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Few businesses can thrive without using their data effectively these days — and in marketing, data is particularly foundational. Despite its importance, that doesn’t mean the process of gathering and using this information is easy or simple (few things ever are) and it’s certainly not fail-proof. There’s always room for human error.

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When collected and analysed effectively, data delivers insights that can help increase marketing ROI and grow brand loyalty. When it’s not, it can produce results that are misleading and costly. Challenges like disparate and siloed measurement methods provide erroneous and misleading results that can do more harm than good, making it impossible to know what’s really happening in the marketplace. 

By the year 2020, an estimated 1.7 MB of data per person will be produced every second. But despite this abundance of data, a Dun & Bradstreet and Forrester survey revealed that only 50 percent of B2B marketing and sales decisions are backed by data. The report found that disparities in data quality and consistency cause decision-makers to doubt and second-guess the accuracy of their customer data, relying instead on their own intuition and gut to make business decisions. In today’s marketing landscape, there’s no justifiable excuse for making decisions that are not data-driven or data-informed.

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It’s become apparent that doubt in data quality is a common marketer’s pain point. Forrester Consulting recently polled over 200 marketing professionals on behalf of Marketing Evolution to evaluate the state of person-level data adoption among marketers — the foundation of real-time, relevant brand experiences — and found that an astounding 65 percent are concerned about the quality of their data.

Yet there is clearly a disconnect. According to the Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2018-19, up from the budget in 2017 — nearly one-third of CMO budgets are now allocated to marketing technology, making martech the single largest area of investment when it comes to marketing resources and programs. This includes technology like digital marketing analytics platforms. Another key finding of Gartner’s recent survey is that with the heightened focus on customer experience and the never-ending battle to gain their attention and loyalty, personalisation has emerged as a strategic marketing capability.

Gartner reports investments in personalisation to be nearly universal, across all industries and business models. But Gartner advises, “marketers investing in personalisation should proceed with caution, however, because spend doesn’t guarantee success. Personalisation requires a deep well of customer data, along with the skills and integrations to leverage that data wisely.”

If organisations don’t trust their data, why are they funneling so much capital into it and prioritising marketing strategies and programs that rely on it? Because marketers understand the need for data to meet the mark. But challenges like disparate and disconnected measurement methods threaten to thwart this by providing analytics that marketers simply can’t trust.

While further exploring the state of person-level data adoption among marketers, Forrester Consulting found that though over 70 percent of respondents have or are expanding customer data capabilities, 71 percent are struggling to connect their tools into a more cohesive approach to measurement and fewer than one-third of organisations are “mature” when it comes to optimising marketing measurement.

And therein lies the disconnect. The majority of marketers are relying on outdated measurement methods that simply will not cut it in a fast-paced, hyper-competitive marketplace where connecting with potential customers at the right time with the right message is mission critical. Marketers are missing out on a holistic measurement approach — which is critical for marketing success — because of failure to leverage the right tools and processes. As analytics increasingly drive the future of campaigns, as industry data forecasts, there needs to be a strong emphasis on ensuring the quality of results yielded — and in doing so, marketers will be able to effectively leverage their data and analytics and more confidently make decisions to find competitive advantage.

To gain this confidence, a handful of challenges must be overcome. Some of the most common obstacles include complexity in collecting, integrating, and managing data, and difficulty implementing a holistic approach across silos.

The solution

Marketing success hinges on an organisation’s access to — and ability to act on — accurate, timely and increasingly granular data. This is because today’s empowered customers expect seamless, relevant, brand experiences in real-time during all interactions. If marketers are unable to deliver on this, they risk losing the sale altogether. There is nothing worse than irrelevant ads at the wrong time — and any customer who’s been bombarded by them can attest to that.

For organisations having trouble implementing a unified measurement approach, what’s the solution? Find the right technology partner to become an extension of your own team — one that understands your data challenges and has experience addressing them. The right partner can help build trust within your marketing teams by boosting the integrity of data analytics and allowing marketers to optimise campaigns in real-time.

In a society with technology that is continually advancing, data is a marketer’s present and future — and it is only going to become increasingly vital for an organisation’s success.There will always be quicker and inefficient ways to analyse it, especially with the influx of data as more organisations and industries go through digital transformation. But only when collected and measured accurately and effectively, will data deliver marketers increased ROI, leaving the competition far behind in the race for customers and brand loyalty.

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