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Forrester study: Most marketers still struggling to integrate data into cross-channel marketing

Marketers may have some very sophisticated tools available to them, but that doesn’t mean they’re being used effectively.

A new Forrester study, commissioned by Experian Marketing Services found most marketers were still struggling to integrate data sources into their customer targeting strategies. Only 24% of marketers surveyed said they were using customer data for targeted, contextual marketing practices such as tailored content or retargeted emails and advertisements.

Of all the marketing tasks, 49% of marketers rated themselves as experts in content creation, while only 33%(the lowest figure) rated themselves similarly when it came to data quality management.

This highlights a common problem, which many platforms, especially the marketing clouds are trying to solve. Everyone agrees that it would be great to show customers highly specific marketing content based on their personal profiles and behavior. However, customers interact with brands over multiple sources, such as mobile, website and social media. Collecting all that information, hosting it in one place and matching all the profiles well enough to be used for retargeting is a complex task, and it’ll only get better with better integrations.

However, the report also determined that of all the different marketing functions, email marketers had the best chance of understanding and deploying advanced marketing techniques using data.

In the study, Forrester writes: As one email marketing manager we spoke with summed it up: “Email has the most experience with playing nice with other channels. I think leveraging the learnings from email . . against newer [channels] like social and mobile will be a key driver.” A digital marketing manager for a regional department store chain concurred,“Email marketers are adept at segmenting and optimizing communication, which applies to any channel.”

The tools might be there, but in order to implement them properly, Forrester had the following recommendations.

Prioritize channel integration and start with email: “Email should be your starting point for this integration. Identify where email is most relevant and influential in the customer’s path to purchase, and then incorporate additional channels along that path that tie all the communications together.”

Audit use of customer data: “Start with an audit of what data you currently use for campaigns and what data exists in your organization that would make for more relevant interactions with customers. Work with IT to formulate a road map to connect the systems that store disparate data sources for use in marketing and in other parts of the enterprise.”

Identify uses of email for contextual marketing: To exploit context with email, marketers can get hints about the customer’s context by virtue of the device the customer is using, who they are with, and what they like. With cues from email, marketers can better provide interactions in other channels and touchpoints.

To download the complete report from Experian Marketing Services, click here (Registration required.)

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