5 hurdles companies face when investing in data-driven marketing

In my role as a customer intelligence advisor, I have the privilege to work with a wide variety of organizations. From retailers to the banking sector, whether ‘B2C’ or ‘B2B’ oriented, one constant is the increasing adoption of data- driven marketing. But even so, we still come across the occasional "strange situation."

Often, such "strange situations" happen when we're working with marketers that prefer following their gut-feeling over analytics when important decisions need to be made. Some of the worst offenders are the ones that are either unable or unwilling to track the return on investment from their marketing efforts.

I have worked with banking institutions that have state of the art analytics departments, but when asked how scoring was integrated in their marketing campaigns it became clear that the scores weren’t used by the marketing department. And it was simply because the marketer believed that his gut feeling was better than the analytical model.

I just can't appreciate that line of thinking, so I have to ask, "Why do some marketers not use these important sources of information, and what hurdles do they face that prevent them from leveraging new technology and adopting more data-driven marketing?" From what I've seen in my work, there are 5 possible hurdles that impede organizations from going to the next level:

1.  Having a clear vision of what data-driven marketing can mean for the organization

Organizations need to have a clear vision of what data-driven marketing offers and how it's going to improve insights and interactions. Both realizations come at different maturity levels. Once the vision is set it’s very important to align, not only marketing, but the whole organization along this vision. Without alignment you end up in long implementation cycles - as some stakeholders may not acknowledge the importance of the project.

2. Getting access to data

Data (online and offline) are often available for the taking, but it’s not always easy to locate precisely or to know how access to it. Data are a precious source that some stakeholders prefer to keep under their control - as they are an open door to a lot of information. Organizational structures of global companies often play a role, as the access to data could be kept hidden centrally or even divided across entities, which can prove frustrating to change agents in marketing.

3.  Having a unified and global vision of the measurement of marketing efforts

Sometimes it’s a struggle to get a unified marketing metric system in place that is accepted and supported throughout the entire organization. Being able to compare marketing efforts and results across entities and/or the entire organization is an important enabler of the alignment necessary to move towards a data-driven business.

4. Skills in the organization

Becoming more data-driven has an impact on the skills needed within the marketing department. Traditional marketing skills are very valuable for maintaining the current marketing results of an organization. But for the marketing to become more data-driven, organizations need to re-skill their teams or hire talent that comes with a deep understanding of digital analytics, multi-channel data-driven marketing and predictive analytics.

5.  Allocating budget and time for the right goals

It’s easy to keep investing in what appears to be 'working' over the long run and producing certain results. It is only when taking risks and trying to innovate that you will become more successful.  Allocating more than 50 % of the marketing budget to data-driven initiatives is not only a strategic choice for a company, it's an organizational change.

So once these hurdles are cleared, the organization is ready to adopt the data-driven approaches that enable the use of marketing analytics to realize the opportunities hidden in customer data. So the questions I have for you are: which challenges do you face in becoming more data-driven? And how are you going about finding a solution?