Big Data: A Long Way from Plug-and-Play


One of the key markets for all the new big data analytics providers is marketers themselves, a group that should be a natural for turning deep customer insight into increased revenue. But are they ready? Well, according to a study by Columbia Business School and the New York American Marketing Association, although nearly all (91 percent) of marketers value and want to make data driven decisions, 29 percent report that their marketing departments have "too little or no customer/consumer data." Thirty nine percent of the marketers surveyed said their data is collected too infrequently and "not real-time enough." Two in five marketers admit that they cannot turn their data into actionable insight and about an equal number (36%) report that they have "lots of customer data," but "don't know what to do with it."

Researchers found that despite widespread adoption of digital marketing tools like mobile ads and social media, they are less likely to be measured for ROI. Eighty five percent of marketers are using brand accounts across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Foursquare but 14 percent of the social networking users are tying them to financial metrics. Fifty-one percent of marketers said they use mobile ads (in-app, or SMS) but only 17 percent of those using mobile ads are tying them to financial metrics. Forty one percent of email marketers measure their results with financial metrics. Overall, 60 percent of companies report that comparing the effectiveness of marketing across their different digital media is "a major challenge."

Forty two percent of marketers report that they are not able to link data at the level of an individual customer and 45 percent are not using data to personalize their marketing communications. Twenty-eight percent said they do not know which high-value customers to focus their marketing on.

Marketing success in the advent of Big Data means mapping marketing metrics to objectives aligned with corporate strategy, collecting and sharing data at the individual customer level throughout the organization, targeting and personalizing marketing efforts and measuring ROI across touch points. But marketing success in Big Data also depends on having the data in the first place. We're not all there yet, which is why the excitement around Big Data needs to be grounded in the mundane reality of where most marketers are today.

-- Nancy Ciliberti

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