Data-driven marketing has been a hot topic for years among professionals. There is recognition among marketers of the growth potential that data can offer to businesses that take full advantage of it. Unfortunately, there are still a number of barriers that prevent many businesses’ marketing departments from becoming truly data-driven. This article will outline some of the key stats and arguments that illustrate the importance for businesses to adopt a data-driven approach, as well as some of the challenges involved to reach this goal.
McKinsey (2013) estimates that there is a 15% to 20% increase in ROI at stake on average for companies that properly utilise their data. In addition, a recent study found that two thirds of marketers want to improve measurement of ROI with data (Ascend2, 2016). Yet, A recent study by PWC & Iron Mountain (2015) found that an astounding 96% of companies are unable to extract full value from their data. So what is preventing them from doing so?
A key challenge marketers need to think about is how they can aggregate their data into a single view that allows them to connect the dots across their activity. In fact, a recent Forrester (2016) survey revealed that 84% of marketers don’t believe that their disparate data sources are well integrated. This is the classic ‘silo’ problem, where data from different sources are stored in different database, making it difficult to get a full and clear picture of a business’ performance. A key objective to consider is to bridge the gap between marketing and sales data. After all, if you know exactly what parts of your marketing activity are positively influencing your bottom line, you hold the key to maximising your ROI.
Another key challenge to take full advantage of marketing data is the time and effort it takes to collect, organise and analyse data. In fact, recent survey by Hubspot estimates that marketers spend on average a third of their time on such routine tasks. Without an efficient system that provides rapid access to the key data needed to make a business’ performance grow, it is remarkably easy to find yourself lost in tons of spreadsheets for hours or days. By the time you finally work out the key insights you need, it might be already late to take action. In addition, all that time spent going through disparate data sets could be better used developing new plans and taking action.
In order to solve the data accessibility and speed problems currently faced by many marketers, investing in a data intelligence platform that allows rapid integration of disparate data sets should be at the top of the priority list for the vast majority of marketers.
While at the moment, being data-driven is still in some cases a way of achieving competitive advantage, in the near future it is likely to become an imperative. The marketing industry as a whole is evolving towards being led primarily by data for the simple reason that it demonstrably leads to increased returns. Accordingly, making the transition to a data-centric approach for your business should not be a matter of ‘if’ but rather of ‘when’. Those that wait too long are likely to be left behind in the coming years.
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