We recently conducted a survey of business professionals who are involved in the digital marketing efforts at their company and 63% of the respondents said that Microsoft Excel is used to implement marketing dashboards within their organization.  This large percentage is not surprising since there currently aren’t many alternatives.

As we talk to organizations about their marketing analytics needs, we hear about the challenges they face as they try to use Excel for their marketing dashboard.  The challenges usually fall into one of two buckets:

  • Resource Intensive – Most organizations use a manual process to bring their marketing data into Excel. Some import CSV files from the marketing services they use (e.g., web tracking, online advertising, social networks, etc.), while others “cut and paste” data from the web pages of the marketing services. Either way, the process is very resource intensive.
  • Error Prone – Any process that involves Excel is error-prone due to accidental problems that can easily be made, whether it is incorrectly typing in a formula or copying data into wrong cells. Check out this highly publicized spat that involves spreadsheet errors.

These two challenges result in a number of issues that affect an organization’s ability to monitor the performance of their marketing activities in a cost-effective and timely manner:

  • Less Time Spent on Analysis – We have found that in many organizations, the same person is responsible for both getting the marketing data into Excel and then analyzing it. The more time it takes for such a person to collect all of the data and get it into the right format within the marketing dashboard, the less time they have to do the more important task, identifying actionable insights.
  • Infrequent Updates – We have found that due to the resource-intensive nature of the task, there is a natural tendency to update the data in Excel-based marketing dashboards infrequently. This makes it difficult for marketing organizations to be agile and respond to new issues quickly.
  • Low Quality – It has been surprising for us to hear from a number of organizations that they don’t entirely trust the data they see in their marketing dashboards since they are not sure if all of the data has been transferred “error free” into Excel.

The bottom line is that using Excel for marketing dashboards is a costly process that makes it difficult for organizations to be competitive and data-driven in their marketing efforts. Fortunately, new solutions are being developed (like the one we are building at Origami Logic) that address the challenges described above and eliminate the need to use Excel for marketing dashboards.

Does your organization use Excel for marketing dashboards? If so, what challenges do you face? Please let us know!