Senior Digital Marketers’ Top Priorities and Challenges

Experian-Senior-Digital-Marketing-Leaders-Top-Priorities-Apr2015Storytelling is both a top priority and a top challenge for senior marketers, finds Experian Marketing Services in its latest annual Digital Marketer Report [download page]. The survey results also suggest that profiling customers remains a challenge, although overcoming organizational silos is surprisingly not viewed as much of a priority.

The report contains results from a survey of 1,012 marketers from a range of countries, industries and company sizes. From that survey, Experian identified a subset of senior marketers – director-level and above – who were asked to cite their top priorities and challenges from various options.

This segment of respondents were most likely to cite the following as their top priorities:

  • “Telling our story so we stand out agains competitors” (46%); and
  • “Translating a deep knowledge of our customers into relevant interactions” (43%).

Significantly fewer (26%) said that strategically aligning the company’s departments to meet the demands of the modern consumer is a top priority. In fact, the organizational challenge of overcoming organizational silos to meet the demands of the modern consumer also registered as a top challenge for the fewest senior marketing leaders, at just 23%. That’s surprising, given that just 35% of digital marketers surveyed (not just leaders) reported that their marketing team is fully integrated, with the remainder saying their teams are somewhat integrated (32%) or are broken out by channel (33%).

Nevertheless, senior marketers were most likely to say that branding (49%) – telling their story and standing out against competitors – and customer acquisition (45%) are their biggest challenges.

Experian-Senior-Digital-Marketing-Leaders-Top-Challenges-Apr2015

Profiling customers and translating that knowledge into relevant interactions is also a significant challenge for marketing leaders. When it comes to cross-channel marketing, understanding customer behavior doesn’t seem to be the main pain point for the broad sample of digital marketers surveyed. Instead, the lack of a single customer view (32%), the company’s current technology (31%) and the organizational structure (31%) emerged as leading barriers.

Indeed, almost 9 in 10 digital marketers report having challenges creating a single customer view, citing poor data quality and siloed departments as the leading challenges in this effort. So while organizational silos may not be top of mind for senior leaders, it appears that team structures are frustrating attempts to better profile customers and reach them across channels, with these being necessary for better branding and customer acquisition. While much of the research contained in the report on data quality has previously been covered by this publication, the study authors note that “all the top challenges and priorities are predicated on having accurate, enriched data linked together in a central location for a complete customer view that can be executed on to meet the company’s goals.”

This is brought into further light when considering data contained in the report demonstrating that almost half of consumers use at least 5 media devices in a typical day. As the authors argue, senior marketing leaders need integrated cross-channel strategies in order to attain their top priorities of telling brand stories more effectively and building more relevant interactions.

Personalization aids the effectiveness of marketers’ communications, and the survey results indicate that the majority of marketers are personalizing communications. Yet most (50%) are relying on basic data, with fewer using behavioral (39%) or attitudinal (19%) data that would be available from richer customer profiles.

As for addressable media, the report notes that TV is still the most commonly used medium on a weekly basis across generations, with the mobile phone a close second among Millennials and Gen Xers. Print remains far more popular with Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation than with younger cohorts, while radio’s popularity is fairly consistent across generations. (These and other media are explored in greater detail in the MarketingCharts report on advertising effectiveness across media and demographics. A separate MarketingCharts study delves further into media usage across various demographic variables.)

Of course, measuring media (and other channel) effectiveness depends on accurate revenue attribution. The biggest barrier to this, according to digital marketers surveyed? Integrating data from multiple systems and databases…

About the Data: The 2015 Digital Marketer Survey was conducted online from Nov. 10−Dec. 7, 2014. A total of 1,012 complete responses were collected from marketers around the globe including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Netherlands, Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore), Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Global totals of results within the report have been weighted against the Gross Domestic Product.