Marketing agency Tinuiti centralizes 100+ data sources in Tableau Prep, scales marketing analytics for 500 clients


Reduced time spent on data preparation by 60 percent with Tableau Prep Builder
Combined 100+ sources into a single view for hundreds of clients’ marketing data
Transitioned to automated, scalable marketing analytics in less than 14 months

Tinuiti, North America’s largest independent performance and data-driven digital marketing agency with more than $1 billion in managed ad spend, develops strategic media plans for more than 500 clients. Brands such as Tommy Bahama, Eddie Bauer, and Brooks Running rely on Tinuiti to combine channel data analytics and marketing science with an integrated media strategy. However, a complicated landscape of marketing technologies and data sources made it difficult for Tinuiti to quickly analyze information so that media is fully optimized for one-to-one client marketing.

Tinuiti adopted Tableau, helping staff make sense of all channel-level data and reducing time spent on data reporting, collection, and preparation by 60 percent. They centralized data from more than 100 sources with the help of ChannelMix by Alight Analytics and created a scalable, repeatable, cost-effective, and automated reporting infrastructure through Tableau, which satisfies customer needs, increases staff and analytics effectiveness, and enhances client relationships.

With the Tableau platform, including Tableau Prep, the Tinuiti analytics team quickly pulls data from a complex mix of digital channels and creates custom, flexible dashboards for customers so they see the full story of their brand efforts. They also deliver bespoke and templated reports so clients’ marketing departments can self-explore data, investigate underlying details, and make better decisions that improve brand engagement. Tableau connects to cloud-hosted marketing data in Amazon Redshift, and provides performant, secure dashboards for both customers and Tinuiti teams so questions and needs are addressed immediately. In-turn, marketing budget is allocated to the best media tactics that create the strongest engagement.

Revamped analytics approach enables faster data reporting

With so many marketing sources, Tinuiti was overwhelmed trying to ingest, clean, combine, and provide actionable data reports to its customers. The agency used a painstaking manual process to pull and transform information, but struggled to put timely, dynamic marketing reports in customers’ hands, which also increased the burden to analytics staff, resulting in over 156,000 hours spent on data reporting annually. Customers wanted near real-time analytics, and without it, marketing resources couldn’t be directed at timely multi-channel tactics.

As marketers, we have so much data we need to act upon and Tableau gives us the ability to connect to many different data sources in the marketing ecosystem.

Tinuiti adopted Tableau and found instant value with Tableau Prep. Tableau Prep cut the time Tinuiti spent cleaning, combining, and shaping their data all while increasing capacity of the channel and analytics teams. Powered by APIs connected to Amazon Redshift that extract almost 600GB of cloud-hosted marketing data, Tinuiti has created an automated reporting Prep flow that uses clean data from major marketing platforms for functions such as automated email attachments, social media, and digital advertising. “For us to have access to a tool like Tableau Prep has given us the ability to go faster and do it at scale across multiple channels,” explained Andrew Richardson.

And now with Tableau Prep Conductor, the Tinuiti teams are able to schedule and manage self-service data preparation at scale, Andrew shared: “We’re thrilled to try it and expect it will help us automate and scale data prep across the company even more than we have today.” They recognize it will speed up their ability to report on campaigns for clients, increasing the value provided, which also helps their bottom line.

The new approach using a combination of ChannelMix and Tableau for automated, flexible, and scalable data analysis allows Tinuiti to deliver strategic value that nurtures strong, lasting client relationships. Clients such as Big 5 Sporting Goods recognize that having this comprehensive view of their channel marketing data greatly impacts their business and enables better spend of their marketing dollars.

The Tinuiti team has applied their analytical expertise in Tableau to create an exceptional comprehensive dashboard for our marketing programs. It’s been a gamechanger to have multiple data sources from across our business automated and synthesized all in one place.

Tracking digital advertising budgets with self-service reporting

There’s considerable nuance to marketing campaigns and data reporting. Each marketing tactic requires careful consideration and planning with varying KPIs and goals. Tinuiti understands that not every customer is analytically-minded and data savvy, but it was also challenging with a smaller analytics staff to serve the different channel teams and easily answer customers’ questions. Some of their complex questions included: what’s the lifetime value of our customers, what segments should I go after, or how can I predictively forecast for the future when I’m used to making decisions with gut feel?

Tableau’s drag-and-drop functionality and multiple data filters made it easier for Tinuiti’s analytics team to accelerate work in areas that weren’t possible before. With a vast number of ecommerce clients, Tinuiti created a flexible dashboard for them and its internal teams where anyone can adjust the profile, report name, type of chart, timeframes, and other parameters to compare data; it’s often available right after they start with Tinuiti. The analytics team also created a pacing report where channel teams monitor digital advertising budgets for brands so they can monitor daily spending rates and track over and under-spending.

Even Tinuiti staff who weren’t considered data experts now clamor to get Tableau and perform their own analysis instead of relying on the analytics team. And with all dashboards hosted in the cloud, always on and available 24/7, internal and client staff (including executives) can check on their digital marketing data whenever they choose. As Andrew explained, “If we didn’t have Tableau, we would be behind where we are today and need more staff to do the same amount of work.” These consumable, dynamic dashboards are “making a really big difference for us and our customers.”

Now, Tinuiti can focus more on telling the interesting stories behind clients’ multi-channel data and deliver more value. The marketing landscape changes too quickly and both customers and the Tinuiti teams that serve them can’t wait on quarterly updates to make better business decisions. “We ended up choosing Tableau because of the efficiency that we gained with dashboarding as well as what we were going to see in data exploration,” said Andrew. In fact, generating analytics on the spot—both in preparation for and during client meetings—means Tinuiti can better collaborate with and influence clients by having one source of truth that’s easy to understand, manage, and leads to better customer outcomes.

Brooks Running, another Tinuiti customer, lauded how their use of Tableau creates business value for them: "The Tinuiti team has gone above and beyond to create dashboards that are not only actionable but also beautiful by design! The analytics team has been a pleasure to work with throughout the process and even helped us learn and grow in our own Tableau knowledge. We very much appreciate their hard work and expertise as the dashboards have helped take our business to the next level.”

Predictive analytics supports client planning and forecasts

Tinuiti has a marketing science team that uses Tableau forecasting to perform predictive analytics for clients, looking out at least six months. When clients head into annual planning, the agency is prepared with a report showing the year ahead based on historical analysis. This can be applied to display, email marketing, paid social and search, and more. Eventually, Tinuiti has plans to build in predictive analytics at scale so forecasting is part of every client dashboard built.

What-if analyses are another concentration for Tinuiti as they expand their capabilities. Leveraging the power of Tableau and integration with R has also allowed for better, time series analysis and media forecasting in conjunction with these what-if analyses. In Tableau, they can answer client questions like “If I had more money to give you, what would that look like?” Plus, with past data reflected in the analytics, clients and Tinuiti staff have the option to compare actual sales with forecasted sales and adjust results by changing new business growth and expected customer churn rates.