Exponential growth of customer data, and the difficulties most marketers have in keeping up with that growth, are creating a situation where marketers are “data-rich and insight-poor.” Findings of a new survey from Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Yesmail Interactive indicate that during 2013, marketers plan to increase spending and hiring to help keep pace with the explosion of customer data and turn it into actionable insight.
Almost seven in 10 (68%) of the 701 marketers attending the DMA2012 and Forrester Research conferences in October 2012 who were surveyed said they will increase data-related marketing expenditures either slightly (20%) or greatly (48%) in 2013. Another 23 percent plan to keep those expenditures level, meaning fewer than one in 10 marketers expect to decrease data-related spending this year.
Data Focus for 2013
Delving beyond simple spending, the survey also found that only 12% of marketers have no plans to improve customer data methods this year. Methods that will be popularly marked for improvement in 2013 include data analysis (38%), data cleaning (31%), data collection (28%) and data application (25%).
The study traces the “explosion” in customer data that has occurred in recent years directly to the boom in marketers’ use of digital channels. Forty-nine percent of respondents said web analytics is the best channel for generating customer data, while 19 percent cited email and 12 percent mentioned social media.
This means about 8 in 10 marketers use a digital channel as their primary means of generating customer data.
However, that data is not necessarily “clean.” While Infogroup and Yesmail say monthly data cleansing is the minimal frequency required, less than half of respondents cleanse customer data either monthly (23%) or weekly (24%). One-quarter (26%) can’t remember the last time they cleaned their customer data and 27 percent only cleanse it quarterly (17%) or annually (10%).
The survey indicates this shows a trend of “data hoarding,” with outdated and inaccurate data lowering the effectiveness of marketing efforts.
In one positive sign, more than half of respondents (56%) plan to hire new resources to handle or oversee data collection and/or analysis this year. Popular roles include data analyst/strategist (20%), data developer/programmer (11%), data manager and data collector (7% each), data engineer/architect (6%) and executive (5%). Survey authors advise that data analysts are the most crucial hires in this area and that only 14 percent of marketers feel they have effectively integrated data analytics across channels.
6 in 10 Marketers Apply Customization Regularly
A combined 61% of marketers use data insights such as demographics to customize messaging always (15%) or often (46%). Another 31 percent customize messaging rarely; meaning only 8 percent never customize their messaging based on data insights. And 78 percent of marketers plan to further integrate (42%) or start integrating (36%) social media data into these efforts.
Focus on Real-time Data Increases
Slightly more than half (53%) of marketers plan to make greater use of real-time data in their campaigns this year, while 11 percent plan to use it for the first time and 19% will consider using it. Survey authors expect much more focus on real-time data as a marketing tool this year with many more trials and experiments.
A Look Ahead
Survey authors predict that in 2013 there will be a “major shift toward multichannel data analysis and application, combining individual customer data across all touchpoints to build more complete consumer profiles.” Early adopters have already started undergoing this shift, and a majority of marketers will make at least some effort to follow them this year. The results are predicted to include “better targetings, more efficient campaigns and ultimately better customer retention and higher revenue.”