Data-Driven Marketing Is Here, But Finding Talent And Pooling Data Remain As Hurdles

Marketing is embracing its data-driven future, says Forrester, and its people are learning that new skills and partners are “essential to success.”

That’s how Jim Nail, principal analyst at Forrester, framed a report commissioned by DataXu.

Forrester interviewed 13 marketers and agencies in North America and EMEA from February 18-April 4, 2014. Each interview was one hour long, and the topics included the changing role of marketing and consumer data, programmatic and the evolution of data.

I listened in on a webinar on Thursday as Nail went over the findings. It was clear from the start that data -- and what to do with data -- was a key topic.

Nail said data-driven marketing is no longer “just talk about ethereal concepts,” and that marketers are “really starting the work that it will take to be able” to run successful data-driven campaigns.

Some roadblocks exist, but Nail said technology is not one of them.

“One thing we heard was that tech is not a problem,” he said. “[It’s] out there.” He noted that the tech is still evolving, which leads to a certain level of disconnect -- particularly when it comes to bringing together data from disparate sources. This is where the report notes that companies can partner with one another to fill the gaps.

Nail added that some agency respondents have said they need to get creative when it comes to finding talent.

“One agency we talked to said they go out and recruit search engine marketers,” Nail said. The agency was drawn to search engine marketers because they are used to bidding and reacting quickly when going after keywords.

Nail concluded that most data-driven marketers are looking for hybrid workers: both analytical and intuitive. That type of hybrid, Nail believes, would have the mindset that companies “can build on for a fully programmatic approach.”

“Unless you really understand the tech and what it’s capable of, you cannot design a campaign today that’s … going to work,” he asserted.

"Big data" image from Shutterstock.

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