While big data analytics are set to be integrated into many areas of a business, one department that is already able to see strong results from better use of information is marketing.

A recent report by Forbes Insight and Turn found marketing organisations that are classed as leaders in regards to how they use data to derive insights show much stronger performance than their counterparts who are unable to harness their data.

Leaders were three times more likely than 'laggards' to say they have achieved a competitive advantage in terms of customer engagement and loyalty as a result of their marketing. Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of data-driven firms said they had experienced this, compared with just 24 per cent of laggards.

Similarly, data leaders were almost three times more likely to report increased revenues as a result of their efforts (55 per cent for leaders compared with 20 per cent for laggards". They are also six times more likely to report increased profitability (45 per cent versus seven per cent) and five times more likely to improve customer retention (74 per cent versus 13 per cent).

However, for many companies, the challenge lies in making their data work effectively. Often, marketers are looking to take advantage of this in their decision-making, but are constrained by the fact that strategies are implemented in a piecemeal fashion, as information is held in siloed business units.

Bruce Rogers, chief insights officer and head of the CMO Practice for Forbes Media, said firms must move beyond this is they are to successfully integrate big data analytics into their marketing operations.

"Effective data-driven marketing draws on resources from across the enterprise, not a single department,” he said. “And without data, marketing is not based on customer intelligence."

Currently, around half of marketing executives admit their efforts are lagging, or suffering due to data being siloed across their enterprises. While a majority of professionals are now gathering demographics data on their customers, most other data types are still going uncaptured, despite the valuable insight they could provide.

Among the sectors that are making the best use of data-driven marketing, the travel industry is leading the way. More than two-thirds of executives at such firms say they have achieved competitive advantage in customer engagement/loyalty, while 56 per cent have attracted new customers and 59 per cent have improved customer satisfaction.

Retail is another area that is performing well, but some other sectors – such as the energy industry – remain some distance behind, the report found.

One reason firms may struggle is because they do not fully appreciate that data-driven marketing is not an activity that can happen in isolation.

"Data-driven marketing is an enterprise-wide effort that requires data, expertise and innovative thinking from many parts of the enterprise," the study said. "For most of the companies leading in this practice, there is also tight integration between organisations' overall digital initiatives – adoption of big data, cloud, social and mobile – and marketing campaigns."