Third-party services offer additional metrics, insights into farmers’ preferences and behavior and confidence in your own metrics.

We frequently discuss how important data is when making informed business or marketing decisions. In earlier posts, we’ve covered the importance of setting up your analytics and recording your own data wherever possible. However, there are also a variety of third-party metric services that can add additional insight.

A quick glance at your inbox, or perhaps your spam folder, there undoubtedly will be several companies offering you a new source of data, a new way to organize your existing data or something tangentially related to data. It’s difficult to know when these services have a place in your organization, and what type of value they can offer. So here are five primary benefits that using a third-party metric service can offer:

  1. They can measure outcomes for your business that you might not have the capability to measure yourself.
    • What percent of farmers use a below label use rate for corn herbicides? Does it vary by region?
  2. Getting an outside opinion can give you more confidence in your own metrics.
    • Understanding how farmers are using your current website is great, but having a clear understanding of what they want on any ag manufacturer website is more useful.
  3. They can often give you a view at competitor’s performance or a baseline of industry performance.
    • You may have a great handle on user satisfaction for your John Deere front loader, but how about those customers that purchased a Mahindra?
  4. Third-party data will likely be more sharable with external sources than your own proprietary numbers.
    • Using syndicated category market-share data vs. your proprietary sales data allows you to have broader conversations with fewer concerns of giving anything away.
  5. Outsourcing the data collection and processing can save a lot of man-hours.
    • We all likely have too much to do and not enough time to do it. It’s just the reality of our world today. Outsourcing some of your data efforts can alleviate this challenge and ensure data remains the priority it should be in your organization.

So you may be asking yourself, “Are there any downsides to third-party metric services?”  There are two main complaints you might expect to get from your research team and accounting, respectively.

  • While most providers do offer some level of customization, they will never be as flexible as primary research sources.
  • There will be additional cost to any subscription service that may or may not outweigh the man-hours saved based on your needs and current abilities.

When deciding on a new source of data, carefully weigh the benefits of first-party and third-party sources.  There will be situations where your only options to get the data you need is to go to an outside provider. Other times the benefits of an outside provider will be an overall better option for your needs than first-party research could be.