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Gathering data is critical for marketers, but in order to act on insights gleaned from all of the information collected, the right tools and skills are necessary. An April 2015 study by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Winterberry Group found that while marketers acknowledged the demand for data integration, they were behind in implementing the technology and training needed to do so.
When asked the extent to which they agreed with certain statements about marketing technology, US marketing professionals were most likely to “strongly agree” or “agree” that aggregating different data sources was a top priority at their firms. However, more than six in 10 also noted that integrating new technology with existing tools—essential for getting data in order—was a challenge for their organization. Fortunately, nearly as many respondents intended to purchase or implement new marketing tech in the coming year, and the majority had already done so and were working toward putting such tools to use.
However, implementing technology isn’t enough; training employees on how to use technology and proving its value are also important—and further responses indicated that marketers had their work cut out for them in these areas.
Promisingly, DMA and Winterberry found that many of the top initiatives at marketers’ companies focused on technology—though data was still more important. About six in 10 respondents said their firms would prioritize integrating and activating new data sources. A close 56.7% intended to evaluate current marketing technologies and see how they were using them, and 53.8% said they would focus on checking out new options. When it came to getting employees caught up, 54.8% said they would prioritize staff training.
As DMA and Winterberry noted, there’s “a crucial need for the alignment of technological tools and the skill sets needed to implement them.” And marketers that don’t leverage technology to act on data risk missing out on dollars. When a December 2014 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers asked US CEOs about the areas where digital technology was creating very high value for their company, data and data analytics landed in second at 50%, behind only customer experience (55%).
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