less obvious signs because owning your own data warehouse isn’t just a question of performance, it’s also a strategic decision. Once your data is all in one place a whole world of options opens up for you. If you want to leverage more advanced analytics it’s almost always wise to invest in this technology.
1. Are Data Studio and Sheets slow and do Supermetrics reports break often?
Data pipeline tools like Supermetrics and Funnel make it easy to pull data straight into Data Studio or Google Sheets on a regular basis. But if your agency is growing and you’re processing and reporting on serious amounts of client data you’ll soon run into performance issues and reports will take ages to load – 10 to 15 minutes, often more.
Think about how many hours of wasted time that adds up to for your account managers over the year!
If you’re using Data Studio you’ll know that it’s a fantastic tool to visualize data – and that’s what it’s designed for. It’s not designed to process, clean, and normalize millions of rows of data: the idea is that you load finished tables in here and make them easier to grasp and understand for people by getting creative about how you display the data.
Data pipelines like Funnel have connectors for Google BigQuery, Google’s powerful data warehouse which is designed to store and process giant datasets so we highly recommend you don’t skip this step. From BigQuery it’s very easy to push tables out to Data Studio and pretty much any other data visualization platform out there.
BigQuery does require some SQL knowledge but it’s a skill worth investing in and we offer SQL training as part of our standard retainer service for agencies precisely for this reason.
2. Is your agency’s data siloed and is it hard to compare channels?
Once BigQuery is set up you can systematically address the bane of all digital marketing agencies: data silos.
Data warehousing makes it easy to compare channel data to understand the effectiveness of strategies on the account level, but once all your agency data is in one place you can also get into industry benchmarking and other portfolio-level insights.
The beauty of BigQuery is the ease of integration with tools like Data Studio so it becomes very easy to set up reliable and customised cross-channel client reporting for the entire agency.
You can work with report templates in Data Studio that are easy to customize and once they are set up for a client reports can be scheduled and updated automatically. That saves time for your account managers and your clients will feel valued because they are not just getting some generic report they could get from any other agency as well.
Don’t worry if your staff aren’t Data Studio wizards yet. We offer Data Studio training as part of our managed data warehouse services because this is an approach that most agencies want to take once they own a BigQuery data warehouse thanks to the cost savings and customization options.
3. Do you want to use data to make your agency more efficient?
When it comes to optimising efficiency and performance of your agency you can get quite creative; it’s easy to layer in additional data sources via APIs like time keeping data that your account managers might already use to measure how much time they spend on each account.
With one of our clients we’ve gone so far to create a “client happiness index” that flags accounts that are not performing well and haven’t received as much attention as others in a given month so account managers find it easier to divide up their time across all the different accounts they manage.
4. Do you want to pull data from different sources with APIs and merge it?
If you are interested in layering in additional data sources with your account level data then APIs are your key. API stands for “application programming interface” and they are a very efficient way to automate data streams because they allow two applications to communicate and to access data.
Most established tools have APIs so it’s easy to layer in additional data sources like CallRail, SynUp, Salesforce or other CRM data – you name it!
Now, API coverage varies so you might not be able to pull every single field but it’s always worth checking because you might find surprising correlations and new insights for your clients that your competition isn’t able to produce.
If you are wondering about a particular tool that is very important to your agency, then check in with us. SaaS providers like Shape.io and Opteo.io rely on our team of data engineers and developers to provide engineering services for key clients so we’ve worked with many APIs in the digital marketing space and beyond.