Choosing the ETL tool for you: A crash course from Peak Ace’s MarTech team

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Excellent marketing technology results come from one thing and one thing only: good data. Whatever you can bring to the table is nothing if you don’t have sufficient, trustworthy data and especially if you do not manage it properly.

GDPR and tightened cookie consent regulations have made it trickier to gather enough data for meaningful analysis, as we have already written about. This in turn makes it much more difficult to find who is clicking on your ads and making purchases, to let you know how and where to optimise.

One way to ensure you make the most of the data you do have is to make sure you have the best ETL tools available to manage it. In our handy breakdown, we give you an overview of what ETL tools are and how to choose the right one for you.

What are ETL tools?

ETL stands for “Extract, Transform, Load” and ELT tools are software that assists in managing data by performing these three functions.

In general, ETL tools take care of all three of these functions and in this order: first they extract the data from its original source, transform it (i.e. clean it up) and then load it into the database so that it can be properly analysed.

Why do I need ETL tools?

ETL tools make your life easier. They:

  • Simplify data management strategies
  • Improve data quality
  • Standardise your approach to data intake, sharing and storage

When running campaigns that amass large amounts of data, ETL tools simplify things. They save you time and take the stress out of data storage, prepare data for you to access quickly and easily, and prepare it for processing alongside your other business intelligence tools and software. Data is much more useful when it’s properly looked after than when it’s just sitting around in a warehouse.

What types of ETL tools are there?

There are multiple kinds of ETL tools. We are going to take a look at:

  • Batch processing ETL tools
  • Cloud-native ETL tools
  • Open source ETL tools
  • Real-time ETL tools

Batch processing ETL tools

You’re probably familiar with the amount of work that can go into processing a lot of data at once. For a long time, processing large data volumes sucked up time and resources, not to mention computer storage. Now, specific batch processing ETL tools enable users to run large batches of data processing during off-business hours.

If you’re dealing with a lot of data at once, batch processing ETL tools could be the solution.

Cloud-native ETL tools

The cloud is one of the most useful tools available to us in terms of sharing and storing data. Integrating ETL tools with cloud applications can enable you to extract and load data quickly and on a large scale – in fact, on the scale of the cloud itself. Set them up alongside your cloud or host them within the cloud as a SaaS.

If you’re looking to handle your data quickly and in an integrated manner, cloud-native ETL tools could be a good choice.

Open source ETL tools

Open source ETL tools are the most cost-effective option. A range of these tools are available depending on the capacity you need. You may be familiar with some of these tools already; among them are Apache Airflow, Apache Kafka, and Apache NiFi.

The downside of open source ETL tools is that they can be technically less complicated than other options. For example, if you’re looking to deploy complex data transformations or CDCs, open source ETL tools may not be the right option for you.

Real-time ETL tools

For those who work collaboratively on big data projects – whether you’re in a shared document on Google Docs, working with transactions in finance, or your transferring client data between hubs – instant data sharing and updates are a big deal. This is where real-time ETL tools come into play.

Streaming real-time ETL tools come in many forms, commercial and open source, but it’s not always the right choice. Sometimes batch processing is still the simpler way forward when dealing with large amounts of data.

What to consider when choosing an ETL tool

So, you know how people differentiate between different kinds of ETL tools, but how do you know which one is right for you?

Type of storage offered

How much data do you need to store? How do you want to store it? These are important things to consider when choosing your ETL tool, especially since you don’t want to invest money and time into something that isn’t going to work for you. Make sure you take your data bank into account before you get started and are decided on how you’d like to store your data. Then you can set about choosing a tool.

Price

ETL tools do not necessarily come cheap. Before deciding on which tool is right for you, you’ll have to consider how much budget you want to allocate to the task. Some companies charge you for a specific monthly or annual subscription package, by GB of data or by number of users and sources. The more data you want to process, the more expensive they can get: for a larger business you might be spending thousands of dollars a month. As we discussed, open source ETL tools are usually the most cost-effective option, but if you have specific needs that other, more expensive tools cover, it can certainly be worth investing in something more expensive.

Data visualisation options

ETL tools will each offer different ways of displaying data in data warehouses for you to analyse and not all of them will work for you. What kinds of graph functionality do you need? Do you want to create your own custom dashboards for clients? Take into account how you’d rather view your data before making your choice.

Marketing connectors

What can separate one ETL from another is the sources from which it can gather data. If you want to gather data from TikTok, for example, you will need an ETL that is compatible or can be compatible with this programme. Some companies can offer you the option of creating custom marketing connectors according to your needs for an additional fee. It’s important to do your research into this before you choose a tool.

GDPR compliance

Not all ETL tools can promise compliance with GDPR for themselves, or that they can help you to handle data. Besides being law in the European Union, GDPR compliance encourages customer loyalty and will increase the trust others have in you. It’s also likely to improve your access to greater value creation, so it’s worth looking into tools that already comply with GDPR. 

Now you know…

If you are interested in delving deeper into how digital analytics and marketing technologies can boost your conversions, rankings and more, why not give us a call? Contact us now to find out what we can do for your business.

Article originally posted by Peak Ace

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