Digital Marketing
2
min read

Data Warehouse Vs. Database: Which Is Best For Your Marketing?

Published:
June 17, 2022
Updated:
June 28, 2022

Marketers need data to do their job. Without high-quality data, they just throw darts at the board and see what sticks—and that's a recipe for burned spend and sub-optimal results.

And nobody wants that.

Obviously, there's a lot of room for growth and opportunity here. 

Ready to finally put your marketing data to good use? You've come to the right place.

You likely have heard about databases and data warehouses, but which do you need to activate your marketing data—and should you have both?

Great questions. We have answers.

Let's start by describing the key characteristics of data warehouses and databases. After that, we'll be ready to break down the core differences between the two to determine what you need.

Data Warehouse Vs. Database

Those not in the know throw these terms around interchangeably, but they don't mean the same thing. Not at all. Sure, they both include data, but they serve different purposes and use cases.

What Is a Database?

A database records real-time information in tables (rows and columns) to make it accessible quickly. Storing and retrieving data from a database is faster than any other method. 

Data is added, modified, and removed one record at a time—and each record is stored row by row.

Databases process data using Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) to execute several transactions simultaneously. However, the term "transaction" isn't just limited to purchases. It's been expanded to include just about any triggered digital interaction or engagement.

Take a lead generation database, for example. When a new lead fills out all the relevant fields on a landing page and submits their information, this creates a new record (row) in your database. This row would contain all the relevant information: name, email address, phone number, landing page source, date submitted, etc.

Adding records to your database and viewing them is quick and easy, but what if you want to see broader trends about the information in your database? For example, you might want to know how many new leads joined during a specific month or which piece of content drove the highest number of signups. 

While all that data is within your database, you're going to need another tool to efficiently pull that aggregated data—and that's where a data warehouse comes in handy.

What Is a Data Warehouse?

A data warehouse is a system that stores data from multiple sources for analyzing and reporting. Unlike a database, it's not recording data—it's just collecting and organizing it for users to access in one clustered space.

While databases record information with OLTP, data warehouses use Online Analytical Processing (OLAP). Businesses use OLAP to extract insights from their data to make informed marketing decisions.

For example, let's say you want to learn which digital channel is driving the most revenue for your company. You'd consolidate your different databases (email, Google Analytics, CRM, social media, etc.) into your data warehouse to collectively analyze the cross-channel marketing data.

Data warehouses use structured tables to make it easy for you to query the exact data you need. All you need to know is a little SQL, and presto—you now have the keys to the data kingdom. 

Key Differences Between Data Warehouses and Databases

Databases and data warehouses share a lot in common, but a few key differences separate the two:

  • Purpose: Databases record and store information, but data warehouses organize the data to allow you to access it for analyzing and reporting.
  • Processing Types: Databases use OLTP to add, modify, and delete data in real-time, while date warehouses use OLAP to analyze huge volumes of data quickly.
  • Volume: Databases process lots of data quickly, whereas data warehouses tend to execute a few massive, complex queries.
  • Data Sources: A database usually only records data from a single source (or a handful at most), while data warehouses consolidate data from several sources.
  • Analytic Capabilities: Marketers can use a database to find limited insights, but they need a data warehouse to run complex multi-dimensional queries.
  • Storage: Your database's retention and capacity depend on the marketing platform you're using, whereas your data warehouse has more elastic capabilities and can store practically endless amounts of historical information.

How to Choose the Right Solution for Your Marketing Data

Most marketing teams need a data warehouse to store, consolidate, and activate all the information from their dispersed databases. Data sitting idly in databases isn't much good until you can better use it for analyzing and reporting—and that's where you need a data warehouse.

Here are a few signs you need to consolidate your databases in a data warehouse:

  • You lack a single source of truth: Scattered marketing data doesn't give you the complete picture you need to make strategic decisions.
  • You need answers faster: It takes a lot of time and expertise to pull insights from your database. A data warehouse can help you access and use this data more quickly.
  • You want full ownership of your historical data: Platforms like Google, Facebook, and HubSpot have their own data retention policies that might prematurely remove your data. A data warehouse helps you keep and store this data forever.
  • You want to better understand your marketing strategies: If you feel like you're running a bunch of disjointed campaigns and can't figure out how they all tie together, you likely need a data warehouse.

Do More With Your Data With NinjaCat

NinjaCat can provide an end-to-end solution for marketing performance management. We help seamlessly connect, clean, and transform your marketing data so you can create beautiful and insightful reports that prove results again and again. 

Smarter marketing data management means more insights in less time with fewer SQL queries. What's not to like about that?

Don't just take our word for it. Schedule a time to connect with our team to see for yourself. 

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