Marketers Lag Behind In Data Collection

This may be the era of big data, but many marketers are still not getting as much out of it as they could, primarily because they don’t know what to look for. 

According to a survey of more than 250 senior corporate marketing executives conducted by Columbia Business School’s Center on Global Brand Leadership and the American Marketing Association, 29% of marketing departments have “too little or no customer/consumer data,” and even among those collecting the data, 39% said it’s not being collected fast enough to make real-time decisions. The findings were presented at Columbia’s annual BRITE Conference this week.

“We’ve seen an increase in the amount of data, but we are not yet using it effectively,” David Rogers, executive director of BRITE, Center on Global Brand Leadership, tells Marketing Daily. “We are not yet using it to make smart marketing decisions.”

When it comes to collecting data from new technologies, marketers are also lacking, according to the study. Only 19% of marketers are collecting customer mobile device data, while 35% collect social media data. (Comparatively, 74% of marketers collect demographic data and 60% collect usage data.) 

At the same time, marketers are quick to jump on the latest technologies, although they aren’t really sure how to gauge the impact. More than half (51%) of marketers are using mobile ads and 85% are using social network accounts (including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Foursquare). However, only 14% are tying their social accounts to financial metrics and 17% are doing the same with mobile ads. (Comparatively, 41% of marketers connect email campaigns to financial metrics.) 

The biggest problem continues to be an ability to communicate the data across different departments within organizations, Rogers says. Even there, many are having a difficult time determining exactly what constitutes “ROI.” According to the survey, 31% of the respondents said they believe measuring audience reach constitutes ROI. A majority of respondents (57%), meanwhile, are not basing their marketing budgets on ROI analysis and 28% are relying on gut instincts. Only 21% are tying their marketing budget to financial metrics, despite 70% saying their marketing efforts are under greater scrutiny than in the past.

“We have a lot of new digital tools that consumers are adopting and are being rapidly being adopted by companies as well,” Rogers says. “They’re leaving a digital footprint everywhere. They’re not electing that data as well as they could.”

For top marketers, it seems the conclusions are the same as they have been for years, Rogers says: determine objectives first, design metrics linked to those objectives, gather the correct data for those objectives; clearly communicate those objectives throughout the organization, and reward based upon how those objectives are achieved.

“For the whole big data story, there’s excitement but people aren’t really [applying] it yet,” Rogers says. “It has to start at the top and you have to set clear objectives and you have to design your metrics that are going to be linked to those.”

Full details of the study can be found here.

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