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.