Data-driven marketing has been gaining in importance in recent years, but for 2015 in particular; data has taken centre stage as a strategic asset, leaving behind the perception of this function being purely an IT concern forever. Marketers now more than ever understand that data is central to better decision-making, efficiencies and growth.
This view is supported in a recent study from Experian, the Digital Marketer Report - a study of the latest trends in the world of digital marketing, compiled from a survey of more than 1,000 professionals.
The results of this report showed that data quality is playing an integral role in almost all of the barriers and priorities for marketers. This highlights the central role data has in reshaping the way companies do business and the need for better, more efficient data quality.
The simplest and most logical conclusion of the report is that data-driven marketing cannot and will not work if the quality of the data you're relying on is not up to scratch. Ensuring data quality is an essential element in getting your interactions with the consumer right, and there is plenty of evidence both in this analysis and elsewhere to suggest companies are wising up to this immutable fact.
Another source which highlights this is an Experian Data Quality study, Dawn of the CDO. It highlighted the emerging role of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) in enabling change and bringing the importance of data to board-level attention, while revealing that 90 per cent of organisations say data is changing the way they do business.
As such it follows that a data quality strategy needs to function both holistically and for individual departments, with marketing playing an increasingly prominent role in ensuring that strategy is fit for purpose, especially as the amount of information marketers need to process grows dramatically year on year.
Right now, the findings of the Digital Marketer Report tell us that the three biggest barriers to achieving a fully cross-channel marketing approach include; the lack of a single customer view, limitations of current technology and issues with an overly siloed organisational structure. Poor data quality is generally a result of challenges within the people, process and technology within an organisation and it’s not surprising to see all three top challenges all being ones to which data quality is so integral for success.
The report goes on to give further evidence of this. Overall, 89% of respondents reported having challenges creating a complete customer view, with poor data quality being the top reason behind this, cited by 43% of marketers. This underlines the need for a coherent strategy and the right technology infrastructure to manage and clean data the organisation needs to deal with - many of the top barriers to key marketing activities like personalisation, profiling and cross-channel marketing are clearly impacted by the quality of data that an organisation holds.
These findings follow logically; after all, having a single customer view relies on collecting accurate data in order to match customer information as it is captured with the existing data on that individual. Similarly, a lack of appropriate technology can make it hard to reliably collate and verify the necessary details, while a siloed organisational setup can create the risk of communication problems, duplication and human error.
In response to these trends, 49% of senior marketing leaders identified branding as their top challenge - an area in which accurate data can be a major boon, as it makes it easier to correctly target and refine a corporate narrative in response to consumer insight from your data, then make sure it's seen by the right audience.
The other top challenges highlighted include customer acquisition (45%) and profiling (39%) all of which are reliant on having accurate, enriched data linked together in a central location, whether business leaders currently realise this or not. Interestingly the second most important priority of senior marketing leaders after branding was translating a deep knowledge of our customers into relevant interactions (43%), an aspiration which fully relies on good data.
In the past, data quality was viewed by some as a remote concern to those beyond the IT department. However as these results show, it's no longer feasible for modern businesses to think this way, and the marketing department is no exception. When so many key challenges and priorities are reliant on having accurate, enriched data linked together in a central location, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to meet their goals unless they take data seriously. We saw further evidence of this evolution in the latest phase of our CDO research due to launch late September. It’s clear from speaking with CDOs and senior business executives that the role is becoming more widely established to help organisations deal with key data driven priorities such as technology advances, digitalisation and regulation.
The rising importance of data quality is only going to become truer as the business world moves towards being more data-driven than ever before. As such, focusing on data and supporting good data-management practices has become an essential part of marketing success in 2015 and beyond.