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ForbesTurn-Acting-on-Data-Driven-Audience-Insights-Nov2015Almost two-thirds of senior marketers strongly agree that data-driven marketing is crucial to success within a hyper-competitive global economy, according to a study [download page] released by Forbes Insights in association with Turn. While senior marketers are most apt to believe that data-driven marketing drives profitability (60%) and sales (54%), they also see it having a strong impact on creative and messaging.

Indeed, almost half of respondents – all of whom came from companies with at least $@50 million in annual revenues – said that data-driven marketing allows more time/focus on creative (48%) and creates more targeted campaigns and personalized messaging (48%).

Furthermore, marketers are using audience insights generated by data to refine their creative, with two-thirds of respondents saying they act on these insights to tailor creative development to build messages that resonate with niche audience segments. That’s an important development, as research from CRN International has shown that an understanding of what resonates with audiences is the biggest challenge in developing quality creative.

While respondents see many benefits from the use of data-driven marketing, they admit that their organizations aren’t too far along in leveraging data for marketing purposes. For example, almost three-quarters report being still focused primarily on knowledge gathering, with far fewer saying that their marketing is fully data-driven and achieving significant business outcomes.

One obstacle that stands in the way of further effectiveness is sharing of data. Slightly fewer than 4 in 10 senior marketers surveyed strongly agreed that data from their marketing campaigns is actively shared across their organization. And when they were asked the biggest challenge of developing data-driven marketing initiatives, the largest proportion (61%) said it is breaking down the silos of data between departments to ensure the successful flow of information.

Similarly, a recent study from Ascend2 found that improving data quality and integrating data across platforms were the most challenging obstacles to data-driven marketing success.

As a result, marketers indicate that reinventing processes and data workflows, along with integrating data silos, are among the actions most likely to have a positive impact on their marketing programs. Not too surprisingly, the relationship between marketing and IT is the one requiring the most collaboration, with 53% of respondents reporting “extensive collaboration” among those departments around data-driven marketing initiatives.

Other Findings:

  • A slight majority of respondents strongly agreed that senior leaders within their organization support, and advocate for, data initiatives.
  • A plurality (33%) best described their preparation to data-driven marketing as a mix of technologies being available to various lines of business, with little coordination. Fewer (14%) described themselves as having a portfolio of tools that enable analysis and planning that are well established and fully supported by a single platform and best practices.
  • The leading impacts of data-driven marketing have been: change in the organization structure (60%); and freeing up strategic employees from administrative tasks (60%). Not far behind, 57% say that data-driven marketing has measurably increased the ROI of their marketing campaigns.
  • Senior marketers are most commonly measuring the impact of their data-driven marketing initiatives using customer loyalty (56%) and customer satisfaction (55%) metrics.
  • The most important data analytics-related investments to data have been the deployment of new marketing technologies (55% rating “extremely important”) and hiring advanced analytics talent (47%).

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 162 US-based senior executives conducted by Forbes Insights in September 2015. Respondents represented a range of industries, including retail, telecommunications, technology, consumer packaged goods, automotive, banking, advertising/marketing, energy, travel, media and insurance. All companies had at least $250 million in annual revenues; 1 in 4 had at least $1 billion in revenues.

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