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Why Marketers Struggle to Leverage Customer Data (+4 Challenges)

Jessica Graeser
Jessica Graeser  |  November 5, 2019

Despite the positive impact customer data can have on the precision and effectiveness of digital media, advertisers still struggle to use their data efficiently. 

Data-driven marketing is vital to success because it gives brands a competitive advantage, enabling them to garner deeper and more actionable insights into consumers and how to segment audiences. 

Leveraging customer data: 4 challenges 

In today’s always-on world, marketers must tackle the challenge of using their first-party data to recognize and reach real people, regardless of how frequently they change channels and devices. So why is it that, despite the growing amount of valuable data available, marketers still struggle to capitalize on this resource?

There are four common challenges that stand in the way. 

1. Organizational inefficiencies 

One of the key organizational hurdles that hurt marketers’ ability to use their data is the fact that it’s usually siloed. The unfortunate reality is that in many organizations, CRM, email marketing, and display teams all collect data separately rather than sharing that data collaboratively. To successfully use addressable media, data-driven marketers throughout an organization must be willing and able to share that information across teams.

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2. Skill gaps 

The data skills gap is real, and it creates a major challenge for marketers who hope to be more data-driven. According to LinkedIn, the hard skills companies need most in 2019 include analytical reasoning, business analysis, digital marketing, and data science. However, a recent survey from eConsultancy revealed that only 12% of marketers rank themselves as experts in data and measurement.  This means that regardless of the vast amount of data available, many marketers are not prepared to turn that information into actionable campaigns that drive conversions.

3. Lack of modern technology 

While advertisers and media buyers must have the capability to target real customers in real-time across channels, the existing cookie-based model most marketers (and their technology partners) depend on today is prohibitive to cross-channel success. Consumers are interacting with brands every day via multiple connected devices, but they are viewing the brand through a single lens.

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4. Real-time capabilities 

Marketers operate in a fragmented ecosystem where slow and disconnected platforms present a technological challenge to leveraging customer data while it’s fresh. Even when a marketer determines the value of leveraging data from one channel and activating it in another, the process of doing so can become convoluted, involving a handful of technology partners and take days or weeks to complete.

For example, if a marketer analyzes a piece of data tied to a customer email address, they might determine that delivering a display ad to that consumer would result in a purchase. The marketer would then need to work with an email marketing services provider, data management platform (DMP) and demand-side platform (DSP) to act on that insight. By the time the marketer navigates each of these moving parts, the message may no longer be relevant or timely, and the consumer may have purchased elsewhere.

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End your struggle 

First-party data is the lifeblood of addressable media and a solution to the cross-device challenge all marketers face today. However, to really turn this data into a source of revenue, organizations must overcome data silos, acquire the right knowledge and talent, and work with technology partners that transcend the increasingly inefficient cookie-based model, ultimately providing an end-to-end solution to activating on first-party data.

Jessica Graeser
Author

Jessica Graeser

Jessica Graeser is the Director of Marketing at Signal, where she oversees all brand, external communications and customer acquisition initiatives. Jessica has over a decade of experience in marketing for multiple startups as well as former roles in marketing at Google and YouTube.