Analytics and Marketing Tech Are Top Concerns Among Marketers

Two issues that consistently rise to the top of marketer’s lengthy list of concerns are marketing technology and analytics, according to the findings of Black Ink ROI’s “C-Level 2016 Marketing Study.” Marketers polled want to advance their customer-centricity (79%) and brand relevancy (70%), which, they said, will require dramatic improvement in their companies’ marketing technology infrastructure and omnichannel capabilities. Respondents, who represent about 2,000 large U.S. businesses, cite these objectives despite only 21% claiming to have a customer-driven culture and 3% saying they have a marketing-driven culture; instead, a sales-driven culture is most common, with 32% of respondents describing their culture as such.

Having sufficient analytics capabilities is another chief issue among the survey respondents. Indeed, access to advanced analytics to make smarter decisions was the single greatest barrier to marketing success cited across the board, according to Jeff Winsper, president of the customer analytics platform company. Although 61% of respondents cited reporting/insight as a 2016 priority, 31% said these are among the capabilities they are currently least able to perform.

The reason? Companies’ existing marketing technologies are “woefully inadequate” to capture the data that marketers want, Winsper says. “Not having even moderate access may be a constant challenge.”

One of the biggest issues respondents cited in terms of analytics is a gap between the data they have and what they need for analysis. Lack access to pre-sale shopping and research behavior led the list; other data that marketers polled said they’re lacking access to include cross-channel promotional data, demographic/psychographic data, and competitive data.

Although some companies have the ability to capture this data, marketers don’t always have the necessary tools to extract it from legacy technologies, Winsper says. Another problem is that C-level executives don’t want just simple analytics like number of emails opened. They want analytics that show them how specific marketing efforts result in improved financial performance. Measuring revenue, profit, and ROI are the top key performance indicators for the C-suite, he said. But marketers’ strength tends to be in reporting the top of the funnel KPIs, such as tactical performance and lead demand generation.

Unfortunately, there’s not one category where marketing has complete access to the desired data source, to deliver the KPIs that the C-level wants, Winsper says. “The need for many data sources seems very apparent, and so does the gaps to access,” he says, adding that most marketers don’t have the expertise to build the complex algorithms they need. “[It’s] complex. You want to have access to real-time information for predictive analytics, not just historical information.”

Twenty percent of marketers polled still rely on spreadsheets for much of their reporting, although 23% do use CRM tools. Only 13% use a marketing dashboard to compile the data needed to create reports for management, 12% use marketing automation to do so, and 9% use statistical modeling; 15% use business intelligence (BI) tools. However, the study does indicate an expectation that marketers’ firms will invest in more advanced analytical tools over the next 12 months. Sixty percent of respondents expect to purchase BI tools this year, 57% expect to invest in marketing automation and in customer interactions tools; only 45% except to purchase advance analytics tools.

In fiscal 2015, survey respondents’ companies spent $430 million on marketing analytics efforts, only a small portion of their $4.6 billion marketing budgets. In fiscal 2016, 55% of firms expect their marketing budgets to be flat, with 25% expecting an increase. There was no detail about how marketing analytics budgets will change in 2016, though Winsper expects an increase in the total amount spent. Additionally, the survey found that about 40% of respondent plan to increase their in-house marketing analytics staffs this year. 

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