Marketing Data’s Status and How Brands Can Get Where They Want to Go With It
If you ask consumers on the street what they think of marketing data, the ones who understand the question will often react with alarm that organizations even have their data at all. They’ll cite “creepy” ads following them around the Internet. Some will even mention “Big Brother.” Which brings us straight to the biggest problems our research found marketers have with data: accessing it across channels and identifying customers.
While retargeting shortcomings are only a small part of the overall state of marketers’ data, they illustrate the bigger picture — marketers have a lot of customer data and, for the most part, they’re doing a pretty good job of using it for marketing purposes. But they’re not perfect, and the issues they still have with marketing data are obvious to even the most casual observer. Hence, the retargeting gripe that’s often, “I already bought that.”
Because consumers are concerned about what they see and think it means marketers have too much access to their personal data, that consumer fear means there’s a growing wave of data privacy legislation. Basically, the more charitable consumers think marketers shouldn’t have their data if they don’t know what they’re doing with it.
What Priority Does Data Have in the Marketing Mix at Organizations?
But data rules for many marketers. In the Winterberry Group’s most recent report on the state of data, released in December 2018, the group partnered with IAB to find that organizations increased investment in third-party audience data by 17.5%, year-over-year, for a total of $19 billion in spending.
“For the first time in history, marketers will conclude this year having invested more in digital data assets — typically derived from observation of consumers’ anonymous website visitation behavior — than in traditional ‘terrestrial’ data (typically used to support direct mail and other offline communications). Third‐party digital data will account for [$3.67 billion] in marketer spending in 2018, compared to the [$3.62 billion] invested in terrestrial/PII assets.”
So studies show marketers value data a great deal, but need to do more work with it once they get it in order to make customers happy.
How Together Are Marketers When It Comes to Data?
The marketers’ reality is they probably don’t recognize consumers who already bought shoes on the brand site and who shouldn’t be seeing the ads in their social feeds — or anywhere else now.
In the research the Winterberry Group released on March 18, “Deconstructing Customer Data Platforms: Myth vs. Reality,” the company found:
“According to Forbes Insights, only 13% of organizations claim a high degree of confidence that they are making the most of their available customer data. And, capturing data is certainly not the problem. Consumers generate massive volumes of data that companies capture as they engage across websites and apps, via email, phone, and in-person, using different devices and applications. But, few companies capture, integrate, and activate the data effectively, frustrating customers through poor customer experiences, and leaving money on the table through ineffective engagements.”
That’s what we found, too, in “Omnichannel Marketing: The Key to Unlocking a Powerful Customer Experience.” We learned marketers who were having trouble accessing customer data across channels (the No. 3 omnichannel marketing challenge) and recognizing customers on different channels or devices (No. 4 problem) were also having trouble convincing their organizations to give them enough money to solve the issue (the No. 1 concern). Still, 60 percent of them were spending that budget on their No. 1 priority for improving the omnichannel customer experience: customer data.
Similar to our findings, eMarketer reports on March 5:
“In a survey of U.S. marketers by Blueshift and TechValidate, 54% of respondents said one of the main roadblocks preventing them from making better use of customer data was insufficient data analysis capabilities. And an Adestra and Ascend2 poll of U.S. marketers showed that 43% of respondents outsource their data management.”
(Did we mention finding qualified personnel to improve customer experience via marketing data was the No. 2 problem we found in improving omnichannel marketing?
So now, marketers are trying to harness customer data for a seamless omnichannel experience that would make consumers understand why marketers need their data; or, better yet, ensure customers don’t even have to think about that their data being used. To that end, marketers are buying more and more technology. The most popular martech — by far — during our two-year view of marketer investment in the tools was social media marketing software.
How Do Marketers Get to Where They Want to Be With Data?
Yet many marketers are still using disparate tools and tactics for the problem of integrating marketing data into solutions and practices that create seamless customer experiences — let alone “delightful” ones that increase sales.
If marketers are using clunky dashboards, CRM systems that don’t integrate with other solutions or some other martech hodgepodge, they’re behind the times. And if they’re buying solutions like customer data platforms and don’t know what they’re doing with them, it’s not much better.
Winterberry Group’s research released on March 18 says CDPs are all the rage, because they’re seen as solutions to all marketing data woes — but they’re not that on their own.
“Customer data platforms have emerged as a solution for the ever-growing speed, volume, variety, and governance requirements of customer data,” says Michael Harrison, managing director at Winterberry Group. “Unfortunately, the market is rife with confusion and misconceptions about CDPs’ capabilities.”
Because even vendors are contributing to the confusion about CDPs, the Winterberry Group says the platforms must have these characteristics:
- Ingest and integrate customer data from multiple sources
- Offer customer profile management
- Support “real-time” customer segmentation
- Make customer data accessible to other systems
Winterberry notes that it’s important for marketers to consider that CDPs can merge with existing systems. The main difference is CDPs can handle much larger volumes of data much faster than legacy systems.
What Opportunities Do Marketers See With Data?
While CDPs provide marketers with the promise that they can deliver better and faster on their previous customer-focused promises of personalization, relevancy, single view of the customer across channels, accurate customer identities, and more, we agree with Target Marketing blogger Stephen H. Yu’s belief that the martech is only ever as good as the marketer. Tools are useful, but marketers must tell them what to do.
That said, a major opportunity with marketing data this year is detailed in Winterberry’s CDP report:
“Build consumer trust. When consumers want to know what a brand knows about them, or exercises their right to be forgotten, a CDP can give confidence to the brand that they are delivering on their consumer preferences.”
While this is a requirement with the E.U.’s GDPR, it’s not yet one across the U.S.
In addition, marketers can assess whether the marketing data they’re gathering is accomplishing what they want it to do. What are the business goals? What data will address those goals? Collect that.
Step 1: Revisiting Personas
“Have your buyer personas changed in the past year? Have their needs shifted? Are they facing new challenges? Do they have different goals?”
Step 2: Data Analysis
“How did your digital ads actually perform? What was your trade show ROI? How much traffic did the content on your website drive?
“Then, go back to your buyer personas. With their present challenges and opportunities fresh in your mind, think about which channels are best helping you connect with them.”
Step 3: Document Your Objectives
“I think of objectives as the essential building blocks that, once met, add up to a successfully achieved goal. For example, if my goal is to increase brand awareness, a good objective might be to attain 1,000 net-new social media followers by a specific date.”
Step 4: Marketing Planning by Channel
“Mapping campaigns by channel across an entire year allows you to recognize patterns and synergies you might not have seen otherwise. It also helps to ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page about what’s happening when, shifting more of your time from reactive, surprise deadline work to proactive, strategic work.”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
Related story: Your 2019 Marketing Planning Guide