According to research performed by Oracle, 93% of marketers say growth is hindered by their inability to gather appropriate data insights. This problem trickles down to and ultimately affects marketing firms like ours as well. Companies have high expectations when it comes to not only tracking results and collecting data, but also how this information is analyzed and shared with them. As they should.

With budgets tighter than ever, companies are watching every dollar that they spend on marketing. They are holding agencies accountable for designing, implementing and optimizing strategic marketing plans. They want to know how the money (down to the penny) they spend is performing because they want to cut out the things that aren’t working and add to the things that are. These aren’t unrealistic expectations. Within this tough economy, pressures from the top are high. And with the rapid growth of digital marketing and other technologies, it’s easier than ever to track many items within an integrated campaign.

So marketers and agencies alike have found new importance in and reliance on data and analytics. We are all getting better at collecting the information and knowing where to look for it. The problem comes in when you have to make sense of it all. How should it be organized? How do you combine data from different sources for easy comparison? Whose responsibility is it to manage the data? To analyze it? Data can very easily get confusing and overwhelming.

To help address these issues at McKee Wallwork Cleveland, data visualization has become a high priority. We took it upon ourselves to invest in yet another new technology to help our clients and ourselves “see” data in a different way. This data visualization software allows us to fairly easily import data from various sources and compare them to each other. For example, we can pull in website data, advertising impressions and sales to see how these data points relate to one another.

This technology allows us to more easily see cause and effect relationships. Did website data go up when advertising impressions were higher? And in turn, did sales numbers increase because website traffic was up? Using colors, shapes and size variations, our data visualization software allows us to easily compare multiple data points and make note of how various moving parts are working together.

We all have progress to make in figuring out the “big data” problem, but hopefully investing in tools like this will offer brands and marketing firms relief of at least one of our headaches – the headache that follows the review of an Excel file that’s over 200 rows deep and 50 columns wide.