Brand owners have made huge strides in embracing a data-driven marketing culture but most believe they still have some way to go to fully exploit its potential and unearth the golden nuggets which will give their business the cutting edge.

That is one of the key conclusions of a new survey by marketing agency Allison+Partners, which quizzed 500 marketing directors in the UK and Germany about their data strategies.

The majority were bullish about their current operations, with nearly nine out of ten (87%) claiming their marketing department's use of data is "above average". They are also confident in their ability to extract insights from data (89%), and can use data to prove ROI very or extremely well (72%).

However, while marketers think they are at the top of their data-driven marketing game now, nearly all respondents (98%) said there will be obstacles moving forward, with the top three barriers cited as data silos, cost and talent.

The desire to overcome these barriers is there, with investment in technology such as artificial intelligence to improve insights and support greater success in lead generation and loyalty starting to take off, the study insists. In fact, seven in 10 marketing directors have made investments in AI-driven customer platforms and one in five plans to do so in the next two years.

Even so, one-fifth of respondents have yet to invest in augmented or advanced data analytics, leaving valuable stones unturned when it comes to insight.

Allison+Partners UK managing director Sue Grant said that while marketing directors say they are confident in their ability to use data, the real story is more nuanced.

She added: "What was pioneering five years ago in martech may not be serving the needs of the business any longer. With costs proving a concern, this means that marketing directors must invest smarter in any new technology or talent they bring on board.

"Clarifying the organisation's goals and targets, as well as understanding what information and analysis is required to reach them, can help combat this issue."

Allison+Partners Germany general manager Heike Schubert reckons AI will also be able to address the data skills shortage. He continued: "AI can sift through the mountains of data accumulated by marketing teams, automate routine processes to save time, as well as suggest the best ways to target customers on a more personalised level.

"A lot of this technology is still in its infancy, but as it becomes more affordable, we can expect investment in both data analytics and AI to continue in an upward trajectory. That said, without a concerted effort by marketing directors to build a team that can use the technology to reach the ambitions of the organisation, then these investments will not be as fruitful as they could be."

A recent DunnHumby study appears to back these findings. It revealed that while retailers might talk the talk when it comes to embracing a data-driven strategy few are walking the walk with the vast majority (85%) lacking the capabilities, technology, people and processes to use insights to monetise their data and drive customer experience.

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on decisionmarketing.co.uk

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