Group of three people going over a project on a whiteboard.
Act-On hopes its new Engagement Insights will help marketing teams better analyze data. PHOTO: CAMPUS OF EXCELLENCE

Act-On Software is banking on Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel to deliver analytics from its marketing automation platform through a new reporting tool released today.

The Portland, Ore.-based marketing automation provider released Engagement Insights, which produces analytics through pre-configured, templated reports in Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets.

The goal? Make data exportability and report-sharing easy for those that need it, and not just the marketers using the software.

Sheets and Excel in 2017? Really?

Adam Mertz headshot
Adam Mertz

But, wait? Excel? Google Sheets? Isn't that a step backward in the age of real-time marketing intelligence and analytics? 

Even Adam Mertz, senior director of product marketing for Act-On Software, admitted as much in an interview with CMSWire: The perception upon seeing Act-On's release today may be, "Wait. Are we going backward here?"

But Mertz and Act-On stood by the decision to invest in Excel- and Google Sheets-based analytics. Act-On's pre-configured templates on Excel and Sheets makes it easy for all stakeholders to leverage data in tools they're comfortable using — like Google Sheets and Excel.

Some industry reports back that thinking: Enterprise software users still often turn to Excel

Some don't support it. Charles Rathmann, senior marketing communications analyst for IFS North America, which put out a report on Excel enterprise usage earlier this summer, told CMSWire's Erika Morphy that if employees are using an inordinate amount of spreadsheets to get their jobs done, that is bad news for digital transformation. 

Building Off Data Studio Analytics

However, Excel- and Sheets-powered Engagement Insights, Act-On officials said, will help companies reduce the "complexity associated with running pivot tables and building custom charts." 

Mertz said it builds off Act-On's Data Studio analytics platform. Act-On debuted that platform in June 2015. It includes pre-configured data sets and aggregations and allows users to create their own data sets using point-and-click queries and filters.

Data Studio connects with business intelligence tools, allowing business analysts to slice and dice numbers. Many organizations, however, have users that don't have the time or support to live in a BI tool. Hence, Google Sheets and Excel makes sense, Act-On officials said.

Screenshot of Act-On Software's Engagement Insights tool.

Email Click Rates, Content Downloads

Engagement Insights allows marketers to see: 

  • Email click to open rate with weekly and monthly trend analyses
  • Top converting forms and landing pages with weekly and monthly traffic trends 
  • Content downloads with weekly and monthly peak download times.

"A lot of vendors have analytics," Mertz said, "but very few make it easy to get access to all of the data like Act-On does. We recognize today's marketers need to be data-driven, and we need to make that as easy as possible. We know that some marketing teams have 10 or 20 but also that some marketing teams have one or two people. These new analytics helps marketers address one of the top challenges."