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Buyer's Guide

by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 24, 2017

Today, organizations of all sizes and across all industries are using marketing analytics tools. These systems inform decision-making and can help provide a better return on investment (ROI) on companies’ marketing and sales efforts.

This guide will help you understand the landscape of marketing analytics software and the features these platforms tend to offer, so you can make a better decision.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Marketing Analytics Software?
Common Marketing Analytics Applications
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Key Considerations

What Is Marketing Analytics Software?

Marketing analytics platforms contain of a variety of applications used by sales professionals, advertisers and marketers. These tools streamline processes through email management, social media management and marketing automation. They also provide greater insights about customers to convert more sales leads.

Most marketing analytics tools are cloud-based systems that integrate with major customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. They can also integrate with other Web analytics services, such as Google Analytics.

Common Marketing Analytics Applications

Below is a list of some common marketing analytics applications. Note that these may be offered individually, as best-of-breed products, or in an all-inclusive suite, depending on the vendor.

Lead management Assists with collecting information on leads, such as demographics, business size, industry segment and predicted purchasing behavior. This helps sales professionals plan properly during the sales process so they have a higher chance of converting the lead.
Marketing automation Automates a variety of tasks, from data collection and reporting to email marketing, social media marketing and beyond; integrates the processes of these applications so users don’t have to repeat tasks. Allows users to plan campaigns across all channels seamlessly.
Email management Assists with email campaigns, allowing users to blast emails to thousands of leads or customers. Provides insights into click-through and open rates and allows for A/B testing.
Search engine reporting Tracks key performance indicators for search engine marketing efforts, such as keyword rankings. Typically produces reports, charts and graphs to represent this data.
Social media management Manages social media accounts across a variety of channels to ensure consistency among campaigns.
Data management Stores data and offers pre-built tools for data analysis, so users don’t need to build their own complicated spreadsheets. These pre-built tools can include formulas, calculators, graphs and reports to help marketers better understand how their activities are performing.
Advertising management Tracks effectiveness (e.g., click-through rates, bounce rates) of online ads placed on websites or in search engine results pages.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

In general, marketing analytics platforms are not industry-specific. A wide range of businesses can benefit from using these tools.

That said, different types of organizations will have different needs based on what sort of marketing they do. For example:

Retail and e-commerce. Online retailers need highly specialized applications that provide insight into their customers’ purchasing habits. For example, an online retailer will want to know what causes “shopping cart abandonment,” or what their customers are likely to buy next based on previous purchases.

Retailers should look for marketing analytics tools with strong e-commerce integrations, preferably with the software and applications they are already using.

B2B. Business-to-business (B2B) marketing relies on relationship-building. The time to complete a single sale can take months or even years. B2B marketers and sales professionals can benefit from software that helps nurture these relationships without overloading sales leads. For example, lead management software can automatically remind marketers to follow up every month or so.

Professional services. Digital marketing is now essential for professionals in fields such as accounting, law and consulting. These businesses tend to spend less on advertising and marketing. They'll want to ensure they’re maximizing the ROI for their digital marketing strategy, and automate as much of the process as possible to reduce overhead costs.

With marketing analytics solutions, professional-service businesses can see which campaigns have the greatest impact. They can also draw stronger correlations between marketing strategies and the leads they generate.

Key Considerations

Marketing analytics solutions are not necessarily more difficult to use than other types of business software. However, its recent emergence means even veteran marketers might be unfamiliar with how it works, and will need some training to use it effectively. Once users make it over the initial learning curve, it should be smooth sailing.

When shopping for new analytical tools to strengthen your marketing initiatives, consider:

User-friendliness. How easy will it be for existing and new employees to learn the system? Read reviews of different platforms to get an idea of how difficult it will be to train employees. You can also demo potential platforms to get a sense of which one will be easiest to use.

Scalability. Do you expect to expand your marketing efforts across more channels as your business grows? If so, you’ll want a feature-rich platform—one that offers most of the applications listed above—so the software can grow with you. With cloud-based systems, adding new users or additional applications is typically an easy process.

Pricing. How much do you want to spend? Most analytics platforms are subscription-based and are usually priced according to business size (e.g., as a function of the number of users on the platform). The good news for small businesses is that these platforms scale with you, and can be very affordable for small numbers of users.

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