A growing number of companies are turning to technologies including big data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing in order to improve their digital marketing capabilities, a new study has revealed.

Research by 2nd Watch found enterprises have increasing levels of confidence in these innovations, which have become a primary driver of efforts to reach out to customers. It noted that massive data volumes, with information sourced from websites, apps and machines, are enabling marketers to develop highly targeted digital campaigns and promotions.

Half of survey respondents stated they expect to expand their use of big data as part of their marketing initiatives, while another third say their programmes have been so successful that they will be diverting resources intended for other projects into the area in order to build on these results.

Nearly four out of ten companies (38 per cent) reported using big data to support their digital marketing efforts, though in many cases, these initiatives are still in the early stages. However, 28 per cent said they were taking a 'very aggressive' approach with the technology.

Around half of those surveyed (47 per cent) stated these campaigns have proven to be effective in meeting customer engagement and lead generation goals, while a quarter stated their programmes had far surpassed these targets and generate a quantifiable return on investment.

The most popular reason given for deploying big data tools was to help companies better understand their customers. This was followed by improving how supply chains operate.

When it comes to the challenges of implementing tools such as big data, cost was listed as the number one issue, with four out of ten respondents raising this as a concern. Meanwhile, a fifth of businesses (21 per cent) faced difficulty in getting executive support for the initiatives, while a similar number said a lack of in-house skills and understanding of the technology held them back.

One technology that is likely to complement big data analytics in many enterprises is IoT. Information gathered from a wide variety of sensors and machines can play a crucial role in helping businesses understand their customers and deliver a more personalised service.

Some 40 per cent of enterprises said they were incorporating IoT data into their digital marketing campaigns, though as with big data, these initiatives are still in their infancy in many cases.

However, of those who have deployed IoT solutions, 70 per cent reported that they had met or exceeded their goals, while more than half of respondents (53 per cent) anticipate they will expand their programmes in the coming months and years.

Top uses for IoT in digital marketing include better understanding of customer preferences (28 per cent), powering campaigns and promotions (24 per cent), and driving customer-facing web and mobile apps (14 per cent).