Marketers Struggle with Big Data, Survey Reveals

Nearly half of marketing executives recently surveyed are unable to use big data to understand consumers.

According to the survey, conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and released today by digital marketing solutions provider Lyris, 45 percent of marketing executives fail to use big data to understand consumers.

Key survey findings demonstrated that 50 percent of marketing executives have inadequate budgets for digital marketing/database management, and despite the advantages of using data to influence conversions, only 24 percent always use data for actionable insight. Forty-five percent of executives also view marketers' limited competency in data analysis as a major obstacle to implementing more effective strategies, according to the study.

These findings are troubling, Lyris CMO Alex Lustberg says. "The amount of customer interactive data is growing in petabytes ever year, and is not something one organization could possibly organize in its entirety.... What marketers can do is begin to identify the most meaningful data signals that influence conversion, and use those insights to take action in real time," he explains. "It's critical that marketers not be paralyzed by data, but instead, identify the signals that inform the action they can take."

The survey also revealed that marketers tend to underestimate the value of email. Though consumers ranked email as the most important channel for both prepurchase decisions and post-purchase, marketing budgets are still disproportionately focused on company Web sites.

Among the most surprising findings, analysts agree, is that personalization is largely ineffective. Seventy percent of consumers call personalization "superficial," and 63 percent believe that personalization is now so common that they have grown numb to it. Thirty-three percent of consumers even say that superficial personalization is one of their top annoyances.

"The most surprising finding is that marketers have not responded more decisively to consumer dislike of superficial personalization," says Janie Hulse, an editor with The EIU. "Consumers say they appreciate email offers that are customized to their particular needs based on previous purchases, yet the transition to more sophisticated customization has been relatively slow and the majority of marketers continue to stress simple personalization."

"To create meaningful interactions, marketers must look at email, Web, social, and other behavior to 'personalize' offers. This insight is foundational to the creation of customer journey maps that deliver value at every stage of the buying cycle," Lustberg adds.

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