Executives want to better understand how well they’re reaching consumers, and specifically if the dollars invested in marketing campaigns are paying off in more revenues. So, how does a marketing team determine the profitability of the campaigns it launches?

Historically, this job consisted of pulling data out of corporate databases, downloading the data into a desktop spreadsheet tool such as Excel, and creating pie charts, bar charts, columnar reports and, if needed, a PowerPoint presentation for management. The assignment usually required comparing the results of past campaigns to more recently completed campaign efforts, reporting on response levels to campaigns and also on the ultimate conversions of responses to sales.

“The tedium of the process generates challenges for our business partners, who might run many different types of promotions with both flat and tiered offer structures, but are still expected to rapidly turn around the results of their efforts,” said John Stanisic, manager of customer and marketing analytics for Points, which manages, tracks, and offers analytics tools for business loyalty programs and gives consumers a way to efficiently manage the loyalty points they earn.

“When we compile all of the data for our loyalty business partners, we look at all of the structured, transactional data, and we also look at all of the unstructured log data that is captured by technologies like Splunk,” said Stanisic. “We use a data blending tool from Alteryx that pulls out the relevant log data from Spunk, cleans the data and then attaches it to the transactional system of record data to answer the questions that marketing and its stakeholders seek answers to.”

The methodology creates Tableau spreadsheets and other data visualizations of campaign results. Marketers don’t need to know what’s going on under the hood with the blending of structured and unstructured data. Ultimately, there is an alignment of the data with the vectors of the questions that marketing is asking of it.

“What our clients are telling us is that they can now build an analytics reporting structure for a marketing campaign in one week when it formerly took them two weeks to one month to do this in the past, when they used traditional spreadsheet software and compiled much of the reporting manually,” said Stanisic. “The dashboards that staff can create with a report visualization software like Tableau are able to look at campaigns and to answer questions from many different points of view, and the ease with which Alteryx extracts relevancy from raw, unstructured data and blends it with data from systems of record eliminates the need for marketing to struggle with big data analytics programming….This is an answer to the big data and analytics reporting skills gap that companies are experiencing in areas like marketing — because now, highly usable tools are enabling non-IT people to run analytics.”