Data-Driven Marketing Confidence and Interest Are Up, But Enthusiasm Is Down

On the surface, things are looking up for data-driven marketers. New research by the Direct Marketing Association and Winterberry Group shows that nearly three quarters of marketers are confident in data-driven marketing (DDM) and half express strong interest in its potential growth. However, that confidence is tempered with a note of caution as enthusiasm dwindled to a two-year low in the first quarter of 2015.

According to the two organizations’ “Quarterly Business Report,” data-driven marketers have expressed serious interest in implementing new technologies; yet they also say they’re struggling to identify the true net value of these investments. Indeed, a majority agreed that it’s tough to prove value from new platforms, and integrating new and existing tools has been a challenge.

Despite these issues, respondents continue to grow their investment in the channels and technology that drive DDM. As a matter of fact, 59% say their companies are likely to purchase or implement new technology in the coming year.

“The QBR findings suggest [that] marketers are realists,” Neil O’Keefe, DMA’s SVP of CRM and member engagement, said in a release about the report. “They can spot the growth potential, but they also understand the need for improved measurement and talent development to capitalize on future opportunity.”

With regards to marketing technology, respondents agree that data powers their usage. In fact, nearly 65% say “aggregating and integrating disparate data sources” is a high priority for their organization. At the same time, only 40% say that their organization does a good job of training internal teams on new technology. Not only does this disparity cause some marketers to take a cautious approach about what they can realistically achieve in the short term, but it also points to a crucial need for the alignment of technological tools and the skill sets needed to implement them.

“Overall, there appears to be a chasm between those who have mastered the use of marketing technology and those who have yet to do so,” Jonathan Margulies, managing director of Winterberry Group, said in a statement. “Those who have embarked on that journey—by implementing cross-organizational technology strategies, training their staff to use those tools, and calculating a specific return on investment associated with those investments—are already seeing positive results. Even so, fewer than half of panelists said that their organizations had made such strides.”

Other findings include:

  • Overall, DDM spending grew at a faster pace in Q1 2015 than in the full year prior. In fact, 37.5% of respondents say they grew their investments, compared to last quarter when only 26.6% of respondents said their DDM expenditures increased from the prior quarter.
  • 60.4% of respondents say they use mobile and location-based technologies today; however, only a small number call these tools mission-critical.
  • Almost half of the respondents say they expect to continue growing DDM expenditures. Forty-three percent say they’re likely to increase spending on DDM next quarter, while 48.2% expect to maintain current levels of spending.
  • Just under half (44.7%) say that their revenues generated by DDM activities grew in Q1 2015, compared to the prior quarter; 41.4% say theirs remained constant.

“As an abundance of data continues to accelerate business innovation and opportunity, it has also created new and ever-more complex risks and challenges,” O’Keefe said. “This further underscores the commitment needed throughout the industry in terms of marketing and business science development. DMA, among other innovators and educators, offers an extensive array of developmental products designed to enhance analytic skills and other disciplines to ensure marketers can capitalize on growth opportunities.”

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