The best data analytics tools on the market
Data is more readily available than ever before. There’s so much out there and it’s becoming even easier to collect. In the time it takes you to read this blog, there will have been over 560 million Tweets, more than 64 million photos uploaded to Instagram, and over 5 billion videos on YouTube watched. But data on its own it’s pretty useless. You need to analyse it to extract the insights, and that’s where data analytics tools come in.
Let’s start with the basics...
What are data analytics tools?
According to Wikipedia, the definition of data analysis is the process of inspecting, cleansing, transforming, and modeling data with the goal of discovering useful information, informing conclusions, and supporting decision-making. Data analytics tools are the different types of technologies to help make this easier. They could be standalone platforms that both gather and analyse data or they could be integrations that, when combined with other software, help to add another layer of analysis to extract very specific insights, such as website user behaviour.
Why use tools to analyse data?
Data analysis is essential in helping businesses to make more scientific and strategic decisions, and operate more effectively. But, with the volume of data that’s out there at the moment it would be almost impossible to analyse using traditional, manual methods. The high volumes of data also makes storing it to analyse using traditional methods almost impossible.
Not only is the amount of data increasing, but so is the complexity. According to IBM, sources of data are becoming more complex than those for traditional data because they are being driven by artificial intelligence (AI), mobile devices, social media and the Internet of Things (IoT). Much of this data is being generated in real time, making it very difficult to keep on top of manually.
The data being gathered via these sources is both structured and unstructured. Structured data being numeric data in traditional databases, unstructured being text documents, emails, videos, audio, and so on. It’s hard to imagine a way to collate all this information manually so that it can be analysed as a whole. That’s where data analytics tools come in.
Who should be using tools for data analytics?
All teams across an organisation can benefit from using data analytics tools in some way. For example, business development teams will benefit from understanding market data to know where new growth opportunities for their company might lie. Product teams who extract insight from customer data analysis will be able to learn more about customer’s pain points with current products, or perhaps identify a gap in the current offering. Marketers will benefit from data analysis that shows how audiences are interacting with different content and campaigns, so that they can adapt as necessary to increase engagement. The data analysis requirements of the team will determine the type of tool they’ll need. For example, do they require a data visualisation capability? Or the ability to break down audiences according to different features?
Where to begin with data analysis?
Before you embark on any big project, you always need to think about why you’re doing it, and what you’re hoping to achieve from it. The same is true for data analysis, and choosing the right analytics tools. Some questions to consider before you launch in:
Why does your team need to analyse data? What is the business benefit? E.g., is it to show ROI? To grow audiences? To find new growth areas?
What data is available to you to analyse? Do you need a tool that can gather more data from certain sources?
What other tools and technologies are you currently using? Does a data analytics tool need to be able to integrate with these?
How capable is your team of extracting insights from data? Do you have a dedicated data analyst? Or do you need a tool that is accessible for different levels of experience?
What’s your budget? Do you need multiple tools, or is there one out there that can offer you everything you need? Or is another team in your company already using a tool that you could benefit from?
How are you going to action the insights you’ve gathered? It’s all very well doing data analysis, but it’s useless if you don’t implement your findings
Data analytics tools for business intelligence
Tableau is a visual analytics platform that aims to be accessible for all, regardless of their level of analytics understanding. As a result, their products are designed to be intuitive, so that people can focus more on asking the right questions than learning the software.
Technology customer review site, G2, named Tableau as one of their top 50 Enterprise products of 2021. It’s received 4.4 stars by consumers, and the quality of creating data visualisations and ease of generating dashboards and reports are the main pros of the tool. Some of the main challenges mentioned are around the speed of the tool, and the potential for it to crash when dealing with large amounts of data.
As the analytics tool from one of the most used software providers in the world, the interface of Microsoft Power BI looks pretty familiar.
One of the benefits of this tool is that it scales depending on the size of the business - from individual users to larger organisations. Users are able to extract meaningful insights and create hundreds of data visualizations thanks to it’s built-in AI capabilities. It also has - as you’d expect - tight integration with Excel.
The platform has a 4.3 star rating on G2, and is considered one of their top 100 fastest growing products in 2021. According to reviews on the same platform, users like the data visualisation capabilities of the platform, but some find the response time for showing results was slow. The pricing of Microsoft Power BI is between 28-44% lower than the average analytics platforms, potentially making it a more accessible option.
Data Studio is the analytics and visualization tool of G-Suite, which means it easily integrates with most other Google apps, such as Analytics and Ads. Aside from that though, it’s also able to access a wide variety of data and help users to create interactive dashboards and reports. It’s completely free and enables users to share and collaborate with team members in real time, anywhere in the world.
Google Data Studio is considered a leader in business intelligence software by G2, scoring 4.3 stars. Ease of use, connectivity with other Google Apps and the price (i.e. it’s free!) are some of the key reasons why users love it. Negatives for the software include limited functionality compared to tools such as Tableau, and the fact that it can be slow to load and display results when analysing large amounts of data.
Metabase is an open source tool, which means, at a basic level, it will always be free. For companies with more complex needs, they offer paid options with more support and functionality. It’s been designed to be used by the whole organisation, regardless of their data savviness, by offering different tools and access points.
Whilst Metabase is a lesser used tool than some of the previously mentioned behemoths, it still scores 4 stars from reviewers. Users like how powerful the functionality is and how customisable it is, especially for a free tool. However, some of the downsides of this tool are that it’s not as intuitive to use, and it can be slow when processing large volumes of data. Given that it’s a free tool though, it still seems to stand up against the competition.
Of course, we have to mention Talkwalker when we’re talking about data analytics tools. As a powerful social listening and conversational intelligence tool, Talkwalker empowers brands to optimise their digital strategies by understanding conversations at scale. It not only enables brands to pull and analyse data from online sources, such as social media, podcasts, blogs, forums and news sites, but they can also incorporate their own internal data, such as call centre scripts, sales data, market research and more. By creating this single source of truth, teams from across an organisation can extract the insights they need to make strategic business decisions.
Talkwalker scores 4.4 stars among G2 reviewers and is considered one of their Spring Leaders in 2021. Users like how easy it is to gather insights into their audiences, and reference the language capabilities and accuracy of sentiment analysis. The downside that is often mentioned is that it can take some time to get to grips with initially. However, our customer service team is always on hand to help, and our onboarding processes received the highest possible scores in the 2020 Forrester Wave report.
Tools for marketing
It’s the second Google entry in the list, but it’s hard to ignore given how powerful Analytics is for measuring and analysing web traffic. And it’s free. In addition to tracking website traffic, you can monitor social media activities, track mobile app traffic, identify trends and integrate other data sources to help you make more strategic business decisions.
Google Analytics is another of G2s top 50 Enterprise Products of 2021 and scores 4.5 stars. Most users talk about the ease of being able to link it to any website for basic functionality, which makes it great for smaller businesses starting out. However, for larger businesses with more complex queries, reviews show that there can be a limit to how far the free version goes. For beginners, it’s not as intuitive as other data analytics tools perhaps are.
All good marketers know the importance of having a good SEO strategy, and that’s where SEMrush really supports. It helps you understand, not only how your own brand is performing online in terms of keywords, but what your competitors are doing and how you can outrank them. SEMrush is also a great tool to help you plan your AdWords campaigns, by analysing potential keywords and assessing how competitive other bids are.
SEMrush ranks in G2s top 50 products for marketers in 2021, scoring 4.5 stars. According to users, they see it as a great all-round tool to support the day-to-day tasks of a digital marketer. Ease of use, particularly in reporting was also mentioned as a plus. Where it falls slightly short is around price and value for money. Whilst there is a free option offering limited access and a number of different packages, high cost and large jumps between the packages, seems to be a recurring factor in reviews.
Hotjar is a great tool for marketers and those involved in UX design and product development, as it helps to analyse your customer’s behaviour. By understanding how people interact with your products and website, you can work to improve the user experience, and grow conversions. It offers everything from heat-mapping to user recordings to surveys and provides you with support in analysing the findings.
Listed as one of G2s Spring Leaders in 2021, Hotjar scores 4.3 stars from users. Many of the reviews refer to the ease of use of the product in being able to visualise a user experience on their website and see areas to improve design, functionality or the product offering itself. However, for in-depth analysis of website traffic, many say this is better to be used in conjunction with more powerful tools.
Cyfe provides all-in-one dashboards for agencies and brands to prove ROI, combine data sources, and visualize trends. It can bring together all sorts of data - social media, analytics, sales, marketing - to help monitor and visualise your business in one place. It also has pre-built widgets that you can connect to Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and SalesForce accounts.
Another of G2s Spring Leaders, Cyfe scores 4.5 stars from users. The reviews highlight its ease of use as being a benefit, along with the fact that it enables companies (and agencies in particular) to have an overview of all their activities in one-place, and to keep track of different campaigns. Some of the downsides to the tool include the lack of integrations with some major tools, such as Hubspot.
I’ve only scratched the surface in terms of technologies that are available to businesses, but hopefully this has given you an idea of the sort of options out there, and what people think of them. Whichever you decide to go for, just make sure you’ve done your research and know exactly what you want from your data analytics tool.