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More than three-quarters of data-driven marketers agree that the practice of data-driven marketing (DDM) is well positioned to grow in the future – and their spending patterns certainly appear to reflect that belief. A new report from the DMA and Winterberry Group finds that spending growth surged in the second half of 2017, with more to come.

In fact, close to half (44%) of panelists from DMA’s member base reported increasing their DDM spending during the second half of 2017 compared to the previous 6-month period.

On a 5-point scale (where 5 equates to a “significant increase” in spending), second-half spending growth registered an index score of 3.53. That’s the highest single-period growth posted in more than 5 years of the DMA’s research on the topic, and is considerably above the prior peak set in early 2016 (3.42).

Data-driven marketers achieved another peak in late 2017: their revenue growth. With half reporting data-driven marketing-related revenues increasing, the resulting revenue growth index score of 3.69 was also the highest in the survey’s history.

These trends seem to be carrying over to early 2018, too. For the first half of this year, almost two-thirds project an increase in revenues. Further, a strong majority (57%) of data-driven marketers expect to hike their spending levels, with just 5.5% envisioning a reduction in budgets.

The rising tide seems to be lifting all boats. During the second half of 2017, respondents reported investment increases across all data-driven marketing channels, both online and offline.

Spending on web content (site and content) saw the most rapid rise (index of 3.84), followed by social media (3.74) and search (3.71). But traditional channels such as direct response broadcast and direct mail also enjoyed increases.

Data-Driven Marketers Eye Improved Customer Experiences

It’s clear from the DMA and Winterberry Group report that data-driven marketers are placing a high priority on customer experiences. On a 5-point scale, fully three-quarters (77%) rated their organization’s prioritization of the customer experience as a top-2 box (4 or 5) score, including 57% deeming it a “top priority” (5).

This focus is being echoed by other studies on data-driven marketing. Consider that:

Returning to this latest study, and respondents said that the leading factor driving efforts with respect to customer experience is customers expecting more personalized experiences (71%). Other drivers cited by at least half of respondents include the desire to improve customer loyalty (61%), the desire to execute omnichannel strategies (57%) and the desire to improve conversion rates (50%).

Finally, the three most critical components to delivering a best-in-class customer experience, as reported by data-driven marketers, are:

  • Data management and audience profile reconciliation, maintaining a holistic view of customers;
  • Personalization, including the personalization of marketing content intended to provide an individually optimized user experience; and
  • Content, including messaging, creative execution, and user interface design.

About the Data: The results are based on an online survey of DMA members deployed in January 2018. The survey data is comprised of the responses of 455 respondents, including 156 marketers and 215 marketing services (including agency services) and technology providers.

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