Are Snake Oil Vendors Responsible For Digital Marketers' Data Disconnect?

If you have seen the eConsultancy report in to data in Marketing Week today, you'll see it's a pretty damning indictment of digital marketers and data.

As ever, with any report, you can go blind from statistics being thrown at you as you take in its findings. The stand-out results  are that only 7% of marketers think they are well set up to get insights from data, while more than half described their capabilities as "nonexistent" or at the "beginner" stage. The outcome is that brands are having a difficult time understanding the customer journey, particularly when it comes to cross-channel, even more so when cross-channel involves offline and online, as it nearly always does. The researchers report back that this disconnect is forcing marketers to swap voucher codes for data, effectively offering discounts for someone's identity so the disparate elements of their customer journey can be stitched together.

This has led to quite a stir because it has been followed up on by tech vendors pointing out that, of course, all marketers need are the right tools. And when they say the "right" tools, you can be confident in saying what they mean is that you need "their" tools.

This is a common issue that I hear so much among marketing executives. They know they need to be doing something with their data, and they know they need to draw cross-channel insight from it. Nothing in what they are being told by the marketing press is new. The trouble is that there are so many tech vendors out there. All seem to have a slightly different USP, but many share the same issue of using bullshit telesales guys to get appointments. I'm not kidding you. Everyone you will ever talk to in digital marketing will reveal the same annoyance at having to screen the kid in their first work suit who hasn't got a clue what they're selling and instead assumes a very patronising tone of telling a middle-aged CMO all about this thing Millennials call "digital marketing."

Not only is this causing resentment and inaction among digital marketers because they don't know whom to trust, but I predict that it's also opening up a path for consultants to grab the ear of a CMO or CIO -- perhaps both. Where there is doubt, brands will often pay a team of guys who can give advice on what tools out there will suit them best. It's also a great way of putting the decision on someone else so it's their fault if it doesn't work out and you've got the perfect reason never to pick up the phone to an "unknown" or "withheld" number ever again. 

So it's not necessarily digital marketers' fault that there are gaps in what they know they need to be doing and where they are currently at. Ironically, it might just be attributed to some confusing -- but very loud -- vendors making a decision very difficult. As this continues, just sit back and watch the rise and the rise of consultants in digital marketing in the next couple of years ahead. A gap is being created between what digital marketers know they should be doing with data and actually doing it -- I rather think this is the perfect space for consultants to speed up their push in to marketing and advertising.

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