Marketers bamboozled by Big Data – study

13th Jun 2013

Big Data brings a wealth of opportunities for businesses but new research has revealed marketers lack the skills to extract information and fail to understand customer needs as a result.

According to the data from Lyris and The Economist Intelligence Unit, which surveyed  409 consumers and 257 marketing executives, 45% of marketers said they lack the capacity for analysing Big Data with half claiming they have inadequate budgets for database management.

And for those that do, the survey showed that only 24% use data for actionable insight and just 27% said they always integrate customer data from different sources into a centralised customer database.

As a result, this lack of insight means that marketers are detached from how customers actually want to engage with brands. While consumers ranked email as the most important channel for both pre-purchase decision and post-purchase (37% and 52% respectively), marketing budgets remain heavily skewed towards company websites.

Additionally, consumers identified social media and mobile marketing as having the least influence on the purchasing lifecycle, yet marketing executives ranked social media (likes/RTs) as a top three key performance indicator.

Interestingly, the findings also showed that marketers also can’t win by providing personalised content. The majority of consumers surveyed said that personalization is now so common they’ve grown numb to such marketing messages whilst a third cited superficial personalization as “annoying”. But despite this, using customers’ user profile to create personalised message remains th second most popular marketing strategy, according to the survey of marketing executives.

The survey also showed a disparity in how marketers and consumers view privacy concerns. According to the figures, 49% of consumers said they are concerned about the threat of privacy online but just 23% of marketers believe this is a top concern of their customers.  

Janie Hulse, editor of The Economist Intelligence Unit, said: “Bridging the gap between marketers and consumers requires marketing professionals to gain a more nuanced understanding of data analytics, which would allow for more and better customisation—something customers say makes them feel valued.

Alex Lustberg, CMO of Lyris, added: “We have entered a new era of digital marketing that requires a smarter and more agile approach to engaging with and influencing today’s consumer. Yet The EIU report, sponsored by Lyris, found several important gaps between what marketers think their customers value, and what they really care about. By combining these insights with data-driven best practices, marketing executives will be able to eliminate these gaps and positively impact every stage of the purchasing journey.”

Kieran Kilmartin recently wrote that right now, CMOs often use bits and pieces of Big Data to just do more of the same, more often and more aggressively. But it can do more.

"Now, there’s a distinct difference between just acting on data and actually being good at acting on data. In the years ahead, that’s what will make a company’s marketing programme succeed or fail," he said.

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