Disheveled Data: The Biggest Management Problems For Agencies, Clients

Question for email marketers: Is your brand’s ad agency up to the challenge of integrating data so that you can use it?  

Some aren’t, and your firm may not be great at it, either, judging by The Agency Marketer’s Perspective On Data Unification & Management, a study conducted by Ascend2 in partnership with SharpSpring Inc.  

Assuming you have a seat at the table, here’s what you need to know about data management in the digital economy.  

Of those polled, only 39% of agencies or their typical clients are best in class, and 58% are somewhat successful. The remaining few are failing. 

The main challenges to implementing a data unification/management strategy include:

  • Maintaining data quality—40%
  • Cross department cooperation—36%
  • Making unified data actionable—24%
  • Finding appropriate data management solution—24%
  • Standardizing existing data—23%
  • Prioritizing data unification above other projects—23% 
  • Allocating resources to manage project—21%
  • Identifying data sources—20%
  • Storing and managing data—19%
  • Proving ROI—18%
  • Executive buy-in—17%



The essential elements needed to implement a strategy are in slightly different order: 

  • Maintaining data quality—36%
  • Making unified data actionable—30%
  • Identifying data sources—26%
  • Cross-department cooperation—26% 
  • Proving ROI—24%
  • Prioritizing data unification above other projects—22%
  • Standardizing existing data—21%
  • Storing and managing data—19%
  • Allocating resources to manage project—19%
  • Executive buy-in—16% 

It’s not child’s play: 75% feel it is complicated to build a data management strategy, 22% extremely so. And 25% claim it’s uncomplicated, 5% extremely and 20% somewhat. 

Despite all that, 60% say their effectiveness has increased moderately over the last 12 months, and 27% significantly.  

Another 13% say it has decreased, only 2% greatly so. 

What do agencies and clients need in a data management solution? They want: 

  • Usability/ease of use—44%
  • Integration with existing technology—42%
  • Data visualization and reporting—40%
  • Data privacy management—37%
  • Data security management—34%
  • Overall cost to manage—52%
  • Data hygiene—24% 
  • Data source connectivity—21%

Ascend2 and SharpSpring surveyed 139 marketing professionals who provide agency services. Of that sample, 38% cited B2B as their primary marketing/sales channel, 45% B2C and 17% B2B and B2C equally. In addition, 24% work at companies with more than 500 employees, 29% at firms with 50 to 500 and 47% at those with fewer than 50. 


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