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Build vs. Buy - Marketing Data Infrastructures

Written by Ross Barrett, Product Marketing Manager at Funnel
3 min read
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Blog post viz - Build vs. Buy

To make your business truly data-driven you need to have full control over the data. A well-designed data collection solution gathers data from multiple sources and makes it available in one place. In the marketing world, this foundation enables you to make strategic decisions about which channels to continue investing in, where the budget should be allocated and what platforms are providing the best return on investment.

Before answering these questions, one of the main difficulties for larger organizations is determining whether they should build this infrastructure themselves or invest in a prebuilt, automated solution.

How hard can it be?

Here are some of the fundamental questions that need to be answered before considering a project of this scale:

  • How will the data be collected, stored and analyzed?
  • How often can we refresh and query the data?
  • How can we scale this solution to support new channels and changes in our business?
  • What resources are needed to create and maintain this infrastructure?

You’ll also need to consider the security risks, unanticipated downtime due to changes in APIs, and marketing channels that don’t provide a solution for extracting data automatically.

It's also worth noting that every marketing platform is unique, meaning you need a deep understanding for each integration in order to ensure that you’re extracting the right data, in the right way.

Once these questions have been answered and the data is flowing automatically, you’ll need to make sense of it before you can start analyzing your marketing performance. This means automating the following aspects using developer and/or marketing hours if you intend to do this manually:

  • Data normalization
  • Currency conversion
  • Data grouping
  • Calculated metrics
  • Data enrichment
  • Report building

You also need to understand that the ways in which individuals want to access and view the data varies depending on their role.

Marketers may want to analyze aggregated data in a spreadsheet or as an easily-shared visualization. A data analyst may prefer to have the data delivered to them in a SQL interface. Data scientists might opt for getting the data in full in a parquet file.

It's important to ensure that all of these needs are met and the data is accessible, approachable and usable across the organization.

Build vs. Buy

The underlying question is where do you want to invest your time and internal resources; creating and maintaining data source integrations, or creating business value?

We’ve put together a brief comparison table which is worth considering before making this decision:

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Why investing in an prebuilt solution is beneficial

Building an in-house data collection & transformation solution is usually more difficult than most companies imagine. Automated solutions like Funnel can deliver a scalable and cost efficient solution without compromising flexibility or control.

The benefits include:

  • Out-of-the-box integrations to a wide range of marketing platforms, which do not require developer assistance to configure.
  • Custom built integrations upon request ensures coverage for all marketing platforms your team is utilizing.
  • A robust and flexible data transformation level makes cleaning, mapping and reporting on meaningful groups of data not only possible, but achievable in minutes by a business user.
  • Integrations to all major data warehouse solutions, BI solutions and visualization tools, gives you the freedom to utilize your data anywhere.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of choosing a prebuilt solution, our case study with Brainlabs, an award winning paid media agency, outlines how they attempted to build a solution like this and the problems they faced along the way.

Regardless of whether you end up building or buying a solution, try to ensure that all of these fundamental questions have been asked and answered to ensure that you're set up for success.