For marketers, this is the dawning of the Age of Data. According to new research by Forbes Insight, a whopping 64% of marketing executives surveyed believe that data-driven marketing is crucial to their success.
However, belief is one thing, execution is another. The report also finds that 72% of those respondents are still focused on knowledge gathering rather than making actionable use of their data, demonstrating that while marketing executives recognize the importance of data, they’re still not sure how to use it.
What’s Stalling Data-Driven Marketing?
A similar study (2015 State of Data-Driven Marketing Survey Report) conducted by Marketing ID reveals that 33% of the b2b marketers they surveyed intend to invest in predictive analytics over the next 12 months, but also confess anxiety with regard to executing on that investment.
According to the study, the c-suite’s expectation is that data will drive leads (55% of those surveyed). Yet, in the face of this daunting expectation, marketing execs cite a lack of time and lack of internal processes (both 53%) as stumbling blocks to running a fully data-driven organization.
Both studies seem to agree that the ability to make use of data may be hindered by the growing complexity of the marketing tech stack. The Marketing ID study demonstrates that 51% of marketers are hindered by the fact that they lack multi-platform integration while the Forbes study depicts 54% of marketers focusing on complex technical situations before beginning to execute data-driven campaigns.
Kick-Starting Data-Driven Marketing
Larger companies have the ability to hire smart talent to smooth the data flow. As the lines between the CMO and the CTO blur, marketing increasingly requires the tech wizards, data scientists and code jockeys that would have been strangers to the marketing department just a few years ago. The Forbes study reveals that 53% of marketing and IT departments are already collaborating while 47% are poised to bring such talent into the marketing department itself.
But for those companies (and departments) running lean, it comes down to choosing your partners wisely. Programmatic ad providers can use third party or proprietary data to help you target by device, by demographic and firmographic data, or geo-location, etc. ABM providers can help you focus on specific accounts most likely to be interested in your products; the best of them are able use intent data to isolate the prospects who are actively researching topics, allowing you to nurture them with highly customized content before you even know who they are.
According to the Forbes research, a mere 14% of marketers they surveyed feel they’re fully executing on their data-driven marketing initiatives. But since the majority of marketers already aspire to such excellence and actively plan to increase investment, it’s likely we’ll see that number increase by the end of next year.