What Are the Top Goals & Challenges of Data-Driven Marketing?

How today's organizations are faring with using data to build customer connections

By eleventy marketing group

70% of companies say “personalizing the customer experience” is their top data-driven marketing goal.

We’ve reached a point where using data as a key driver of marketing is no longer new or novel; it’s essential.

Companies like Amazon, Facebook and Netflix have raised the bar on how data can be used to create more personalized experiences. As a result, individuals have come to expect that level of marketing personalization across the board—whether B2C, B2B, or nonprofit-to-donor.

But are today’s organizations meeting this expectation?

The Data-Driven Marketing Survey Report from Ascend2 reveals insights on how companies are using data-driven marketing from a survey of 229 professionals. These respondents represent companies small and large, with roles ranging from owners and directors, VPs and directors, managers and non-mangers.

Their survey responses provide a glimpse at the goals, barriers, and progress of today’s organizations when it comes to data-driven marketing.

7 Key Findings from the Data-Driven Marketing Survey

Here are some notable stats from the Ascend2 survey that caught our attention:

1. 70% of companies say “personalizing the customer experience” is their top data-driven marketing goal.

According to the survey results, customer personalization is far and away the top reason companies are looking to use data to fuel their marketing.

Despite the smaller goals companies may have like “growing the database” or “integrating data across platforms”, the ultimate goal of data-driven marketing is to create more direct and meaningful connections with individual customers.

It should also be noted that “personalizing the customer experience” can be seen as a catch-all that incorporates some of the other answers to this survey question. Certainly, the personalization of marketing provided by data plays a role in “acquiring new customers” and “targeting individual market segments”.

Most important goals of data-driven marketing strategy

2. 95% of companies believe that the effectiveness of data-driven marketing personalization is increasing to some degree.

This is a big number. And it shows just where we are with data-driven marketing. Companies are gaining confidence using data to personalize their marketing efforts—and seeing increasingly positive results.

54% of companies say the effectiveness of data-driven marketing personalization is increasing marginally, while 41% of companies say it’s increasing significantly. A meager 4% of companies believe data-driven effectiveness is decreasing marginally, while only 1% of companies believe it’s decreasing significantly.

Guaging the effectiveness of data-driven marketing personalization

3. 47% of companies say “email personalization” is the most effective data-driven marketing tactic.

For many companies, email remains the go-to tool for applying data-driven marketing personalization. It’s easier for companies to wrap their brains around how data personalization will work with email (and gauge its effectiveness) than it is with other digital marketing efforts.

Creating targeted landing pages and segmenting contacting data come in next on the effectiveness list with 43% and 38%. As marketers are more comfortable with these efforts and confident in their execution, they are more likely to be handled in-house versus outsourced (as shown in #7 below).

Most effective data-driven marketing personalization tactics

4. 50% of companies say integrating data across platforms is the most significant barrier to achieving data-driven marketing success.

Ensuring the quality of data, using it correctly, and accurately gauging the results remain top challenges for companies when it comes to data-driven marketing.

While “integrating data across platforms” was the most commonly noted barrier to data-driven marketing success, close behind (49%) is “enriching data quality and completeness”—something many companies continue to struggle with.

Companies noted that the third-greatest barrier is “measuring data-driven marketing ROI”. With data-driven marketing being a newer tactic, companies are still figuring out how to get the best return from their investment.

Somewhat surprisingly “acquiring new customers” came up fairly low in the survey (31%), indicating this just may not be a top data-driven marketing priority for companies at this point in time.

Most significant barriers to achieving data-driven marketing success

5. 50% of companies say “lead intelligence collection” is the most difficult data-driven marketing personalization tactics to execute.

Following closely behind is “web content personalization” with 48% of companies noting it as one of the most difficult data-driven tactics.

According to the survey results, companies have an easier time using data-driven marketing personalization for efforts like email campaigns and landing pages than they do for things like learning more about leads, segmenting contact data, and personalizing web content.

Most difficult data-driven marketing personalization tactics

6. 81% of companies believe their data-driven marketing strategy is more successful than their competitors.

This is a surprising show of confidence for an area that most companies still seem to be feeling their way around and developing best practices.

But it’s entirely possible organizations that have successfully adopted and executed data-driven marketing efforts simply see themselves as ahead of the curve when compared with others in their industry.

Success of data-driven marketing strategy

7. 85% of companies use at least some outsource resources to execute data-driven marketing personalization tactics.

When it comes to collecting and analyzing data, and putting it to work, the truth is it’s tough to go it alone. It takes a lot of time, work and expertise. And most companies don’t have all those things available in-house.

That’s why 29% of companies say they outsource ALL of their data-driven marketing personalization efforts, and 56% use a combination of in-house and outsourced resources.

The Ascend2 survey also found the greater the degree difficulty involved in a data-driven effort, the more likely a company is to outsource it.

So efforts like email message personalization and creating targeted landing pages are more likely to be done in-house, while efforts like lead intelligence collection and web content personalization are more likely to be outsourced.

Most companies outsource at least some of their data-driven marketing personalization

Check out the full Data-Driven Marketing Personalization Survey Summary Report from Ascend2 here.