Marketers failing to ‘deal intelligently’ with data

Marketers are failing to make use of all the data available to them and turn it into actionable insights, according to new research.


There might not be a shortage of data, but marketers are still struggling to “deal intelligently” with all the information at their disposal.

A new study from IBM carried out by Econsultancy found that just 3% of marketers would label their ability to act on insights derived from customer data as ‘excellent’, with more than half (54%) labelling it either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

And the issue seems to be moving to a multichannel mindset. Some 59% of those questioned said siloed organisational structures are the key sticking point, while a third (32%) said the competition between channels is “actively blocking their view of the customer journey”.

Just 7% said they have an ‘advanced’ understanding of the customer journey across channels, with 36% calling their understanding ‘intermediate’ and 57% saying it is either ‘beginner’ or ‘non-existent’.

Marketers’ methodologies are still forcing everything through the same outdated, siloed processes.

Even among those marketers that think their companies are ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’ at using data, just 5% think they are fully integrated across channels, with 39% saying they have little integration. A further 42% say they are integrated but admit to still being channel focused.

“There can be no doubt that marketers are keen to embrace new platforms and technologies to help them drive growth. Sadly, it would appear that there is still a gap between those goals and the methods they have at their disposal to achieve them,” says the report.

“The challenge is that while new technologies and the data that underpins them have the potential to create a truly omnichannel customer experience, marketers’ methodologies are still forcing everything through the same outdated, siloed processes.”

The data shows brands are still struggling to link the offline and online worlds. And to do so they are having to rely on tactics that have been around “for some time” such as tracking coupons. What that shows, says the report, is that marketers are still making a financial trade-off to get hold of data as codes tend to involve discounting.

“It’s a perennial problem for marketers to make sure that such discounts are only used by new customers. Otherwise customers are effectively paying to retain customers and, worse still, paying to gather data they more than likely already possess,” explains the report.

The report suggests that there is an opportunity to create customer journey leadership. At the moment that responsibility tends to fall under a range of different people, with 42% of ‘advanced’ companies saying a mixture of different departments ‘own’ the customer journey and 12% citing the whole organisation. Some 8% say no one has responsibility.

Instead, it recommends appointing someone with a strategic agenda to implement this who reports straight into the CEO. Yet it admits that this “simply isn’t an option today for the vast majority of organisations”.

The study was carried out among 1,000 brand side marketers. Econsultancy is one of Marketing Week’s sister publications. To see the full report, head here.