A Cheaper Alternative to Marketing Analytics

If 2012 was the year of the cloud and 2013 saw broad acceptance of big data, 2014 could go down as the year of cheaper analytics.

The year has been filled with announcements of new features from scores of vendors of all sizes, from SaaS providers like Gainsight and gShift up to pricier systems from Adobe, IBM, SDL and Oracle.

The latest example comes from Rival IQ, an 18-month-old, seed-funded startup in Seattle that already claims thousands of users, including "a healthy community of paid users," according to CMO Margaret Dawson — aka "Chief Marketing Badass, Fountain of Sarcasm."

A Simpler Approach

On Tuesday, Rival IQ released the beta version of a new SEO Analytics feature, which is now included  in all the company's service tiers, from its free trial to its $399 a month ProPlus tier. The company's service already included analytics for websites and social media.

To be sure, this probably isn't the ideal tool for corporations with marketing budgets in the tens of millions of dollars. But for the SMB market, it might fill a void or provide an easier approach for marketers who shy away from technically advanced enterprise installations.

"I think a lot of marketers are dealing with the complexity of using multiple tools that are very expensive," said Dawson, who used  Radian6, Site Catalyst (Omniture), NetBase and other premium tools in her recent role as VP for product management in HP's cloud computing division.

Low-cost Data

"What we're trying to do is give enough data across all the different areas at a very affordable price so you have one place to go where you can grab simple charts and very quick reports, and then export everything to PowerPoint, CSV or PDFs," she said.

With about 1,000 companies now swimming in the digital marketing/analytics pond, it seems like each has specialties, and Rival IQ is no exception.

"Our sweet spot is that we look at multiple digital channels. We look at social, SEO and web. Within social, we look at multiple networks. We also look at web positioning and metrics around your website," Dawson told CMSWire in an interview. "We also do it for multiple companies. You can create a market landscape and put in as many companies as you want."

Watching Competitors

The landscape feature is particularly interesting because it allows users to see what their competitors are doing in social and SEO. It can also be used to research best practices for an entire area, such as e-commerce. 

As Dawson noted in her blog earlier this week, "with Google increasingly removing organic keyword source data from its own analytics products," it has become more difficult for marketers at SMBs to determine which keywords are using, which the competition uses and how to optimize your keywords. She said her company's customers have been asking for help in this area.


The beta SEO analytics tool currently looks at five areas, relying on data from SEMRush.  The initial five areas are:

  • Positioning and Change: Where your keywords rank and where you've improved and declined in ranking
  • Highest Traffic Keywords: The estimated percentage of traffic that keywords drive to your site, search volume and current position on Google
  • Keywords in Common: How multiple companies compete for the same keywords, traffic volume, cost-per-click, and source URL, all shown in one chart
  • Top Keywords You Don't Own: The top keywords for your chosen landscape, including search volumes, web traffic, source URL and current search position for each keyword
  • Top Keywords By Company: Which keywords drive the most traffic to each company in your landscape, including search volume, CPC, traffic percentage and keyword ranking

Dawson said other areas will be added based on customer demand.

In the screenshot above, you can see how the Keywords in Common feature is used to look at keywords used by several companies. Hovering over any of the companies, pulls up data about the company's use of each term.

Slicing and Dicing

"So we have different ways of slicing and dicing the market to help you drive strategy, to help you think what you need to do differently, to compare different market landscapes in your general market," said Dawson, who began using Rival IQ while still at HP.

If this sounds like a simplified approach to marketing metrics, you're starting to understand the goal of Rival IQ and some of the other SaaS players in today's analytics market.

"The data-driven marketing discipline has become a necessity, but we have so many different tools that we're trying to use to see how we're doing. That's what we need to change," Dawson told us. "My job is how do I make this easy, fast, affordable and impactful so that marketers can be successful."