Marketers must lead the way on data intelligence

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Data intelligence is on my mind as I write this at 30,000 feet. I just spent 24 hours in Little Rock, AR, on a trip that included meetings with executives from two different data services companies.

It is clear marketers are challenged with and are looking for opportunities to reach customers through not only mail, but other channels such as print, mobile, e-mail, pay per click, social media and display. The trick is to tie accurate customer data from various channels together.

Rod Ford, CEO of Cognitive Data, told me marketers spend a lot of time attempting to manage the nature and frequency of contact with current customers.

As the economy improves, marketers are spending more money on online channels, according to Datran Media. The survey found 93.6% of the 5,000 respondents will increase digital marketing budgets this year.

Interest in online video and mobile has spiked. More than two-thirds surveyed said they plan to use video, and 54% are planning mobile initiatives this year. The majority have both Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, but marketers don't know how to measure these channels yet.

The ability to integrate and measure necessitates increased customer focus. Unfortunately, all too many marketers come up short. John Meyer, CEO of Acxiom, said, "Most organizations today are organized around the product, not the customer."

Marketers also have not been steeped in technology and its possibilities. "Technology has not been ingrained in the CMO's mind, because most of them came from the creative side of the house," Meyer added. That's the problem.

Using multiple channels to tailor messaging to individuals is possible; the technology and know-how exist. Many companies, like these Little Rock firms, are capable of helping clients navigate complex data. However, a disconnect remains between what is possible in terms of customer intelligence and what is being done today.

Tailored messages are the future, and creating them in an orchestrated, multichannel fashion is a necessity. Marketer experimentation and leadership are necessary.

The thing is, consumers aren't slowing down. It's time for marketers to quicken the pace. I am about to e-mail this editorial to DMNews' copy editor while on a WiFi-enabled flight. Then I'll catch up on e-mail, and after that I'll listen to my iPod. Perhaps I'll flip through the in-flight magazine too, and order those noise-cancelling headphones I've been eyeballing.

When I land, I'll pass through LaGuardia Airport, flanked by out-of-home ads, hop in a taxicab with a TV in the back seat and hopefully make it home in time for 30 Rock. Catch up with me, marketers. I'm on the move. l

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