Any CMO or VP of marketing will tell you: It’s challenging to find genuine marketing talent. Specifically, one of the most competitive positions within marketing to hire for is analytics, which is why it’s historically been an area of outsourcing and vendor reliance. Utilizing marketing analytics vendors isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless it is.

If your marketing team is using an analytics vendor, then there’s one or more people managing that relationship. While the relationship is predicated upon a few different areas of focus, most vendor contract renewals/cancellations are some combinative result of pricing and performance — and performance is where things are most interesting right now.

A recent report compiled by Jon Cifuentes entitled The State of Marketing Analytics: Insights in the age of the customer explores the state of marketing analytics and vendors. The report is quite comprehensive and covers “all things data,” but one area that’s hard to ignore specific to performance is how brands are managing and using their data to evaluate performance and making future ad-buying decisions. A former agency boss of mine once told me that “sometimes, we can only move as fast as our customers,” and that statement rings true for vendors, in reading through parts of Cifuentes’ report.

In-house analytics validation

Cifuentes’ report surveyed thousands of marketers specifically about the state of their internal marketing analytics. One question reads: Does your company formally evaluate your marketing analytics for quality and accuracy?

Answers below:

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What’s surprising about the response data here is that 45 percent of marketers still either don’t formally evaluate their analytics for quality and accuracy or, even worse, don’t know if they do or not.

In-house analytics reporting

Another question in the report reads: In terms of total time spent generating analytics reports, what percent of your time is spent on the following (out of 100)?

Answers below:

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The data here shows that 73 percent of marketing analytics reporting time is spent on evaluating the past and the present. Expect to see the percent of marketing time spent on the future increase over the next 12 months above its current state of 27 percent. It is worth noting that the future “industry leading marketing teams” are the ones dedicating the most effort today thinking about tomorrow.

Marketing analytics frenzy

So to quickly review from those two charts:

  • 45 percent of marketers aren’t validating their marketing analytics for quality and accuracy
  • Marketers are spending 73 percent of their time reporting on the past and present
  • Marketers are spending 27 percent of their time planning for the future

While all market research needs to be taken with a grain of salt, these statistics are … noticeable. Marketing teams without accurate present and past performance data can’t logically make buying decisions on future ad buys. For analytics vendors, this data presents an even more interesting state.

First, a massive percent of marketing teams still need help with their present/past analytics/data, and even more will need help as predictive marketing continues to grow. It’s this kind of takeaway that explains the 2,000+ marketing analytics vendors trying to help fix the marketing mix for brands, because according to the brands themselves they absolutely need help. The problem, though, is whether vendors are being set up to fail, which brings up the second point.

Analytics vendors that operate under SaaS metrics need to be careful about the types of brands they sign. While it’s great to show new customers and revenue, the customer churn isn’t worth it. If brands aren’t willing to validate their own data that’s one thing, but it’s a dangerous area for SaaS vendors. During contract negotiations, it’s mandatory to outline a detailed on-boarding, data transparency and sharing, and a growth plan with deliverables and penalties for deadlines missed. Vendors should be wary about signing brands who aren’t willing to get serious about marketing data, because it’s not worth signing a new client for a quick win only to see them churn 6 months later on a contract that was doomed from the start. It’s a waste of valuable time and team resources that could be spent elsewhere helping more focused brands grow.

The good news for vendors is that according to Cifuentes’ report, marketers are the first to admit that they aren’t doing enough in the category of marketing analytics. Those same marketers are also raising their hands asking for help, leaving the future wide open for an exceedingly hungry market. The trick for vendors moving forward will be walking that delicate line of working with the right brands while offering a revelatory product and user experience.

Dan Slagen is VP of marketing at Crayon.co, the marketing insights search engine.