Today’s digital marketers use an ever-increasing amount of software to plan, organize, execute, measure, and report on marketing campaigns.
Marketers often refer to the various software they use as the “marketing stack.” In many cases, that software is proprietary.
There are several very good reasons why marketers should consider building out their marketing stack on open source software. One is that there’s an excellent range of open source software they can choose from; here are three others.
Protecting your and your users’ data
Marketing has become increasingly data-driven. That means that marketers spend more and more effort collecting data on their audiences. When you are using proprietary, cloud-based, analytical services such as Google Analytics or Mixpanel, the data is stored on someone else’s servers, often in another country.
While you might exercise due diligence in maintaining the security of their data, you can’t always prevent negligence on the part of your vendor. It makes sense to consider an open source, self-hosted solution for your data, particularly in light of strict requirements on retention of user data imposed by countries in the European Union.
Avoiding conflicts of interests
In online marketing, Google has become the dominant player. Many companies manage their ad spend on Google AdWords, measure the results of those campaigns in Google Analytics, and report on those results in Google Sheets. More advanced marketers may even model how they evaluate campaigns using Google Attribution.
It’s not hard to see how having one company own all your data isn’t a great way to protect against conflicts of interests.
Preventing the black box problem
Marketing technology is increasingly complicated and intertwined, as marketers seek to track users across devices and channels. When something goes wrong and you want to debug the problem, you have to rely on your vendor to help you out.
Open source software provides the transparency to let you see right into what’s going on and even create your own custom solution if you’re not happy with the standard one.
7 open source alternatives for common marketing software
I’ve worked as a marketer at companies that put an emphasis on using as much open source software as possible, so I’ve had the opportunity to test out a large range of open source alternatives. Here are some that I recommend you check out.
Piwik is an open source web analytics platform that started in 2007. As of 2017, more than 1 million websites worldwide use it, making it a clear alternative to Google Analytics. It enables you to gather and analyze data, such as visits, goal conversions, and traffic sources. It also includes real-time reports, so you can see exactly when you get a sudden surge of traffic. There are also a wide range of plugins you can use to integrate with platforms such as WordPress or the Magento e-commerce platform.