Spreadsheets can be excellent tools for many data processing needs, but regardless of whether you are using Microsoft Excel, LibreOffice Calc or Google Sheets, you can probably recognize how time consuming it is to enter all the data manually. Not to mention having to cross-reference it to ensure that no errors have been made. As time has become our most valuable asset, spending hour after hour filling out and attempting to analyse in spreadsheets can seem like a waste of resources. In order to avoid inefficient work, automatically gathering data in one single database is essential.
Spreadsheets have many areas of use and can be sufficient for smaller companies with limited resources and data. However, for companies wanting to make data-driven marketing decisions, spreadsheets have some limitations. Despite cross-referencing numbers, human errors do occur, and the smallest of errors can result in large deviations in the data, potentially leading to wrong decisions being made. In fact, according to a study published in Business Insider, almost one in five large businesses have suffered financial losses as a result of errors in spreadsheets.
Considering that this study was conducted only among larger businesses, it is feasible that the number for small to medium-sized businesses could be even higher. For small to medium-sized companies, a financial loss could be severely detrimental to the business. With less time and human resources to allocate to cross-referencing data, errors are more likely to be made, and a financial loss could be severely detrimental to the business.
Marketing intelligence platforms remove this risk factor, as data is gathered from your sources automatically and calculations are done in the dashboard. This not only significantly reduces time spent on typing in numbers, but also ensures that your data is correct, and that you can make well-informed decisions on how to adjust your campaigns.
Another risk factor that spreadsheets can present is the security aspect. Not only are spreadsheets prone to malware, but they are also often shared among coworkers via email. This presents two areas where the document can easily be compromised.
Even if there is no malicious intent, sending spreadsheets via e-mail can be a risk factor itself, as spreadsheets can be sent to the wrong party inadvertently. In fact, there are numerous of recently documented cases where this has occurred. Most marketing intelligence platforms eradicate this security risk and ensure that your data is accessible only to those intended.
Spreadsheets allow you to analyse some specific metrics, but actually understanding the data can be challenging and requires expert skills. In other words, the data is often understood only by a few within the company. Having the entire marketing team understand the data will enable them to unify around clear goals and perform better.
Manually entering data also limits you from being able to track your KPIs in real-time. In a marketing landscape where major changes can happen rapidly and without warning, real-time data is crucial. For example, pinpointing which campaign is performing the best within a certain segment or monitoring your competitors activity, will allow you to optimise your campaigns and allocate your marketing budget accordingly.
One of the benefits of spreadsheets, which is often used as an argument to keep from transitioning over to a marketing intelligence platform, is its ease of use. Everyone has basic Excel skills. Having all relevant stakeholders learn the ins and outs of a marketing intelligence platform can feel like a daunting, and expensive, task. However, it doesn't have to be, as long as you choose a marketing intelligence platform that is intuitive and user-friendly. In fact, with the right marketing intelligence platform, the transition from spreadsheets can be done seamlessly and in very little time.
While spreadsheets definitely have their fair share of benefits, they are far from ideal when it comes to gathering and analysing marketing data. A marketing intelligence platform will enable you to spend more time analysing and optimising your campaigns rather than copy-pasting from various sources.