Marketing is changing. Technology has revitalised the industry and with that has come a transformation in how marketing is integrated into business development, and measured. Today, more than ever, this emerging role for marketing is going to be challenged. The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped cultures and economies and this has led to an increase in digitisation. Traditional methods and channels for identifying and reaching customers have given way to new, data-driven tactics and digital practises. Is this marketing’s time to shine?

In our survey of 155 UK decision makers, we found that 90% of respondents claimed that leadership has shifted their company’s priorities to focus on marketing-led growth. The key to this is data, with 78% of marketers describing their customer engagement as data-driven. As organisations look to navigate the uncertainties that lie ahead, a marketing team that can deliver more relevance and personalisation to engagement, while also justify its decision-making, will stand tall.

However, transformations are still on-going and challenges remain. Meeting these challenges will determine the future success, not just of marketing departments but businesses as a whole. In order to better understand this shifting landscape and the implications for how marketers integrate and analyse their data, we conducted a survey in collaboration with teknowlogy. Here we outline five key takeaways.

“70% of marketers already rely on data in their decision-making”


1. Marketers understand the need to use data to make informed decisions

A data culture is essential to unlock the true potential of data analytics, so it is encouraging that there is a widespread willingness to adopt tools across organisations. 62% of respondents say they have made “excellent” progress with investments in marketing analytics platforms and technology, while 56% state that they have also made excellent progress in tracking their ROI across each marketing investment.

A key element of this is the ability to make more informed decisions and we found that 70% already rely on data in their decision-making, with 44% stating that they use it “as much as possible” and 26% stating that they use it “almost always.” Only 1% state that they never take data into account when making decisions. Clearly the majority of marketers are moving in the right direction, towards a more data-driven decision-making culture.

“The number one challenge most respondents cite is the lack of ability to share and collaborate on data analysis across key stakeholders”


2. Acknowledging data analytics weaknesses will provide focus

Transformation is a marathon not a sprint, so it’s important that marketing teams know their weak spots, to help focus future investment. What we have found, unsurprisingly, is that marketing data projects are works-in-progress. Only 37% of respondents rate their current data capabilities as “excellent.” The number one challenge most respondents cite is the lack of ability to share and collaborate on data analysis across key stakeholders (45%). This goes hand in hand with the challenge of creating effective data visualisation (35%) and a lack of speed in report generation due to manual processes (32%).

In general, a majority of marketers see an opportunity to improve how they leverage data – only 51% claim to have “excellent” abilities to leverage data for campaign planning and forecasting, despite its status as the most developed marketing data capability. This dips to less than half (45%) when asked how their company has managed to leverage data properly to increase sales and revenue.


3. Data marketing tools and methods remain fragmented

The level of data-driven marketing maturity within organisations varies considerably. While an element of this will come down to the size of the business and their technical starting point, our survey results show that companies pursue different approaches for optimising marketing performance.

At the top end, 38% say they already have a business intelligence (BI) or marketing intelligence (MI) platform in use that facilitates the collection and processing of large amounts of data from internal and external systems, including different channels. At the other end of the scale, we found that 28% of respondents are using spreadsheet applications, such as Excel, for the calculation of marketing-relevant business metrics and the visualisation of results.

A lack of cross-channel oversight also reflects the fragmented nature of data marketing projects, with specific tools purchased for specific channels, leading to data silos. This means data is in isolation and becomes difficult to share leading to decisions being made based on incomplete data.

“The most cited barrier to driving growth is data mismanagement at 56%”


4. Marketers need to overcome data barriers to grow

What are the common barriers to marketing growth within an organisation? The most cited barrier to driving growth is data mismanagement (56%), followed by a lack of a unified view of performance (51%). For marketing teams to grow, more time needs to be spent on data cleansing and data preparation, as well as removing silos to help unify data from multiple sources.

As our survey reveals, the implications of data mismanagement are felt deep and wide across an organisation, as it leads to a lack of real-time insights, misalignment on measurement and reporting and importantly, a lack of understanding of customers. If the data is not right, it affects the whole chain of command.

5. Optimising marketing spend is a key goal

Given the breadth of channels and the increasing demands for results, it’s difficult for teams to prioritise, but we found that optimising marketing spend and a better understanding of customers are top goals. Over half of respondents (51%) want to optimise their marketing spend and the same number are focused on achieving a better understanding of their customers over the next year.

But as we have seen above, there is a slight disconnect here, as data mismanagement has undermined progress. It’s therefore encouraging that nearly half (46%) of the respondents plan to make their data management and data preparation more efficient, and 43% hope to use real-time data to fuel their decision-making ability. With 48% planning to drive revenue growth and campaign KPI performance, at least the intentions are well meaning.


Hearts and minds: teams need unity to deliver growth

Where there is a will there is a way. Clearly marketing departments understand the value of data and want to pursue data-driven decision making. However, not all marketers are joining all the dots. There are multiple challenges that need addressing.

Prioritising real-time availability and analysis of data and sharing this across organisations will be crucial, as will the ability to integrate, manage, and analyse data from multiple data sources. If marketers are serious about understanding customers better, they will need to get all their data ducks in a row.

Marketers need a broad focus and not a channel-specific approach to campaigns. As the past year has illustrated, channels are changing as customers evolve quickly into new habits and ways of living and working. That demands agility and organisations can only be agile and grow, through unified data intelligence. That is the challenge. 

Download the Marketing Intelligence Insights for the UK report now to dive deeper into these findings and see how you can apply them to your own organisation.