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Data and analytics are the key to marketing-led growth, but marketers need to overcome key challenges first

Jonathan Beeston Profile picture for user Jonathan Beeston November 12, 2020
Jonathan Beeston, Product Marketing Director EMEA at Salesforce Datorama, describes how marketers are increasingly responsible for business growth. While data and analytics can unlock actionable insights, marketers are met with challenges in integrating and utilizing data.

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(Image by Buffik from Pixabay )

Digital innovation and transformation continue to become more prevalent than ever before - and they're not slowing down any time soon. As all industries feel the effects of COVID-19, businesses are adjusting the ways they communicate with and provide services to customers. Both the customer and the marketer are increasingly more reliant on digital channels to interact. Meanwhile, budgets are in flux or more limited and it is critical that no dollar goes to waste.

This presents pressing challenges for marketers. How can they keep up with the changing dynamics, increasing customer demands, and changing landscape, all while making decisions with confidence?

Making informed decisions starts with access to data and insight into how each activity, program, piece of content and campaign is resonating with customers and impacting bottom line business ROI.

In order to understand this shifting landscape and the implications for how marketers integrate and analyse their data, Salesforce partnered with teknowlogy for the survey.

The findings and insights from the Marketing and Intelligence Insights Guide for the UK show that data integration and analytics present challenges for marketers, but are essential for the measurement process and ultimately driving growth - inspiring marketers to reimagine what it means to be data-driven.

Here are four key takeaways from the report.

1. Marketers are increasingly responsible for growth, but face data and analytics barriers.

Marketers today play an increased role in driving business growth and success. According to the report, 90% of respondents stated that leadership has shifted their company's priorities to focus on marketing-led growth at least "somewhat significantly" in the past year.

But those same marketers face significant barriers to growth that may be keeping them from meeting their mandate. Over half (56%) of respondents listed data mismanagement as a top barrier to growth. This can be caused by a number of factors, such as low-quality data and issues with data integration.

Other barriers listed include lack of real-time insights, lack of a united view of performance, lack of understanding of the customer, and misaligned teams. With ever-changing budgets and an increased focus on controlling costs, it's clear that marketers today are expected to do more with limited resources - and they need to tackle data challenges in order to get there.

2. Today's crucial marketing decisions are driven by data.

It's clear that marketers understand the importance of data and prioritizing data in their decision-making. Forty-five percent of respondents say they are already using data "as much as possible" in their decision-making.

Marketers are so invested in data that they're also trying to uplevel and democratize the data culture throughout their organization- 62% have already made excellent progress with investments in marketing analytics platforms and technology, 50% have gained support from executive leadership, and 56% state that they have made excellent progress in tracking their ROI across each marketing investment.

It is clear that marketers see immense value in data and analytics capabilities and progress is already underway. But remember that these same marketers are challenged by a number of issues - so while they may be using data "as much as possible," there's still a clear opportunity for improvement.

3. Data is complex, and integrating it all poses a major challenge.

Marketers today are utilizing more channels than ever before to reach today's customer. From web to email, mobile, surveys, social, and more, cross-channel strategies are the new normal.

The resulting data is incredibly complex. With different formats and delivery methods, data is often siloed in each platform, making it difficult to gain a holistic understanding of all marketing data.

And while 80% of respondents see a complete view of all cross-channel marketing activity as important, 62% still measure and optimize individual channels independently or use spreadsheets instead of a unified system of record to manage it all.

Unsurprisingly, this presents a number of challenges. Among these challenges are data accuracy, inability to connect and unify data from different sources, and time spent on data cleaning and preparation. As a result, marketers can't gain actionable insight in a timely and impactful manner.

4. As the role of marketing evolves, data-driven transformation is key

Marketers are committed to improving their data and analytics capabilities over the next year, and they've got their sights set on common priorities like efficiency, better customer engagement, and revenue growth. Forty-six percent of participants plan to make their data management and data preparation more efficient, and 43% hope to use real-time data to fuel their decision-making ability.

Our industry is rapidly changing, but the foundational key to marketing success in 2020 and beyond is building a data-driven culture into your organization. Though implementing this process is easier said than done, marketers now have more tools at their fingertips than ever before.

To create a data-driven organizational culture that results in a clear measurement strategy and marketing growth, U.K. marketers need to align their people, processes, and technology with an understanding of customers' needs and key growth priorities. With these goals in mind, marketers can equip themselves and their organizations for success in an industry where change is the only constant.

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