Marketing automation success: Why it's all about the data

New report into marketers using marketing automation platforms shows that data management and hygiene is the biggest hurdle to realising return on investment

Poor data management, quality and access are hindering marketers from realising significant returns on investments into marketing automation platforms, a new report claims.

The inaugural 2016 MarTech Data Report, based on a survey of 400 US marketers and sales executives conducted by data automation vendor, Openprise, illustrates both the importance of data management for advanced marketing success, as well as the significant gap still apparent in how data is being utilised.

For example, the report found data hygiene issues, such as data scrubbing and de-deduplication, were a major problem for 49 per cent of respondents using marketing automation platforms.

In addition, 55 per cent said incorrect data was a key contributor to poor quality data, while 51 per cent said missing data contributed to data quality. Half of all respondents also reported data decay as a critical challenge, and 26 per cent said wrong formats were causing issues. Just one in four are updating databases in real time.

Overall, data quality and management were the top two marketing technology challenges in 2016. Of those who nominated data as the top hurdle, 30 per cent reported data quality as a major challenge in 2016, and 23 per cent said data management was an area of concern.

The report also looked into marketing technology priorities for respondents this year, and again found data management as top of the list (43 per cent). Analytics was also up there (39 per cent), followed by customer relationship management (35 per cent).

The importance of tackling data was again highlighted in responses to questions around recruitment. Thirty-six per cent of respondent said data management would be their top hire for 2016, both in terms of internal recruitment as well as agency hiring.

“To compete in today’s data-driven economy, companies must maximise data quality and management,” commented Openprise CEO, Ed Wing. “As business runs on data, organisations are starting to recognise data quality and management as the unsung heroes of demand generation.”

According to the report, marketers are spending most of their time on analytics and reporting, followed by data management, campaign execution, sales support, and strategy and planning.

Another aspect of marketing management investigated by the report was lead scoring. While 78 per cent of marketing automation users surveyed are scoring leads, only half use this for lead qualification. Confidence in this process is also low, averaging six out of 10.

There was a distinction between how leads are viewed, too. Sales respondents favoured demographic data (31 per cent versus 16 per cent of marketers), while marketers put a bigger emphasis on lead engagement (61 per cent of marketers versus 33 per cent of sales professionals).

These and other results in the report show just how few organisations are actively engaged in advanced marketing techniques and practices today. For example, half of those using marketing automation still haven’t started programs such as personalisation, and only 53 per cent said they used lead nurturing.

About half using marketing automation are building target account lists, and 46 per cent are doing ideal customer profiling. One in four use predictive lead identification.

The Openprise report was based on a poll of more than 400 marketing and sales professionals undertaken in November 2015. Just over 60 per cent are not using marketing automation platforms.

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