(Want to skip down to the BrightEdge Vs Rakuten comparison? No problem! )

In case you hadn’t noticed, there are a LOT of digital marketing tools out there at the moment. From email marketing to customer journey attribution, there’s no end of technology offering assistance.

We’re not just talking hundreds here, either: as of January 2015, there were 1,876 vendors represented across 43 categories.

1,876. Jeez.

And it’s only going to keep growing.

Choice. It’s always a problem of choice.

Why, you ask? Well because of this mind-boggling number of digital marketing tools to choose from. They’re designed to ‘make your job easier’…if only you could get your head around it all!

It’s no surprise then that the position of ‘Chief Marketing Technologist’ is on the rise – and it’s expected to explode in popularity as we enter 2016. Because someone has to look at this thing and make sense of it:

Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2015)
No need to fall off your chair now – ‘Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic 2015’ – Source: Chiefmartec.com

So it’s fair to say that if your company is not blessed with one of the whizz-kids who know this stuff inside out, then they’re probably going to turn to you, as a resident digital marketer.

But how do you choose?

By now, if you don’t know about the help on offer from SEO giant Moz, then you’re missing a trick (or 10,000). However, there are other tools out there that could have a HUGE impact on your business propositions…and you may have never even heard of them!

For instance, there’s a chance that a few of those reading this article will at least have heard of BrightEdge or Rakuten Marketing. But what if you were asked to make a business decision based on choosing between their digital offerings? How about with a rapid turnaround? Let’s see what we can do about that.

Chances are, you won’t know enough about the two to make an informed decision off the bat. So, as I’ve said before, Google is your friend.

Then it’s time to start wondering…which tool should I choose?

Why it’s good to ‘shop around’

In simple terms, there’s plenty of flashy gizmos out there; all manner of gadgets and wizardry for your digital marketing toolbox. But that doesn’t mean you should just splash the cash on it. Some of these tools just won’t work for you.

First thing’s first: even if you have minimal time, you still need to do some research. Forewarned is forearmed when dealing with any service; be it a marketing company or your telephone service provider. The more you know, the more informed your decision making process.

In this instance, choosing the marketing software to add to and compliment your business ‘stack’ is vitally important, for a few key reasons:

  • The process of building a ‘stack’ of marketing tools requires that you assess your business to know EXACTLY what you want. That means knowing your business from top to bottom.
  • Being responsible for this means you are helping to forge your company/site/business direction. The decisions you make now could have a huge impact on shared success going forward.
  • All of this costs money…so you need to make sure the business spends for a potentially positive return on investment. This is bigger than just you, so it’s about more than catering to your eagerness to play with new tech or add more software experience to your C.V.
  • Take a look at what marketing software you are already using. Are the products you’re looking at overlapping with stuff you already use? Maybe that can help you eliminate one or the other from your search.

Write down what your business needs – both day-to-day and moving forward – that you want digital marketing tools to provide. It doesn’t have to be long, just a couple of bullet points.

In essence, this is what the above key points boil down to: ensure you have a very targeted idea of what you want before you assess new digital marketing tools as additions to your ‘stack’.

It’s also a good refreshment exercise as part of a regular audit in any marketing department too.

BrightEdge Vs. Rakuten Marketing – A firsthand example

When I undertook this process for a client, I looked at what they did, and summarized it as follows:

[Awesome Company] needs to grow its social audience, maximize engagement, and measure all of this to make sure that as much useful data as possible is captured. This can be fed back to relevant people in the business to build a reliable case to push [Awesome Company] further into the digital sphere.

Also, to state the obvious, the client was conscious of spend. Get more, pay less. Simple stuff.

Our project leader then presented me with two options: BrightEdge, or Rakuten Marketing, both of whom had recently approached her about working together. Let’s take a look at how they compare.

BrightEdge Vs Rakuten Marketing
BrightEdge or Rakuten – which comes out on top?

#1: BrightEdge – What is it?

A marketing platform, BrightEdge combines a number of digital marketing tools into one. Their systems pull in data from Google Analytics, Adobe SiteCatalyst (Omniture), Webtrends, Coremetrics, Majestic SEO, Moz, and SEMrush. This in itself may make it worth the (expected) high cost.

Even better, BrightEdge claims to be the first and only of the digital marketing tools (or ‘platform’, to be honest) to track ‘blended rank’.  What this means is that, in addition to the ‘classic rank’ shown by most, BrightEdge shows where pages rank when taking into account image search, video search, etc. Furthermore, it portrays the influence of social media, and impact on web analytics based on this blended rank. Pretty neat stuff.

Additionally, BrightEdge has a feature for competitor analysis: allowing you to see not only the backlinks for your website, but also the backlinks that your competitors have and you don’t. You can also track competitors in your keyword groups, if that’s your thing.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! BrightEdge’s keyword reports also show keyword ranking performance relative to social signals such as Facebook likes, tweets, and Google +1s, over time. E.g.:

BrightEdge example
Screenshot borrowed quite shamelessly from Claudia Marsili’s blog on Seattle Search Network – which you should definitely check out.

Fair to say that this makes it pretty easy to present key SEO data points in an easily-digestible way for stakeholders across a business. Seems a good fit for what’s needed then.

As an aside, BrightEdge also contains a workflow system to allow for allocation of tasks to different teams if needed. If you’re working with a large company, accountability is essential, so this will be music to many clients’ ears.

#2: So what is Rakuten Marketing AKA Rakuten Attribution?

Formerly DC Storm, this successful agency was recently purchased by ecommerce giants Rakuten. That should give you a taste of the good work that these guys do.

In contrast to BrightEdge, Rakuten Marketing are more of an agency who look at their client’s customer journey, including online touchpoints – such as display, PPC, email marketing or natural search – to offline interactions, and try to make this more manageable. They promise to increase sales, deliver higher ROI and help companies “target their digital marketing spend better”. All sounds great in principle.

This all ties into their vision of moving companies towards what’s known as an ‘omnichannel’ approach to marketing. That means optimizing your marketing so that there is a seamless experience for the customer, across all manner of mediums and devices. It also means being able to then reverse engineer a customer’s journey to identify the real Cost Per Acquisition.

After all, just because a customer saw a TV ad and states that that was the reason they bought the product, it doesn’t mean all credit (or cost) should be attributed to the ad. We live in a multi-medium world now, remember.

Put it simply, this is exactly what Rakuten Marketing can offer you. They claim to be able to track every interaction in a customer’s journey through the marketing funnel from display impression through to the telephone call where the sale finally occurs. Once again, impressive stuff.

#3: Conclusion

Overall, BrightEdge seems like it is a ‘multi-tool’ of digital marketing analysis; providing recommendations and tracking data for SEO, keywords, social signals, and to an extent your competitors. The backlinking analysis of competitors looks particularly useful for increasing a site’s authority too. See who your competitors have backlinks from, and all of a sudden you have a great ol’ prospect list, amigos…then go out, and get networking!

Meanwhile, Rakuten offer a very thorough, more focused approach to identifying, planning, and building a more efficient ROI analysis for their clients’ customer journeys, from online touchpoints to offline transactions. A huge asset in the wider corporate world, it has to be agreed…

So now all that’s left is to make a decision. And you know what I think?

As digital marketing tools go, BrightEdge is far superior in its offering. Rakuten looks a great idea for huge corporations, but frankly, most of us want what BrightEdge has to offer: all that sweet sweet data bound up in a single, helpful package. Also, as most SEOs will tell you, the more SERP information we have, the happier we are!

There, I said it. None of this pussyfooting around, getting splinters from sitting on the fence for too long. I’ve picked a side – now come at me, SEOs…

…no, seriously, come at me with your thoughts. If you know better or think I’ve missed something, that can only help our understanding. Heck, get in touch, BrightEdge and Rakuten!

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